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As one of Mexico’s most popular beach destinations, there are endless fun things to do in Puerto Vallarta.

The city of Puerto Vallarta has an unrivaled reputation for its spectacular beaches, marine life, water sports, and luxury hotel lifestyle.

It’s clear to see the attraction of the city’s laid-back pace of life and a vibrant nightlife and why it attracts millions of tourists every year with so many exciting activities.

Of course, mere sightseeing is hardly an attraction anymore. As a traveler, you will want to have some unforgettable experiences during your trip.

Good thing there are many fun Puerto Vallarta activities to try during your trip!

Best Puerto Vallarta water activities

Puerto Vallarta has warm water temperatures that remain comfortable all year round, making it the perfect place to play in and around the ocean.

Here are the best Puerto Vallarta water activities to try on your trip.

things to do in puerto vallarta

1.Grab your snorkel gear and head out to one of these snorkeling spots around Puerto Vallarta to look for colorful fish and marine life.

2. Try Scuba diving.

Puerto Vallarta is home to some fantastic dive site. Book a tour with a professional dive shop, as they know all the best spots and can provide you with all the gear you need.

3. Cruise around the Bay of Banderas on a luxury yacht.

This tour will take you snorkeling at the best hotspots on Bandera Bay while you can sit back and relax as you sunbathe on the yacht in-between stops. Does life get any better?

6. Puerto Vallarta is the perfect destination to try out jet skiing, with endless amounts of calm water and scenery to explore. You can book a jet skiing tour here.

7. Take a catamaran tour at sunset for amazing views of the city.

8. Go for a swim in the ocean.

travelers Kayaking by Los Arcos National Marine Park in puerto vallarta Mexico
Kayaking by Los Arcos National Marine Park

9. Visit Los Acros National Marine Park, one of the richest areas for marine life. This natural rock arch provides a habitat for many species – during a dive here, I saw manta rays, sea turtles, and a sea horse!

10. Explore the ocean on a kayak or stand-up paddleboard.

11. Vist a water park! This is a great activity for kids, or a really fun way to spend a day in Puerto Vallarta with a group of friends sliding down water slides. Aquaventuras is one of the best water parks nearby.

12. Take a banana boat ride. This is exactly what it sounds like – you’ll ride along the ocean in a boat that looks like a banana. It’s silly and loads of fun. You can find people offering them at Playa Los Muertos.

13. Go surfing! Mexico’s Pacific coast is amazing for surf, and while there are no spots right in the city center, you can find waves just outside of it in Punta Minta or Sayulita. There are also surf tours you can join that provide transport and lessons.

14. Go deep-sea fishing. Did you know Puerto Vallarta is a world-class destination for sport fishing? Try your luck at catching wahoo, sailfish or dorado on a sport fishing tour.

Nature and outdoor activities in Puerto Vallarta

It’s not just water sports, Puerto Vallarta is a hub for outdoor adventure with the Sierra Madre mountains so close by.

Get immersed in nature on one of these outdoor activities.

viewpoint overlooking puerto vallarta mexico

15. Go zip-lining through the mountains!

Not only do you get a breathtaking view over one of the most beautiful Mexican landscapes, but a good dose of adrenaline as you soar through the skies. Book a ziplining tour here.

16. Get a birds-eye view of Puerto Vallarta on a parasailing tour.

By taking off from the beach rather than the back of a boat, this experience allows you to fly much higher and see unparalleled views of the town, beaches, and mountains beyond.

17. Go horseback riding. Enjoy a quiet horse ride through the beach, jungles, and small village of Higuera Blanca just outside of Puerto Vallarta on this horseback riding tour.

18. Get your adrenaline fix on this ATV tour! Leaving the city, you’ll travel by ATV through quaint Mexican villages and along the Cuale River into the stunning Sierra Madre Mountains.

19. Go skydiving over the city!

On this tour, you’ll enjoy a 25-minute scenic flight over Puerto Vallarta and then jump in tandem from 10,000 feet to experience an amazing free fall and parachute flight, landing safely on a gorgeous beach. Get 10% off this tour using code EXPLOREWITHLORA10.

