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Safety is always a concern for visitors traveling to Mexico, so you may be wondering – is it safe to travel to Puerto Vallarta Mexico?
You’ll be happy to know that Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s safest destinations!
Millions of international tourists visit every year to enjoy the gorgeous white-sand beaches and friendly atmosphere.
As one of Mexico’s most popular beach destinations, tourism is a vital part of the economy here. The locals know that, and the community works hard so you don’t have to question, “Is Puerto Vallarta safe?”
While the common perception is that Mexico is a dangerous place to visit, it’s also a massive country with vastly different regions.
Puerto Vallarta does not suffer from the same problems that some parts of Mexico do, and much of that information is over-sensationalized in the local news.
Like any city in the world, Puerto Vallarta does suffer from some level of criminal activity. However, most of this is petty theft and can be easily avoided using common sense.
I created this guide to answer all your questions about safety in Puerto Vallarta. Use the tips to ensure you have a safe and fantastic time while visiting!
Crime rates in Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is a fun, friendly, and safe place to visit. It welcomes millions of visitors annually, and many American tourists even have a second home here.
Since it’s one of the leading tourism destinations in the country, crime rates are much lower than in other cities in Mexico.
In fact, crime rates in Puerto Vallarta are even lower than in popular destinations in the U.S., like Miami and Las Vegas, according to data from Numbeo.
Numbeo ranks Puerto Vallarta’s crime index as 33.55 (low), whereas Miami ranks 51.64 (moderate).
Sadly, in recent years, there have been many misleading headlines and media information regarding safety in Mexico, which has deterred a lot of people from coming to Puerto Valllarta.
These sensational headlines often don’t provide the full context of the situation, deterring people from coming to a safer place than some U.S. cities.
There have been some acts of violent crime in Mexico in recent years, especially around the Baja California area, where there are more drug cartels and criminal groups.
Puerto Vallarta is in the state of Jalisco, on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. We are lucky to experience lower crime rates than many other areas in Mexico.
If you look at the U.S. state department Mexico travel advisories (last updated October 5th, 2022), it says to reconsider travel to the state of Jalisco, but notes this about Puerto Vallarta:
“There are no other restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Jalisco state, which includes tourist areas in: Guadalajara Metropolitan Area, Puerto Vallarta (including neighboring Riviera Nayarit), Chapala, and Ajijic.”
The Canadian government has a general travel advisory for Mexico but does not have any specific regional advisories or travel restrictions for Puerto Vallarta.
Of course, safety ratings can change quickly anywhere in the world, and you should always check for the most up-to-date information.
Safest areas to stay in Puerto Vallarta
If you’re wondering where to stay in Puerto Vallarta to ensure a safe trip, here are some suggestions for the best Puerto Vallarta areas:
The hotel zone in the south of the city is where you’ll find many of the best beach hotels and all-inclusive resorts.
These areas are all guarded with security with immediate direct beach access, so this is one of the best places to stay in terms of safety.
The hotel zone is also near the international airport and shopping centers.
If you prefer boutique hotels, check out El Centro or Zona Romantica. These downtown Puerto Vallarta neighborhoods are in the city center, where you’ll find some of the best restaurants, buzzing beach bars, and the Malecon boardwalk.
If you stick to the Malecon and main streets where there are crowds, you shouldn’t run into any safety issues. Avoid walking through any dark, quiet streets at night. This brings me to my next point…
Getting around Puerto Vallarta
I’ve walked from the south hotel zone all the way to the Romantic Zone during the day many times with no issues. I usually walk along the Malecon, where there are many people.
In the busy public areas, you’ll have no issues walking around by yourself.
There’s also a decent public transportation with busses that can take you between neighborhoods and even to Sayulita and San Pancho. I’ve taken buses by myself dozens of times with no issues.
At night, I generally do not walk around by myself. I’ve walked from the bus stop to my apartment in Versalles with no issues, but that’s a pretty safe neighborhood.
If you aren’t sure, get an Uber. They are so affordable here.
I recommend Uber over taxis because there is a record of where you are going, and you can even share it with your friends. Plus, the prices are generally lower, and you don’t have to haggle with taxi drivers.
That said, I’ve never had any problems with the taxis I’ve gotten in Puerto Vallarta.
Safety for LGBTQ+ travelers
Puerto Vallarta is known as the gay capital of Latin America and is one of the safest destinations for LGBTQ+ travelers to visit in Mexico, with an active LGBTQ+ community and regular events.
Zona Romantica is the gaybourhood with many LGBTQ+ friendly hotels.
It’s extremely welcoming to gay travelers, especially during the fabulous pride celebrations that happen every year at the end of May.
How to avoid petty crime in Puerto Vallarta
Petty theft is the most common crime for tourists in Puerto Vallarta, like bag snatching and pickpocketing.
Yet I’ve lived here for two winters, going out almost every night, and this has never happened to me.
Lock your valuables away when you head out and take a minimal amount of cards and money with you – just what you need for the day or night.
Bring an extra debit and/or credit card on your trip, so you still have a way to get money if you lose one.
You should be vigilant when walking with valuable belongings, especially at night. Keep your phone or attractive electronics away while wandering the quieter cobblestone streets.
Around the Malecon, you’ll see many police officers out at night.
If you’re worried about snatching, you could wear a money belt or scarf with a pocket, as these will be near impossible to pickpocket or grab.
Safety for solo female travelers in Puerto Vallarta
Solo travel is awesome, and Puerto Vallarta is no exception.
If you’re worried about exploring alone, It’s easy to meet other digital nomads and travelers here through Facebook groups and regular meetup events.
Unfortunately, catcalling is somewhat common here, and I have had comments made to me while walking around in Puerto Vallarta. That said, I never felt in danger or that someone would follow me.
To avoid unwanted adventure, wear modest clothing and establish boundaries. A long skirt, pants, and a sleeved top can go a long way to prevent these comments.
As a solo female traveler, I try to avoid walking at night, no matter where I am.
Instead, I always use Uber at night, which are very affordable. It only costs a couple of dollars to go for a 15-minute ride.
Covid-19 in Puerto Vallarta
During Covid-19, Puerto Vallarta received the Safe Travels Stamp from the World Travel & Tourism Council, which recognizes the ongoing implementation of strict safety measures in destinations worldwide.
That said, Covid-19 does exist here, like in most places worldwide. I got it in the winter of 2020.
So if you are coming from the United States or Canada, get vaccinated before your trip to Puerto Vallarta to help reduce the risk and spread.
Restrictions can change based on how many cases there are in the region.
While living there in winter 2021, masks and hand santizer were required in most places indoors. However, the last time I was there in 2022, most restrictions had been dropped.
There is no proof of vaccination required to enter Mexico.
Vaccine recommendations for Puerto Vallarta
Here are the other vaccines the CDC recommends if you’re traveling to Mexico.
Dengue is an ongoing risk in many parts of Central and South America, including Puerto Vallarta. I got it once in Barbados, and it was a nightmare.
Unfortunately, there’s no vaccine against dengue fever.
The best way to protect yourself is to avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellant, wearing long sleeves, and avoiding being outdoors during dusk/dawn when mosquitos are most active.
Mosquitos are attracted to water, so avoid standing by stagnant water pools if you do go outdoors.
Beach and ocean safety in Puerto Vallarta
I’m sure one of the reasons you’ve come to Puerto Vallarta is to enjoy the beautiful beaches, so use these tips to stay safe while enjoying the beache and water sports.
Playa Los Muertos is one of the most popular beaches in the city, and it’s always packed with tourists and locals alike.
Do not leave your belongings unattended at the Los Muertos beach (or any beach) to go swimming in the water. It’s just an easy target!
If you don’t have friends or family around to watch your stuff, you can ask a restaurant or even someone else on the beach. Just use your judgment.
Protect yourself from the sun! Your risk of getting a bad sunburn in Mexico is much higher than having something stolen.
So cover up to protect yourself with reef-safe sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
The ocean surrounding Puerto Vallarta is safe to go swimming in. It even has Blue Flag status, an international certification that recognizes excellence in environmental management and quality of beaches & marinas.
Look out for jellyfish! When the summer season starts, jellyfish come to the Bay of Banderas, which can be annoying.
They are harmless, it’s just irritating. I saw them while diving in Los Arcos.
Never go into the ocean when the sea is rough, and avoid swimming if you are intoxicated.
Hurricane safety Puerto Vallarta
While Puerto Vallarta generally enjoys a warm and tropical climate, it does have the potential to be impacted by hurricanes during hurricane season, which runs from June to November. However, the most active hurricane season is in September and October.
Thankfully, Banderas Bay and the Sierra Madre mountains that envelop the city provide a barrier of natural protection during hurricane season.
For example, the recent Hurricane Orlene did not have much impact on Puerto Vallarta.
That said, there is always the risk of hurricanes during the season.
To avoid this, the best time to visit is in the winter months during the high season from December to March, which also coincides with the beautiful whale-watching season where you can see majestic humpback whales.
