Choose from 18 Fun Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta
The liveliest time to visit the church is December 1 to 12, when crowds celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with street processions, festive food and mariachi music. The festival coincides with the anniversary of the founding of Puerto Vallarta, so locals have even more reason to celebrate.
- See Old Vallarta as part of a small-group or private sightseeing tour.
- English is widely spoken in almost all of the tourist areas.
- Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces.
- Wear comfortable shoes for biking and walking.
- The promenade is especially busy during summer nights.
- Free Wi-Fi is available along the boardwalk.
- The local nightlife scene starts up around 10pm.
- Diving and snorkeling tours typically last three to five hours, but some longer options include other activities such as kayaking.
- Diving tours often require PADI certification; if you are not certified, look for a beginner option.
- There is a cap on the number of daily visitors, so book your tour in advance.
Located near Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Banderas Bay (Bahía de Banderas) is famous for its 42-mile (68-kilometer) stretch of picturesque coast. Jungle, sandy beaches, and rich aquatic life define this area, which is ideal for watersports and land adventures alike.
Most tours exploring Banderas Bay’s terrestrial and aquatic offerings leave from Puerto Vallarta. Explore the bay’s waters on a snorkeling excursion, some of which also include kayaking and a visit to Marietas Islands National Park. If you’re a certified diver, you can opt for a scuba diving tour to explore undersea tunnels, hidden caves, and reefs brimming with tropical fish. Sailing tours are another option for experiencing the picturesque bay. On land, you can pedal along the coastline on a biking tour, delve into local culture on a taco-tasting tour, or explore the jungle on a day trip to nearby Las Caletas.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Banderas Bay is a must-see for nature and beach lovers.
- Remember to bring sun protection and plenty of water for outdoor excursions.
- Proof of PADI certification is required for certified dives.
- Be careful not to touch or disturb aquatic or terrestrial wildlife.
When to Get There
April through June is the best time to visit Banderas Bay, when rain is scarce and there are fewer tourists. January through March is the best time for whale watching, although the area tends to be crowded during this time.
How to Get There
Part of the Pacific Ocean, Banderas Bay borders Puerto Vallarta and stretches between Punta Mita in the north and Cape Corrientes in the south. Puerto Vallarta is the main jumping-off point for tours and activities in the area. The closest international airport is Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport, located roughly three miles (five kilometers) from downtown Puerto Vallarta.
Whale Watching in Banderas Bay
Among the most popular outdoor activities in Banderas Bay, whale watching tours provide an opportunity to see humpback whales, which travel to the bay in early December for mating and calving. Most of these excursions leave from Marina Vallarta in Puerto Vallarta.
How to Get to Puerto Vallarta
If your ship is mooring at Puerto Vallarta, you’ll dock at the Marina Vallarta Maritime Terminal, 3 miles (5km) north of the city center. Alternatively, your ship might anchor just offshore, in which case a tender will float you ashore. Taxis line up to take you downtown; negotiate the fare (around US$5) before you head off.
One Day in Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta’s number one attraction is the beach, and the full-facility resorts lining the sands. After soaking up the rays, take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade to shop for silver jewelry and ceramics, sculptures and glassware. Soak up the colonial architecture and cobblestone streets on a Small Group City Tour, and if you’re docked for the evening take a sunset cruise across Banderas Bay and dine on the sands by candlelight.
Or spend the day getting up close and personal with dolphins or sea lions, or setting sail for snorkeling and swimming on a day trip to Marietas Islands. Other eco-escapades take you zipping across the rainforest canopy, or cutting trails through the coastal mountains on an ATV adventure.
Puerto Vallarta is a popular cruise port, visited by cruise liners operated by Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Princess Spanish is the local language, but English is widely spoken and understood in Puerto Vallarta. The local currency is Mexican pesos, and you’ll find it’s cheaper if you use pesos rather than US dollars. There are ATMs throughout Puerto Vallarta.
- Los Arcos is a must-see for nature and wildlife lovers, and first-time visitors to Puerto Vallarta.
- Bring sunblock and a hat or sunglasses, as there’s little shade out on the bay. Also wear comfortable clothing, and tote a bathing suit, towel, and change of clothes.
- Snorkeling gear is provided on most Puerto Vallarta boat tours; bring your own if visiting independently.
The private beach resort of Las Caletas is a day-trip destination like no other for spoiling the senses.
The former home of maverick movie director John Huston, this tropical beach haven is surrounded by protected rainforest and palms.
There’s everything you could possibly need for a relaxed, luxurious day at the beach. Chill-out in a hammock, de-stress with a soothing massage, take a guided diving or kayaking tour, snorkel with sea lions, learn to cook paella or stroll through the bird-filled orchid gardens.
Las Caletas can also be visited at night for a magical dinner under the stars and Mexican dance show.
Las Caletas is around 12 miles (19 km) from Puerto Vallarta on the southern shores of the Bay of Banderas.
The beach can only be reached by catamaran from Puerto Vallarta marina.
- The Beach of the Dead is ideal for all beachgoers. Families may prefer to be near the pier, where swimming can be better for children.
- Remember to bring sun protection and plenty of water, as the beach offers little shade.
- Beach chairs and umbrellas are available to rent.
- The Sierra Madre mountains are an ideal destination for nature and adventure lovers.
- Remember to bring sun protection, water, and comfortable shoes suitable for walking on rough terrain.
- For rafting and ATV tours, it’s a good idea to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.