15 Best Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

by Arundhati Bhand Updated on 15 Oct 2018

Puerto Vallarta is a holiday town in Jalisco state, located on the Pacific coast of Mexico. It was named as Las Peñas in the 1800s. Later in the 1900s, it was renamed after the former state governor, Ignacio Vallarta. Like all holiday destination, this city is famous for beaches, water sports and night parties. This fishing town also exports bananas, coconuts, and corn. The famous John Huston's movie, “The Night of the Iguana” was shot in this beautiful city by inviting stars such as Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, and Ava Gardner. Puerto Vallarta is considered the safest city in Mexico which make the tourists stroll around the city easily. The visitors never miss enjoying snorkeling, scuba diving, and sunset boat tours in this magnificent city. To know top tourist attractions in Puerto Vallarta read more!

Let's explore Puerto Vallarta points of interest and 15 best things to do in Puerto Vallarta:

1. Area Natural Protegida Estero El Salado

Area Natural Protegida Estero El Salado is an estuary which houses a wide variety of fishes, reptiles, and other animals. Bird watchers flock to this place since it has more than 100 different species of birds. It is located at Av Francisco Medina Asencio S/N, Villa Las Flores, 48335 Puerto Vallarta. River crocodile, the green iguana, the garrabo, Opossums, and raccoons can be spotted here easily. It is an egg laying spot for different fishes. Reservations have to be made in advance to take guided boat tours which operate from Tuesdays to Saturdays.

2. Bahia de Banderas

Must see in puerto vallartaImage Source: flickr.com

Bahia de Banderas is the largest bay on the Pacific Coast of Mexico which is located between two Mexican states of Jalisco and Nayarit. Sailing in charter boats is a famous activity in this area. A reputed boat, Marigalante is a replica of Christopher Columbus's ship the Santa Maria. It includes an onboard museum which displays various artifacts and works from ancient times. Snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, parasailing, and surfing can be enjoyed in this area. Whale-watching is a popular activity to get elated during December to April. 

3. Islas Marietas National Park

Must see places in puerto vallartaImage Source: wikimedia.org

Islas Marietas National Park includes islands with rich marine life. Fishing and hunting are prohibited here by the Mexican government. The island is totally uninhabited since it is formed many years ago by volcanic activity. The water depth is between 70 and 110 feet. A wide variety of wildlife such as whales, seabirds, manta rays, dolphins, and lots of species of tropical fish can be seen here. Only some tour companies are allowed to bring visitors to the island. Others can head to La Nopalera beach to have fun by involving in kayaking, surfing, snorkeling, or stand-up paddleboard.

4. Las Caletas

Las Caletas is a beach which is 3/4-mile-long located to the south of Puerto Vallarta. It can be reached only by boat. This area is leased by the tour company Vallarta Adventures. Only the guests of this tour company can enter this beach area. Hollywood director John Huston once lived in this place. But today, it is completely deserted. Spas and dining areas are available on the site. The tour company offers several programs such as full-day excursion, a sunset cruise, dinner on the beach, and a theatrical performance.

5. Los Muertos Beach

Widely known as the “beach of the dead”, Los Muertos Beach is the most visited beach in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. There is a legend that pirates would come here to loot and attack the inhabitants. But, they also give a hard time by fighting back which has led to the death of many pirates. There are many buried treasures and skeletons in this area. People come here to enjoy the sunset, parasailing, swimming, strolling, building sandcastles, and many more. Plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars can also be found on this beach.

6. Malecon

Top tourist destinations in puerto vallartaImage Source: wikimedia.org

Malecon is a boardwalk located at Paseo Díaz Ordaz, Centro, 48300 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico. The name Malecon is a Spanish name which is translated into “esplanade along a waterfront”. This 12 blocks long seaside stroll makes the visitors sightsee without any worries of traffic since 80% of the area is dedicated for foot-travelers. The relaxing beach views along with attractive shops, restaurants, cheap vendors, and bars make it worth to visit this place. The visitors can also admire the artworks such as sand sculptures, regular sculptures, and sophisticated Huichol motifs on the beach area. 