20. Do it all on this multi-adventure tour. You’ll head to a tropical forest outside of Puerto Vallarta for an action-packed day of zip-lining, off-roading, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

Beach activities

Aerial view of Malecon Playa los Muertos, Puerto Vallarta in a sunny and clear day.
Los Muertos Pier

Of course, with so many beautiful beaches to choose from, many of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta revolve around the beach.

21. Las Caletas Beach Hideaway Experience. How about spending the day on a secluded beach? Only accessible by boat, you’ll have the opportunity to explore Las Caletas and all of the incredible natural wonders it has to offer.

22. Join a beach volleyball game – you can find people playing beach volleyball around the beaches in the city. The digital nomad community also organizes weekly volleyball games!

23. Visit Mismaloya, a small community in the south of Puerto Vallarta accessible by boat. Spend some time on the beach, or hire a boat from here to visit Los Arcos.

24. Drink margaritas at Los Muertos beach. This popular beach is one of the busiest beaches in the city. It’s located in the Romantic Zone, with many LGBTQ+-friendly beach clubs. It may not be the prettiest beach, but its the best to visit for a party.

25. Party the weekend away at Majahuitas beach club. Every weekend, they have world-class DJs spinning beats in a gorgeous tropical setting. It’s one of my favorite beaches in the city.

Puerto Vallarta hikes

One of my favorite activities in Puerto Vallarta is hiking! Below are some of the best hikes around Puerto Vallarta, with links to guided trips if you don’t want to do it on your own.

With all of these tours, you can get 10% by using code EXPLOREWITHLORA.

26. Boca to Las Animas is one of the most popular things to do here. The trailhead starts in Boca del Tomatlan and takes you along the coastline to Las Animas. Wear your swimsuit and take a dip in the emerald water of Los Colomitos along the way!

colomitos beach mexico
Colomitos beach

You can do this hike yourself or book a guided hike here. Use code EXPLOREWITHLORA10 for 10% off!

27. Palo Maria is one of the easiest waterfalls to reach. Here’s everything you need to know to reach Palo Maria on your own, or you can book a guided trip here.

28. Quimixto waterfall. Take a water taxi from Boca de Tomatlan to Quimixto and hike for half an hour to reach this beautiful waterfall from the town of Quimixto. You can also book a guided hike here.

29. Monkey Mountain is a great day jungle hike outside of Puerto Vallarta, where you’ll get stunning views of the entire Banderas Bay, Sayulita, and Punta Mita. You can book a tour here.

Wildlife experiences in Puerto Vallarta

30. Go whale watching. If you’re visiting during the season (December to March), you’ll want to join a whale-watching tour to see the magnificent pods of humpback whales that call PV home every winter.

31. Take part in a baby sea turtle release.

Mexico is home to some of the most important sea turtle nesting sites. During hatching season (typically June to October), turtle release camps are organized around the Bay that you can partake in.

Follow this Facebook page upcoming turtle release events.

baby sea turtle

32. Look for crocodiles! Seriously, you can see crocodiles hanging out in the river streams that lead down to the ocean. I’ve seen them by the hotel zone and hanging out in the marina at Marina Vallarta.

33. Visit a butterfly sanctuary. On this guided tour, you’ll learn about different species of butterflies in Mexico and even get the chance to release newly hatched butterflies.

34. Look for exotic birds in the Puerto Vallarta botanical gardens.

The gardens provide a habitat for San Blas jays, yellow-winged caciques, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and many other species of tropical birds.

35. Swim with free wild dolphins in their natural environment with this tour from Wildlife Connection.

dolphins in the ocean

By swimming respectfully with these bottlenose beauties, you’ll be participating in a research project that aims to better understand and protect these intelligent animals. Please do not swim with dolphins in captivity.

Free things to do in Puerto Vallarta

downtown puerto vallarta

Mexico is already a budget-friendly destination, but if you take part in some of these free activities, you can enjoy a trip here on a shoestring budget.

