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The Puerto Vallarta hotel zone is one of the most popular areas to stay in the city.
I lived in the hotel zone during my first year in Puerto Vallarta and got to know the neighborhood well. As you might guess, it has many hotels to stay in and is also home to some great beaches.
This guide will go over the best places to stay, eat, and be entertained in the Puerto Vallarta hotel zone.
BEST PUERTO VALLARTA HOTEL ZONE TOUR
Don’t have time to read this post? Rhythms of The Night is the tour you don’t want to miss. It leaves from the cruise port for an unforgettable night on the water!
What is the hotel zone in Puerto Vallarta?
The Hotel Zone starts at the cruise ship terminal and goes south to the stadium. Generally speaking, it’s mostly the narrow strip of land between the highway and the beach.
Once you go inland, you find yourself in other local neighborhoods like Versalles and 5 de Diciembre.
As the name would suggest, the Hotel Zone is mainly composed of hotels, many of them being large, all-inclusive resorts.
There are also plenty of condo buildings and shopping centers. This includes La Isla, the premier mall in Puerto Vallarta, featuring dozens of international shops and a state-of-the-art cinema.
The cruise ship terminal is located here. Massive ships pull up daily throughout the high season, dropping short-term visitors off by the hundreds.
To serve this constant flow of people, the immediate area around the cruise port has a Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, casino, and a new shopping area called Puerto Magico (Magic Port).
Where to stay in the Puerto Vallarta Hotel Zone
The Puerto Vallarta hotel zone is home to some of the best all-inclusive hotels in Puerto Vallarta, where you can enjoy unlimited cocktails in a swim-up bar.
🏨 Villa del Palmar Beach Resort is a solid choice in the area. It’s right on the beach with a huge pool, and you can go all-inclusive or not here.
🏨 Fiesta Americana is right around the corner and is where you’ll want to be if you’re looking for that all-inclusive treatment. There’s an infinity pool that’s adults only and a kid’s club for families.
🏨 Hotel Mio is an entirely adults-only hotel. It’s not on the beach and is right off the highway, but there’s a nice rooftop pool and a super convenient location at a good price.
Things to do in the Hotel Zone
Most people staying in the hotel zone take advantage of the all-inclusive amenities and spend most of their time at the hotel, making occasional trips into town or going on half-day tours.
If you’re staying in the hotel zone, the best tours are those that leave from the cruise port area.
This includes the fantastic Rhythms of the Night (my personal fave). It starts with a scenic boat ride complete with an open bar that takes you to the remote Las Caletas for the performance.
It’s a bit like Cirque du Soleil with acrobatics, dancers, and fire jugglers. The venue is a mystical amphitheater set in the jungle, and it’s pretty incredible.
You also enjoy a nice buffet dinner and continue the open bar fun all night. Put this one high on your list of things to do in PV at night. It’s easily in the top three tours I’ve done in five years of living here.
The pirate ship tour also leaves from the port, and it’s one of the most popular tours in the city. I’ve never personally done it, but it’s been on my list. It’s certainly fun watching the ship pull up to the Malecon and giving a fireworks show on a nightly basis!
Hidden beach, in the Islas Marietas, is considered one of Mexico’s most unique beaches.
You need a permit to enter the beach, which is only accessible by boat. They sell out fast, so book your tour in advance if you want to visit hidden beach!
This is a great thing to do if you’re staying in the hotel zone, as the tours leave from the cruise port.
If you’re feeling super adventurous, you could add skydiving to your Puerto Vallarta itinerary. Skydive Vallarta has its office in the Hotel Zone and runs daily trips. This is definitely one of the most scenic places to go skydiving!
Shopping is also high on the list of things to do in the Hotel Zone. I hate going to the mall, and even I enjoy a stroll around La Isla. It’s a pretty cool open-air mall, and it’s fun doing some window shopping and catching a movie there from time to time.
Hotel Zone Beaches
The long stretch of beach in the Hotel Zone is public, although it can be difficult to access without going through the resorts.
It starts up by the port and goes all the way down to the Sheraton, with a few public access points. There is one behind the Secrets Resort.
Unlike the beaches in Old Town, there are few places to get a chair and umbrella or dine on the beach. This is mostly a DIY beach day if you come here.
It is definitely worth it to go to the beach in the Hotel Zone to experience a sea turtle release. These often happen between July and December when sea turtles show up by the hundreds to nest. Even outside of these months, it’s possible to catch one if you’re in town for a few days.
🇲🇽 Puerto Vallarta Quick Guide 🇲🇽
✈️ Airport – The Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR) airport is a 20-minute ride to the city center. You can book an airport transfer here.
🏩 Hotels – The best website for booking hotels and resorts are Booking.com and Expedia, which search all properties to find you the best deals. For inspiration on where to stay, head to my ultimate guide to Puerto Vallarta hotels.
🚗 Getting around – Puerto Vallarta is easy to get around by walking and Uber, but renting a car is the best way to explore the surrounding areas. Discover Cars is the best website for finding deals, which searches International and local Mexican companies.
🌊 Things to do – Puerto Vallarta is a paradise for outdoor adventure! Some of the top things to do are whale watching, yacht trips, and ATV tours.
✔️ Don’t forget travel insurance! I use and love SafetyWing, which is insurance for remote workers. For shorter trips, I recommend HeyMondo – you can get 5% off by using that link.
Restaurants in the Hotel Zone
Since much of the area is taken up by resorts and condos, there aren’t many restaurants here. There are plenty of them in the resorts, but you can’t just go eat in most of them.
You won’t go hungry or thirsty here, though. There are just far fewer options than in other neighborhoods.
Here’s a list of restaurants in the Hotel Zone to get you through a trip there:
- El Oasis del Holi: one of few beachside restaurants here with good seafood
- Food Park: awesome food truck park with lots of options and a full bar
- icu: one of the top-rated restaurants in the city with tasting menus
- Porfirio’s: fine-dining Mexican cuisine
- Monkey Business: cool new spot with a bar, food, live music, and karaoke
- Punto Mar: beach club with decent food and sun loungers/umbrellas
- La Leche: always comes up in “best restaurants in PV” lists
- Zeferino’s: tiny local pizza shop that’s good for takeout
- Imperial: new kitchen and bar just off the highway
- Cerverceria Chapultepec: my favorite dive bar with dirt-cheap snacks and drinks
- La Madalena: fancy place with gorgeous decor and an extensive menu
Living in the Puerto Vallarta Hotel Zone
The hotel zone is definitely an area geared towards tourists. There are so many massage parlors, pharmacies, and souvenir shops. Even when I lived in the area for six months, I still felt like a tourist walking around.
That being said, I really enjoyed the condo where we lived. Having a huge supermarket next door and the beach a block away was great. The area lacks restaurants and bars that aren’t a part of a hotel, though.
The commute to Old Town definitely got old after a while, but at least it’s only 10 pesos to catch the bus there, and cabs run around 100-120 for a ride back, depending on the time of night.
It’s generally an older crowd in terms of the expats in the Hotel Zone. Most of my neighbors at the condo we lived in for a season were retirees, many of whom only stayed in PV for the nicest months. As I told them, “I want to be like you when I grow up.”
The Puerto Vallarta Hotel Zone is a super convenient base for tourists and short-term visitors. It’s easy getting in and out from the airport and to Old Town. Plus, who doesn’t love a hotel balcony overlooking the beach?
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