7. Museo del Cuale

Museo del Cuale is a prominent museum in Puerto Vallarta which exhibits historical and archeological relics. It is located at Isla de Los Niños, Local 1-A, Col. Centro, CP 48300 Puerto Vallarta. The artifacts were on display for 30 years which depicts the customs and culture of the people who lived in this region between 5000 and 2000 B.C. The displays include pottery, art, hunting and gathering tools such as projectile points, scrapers, and hammers. All these items are unearthed from Sayula-Zacoalco, Jalisco, Mantanchen Bay, and Nayarit regions, the Ixtapa area, and in and around Puerto Vallarta and Puerto Marqués, Guerrero. The information tags on the exhibits are in both English and Spanish, and the visitors can visit this museum at a free of charge.

8. Museo Naval Secretaria de Marina Armada de Mexico

Museo Naval Secretaria de Marina Armada de Mexico is an eminent museum dedicated to Mexican Navy. It is located at Calle Zaragoza 4, Centro, 48300 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico. More than 150 varied cultural objects are displayed here in 14 different rooms. A fine collection of the numerous Navy uniforms, a navigation simulator, and ship models can be found in this museum. There is a popular event, “Night of Museums” that takes place every Saturday. The visitors can enjoy concerts, workshop, sailing competitions, and guided tours provided by actors playing various characters.

9. Quimixto

Top tourist attractions in puerto vallartaImage Source: wikimedia.org

On the southern part of the Banderas Bay, there lies a tranquil village, Quimixto. It is known for its beautiful beach. This area can be reached only through waterways. Many tour companies include this pleasant place in their package to delight the tourists. Visitors can also take a water taxi from Boca de Tomatlán or from the pier at Los Muertos Beach to reach this destination. The travelers can enjoy Mexican cuisine and fresh seafood dishes in the restaurants found on the beach side. The guests can stroll for a mile from the beach and get immersed in the serene beauty of the waterfall nearby. 

10. Rancho El Charro

Rancho El Charro is a countryside beauty which is located at a 15-minute ride from downtown Puerto Vallarta. People come here to enjoy horseback rides into the Sierra Madre Mountain while admiring the picturesque beauty of this area. On the way, visitors go through waterfalls, ocean, river, mountain, and jungle on this tour. Experienced and friendly guides are provided for the guests. The riders are provided with the suitable horses to make the ride more smooth and effortless. The trips range from three to eight hours mostly including food. Some trips are designed to make it appropriate for children. 

11. Sayulita

Sayulita is a small surfing town located at the foot of Sierra Madre mountain range. Situated at just 25 miles from Puerto Vallarta, this place is ideal for day expeditions. People can strong surf in the central Sayulita Beach. In addition to that, one can also try horseback riding, snorkeling, fishing, and various jungle tours. Los Muertos Beach on the west dazzles with the natural rock formation. The art gallery here sells works by Huichol people. The Marieta Islands on the southwest give a glimpse of wildlife such as whales and dolphins. Many restaurants and accommodations are also available in this area for the visitors. 

12. Seahorse Monument

Seahorse Monument is widely known as “The Boy on the Seahorse”. It is one of the iconic symbols of Puerto Vallarta. It is located at Morelos s/n, Centro, Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico. It was a 10 feet monument featuring a naked boy riding a seahorse. The sculpture was created by artist Rafael Zamarripa Castañeda in 1960 and kept in Los Muertos Beach. But it was brushed away by the storm. So, a larger replica was made in 1976 and placed in Malecon downtown. Later, the original sculpture was found and placed back in its place. 

13. Galeria Colectika

Located at Calle Allende, Centro, 48300 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico, Galeria Colectika is a distinguished art gallery which displays works that have transformed Mexican Folk Art. The ancient Mexican arts are given a modern and contemporary touch to suit the viewers of modern days. There is a small museum of Huichol ceremonial pieces in the back garden of this gallery. The artifacts such as Jacobo and Maria Angeles from San Martin Tilcajete, Oaxaca have been given a new look and presented in the prestigious Grand Masters of Oaxaca hall of fame.