36 . Walk the Puerto Vallarta Malecon – the stretch of boardwalk which runs for about 1 mile along the water. It’s always busy and entertaining for people watching. There are often street performances and musicians!

37. Take part in the art walk. On Wednesday evenings from 6-10 pm, you can participate in Centro in a free art walk that takes you through the city’s top art galleries where you can buy goods made by local artists.

38. Go on a self-guided street art tour. Over the last few years, dozens of colorful murals have been painted throughout Centro and Zona Romantica. They make for great photos!

39. Explore the local markets. Check out Isla Rio Cuale, a traffic-free sand island between Centro and Zone Romantica, where you can find a flea market selling everything you could ever want. It’s free to look!

markets in puerto vallarta

40. Visit the Cerro de la Cruz lookout for an unbeatable view of the city. It’s a perfect spot to take in the sunset – speaking of which..

41. Watch the sunset. Situated on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, Puerto Vallarta enjoys spectacular sunsets every night. And they are 100% free to watch!

42. Hit the beach. That’s probably why you came here anyways! Grab a book and head to one of the many spectacular beaches in Puerto Vallarta.

sunset in puerto vallarta

42. Take a free walking tour. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday, you can join a 2-hour walking tour sponsored by the Municipal Tourism Office.

43. Visit the Church of our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the most iconic Puerto Vallarta attractions.

This historic building is in El Centro and dominates the downtown skyline. It’s free to enter and visit inside the church, where you can see a beautiful marble altar.

44. Go for a stroll in Marina Vallarta. This is a higher-scale neighborhood, which has a lovely area to walk along the water where you can see many yachts. Afterward, pop into one of the restaurants for a meal.

Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta at Night

Puerto Vallarta has a fantastic nightlife scene. Here are some of the best things to check out after the sun sets!

45. Watch the fireworks from the Malecon.

Every night the pirate ship boat tour puts off fireworks which you can see for free by simply being near the water. The time isn’t exact but usually happens around 10 pm.

46. Practise your salsa at La Bodeguita del Medio, a colorful Cuban-style car in the city center, or join this cuban salsa dancing class where you’ll also learn how to make mojitos!

47. Dance the night away at Yambak, which has live DJs and a packed dance floor on the weekends.

people dancing at Yambak in puerto vallarta mexico
Yambak

48. Go on a self-guided craft beer tour through the city’s best breweries.

49. Take part in The South Side Shuffle, a street party that happens every other Friday from 6 to 10 pm from November to April in Old Town.

50. Catch a live music show. Puerto Vallarta has a fantastic live music scene – catch a show at Kelly’s Pourfavor, Captain Don’s, El Rio BBQ, or aM Bar.

51. See a performance at Act II Stages, which hosts comedy acts, plays, and tribute performances.

52. Catch a drag show in Zona Romantica – Blue Chairs Resort and The Palm Cabaret and Bar frequently have them on.

51. Grab a drink at Colibri – this speakeasy-esque cocktail bar is one the top cocktail bars in the city.

52. Hit the clubs on the Malecon. Walk along this beach boardwalk, and you’ll hear the pounding music coming out of the clubs – along with caged dancers.

53.. Play drinking games at Aloha bar in Zona Romantica. They have beer pong!

54. Join the nightly pirate themed boat tour, which takes you back to the times of pirates and conquerors.

Not only does it include a spectacular display of fireworks, but also a delicious dinner and open bar. It’s sure to be an unforgettable evening!

55. Check out Rhythms of the night, a top-notch night show created by the co-creator of Cirque du Soleil. About half an hour on a boat is all it takes to get to Caletas beach, where the magic begins.

Enjoy the show, which celebrates acrobatic skills, costumes, fire, color, and a breathtaking interpretation of Aztec history.

56. For something completely different, join a bioluminescence tour. You’ll head out by boat to see bioluminescent plankton sparkle in the water.

Food activities

Eating delicious Mexican cuisine is part of the experience of visiting Puerto Vallarta!

food tours in puerto vallarta

57. Enjoy the sunset while dining at one of the rooftop restaurants in Puerto Vallarta. Barcelona Tapas is a personal favorite of mine!