Food and water safety
Mexico has some of the best food in the world – you’ll definitely want to eat as much as you can while visiting!
While Mexico doesn’t always have the best reputation for food hygiene, most restaurants in Puerto Vallarta are fine. I’ve never gotten sick from eating at a restaurant here.
I ate street tacos all the time in Puerto Vallarta and never had any isses. Take it easy on the spice if you aren’t used to it, wash your hands before eating, and ask around for recommendations (or just look for the busy stalls).
Don’t just stick to the resort food – there are so many other amazing places to eat here!
I’ve even been told that you drink the tap water in Puerto Vallarta.
If you aren’t comfortable with that, you can buy giant gallons of water for cheap from supermarkets, and most hotels and apartments provide them.
If you want to cut down on your plastic consumption, get a reusable filtration water bottle.
Going out at night in Puerto Vallarta
When walking around town at night, try to stay in well-lit areas. The Malecon is safe to walk along, but avoid going off to smaller side streets by yourself. Instead, get a taxi or Uber.
There have been reports of drink-spiking incidents, more so in nearby beach towns like Sayulita. So do not leave your drink unattended.
While the safest thing to do would be to avoid getting drunk, I realize many people come to Puerto Vallarta to experience the awesome nightlife.
Use your common sense. I wouldn’t go out as a female alone and get trashed. Make friends at your accommodation or through a meetup group on Facebook. Don’t walk home alone at night by yourself.
If you’re heading out at night, avoid taking valuable items out with you.
In case of emergency…
Should anything happen, the closest U.S. consulate is in Nuevo Vallarta. The phone number is (55) 8526-2561 from Mexico.
Canada has a consulate in Puerto Vallarta that provides services to Canadians visiting and living in Mexico. The address is Plaza Peninsula, Local Sub F, Boulevard Francisco Medina Ascencio 2485, Zona Hotelera Norte, 48300.
Safety tips for Puerto Vallarta
- Learn a few basic Spanish phrases. The locals will appreciate it and should you need to ask for help, this will help you communicate.
- Try to avoid having expensive items visible while walking around to not make yourself a target.
- Keep your bag close to you – snatching does happen here.
- Limit the amount of money and cards that you carry with you.
- Do not bribe local authorities.
- Be conscious when you’re getting money out of the ATM and whose around. Use a reputable ATM that has a bank attached to it so if something happens you can actually talk to someone. Also, don’t forget to get your ATM card out of the machine when you’re done or it might eat your card – this happened to be at an HSBC bank!
- Research and stay in a safe neighborhood in a place with good reviews.
- Get a local SIM card so you can get directions and or call for help if needed. Have emergency numbers already on your cell phone and your WhatsApp.
- If you’re traveling solo, let someone know where you’re going when you head out.
- Don’t leave your drink unattended.
- Leave your travel itinerary and contact information with friends and family.
- If you’re a U.S. citizen, register your travels with the U.S. Department of State or if you’re Canadian, with the Canadian government.
- Keep your valuables in a safe when you head out.
- Make copies of important travel documents.
- Dial 911 in case of emergency
Get travel insurance for Puerto Vallarta
Medical insurance will protect you should anything happen. Puerto Vallarta has a decent medical system, but it will not be free as a non-resident. And yes, drugs are relatively cheap in Mexico, but a helicopter flight out won’t be. Just get the insurance.
I use and love SafetyWing, which is insurance designed for digital nomads.
Is Puerto Vallarta safe?
I hope this guide could put some of your safety concerns to rest and answer your question “is it safe to travel to Puerto Vallarta Mexico?”
Don’t be afraid to visit Puerto Vallarta for safety reasons – It would be a shame to miss out on such an amazing place. It’s one of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations for a reason!
If you use common sense, you’ll have a great time enjoying the wonderful activities and atmosphere of Puerto Vallarta.
As of October 2022, Puerto Vallarta is one of the safest places to visit in Mexico. Read this blog post for more information about safety in Puerto Vallarta.
Both Puerto Vallarta and Cancun are tourist destinations in Mexico that are generally safe to visit. That said, when comparing Puerto Vallarta and Cancun crime index on Numbeo, Puerto Vallarta has a much lower score.
Yes, it is safe to take taxis in Puerto Vallarta. Always tell someone where you’re going and when you arrived. Ubers are also readily available and safer because they track where you go.
Yes, resorts in Puerto Vallarta are some of the safest in Mexico. Not only is Puerto Vallarta one of Mexico’s safest destinations, but the resorts have extra security precautions to ensure you have a safe stay.
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