Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide: Eat, See, Stay

Puerto Vallarta (PV or PVR) is a gorgeous coastal town located on Mexico’s Pacific coast. With its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and a wide range of activities, Puerto Vallarta is a popular destination for travelers seeking a blend of relaxation and adventure.

I spent almost the entire month of August (2023) working remotely and soaking up everything this resort town had to offer. It’s a superb choice for digital nomads, vacationers, snowbirds, and families who want an authentic Mexico experience. Here’s a travel guide that includes recommendations on what to eat, what to do, and where to stay in Puerto Vallarta to help you make the most of your visit.

Things to do in Puerto Vallarta

Visit the Beaches

  • Playa Los Muertos:
    One of Puerto Vallarta’s most popular beaches lined with beachfront restaurants and water sports.
  • Conchas Chinas:
    A more secluded and picturesque beach located about 4km from the Malecon. It’s perfect for a peaceful day of sunbathing and swimming.
  • Mismaloya: About 12 miles (18 km) outside of Puerto Vallarta, in a small fishing village sits this stunning beach. I didn’t get to stop, but I saw it on the hop-on hop-off bus, and it’s definitely on my list the next time I return to PV.

Explore the Puerto Vallarta Neighborhoods

Malecón

Stroll along the Malecón, Puerto Vallarta’s oceanfront boardwalk. You’ll find sculptures, street performers, and stunning views of Banderas Bay. Catching a sunset or two here is a must!

Old Town (Zona Romántica)

  • Explore the charming cobblestone streets of Zona Romántica, filled with art galleries, boutiques, cafes, and lively bars.
  • Los Muertos Beach Pier: This pier is a top tourist attraction thanks to its stunning and unique architectural design. Stroll the beach and the pier, swim, or catch a water taxi to Yelapa.

Enjoy a Variety of Water Activities

  • Snorkeling and scuba diving: Explore the diverse marine life in Banderas Bay.
  • Sailing: Take a boat tour to spot dolphins and whales (seasonal).
  • Sportfishing: Enjoy deep-sea fishing for marlin, tuna, and more.
  • Los Arcos National Marine Park: Home to 5 granite islets, this park is a great place to snorkel, scuba, or swim. You can reach the arches by boat, kayak, or jet ski. Browse all tour options.

Take a Day Trip

  • Yelapa: This remote fishing village is most easily accessible by boat. You can take a tour or a water taxi there. I did a tour through Vallarta Adventures. Most tours in PV seem to be offered through them. The tour didn’t blow me away as the tour boat was a bit cramped, and we didn’t get very much time on Yelapa.

    We did get to stop and snorkel and have lunch, which was awesome. However, if that’s not something you’re in to and you want more time to explore Yelapa, I’d recommend taking a water taxi directly. It’s about $20 -$24 US dollars round trip per person, and most of the taxis pick up at Los Muertos pier.
  • Las Caletas: This secluded beach hideaway is accessible only by boat. Enjoy activities like snorkeling, kayaking, and hiking. Explore all tours.
  • Marietta’s Islands: Known for its unique hidden beach, these islands are a haven for birdwatching and snorkeling. Explore all tours.

    Know before you go: Tours to the hidden beach are weather-dependent. While in PV, I booked the hidden beach tour with Vallarta Adventures, and we could not go because of a small hurricane, which made it unsafe and impossible to swim into the hidden beach area.
  • Sayulita: A charming surf town just a short drive away, with a bohemian vibe and excellent waves for surfing. Book a tour.

Go On A Tour Tour

Puerto Vallarta Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour


Take in the scenic views of Puerto Vallarta from a double-decker and visit up to 20 landmark stops on this narrated tour. Highlights include The Malecon, Zone Romantica, Mismaloya Beach, and the Marina. Book the Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour.

Drive an ATV or RZR over the Jorullo Bridge

While in PV, don’t miss the opportunity to drive across the longest suspension bridge in Latin America. On the Jorullo Bridge and RZR Tour you can choose between an ATV or RZR for your adventure as you wind through the jungle of Canopy River and make your way to and across the Jorullo bridge that sits 470 m long and 150m in the air.

I took this tour back in August (2023), and it was one of the best tours I’ve taken while traveling. I was a bit hesitant since it’s not cheap per se, and there were a few negative reviews, however, it turned out to be well worth the money. In fact, it was a unique and amazing experience. We got plenty of time to drive the RZR, stopped to swim at a waterfall, stopped just before the bridge to have a beer and a snack, and were able to take our time driving over the bridge.