58. Eat street tacos! There are so many delicious tacos stands in Puerto Vallarta to choose from – don’t be afraid to eat the local street food; its safe and some of the tastiest in the city.

59. Enjoy a vegan meal at The Green Place. This cute cafe has an extensive vegan-friendly menu. It’s also one of my favorite places to cowork in the city if you’re working remotely while visiting the city!

60. Take a walk through the Versalles neighborhood and take your pick of cuisine from around the world. It’s quickly becoming the foodie area of PV!

61. Is there any better way to taste all the many wonderful delicacies of Mexican cuisine than on a taco and tequila tour?

You’ll explore downtown Puerto Vallarta with a small group visiting the best local places as well as a traditional tequila tasting.

62. This 3-hour guided food tour takes you to seven local restaurants carefully chosen to highlight the best regional flavors Puerto Vallarta has to offer.

63. This unique bike and bites tour takes you around Puerto Vallarta on bikes, stopping to enjoy the city’s culinary delights, including tacos, carnitas, ice cream, and more.

64. Take a chocolate-making class. On this tour, you’ll get to make your own chocolate truffles using traditional local methods.

65. Take a cooking class. Starting at the local market, you’ll get to learn and try different products, visit a tortilla shop, and then enjoy an authentic Mexican cooking class at a small family restaurant. Book this experience here, and get 10% off using EXPLOREWITHLORA10.

Festivals and Events in Puerto Vallarta

For an unforgettable vacation, time your trip to Puerto Vallarta with one of these yearly events and festivals.

66. Mexican Días Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), on November 1-2nd every year, is a beautiful Mexican tradition where families gather to remember friends and family who have passed away through folkloric ballets, mariachis, and Catrinas contests. It’s an incredible sight to witness.

day of the dead costumes

67. The International Gourmet Food Festival in November is one of Mexico’s most prominent culinary events, and it takes place in Puerto Vallarta. A must for the foodies out there!

68. Take part in the Puerto Vallarta International Fishing Tournament every November, when fishermen from all over the world come to compete for the biggest catch

69. Festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe from December 1st-12th is a significant religious celebration for the locals. It starts with a procession through the streets culminating with a street party on December 12th!

70. New Year’s Eve – Puerto Vallarta is an ideal place to ring in the new year. For a city that has nightly fireworks, you can imagine they go all out on NYE. The parties on the Malecon will be wild!

71. Vallarta Cup Race Series. If you love sailing, you’ll want to check out this festival during January.

72. Celebrate the areas’ biodiversity at the Vallarta Bird and Nature Festival held in the Vallarta botanical gardens every February.

73. Semana Santa, aka Holy Week or Easter Weekend, is one of the busiest weekends in Puerto Vallarta. Locals from all over the country come to spend their vacation in PV, and the city turns into one giant party.

74. Gay Pride. Puerto Vallarta is one of the most gay-friendly destinations in Mexico, and if you visit during pride month (May), you’ll experience some great parties.

Puerto Vallarta pride

75. Puerto Vallarta restaurant week from May to June is a great time to check out the city’s best restaurants. Participating restaurants offer 3-course meals at a steep discount.

76. Punta Mita Surfing Competition. This yearly longboard competition takes place on a beautifully secluded beach around 30 minutes North of Puerto Vallarta – one of the best places to surf. It usually happens end of May.

77. Mexican Independence day, on September 15th, is a 2-day party where traditional displays of Mexican culture invite locals and travelers to celebrate together. 

Places to visit near Puerto Vallarta

The city is great to explore, but don’t miss these other amazing Mexico destinations that can be easily visited as a day trip.

78. If you want to surf and party, then take a day trip to Sayulita. This hyped-up beach town is quickly becoming one of Mexico’s top party spots, attracting surfers from all over the world.

sayulita
Sayulita

Sayulita is about an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta – you can get there via local busses or Uber if you don’t have a car. Alternatively, you can join this guided tour to Sayulita. Get 10% off by using code EXPLOREWITHLORA10.

