This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking and making a purchase through the links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my disclaimer for more information. This allows me to keep the site up to date and expand on resources.
Are you wondering, “Is Puerto Vallarta worth visiting in 2024?” Let me help! I’ve been living in Puerto Vallarta for the last four years and have seen the city change dramatically.
In a world where travel destinations can quickly change, it’s natural to wonder if Puerto Vallarta has retained the qualities that have drawn millions of visitors each year. Has the city managed to preserve its unique blend of natural beauty, incredible nightlife, and welcoming atmosphere?
As someone who has called Puerto Vallarta home for the past four years, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformations of this coastal paradise over the last four years. And trust me, it’s changed a lot!
From the bustling Malecón to the tranquil beaches, I’ve seen Puerto Vallarta evolve yet maintain its soul. I’m here to share an insider’s view of what makes this city a must-visit in 2024, from its hidden gems to its evolving landscapes.
But it’s not just the highlights; I’ll also share some of the downsides of Puerto Vallarta, ensuring you have a well-rounded understanding of what to expect.
Reasons to visit Puerto Vallarta
Here are 21 compelling reasons why it is worth visiting Puerto Vallarta.
1. Perfect Weather
Puerto Vallarta truly shines when it comes to weather during the high season from November to April. Imagine waking up to clear, sunny skies and spending your days basking in a climate that’s nothing short of idyllic.
During these months, the weather in Puerto Vallarta strikes a perfect balance. It’s warm enough to lounge on the beach or explore the town comfortably, yet not overwhelmingly hot, thanks to the gentle sea breezes that comes through the city.
Whether hiking in the lush jungles, sailing on the sparkling waters, or simply enjoying an outdoor meal, the climate from November to April in Puerto Vallarta makes every experience more enjoyable.
It’s no wonder that this time of the year is considered the best season to visit and explore all this enchanting city offers.
2. Home to some of Mexico’s best beaches
Puerto Vallarta’s beaches are a tale of two worlds.
While the beaches within the city are not that impressive, they are always lively and bustling, and nothing beats the convenience of walking to the beach after work in a few minutes.
For those willing to venture a bit further, especially towards the south, an entirely different scene awaits. I’ve explored most of the smaller towns along the coast, and they are truly special.
Places like Yelapa, accessible only by boat, offer a glimpse into Mexico’s most authentic beach towns. The journey there is an adventure, with the reward being serene beaches and stunning turquoise waters.
The contrast between the city’s vibrant beachfront and the tranquil shores of nearby hidden gems is striking. It’s a reminder of Puerto Vallarta’s diverse coastal offerings.
3. Adventure Activities Amidst Nature
For adventure enthusiasts like myself, Puerto Vallarta is a dream. The city offers the best of both worlds with its stunning ocean and majestic mountains, providing a playground for diverse activities.
The ocean invites you to dive into activities like snorkeling, where the underwater world is as vibrant as the city. Then there are the mountains, offering hiking trails that lead to breathtaking views and hidden waterfalls.
This diversity in landscapes and activities is what sets Puerto Vallarta apart. One day, you can be riding the waves, and the next, you’re exploring the heights of the Sierra Madre Mountains.
4. Vibrant Art Scene
Puerto Vallarta’s art scene is as colorful and diverse as the city itself, something I’ve come to appreciate deeply. Strolling through the streets, many murals and sculptures greet you, each telling its own story.
One of my favorite experiences is exploring the numerous galleries dotted around the city. They showcase a wide range of art, from traditional Mexican crafts to contemporary pieces by local and international artists.
The city’s commitment to art is evident in its public spaces, with the Malecón being a prime example. This boardwalk is an open-air gallery, featuring sculptures and installations that capture the essence of Puerto Vallarta’s rich cultural tapestry.
The Art Walk that happens every Wednesday during high season is a highlight I’ve enjoyed several times with friends. Roaming from gallery to gallery in the evening, the atmosphere is electric.
The gallery owners are not just welcoming but also have fascinating stories and insights. It’s a perfect way to immerse yourself in the local art scene and connect with the vibrant community behind it.
5. LGBTQ+ Friendly
Puerto Vallarta is known as the “gay capital of Latin America” and a loved destination among the LGBTQ+ community. I love this aspect of the city, as it creates an atmosphere of openness and acceptance.
The city’s welcoming nature is evident in its vibrant LGBTQ+ scene, including friendly bars, clubs, and events celebrating diversity. The annual Pride celebration here is a colorful, joyous event that brings together locals and visitors in a spirited display of unity and support.
Having spent time in various parts of the city, I’ve always felt a strong sense of community and safety. This inclusive environment makes Puerto Vallarta not just a travel destination but a home for many.
One of the practical reasons that make Puerto Vallarta a top choice for travelers is its accessibility. Having an international airport right in the city is a game-changer.
During my travels, I’ve always appreciated destinations that are easy to reach, and Puerto Vallarta ticks this box perfectly. The airport offers numerous flights from various locations, including many direct flights from the USA and Canada. Direct flights to LA and New York will get you almost anywhere else in the world in just one more stop.
The city’s connectivity doesn’t end at the airport. Once you’re here, getting around is a breeze, whether you prefer to walk the charming streets, hop on a bus, or take a taxi.
This accessibility enhances the overall travel experience, allowing you to focus more on enjoying what Puerto Vallarta offers and less on the logistics of getting there and around.
7. Friendly Locals
The warmth and friendliness of the locals in Puerto Vallarta are truly heartwarming and is an aspect of the city that has greatly enriched my experience living here. The local community is not just welcoming; they often go out of their way to make you feel at home.
I’ve had countless interactions where the kindness of the people has turned a simple outing into a memorable experience. Whether it’s a shopkeeper sharing stories, a passerby helping with directions, or a neighbor inviting you to a local event, the sense of community is palpable.
The welcoming nature of the locals plays a significant role in defining the overall vibe of Puerto Vallarta. It creates an environment where visitors can easily connect with the culture and feel a part of the city, even if they’re here briefly. It’s this genuine hospitality that often turns first-time visitors into repeat guests or, in cases like mine, into residents.
8. Amazing Expat Community
Living in Puerto Vallarta, one of the aspects I’ve come to cherish is the incredible expat and digital nomad community. This vibrant group of international residents adds a unique dimension to the city’s culture.
The expat community here is not just about socializing; it’s a network of support and shared experiences. I’ve attended gatherings and events where I’ve met people from all around the world, each with their own fascinating stories and reasons for choosing Puerto Vallarta as their home.
Whether you’re looking to make new friends, find professional connections, or share experiences with like-minded individuals, the expat community here is a valuable resource that enhances the living experience in this beautiful city.
9. Lush Jungles and Mountains
Puerto Vallarta isn’t just about beautiful beaches; it’s also a paradise for those who love getting lost in nature. The lush jungles and towering mountains around the city are like stepping into a whole new world.
Hiking through these jungles is like being in a real-life adventure movie. You’re surrounded by vibrant greenery, and there’s always the chance of spotting some cool birds.
Then there are the mountains. They’re not just for looking at the beach – they’re for exploring. It’s this mix of beach vibes and mountain escapes that makes Puerto Vallarta super unique and a blast to explore.
10. Epic Whale Watching
Whale watching in Puerto Vallarta is an experience that’s hard to beat. It’s one of those things that never gets old, no matter how many times you do it. Seeing these magnificent creatures up close is just mind-blowing.
Every year, humpback whales cruise into the bay where they stay to raise their young from December to March. You can hop on a boat tour and watch these giants of the ocean in their natural habitat. The first time I saw a whale breach was like nothing I’d ever seen – just pure, wild nature at its finest.
11. Nightlife and Entertainment
Whether you’re into chill beach bars or lively nightclubs, the nightlife in Puerto Vallarta is a vibe. Every night is a new opportunity to have fun and meet new people.
I’ve spent many evenings exploring the different spots around town. The energy is always high, from rooftop bars with killer views to dance floors where you can salsa the night away.
And the best part? The variety. One night you can be sipping cocktails by the ocean, and the next, you’re in the heart of a bustling club.
But it’s not just about the party scene. There are also plenty of spots for live music, where you can relax and enjoy some tunes. Whether you’re looking to party hard or hang out with friends, there’s always something to do in Puerto Vallarta. The challenge is going out TOO much!
12. Incredible Sunsets
Talking about sunsets, Puerto Vallarta is in a league of its own. There’s something magical about watching the sun dip into the Pacific, painting the sky with incredible colors. It never gets old.
I’ve spent countless evenings just mesmerized by these sunsets. Whether you’re chilling on the beach, enjoying a rooftop dinner, or taking a stroll along the Malecón, the sunset views are spectacular. It’s the perfect way to end a day in paradise.
These sunsets aren’t just beautiful; they bring a sense of calm and wonder. It’s a time when everyone seems to pause and soak in the beauty. For me, it’s moments like these that really highlight the natural beauty of Puerto Vallarta and make it such a special place.
13. Eco-Tourism and Wildlife Conservation
Puerto Vallarta is a dream spot for anyone passionate about eco-tourism and wildlife conservation, like me.
The eco-tours here are fantastic. You can explore places like the Islas Marietas, where the wildlife and natural landscapes are just stunning. And let’s talk about the conservation efforts – from protecting the humpback whales to saving sea turtles, it’s inspiring to see and be a part of.
Whether you’re helping with turtle releases or learning about the local ecosystems at the Botanical Garden, it’s a great way to give back while you travel. Plus, you get to see a side of Puerto Vallarta that goes beyond the typical tourist experience. It’s about making a positive impact while enjoying the beauty of this amazing place.
14. Amazing Yoga Retreats
Puerto Vallarta’s yoga retreats are a must-try if you’re into yoga or just looking for a chill way to unwind.
Beyond Yoga Retreats is the best you’ll find. Imagine doing yoga with a view of the ocean or a tranquil jungle setting – it’s as blissful as it sounds. The instructors are top-notch, and there’s a real sense of community in each class.
These retreats aren’t just about yoga; they often include other wellness activities like meditation and healthy eating. It’s a great way to reset, whether you’re a seasoned yogi or just starting.
And if you can’t make a retreat, there are several places to do yoga around Puerto Vallarta.
15. Great Base for Day Trips
Puerto Vallarta is not just a fantastic destination in itself; it’s also the perfect base for exploring nearby attractions and towns. There’s so much to see and do just a short drive or boat ride away.
I’ve taken several day trips to places like San Sebastian and Sayulita, and each offers a unique experience. San Sebastian, nestled in the mountains, feels like a step back in time with its colonial charm. Sayulita, on the other hand, is a vibrant surf town with a laid-back vibe that’s infectious.
These day trips are super easy to organize and add so much variety to your stay in Puerto Vallarta.
16. Delicious Food
Let’s talk about the food in Puerto Vallarta. While it may not be as amazing as Oaxaca, it’s come a long way in recent years. From cheap and cheerful tacos to high-end international cuisine, the city is a foodie’s paradise.
I’ve indulged in everything from street food to fancy dinners here, and it’s all been amazing. The tacos are a must-try; they’re not just affordable but also some of the best I’ve ever had. And the variety is incredible – you can find everything from traditional Mexican dishes to fusion and international flavors.
Versalles is known as the foodie neighborhood, and for good reason. The streets here are lined with an array of restaurants and cafes, offering a taste of the local culinary scene that’s both authentic and diverse.
The food festivals here are another highlight. They’re a great opportunity to sample different cuisines and dishes all in one place. Be sure to take advantage of Restaurant Week if you’re here in May or June, when some of the city’s best restaurants offer 3-course plates at a discounted rate.
17. Amazing Resorts
Puerto Vallarta isn’t just about the vibrant city life; it’s also home to some amazing hotels and resorts that can turn a great vacation into an unforgettable one. These resorts are like little slices of paradise.
I’ve had the chance to stay at a few; they’re the epitome of relaxation and luxury. Imagine waking up to stunning ocean views, lounging by infinity pools, and enjoying top-notch spa services – it’s the ultimate way to unwind.
Being in Jalisco, the birthplace of tequila, Puerto Vallarta offers an authentic experience for tequila enthusiasts. This is something I’ve come to love about living here – the access to some of the best tequila in the world.
I’ve visited local distilleries and participated in tequila tastings, which are not only fun but also incredibly informative. You learn about the different types of tequila, the distillation process, and of course, get to taste the rich variety.
Another exciting option is visiting the town of Tequila itself. It’s about a 4-hour drive from Puerto Vallarta, making it feasible for a day trip, but I recommend staying overnight to fully immerse yourself in the experience.
The town is charming, and being in the place where tequila originated is something special. You’ll find distilleries big and small, each offering a unique insight into the world of tequila.
19. Safe Environment
Safety is a key concern for any traveler, and it’s something I’ve been particularly mindful of during my travels. In Puerto Vallarta, I’ve consistently felt safe, whether exploring during the day or enjoying the nightlife.
The city has a relaxed and secure atmosphere, which is comforting, especially for solo travelers or those new to international travel. The local authorities and community are proactive in maintaining a safe environment for both residents and visitors. This sense of security allows you to explore and enjoy all that Puerto Vallarta has to offer with peace of mind.
From my personal experience, walking around the city, even in the less touristy areas, I’ve always felt a sense of safety. Of course, it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings and take standard safety precautions, but overall, Puerto Vallarta stands out as one of the safest places in Mexico.
20. Sailing/Boat Tours
Sailing and boat tours in Puerto Vallarta are an absolute must-do. There’s something incredibly peaceful and exhilarating about being out on the water, and the views of the city and coastline from the sea are unbeatable.
I’ve been on a few boat tours here, and each time, it’s a new adventure. Whether it’s a leisurely sail around the bay, a snorkeling trip to hidden coves, or a sunset cruise, the experiences are always memorable. The waters are usually calm and clear, making it perfect for a day out at sea.
What’s great about these tours is the variety. You can opt for a private, luxurious sailing experience or join a group tour for a fun social outing. Some tours even include stops at secluded beaches or snorkeling spots, adding an extra layer of adventure to your day.
21. Charming Neighborhoods
Each of the neighborhoods of Puerto Vallarta has its own unique charm and character, and wandering through these neighborhoods is one of my favorite things to do.
The cobblestone streets are a hallmark of Puerto Vallarta’s charm. Areas like the Romantic Zone (Zona Romántica) are bustling with cafes, boutiques, and art galleries, offering a perfect blend of modern amenities and traditional Mexican culture.
It’s a great place to experience the local lifestyle, enjoy people-watching, and maybe even stumble upon a street performance.
Then there are quieter, more residential neighborhoods where you can get a feel for the everyday life of locals. These areas offer a more authentic glimpse into Puerto Vallarta, away from the tourist hotspots.
Downsides of Puerto Vallarta
While Puerto Vallarta is undoubtedly a paradise, offering stunning natural beauty and a warm, welcoming community, it’s not without its challenges. Like any popular destination, living in or visiting Puerto Vallarta comes with a set of considerations that are important to acknowledge.
Humidity in Summer: The summer can be uncomfortably humid, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially for those not used to tropical climates. I spent my first full summer in Mexico in 2023, and while it wasn’t as bad as I thought, the humidity does get to you after a while. I’d recommend taking a break and going to Canada or the USA to break it up if you’re living here!
Hurricane Season: The risk of hurricanes and heavy rains from June to October can be a concern, especially during September and October. In 2023, Puerto Vallarta was hit by a pretty bad hurricane, so I’d avoid coming during these months if this is something you’re worried about.
High Tourist Volume in Dry Season: The influx of tourists during the dry season (November to April) can lead to crowded beaches and tourist spots, which might detract from the experience for some. However, it also makes for a lively and fun atmosphere.