14. Playa Las Gemelas

Playa las Gemelas is an astounding beach located at Cihuatlán - Puerto Vallarta, Aguacate, Jal., Mexico. Their turquoise water and whitish sand will attract any tourist who has visited Puerto Vallarta. People can relax on the beachfront or swim in their low tides. There are just 2 apartments on this beach and nothing else. Hence, the visitors are advised to bring their own drinks and food. Though the visitors are discomforted with a long walk and no amenities, it is still worth the scenic views of this beach. 

15. Marina Vallarta

Marina Vallarta is a trendy and luxury area with yachts, boats, charters, and a championship 18-hole golf course designed by Joe Finger. It is located at Av. Paseo de la Marina Sur, Marina Vallarta, 48450 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico. It has the famous giant whale sculpture and the King Neptune statue by the Plaza Neptuno. Lots of shops, spas, cafés, bakeries, ice cream parlors, chic style restaurants and bars are available here to excite the visitors. Opulent lifestyle can be visualized in this area of Puerto Vallarta.

Author: Arundhati Bhand
An animal lover at heart, marketer by education and artist by passion, Arundhati aims to seek out to all that satisfies her diverse interests. She believes that it is only through experiences that one learns, and a traveller of sorts, she strives to ...

Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Puerto Vallarta

Check out the list of top tourist attractions in Puerto Vallarta! These are some inspiring things to do in Puerto Vallarta to create a wish list of your dream destinations.

  1. # 1 of 157 Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta | Added 913 times in trip plans

    Tags: Waterfront, Walking Area

    Address: Puerto Vallarta, JAL, Mexico

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    It's funny this place is called a boardwalk - there are no boards! But "Malecon" means "esplanade along a waterfront" in Spanish, and that describes this place very well. Always alive and bustling, it...Read more

  2. # 2 of 157 Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta | Added 877 times in trip plans
    The Church Of Our Lady Of Guadalupe

    Tags: Church, Religious Site

    Address: Calle Hidalgo 370, Centro, 48300 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico

    Timings: 10:00 am - 07:00 pm Details

    There are so many famous churches around the world it can sometimes be hard to place them with just an image, but there is no mistaking this one. The silhouette of the church is topped by a distinctiv...Read more

  3. # 3 of 157 Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta | Added 665 times in trip plans
    Vallarta Botanical Gardens

    Tags: Botanical Garden

    Address: Carret. Barra De Navidad Km. 24, El Tuito, 48400 Jal., Mexico

    Timings: 10:00 am - 06:00 pm Details

    This is an interesting attraction - it doesn't try to overplay its assets; rather it seeks to maximise the visitor's experience. Set over 20 acres of land, the garden demonstrates the Tropical Dry For...Read more

  4. # 4 of 157 Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta | Added 600 times in trip plans
    Marietas Islands

    Tags: Island

    Address: Marietas Islands, Mexico

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    On one of the endless list of 'most beautiful sights/places on Earth' that you'll find on the internet, there is almost always a picture of a crystalline beach hidden inside a crater, like a jewel ins...Read more

  5. # 5 of 157 Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta | Added 1243 times in trip plans
    Marina Vallarta

    Tags: Leisure

    Address: Marina Vallarta, 48450 Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    This is not a commercial marina. Rather, it's a business, residential and resort area with a catchy name. That said, it does have a marina of sorts for private vessels - yachts, boats and charters. It...Read more

  6. # 6 of 157 Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta | Added 994 times in trip plans
    Playa Los Muertos Pier

    Tags: Pier

    Address: Muelle de Playa Los Muertos, Francisca Rodríguez, Col. Altavista, 48380 Puerto Vallarta, JAL, Mexico

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    Every major city has at least one tourist attraction that is clearly and sheerly a tourist trap, made with the blatant intention of capturing passing tourists, and it's still impossible to give t...Read more

