Last Updated on January 24, 2023
A resort town located on Mexico’s Pacific Coast known for stunning beaches, stylish restaurants and vibrant nightlife you’ll easily fill a week’s vacation with things to do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The city sees almost two million visitors every year which is not surprising given its natural beauty and traditions, warmth and hospitality, and authentic Mexican taste and spirit.
The weather is balmy year-round with tropical heat reigning from June to October. I’ve found the best time to visit is between January and April, when the least rainfall is expected. No matter when you come to Puerto Vallarta, there’s always much to explore and so many ways to have fun.
Things to do in PV Mexico
- Things to do in PV Mexico
- Puerto Vallarta Places to See Outside Town
- Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Stroll the Malecon
I recommend first time visitors begin their list of things to do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico by exploring the Malecon, a 12-block, mile-long esplanade in Puerto Vallarta’s Centro and Zona Romántica.
The vibrant seaside is filled with fascinating statues, endless restaurants, tequila bars, regional art, culture and entertainment. Most Mexico cities have a Malecon, and Puerto Vallarta’s is lovely.
This area of downtown Puerto Vallarta is also known as Old Town. It’s greatly favored by frequent tourists, expats and locals alike because of its vibrant, relaxed ambiance along with the incredible number of amenities in a fairly compact area of the city. Visitors will find the highest concentration of restaurants and bars here and, of course, your list of things to do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico should include both.
Uneven cobblestone streets pave the way through this Mexican village leading visitors to quaint cafes, amazing eateries and stylish boutiques. Surrounded by lush, green mountains and clear azure waters, Zona Romántica’s provincial charm is off the charts.
Dining at La Palapa
Since you’re already in the beautiful Zona Romántica and wondering where to dine given its numerous options, my recommendation is a sunset dinner at La Palapa. It’s that romantic… and fun.
Since 1959, this lovely seafood restaurant located right on Los Muertos Beach (named for its thatched roofs) serves up incredibly views and delectable cusine without being over-priced. For the most romantic setting, book a private candlelight table in the sand and gush over sultry breezes and stunning sunsets with your favorite libation.
Playa de Los Muertos
The beach’s sinister name, Playa Los Muertos (Deadman’s Beach), takes its roots from an ancient Indigenous tradition. In the past, this beach was used as a sacred cemetery where the natives buried the bones of their dead in ceramic pots.
A favorite among Puerto Vallarta places to see, Playa Los Muertos is Puerto Vallarta’s most popular beach, most noted for its tall, massive metal sail on the pier. Enjoy the festive atmosphere, especially during evening hours.
Parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe
This church is the iconic landmark dominating the downtown skyline – highly recognizable as one of Puerto Vallarta’s most popular postcard images.
I love hearing the peeling of the church bells still rung by sextants 30 and 15 minutes prior to each religious service. The ringing of bells reaches a frenzy in the 12 days of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Festival (also known as Feast of Guadalupe) held every year from December 1st to the 12th.
Playa Conchas Chinas
For those preferring a more low-key, secluded beach, Playa Conchas Chinas is ideal. It’s crazy that’s it’s not far to Playa de Los Muertos beach. Surrounded by lush vegetation, this lovely stretch of sand is located at the foot of a hotel (of the same name).
Water activities such as snorkeling and diving are enjoyed here. As a certified Blue Flag beach, its crystalline waters and healthy marine ecosystem are highly cared for.
During the months of December to March, Puerto Vallarta welcomes a special guest: the humpback whale. If you want to see them up close, there are official whale-watching tours authorized by the Puerto Vallarta Tourist Office which monitors the welfare of the whales at all times.
Turtle Release Program
For several years now, Puerto Vallarta has had a sea turtle release program occurring between the months of May and September when sea turtles bury their eggs on the beach. These nests are protected from potential predators such as birds and iguanas. Trained volunteers patrol the shores, guiding female turtles back to sea and collecting the eggs to bring them to a safe incubation spot.
When the baby turtles hatch (between July and December), visitors have the opportunity to participate in the event, helping the little ones make their way safely to the ocean.
Zip Lining in Paradise
Adventure awaits. Soar over the treetop canopy with jungle and river flashing below on an exhilarating zipline tour in Puerto Vallarta. Numerous tour companies provide multiple ziplines that vary in length, speed and scenery. My family has done several different tours and all were spectacular.
Guests can choose the zipline experience that best matches their comfort zone and even pair the adventure with other activities, like speed boating, ATV excursions, rappelling, and even tequila-tasting. On our adventure, I got to hold a boa constrictor and have a docile tarantula crawl gingerly over my face. Not for the timid in search of things to do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!
Puerto Vallarta Places to See Outside Town
Boca de Tomatlán
Less than 20 kilometers from Puerto Vallarta lies a charming and lively traditional fishing village known simply as “Boca” by the locals. The small community is actually located on both sides of the Horcones River and if you’re into experiencing rural Mexican culture, this is the place to go.
Sites here include a picturesque Botanical Garden, the brewery where Mexican whiskey is produced and, of course, a beach. It’s like a miniature Malecon with lounge chairs and parasols dotting its sandy shores. The waters are clean and calm, ideal for swimming.
Enjoy the Huichol Culture
Close to Puerto Vallarta is the indigenous community of San Andrés Coamihata, home of the Huichol people. They are also known locally in their native language as the Wixárikas. Their village is located high in the Sierra Madre mountains and the unique artistry and craftsmanship of items created by this tribe is recognized world-wide. This should definitely be among your Puerto Vallarta places to see.
The Huichol have a long history of crafting with chaquira, small colorful beads used to decorate ceramic objects, shells and coral. Their artistic beadwork can also be found on the streets of Puerto Vallarta and even in famous art galleries. Other crafts of the Huichol include embroidery, sombreros, archery equipment, prayer arrows, and well as ‘cuchuries,’ which are woven or embroidered bags.
Playas Las Caletas
My wife and my favorite excursion from Puerto Vallarta is Playas Las Caletas, a breathtaking paradise in a secluded cove just south of Puerto Vallarta. Between the mountains and coastline, accessible only from the water, Las Caletas stages an outdoor, indigenous-inspired, Cirque du Soleil-choregraphed dinner show. Animated by drumbeats, dancing and fire, the experience is one we’ll always remember.
Put this near the top of your things to do in PV Mexico list! Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Prices vary greatly for hotels in Puerto Vallarta overlooking the beach. Use the map below to find the best one for your budget.