79. For something a little quieter than Sayulita, head to San Pancho 5 minutes down the road. It boasts the same quality of beach and surf conditions but with a much tamer vibe. It’s a hippy paradise!

80. Bucerias has become somewhat of a mini-Canada with so many Canadians moving there. It’s a lovely beach town close by to Puerto Vallarta you can check out for the day.

81. San Sebastian is a charming mountain town two hours from Puerto Vallarta. This is a great place to go hiking, cool off from the heat, and ride ATVs up to the top of the mountains for incredible views. To get here, you can rent a car and drive or join this guided tour.

Cupala church of San Sebastian del Oeste
Cupala church of San Sebastian del Oeste

82. Just a little further out of Puerto Vallarta are the idyllic villages of Yelapa and Majahuitas.

You can head there on your own via a boat from Boca Del Tomaltan or join this flexible tour where you can go hiking to waterfalls or try your hand at kayaking, paddleboarding, or snorkeling with all equipment provided

83. Quimixto is one of my favorite beach day trips from Puerto Vallarta – there, you can find pristine white sand beaches and a waterfall that you can swim in.

84. Islas Marietas and Hidden Beach is a must-do while visiting Puerto Vallarta. To get there, you’ll have to book a tour which typically includes the boat ride over, water activities, food, and drinks.

hidden beach islas marietas

Note that permits to visit hidden beach are sold separately and should be booked in advance as the beach is limited to 116 people a day.

86. Visit the Vallarta botanical gardens. Their specialty is orchids, but they have more than 200 different types of plants and more than 300 animals and birds.

You can get to the gardens via local bus and pay an entry fee, or join this guided tour which also takes you to a hidden waterfall. Get 10% off the tour using promo code EXPLOREWITHLORA10.

87. Visit Nuevo Vallarta. Although they are right next to each other, Nuevo Vallarta has its own personality. It’s a laid-back, relaxed city with more of an American feel to it. It’s easy to reach from Puerto Vallarta; you can grab an Uber or bus from Centro and be there in just half an hour.

88. Visit the town of Tequila. This is at least a 4-hour journey, so I recommend making this one a weekend trip. It’s a cute town that’s the birthplace of Tequila – so enjoy some tasting tours at this Pueblo Magic, one of nine in the state of Jalisco.

89. If you’re got a free day on a Sunday in Puerto Vallarta, take the time to visit the La Cruz Sunday Market in Huanacaxtle. It was one of my favorite markets in Mexico!

Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta?

Puerto Vallarta has endless accommodation options to choose from, and staying in an all-inclusive resort can be an activity on its own with so much to do there.

There are also plenty of charming boutique hotels you can stay in, including Casa Kimberly, where Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor once lived!

This comprehensive guide has more information about the best areas to stay in.

What is Puerto Vallarta best known for?

Puerto Vallarta is known for its spectacular landscapes, fun water sports, wild nightlife, and world-class resorts. Discover the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta here.

Is Puerto Vallarta worth visiting?

Without a doubt! Puerto Vallarta is one of the most beautiful coastal cities in Mexico, if not the world. Everyone should visit at least once in their life.

Is Puerto Vallarta a walkable city?

Yes! Puerto Vallarta is a very walkable city. It has a gorgeous 1km boardwalk that goes along the Malecon and charming cobblestone streets that take you through the neighborhoods.

When is the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta?

The best time to visit Puerto Vallarta is during the high season, from November to March when you’ll enjoy the best weather and whale season. However, in the shoulder season, you can get better prices on accommodations.

There are many unforgettable things to do in Puerto Vallarta.

Whether you prefer to explore the natural landscapes, want to eat your way through the city, or party all night, Puerto Vallarta has it on offer. Happy travels!

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 Lora Pope is a travel content creator who’s been wandering solo for over a decade. She lives a nomadic lifestyle and is on a quest to visit every country in the world - always on the lookout for new adventures, hidden gems, and dogs to pet. You can follow her adventures on Explore with Lora</a or any channels below.

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