  7. # 7 of 157 Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta | Added 762 times in trip plans
    Los Muertos Beach

    Tags: Beach

    Address: Puerto Vallarta, JAL, Mexico

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    The Beach of the Dead has several legends behind its name's origin - from indian attacks, to Indian and pirate attacks and the fact that an Indian graveyard was found here, which is the only factual o...Read more

  8. # 8 of 157 Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta | Added 405 times in trip plans
    Las Animas Beach

    Tags: Beach

    Address: Cabo Corrientes, JAL,, Puerto Vallarta - Manzanillo, Ciudad de México, Distrito Federal, Mexico

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    This secluded beach cannot be reached over land. Water taxis will drop you off at the pier. Tourists appreciate it more than locals do. Don't be surprised to see locals strolling around with iguanas a...Read more

  9. # 9 of 157 Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta | Added 917 times in trip plans
    Olas Altas

    Address: Olas Altas, Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    Not far away from Los Muertas, the city's most popular beach, is the Olas Altas street. The mile long neighbourhood is an excellent tourist trap, and part of Vallarta's Romantic Zone's main appeal. Ar...Read more

  10. # 10 of 157 Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta | Added 736 times in trip plans
    El Eden

    Tags: Restaurant

    Address: Puerto Vallarta - Manzanillo, Jalisco, Mexico

    Timings: 11:00 am - 09:00 pm Details

    What does a restaurant have to do to be hailed as a popular tourist attraction? As far as El Eden is concerned - two things. The first is to be located inside a natural paradise, where the Mismaloyari...Read more

  11. # 11 of 157 Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta | Added 450 times in trip plans
    Metamorfosis Day Spa

    Tags: Spa

    Address: y Olas Altas street, Francisca Rodríguez 159, Emiliano Zapata, 48380 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico

    Timings: 10:00 am - 06:00 pm Details

    The city's favorite spa - loved by locals and tourists alike - was founded by the wonderful Angie. It's a small set up, but intimate and cozy. The staff welcome you like you're a long-lost family memb...Read more

  12. # 12 of 157 Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta | Added 395 times in trip plans
    El Faro Lighthouse

    Tags: Bar, Light House, Cafe

    Address: Paseo de la Marina 245, Marina Vallarta, 48335 Puerto Vallarta, JAL, Mexico

    Timings: 05:30 pm - 11:59 pm Details

    Located on the Marina Vallarta, El Faro is actually the name of the cafe and bar atop the lighthouse. Visit the 110 ten feet high cafe during sunset and then stay a while for the jazz music to begin p...Read more

  13. # 13 of 157 Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta | Added 471 times in trip plans
    Aquaventuras Park

    Tags: Water Park

    Address: Carretera a Tepic Kilómetro 155, Nuevo Vallarta, 63732 Nuevo Vallarta, Nay., Mexico

    Timings: 10:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    The city's only water park isn't quite as glamorous as most American parks tend to be, but it does have one fantastic dolphinarium. That's what most people come to see, and they pay a steep price for ...Read more

  14. # 14 of 157 Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta | Added 127 times in trip plans
    Twisted Palms Rooftop Lounge

    Address: Ignacio L. Vallarta 228, Emiliano Zapata, 48380 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico

    Timings: 06:00 pm - 11:59 pm Details

    In the city's Zona Romantica, on a second floor lounge, is the local favorite nightspot. Run by owner Allan Sellers, the lounge mixes inventive but excellent martinis, the open night sky, and nightly ...Read more

  15. # 15 of 157 Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta | Added 79 times in trip plans

    Tags: Nightclub, Adults

    Address: Paseo Diaz Ordaz 644, Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico

    Timings: 09:30 pm - 11:59 pm Details

    The decor of this nightclub takes inspiration from its name - lots of Hindu and Buddhist symbolism and sculptures. Its three levels are separated into a bar, a restaurant and disco. No matter which le...Read more

Activities And Tours

Explore these activities and tours for awesome experiences in Puerto Vallarta: