Bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Puerto Vallarta’s contrasting terrain makes for a paradise defined by serene bays and lush green mountains. As the capital of Mariachi music, this seaside city jives to its own smooth rhythm with a luxury marina, romantic malecóns, beaches and nightlife.
From tequila tasting to whale watching, Puerto Vallarta’s tropical climate, protected Pacific bay and natural geography make this western resort town a main attraction for the affluent and adventurous traveler alike with a nice contrast of ritzy accommodations overlooking a yacht-filled marina, and more relaxed surf zones with low key beachside eateries and quiet surroundings.
Located in Mexico’s Jalisco State, Puerto Vallarta borders the Nayarit state and the town of Cabo Corrientes, the Pacific Ocean hugs the town’s west side, making it a main port destination for cruise lines including Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean.
Puerto Vallarta is separated into zones, all are diverse and cater to travelers’ every want and need. In Zona Norte, you’ll find the biggest offering of hotels and things to do with a special emphasis on shopping centers, cinemas and beaches. Marina Vallarta is a glamorous retreat for the luxury visitor with world-class golf, an exclusive hotel zone, a boardwalk of restaurants, shops and attractions, and of course celeb-worthy yachts. For a more cultural perspective, Zona Centro is the “Historic Center of Puerto Vallarta,” known for its cobblestone roads and Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe church. Along the ocean, the Malecón is a beachside promenade with modern sculptures and artwork. Olas Altas, or the “Romantic Zone,” is just that, with whimsical restaurants, boutique hotels and candle-lit hideaways. Nature lovers will find solace in Zona Sur where beaches including Las Animas, Yelapa and Quimixto wow visitors.
Best Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta
High season in Puerto Vallarta is December through mid-April, when you will experience the best weather. During this time you’ll pay a premium on room rates and have to plan ahead for excursions. During low season, from July through September, you can expect hot and humid weather with some rain, however you’re likely to score great deals on hotels and flights. Shoulder season border these in Late Spring from May to June and fall months from October to November. You’ll experience good weather, less rain and brighter skies. During the cooler months, migrating humpback whales make an appearance in the bay for a bucket list experience.
Puerto Vallarta Weather
Puerto Vallarta’s tropical climate attracts visitors year round. Although the town reports more than 300 sunny days a year, rainy season spans from mid-June through mid October. Don’t let rain season deter your visit though as during this time, showers will fall in short sporadic bursts, most often at night, with most days being dry and hot. Puerto Vallarta is protected by The Bay of Banderas, where the coastline curves in, creating a natural barrier from major storms and hurricanes.
Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is known for its beaches, watersports and nightlife. Plan your day around surfing in Bahia de Banderas (Bay of Banderas) or Bucerias, Nayarit. Or, snorkel the crystal clear water of the Marieta Islands National Park for a peaceful glance below the ocean. This protected park is an uninhabited island, just a quick ferry or boat ride from land, and unlocks an oasis of natural wonders including Hidden Beach or Love Beach, a hidden beach inside a cave that opens up to reveal the sky. Home to reef fish, sea turtles, dolphins, and humpback whales during winter months, Marieta Islands National Park makes for a magical day trip. The nightlife scene is equally vivacious in Puerto Vallarta with dance clubs including Mandala Puerto Vallarta and Strana, all of which give the ultimate club experience.
Puerto Vallarta Beaches
Popular in-town beaches in Puerto Vallarta include Playa Camarones and Playa Los Muertos. For a more natural and secluded beach day, head to Playa Mismaloya, a sheltered cove perfect for snorkeling, or Punta de Mita, a popular surfing spot. For ultimate seclusion and natural immersion, head to Marieta Islands National Park for scuba diving and whale watching from the beach.
Puerto Vallarta Safety
While recent raised travel advisories, including a US Travel Advisory of Level 3: Reconsider Travel to Jalisco State, there are no travel restrictions specifically for Puerto Vallarta. This resort town is typically low on crime compared to the surrounding state, however it is advised to exercise caution with all travel. Don’t go with strangers, stay out late, or stray from the tourist center.