Rising Costs: As Puerto Vallarta becomes more popular, the cost of living and visiting, including accommodations, dining, and activities, has increased, making it less affordable than it used to be.
Traffic Congestion: With its growing popularity, traffic can be a significant issue, especially during peak seasons or rush hours, leading to delays and frustration. I feel like I’m always stuck in traffic, which is annoying when you’re in a rush.
Small Town Feel: For some, the close-knit community can feel a bit too small, leading to a sense of everyone knowing everyone’s business, which might be overwhelming for those used to more anonymity.
Seasonal Businesses: Some businesses, especially those catering to tourists, may only operate seasonally, which can be inconvenient for visitors and residents outside peak times.
Noise Levels: In certain areas, especially around the nightlife zones, noise can be an issue, potentially affecting the quality of rest and relaxation for some visitors or residents.
In addition to the vibrant nightlife, certain areas of Puerto Vallarta are experiencing significant construction as the city grows and develops, especially in Versalles. This construction can contribute to noise pollution, disrupting the peaceful ambiance that many seek when visiting or living in this beautiful coastal city.
Environmental Concerns: With the increase in tourism and development, there are growing concerns about environmental sustainability and the impact on local ecosystems.
FAQ: Is Puerto Vallarta Worth Visiting?
What is special about Puerto Vallarta?
Puerto Vallarta is renowned for its stunning beaches, vibrant art scene, and welcoming community, offering a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural richness.
Is it better to go to Cancun or Puerto Vallarta?
The choice between Cancun and Puerto Vallarta depends on your preferences; Cancun is known for its Caribbean beaches and nightlife, while Puerto Vallarta offers a rich cultural experience and diverse landscapes.
How many days do you need for Puerto Vallarta?
A minimum of 3 to 5 days is recommended to explore Puerto Vallarta’s main attractions, but staying longer allows you to discover more of its hidden gems.
Is Puerto Vallarta very touristy?
While Puerto Vallarta is a popular tourist destination, it maintains a balance between tourist attractions and authentic local experiences.
Why is everyone going to Puerto Vallarta?
People are drawn to Puerto Vallarta for its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and the warm hospitality of its residents.
Is there lots to do in Puerto Vallarta?
Yes, from beach activities and eco-tourism to exploring art galleries and enjoying the local cuisine, there’s a wide range of things to do in Puerto Vallarta.
What month is best for Puerto Vallarta?
The best time to visit Puerto Vallarta is from November to April, when the weather is ideal for beach and outdoor activities.
Is Puerto Vallarta nicer than Cabo?
Puerto Vallarta and Cabo offer different experiences; Puerto Vallarta is known for its cultural vibe and lush landscapes, while Cabo is famous for its luxury resorts and desert scenery.
Is it safe to swim in the ocean in Puerto Vallarta?
Yes, it is safe to swim in the ocean at most beaches in Puerto Vallarta, but always pay attention to local safety flags and advisories.
Is it safe to leave resort in Puerto Vallarta?
Yes, it is generally safe to leave the resort and explore Puerto Vallarta, but as with any travel destination, it’s wise to stay aware of your surroundings.
Final thoughts: Is Puerto Vallarta Worth Visiting?
Like any popular destination, Puerto Vallarta has its own set of challenges – from the seasonal swells of tourists and the humid summers to the realities of living in a growing city, such as rising costs and construction noise.
Yet, there are still so many reasons to visit Puerto Vallarta. With its vibrant art scene, welcoming atmosphere, and stunning landscapes, the city offers a unique blend of experiences that continue to draw people from around the world.
Living here has allowed me to experience firsthand both the highs and the lows, and it’s the warmth of the community, the breathtaking natural surroundings, and the endless opportunities for adventure and relaxation that truly define the city. The drawbacks, while present, are part of what makes any experience real and grounded. They remind us that no place is without its imperfections.
In the end, the question isn’t really if Puerto Vallarta is worth visiting, but how soon you can come to experience its magic for yourself.