➡️ Check out more top-rated tours in Puerto Vallarta

Crash a Hotel With a Day Pass

The Marriot: This hotel has it all; a dreamy pool complete with swim-up bar, stunning views of down town PV, and delicious food. Crash The Marriot and other hotels in and around Puerto Vallarta with a day pass from Resort Pass.

Enjoy Unique Cultural Experiences & Nightlife

I’m not much of a bar or nightclub person, so I didn’t go out while in Puerto Vallarta. However, apparently, the city has a vibrant nightlife scene and there are plenty of art galleries, clubs, bars, shows, and live music to keep you entertained all night long.

Where to Eat in Puerto Vallarta

Savor authentic Mexican cuisine (tacos Al pastor, ceviche, and mole) at local restaurants or street vendors selling tacos, elote, and more!

  • La Palapa: Nestled on the picturesque Playa Los Muertos, this iconic restaurant that opened in 1959 offers tropical Mexican fair. Savor fresh, locally sourced ingredients while enjoying the rhythmic sounds of the ocean waves. Whether you’re relishing the sunset on the terrace or immersing yourself in the lively indoor atmosphere, dining at La Palapa is an exquisite celebration of coastal charm and gastronomic delight. I loved their tortilla soup, fresh salads, and tasty mocktails.
  • Daquiri Dick’s on the beach: Don’t let the name fool you, this place is upscale in ambiance and flavors. In fact, I ate at this place twice in one week! The vegan cauliflower bulb is one of the best and most unique things I’ve ever eaten in my life and their onion rings are large, juicy, and savory. In addition to the delicious food, it’s another ambient place to take in a beautiful sunset on Playa Los Muertos.
  • Daytime Street and Restaurant Taco Walk :

If you’re looking to sink your teeth into the best street and dine in off-the-beaten-path restaurants, then this taco walk is for you!

Join your walking tour guide and walk the streets of Puerto Vallarta to try multiple tacos over the course of a few hours.

One of my favorite stops was Taqueria El Moreno, close to Zona Romantica. It’s a street cart that I would probably never found on my own, and it was one of the most flavorful and authentic Mexican tacos I’ve ever had. The owner made it fresh before my eyes with vibrant onions, cilantro, and local cheeses, and I was able to top it off with a variety of fresh green and red salsas.

This is a ‘pay what you want’ expedition led by a local guide. Know before you go: any tacos you order are not included in your tour price and most of the people in my group gave $10-20 per person. It’s definitely worth it, so put it on your must-do list if you head to PVR, and don’t forget comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, and cash.

  • El Barracuda: This casual seafood restaurant is located in the 5 de Diciembre neighborhood. Indulge in a beachside dining experience with ceviche, grilled fish, and seafood tacos, served at tables right on the sandy shore. Know before you go: this restaurant is cash only.
  • Xolo: Maiz Agave Chili: This is the first place I ate when I arrived in town. It’s located in the heart of the Malecon boardwalk and celebrates the country’s rich history with the flavors of chili, corn, and agave. It’s a perfect place to grab a delicious Jugo Verde, tacos, and people watch.

Where to Get Groceries in Puerto Vallarta

  • La Comer: If you’re staying a while in Puerto Vallarta, this giant grocery store is a must. Seriously, it’s better than the ones I have to shop at in Florida in terms of selection and quality. They offer diverse fresh produce, local delicacies, and international goods. Whether you’re a short-term visitor or planning an extended stay, stocking up on essential items at La Comer ensures you have everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable time in Puerto Vallarta.
  • Rappi: Experience the ultimate convenience with Rappi in Puerto Vallarta – your go-to delivery service for all your needs. Rappi brings the world of culinary delights to your doorstep from local restaurants and ensures you can enjoy the best offerings from La Comer, the city’s leading grocery store. I used Rappi a few times while staying at Puesta del Sol to get groceries. When I could get it to work, it was great. However, I had to try a few times to get my credit card set up, and also it’s worth noting that Rappi will cancel your order if everything doesn’t fit in the small bag on the back of their scooters. So, I would recommend using it to get essentials and Uber if you want to do a bigger grocery haul.
  • Amazon: During my month-long stay in PVR, I was able to order travel essentials I had forgotten through the Mexican Amazon. That is, I had to make a new Amazon account for the country of Mexico and order through there. It was easy. I was able to automatically translate the web pages and seamlessly sign-up for 2-day prime shipping. When I left Puerto Vallarta, I simply canceled my free Prime trial and account.

Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta

  • Hotels, Airbnb, and Vrbo: Whether you want to stay in the heart of the action in Zona Romantica, The Marina, or up the hill, there is a myriad of hotel, Airbnb, and Vrbo options in PVR that offer a comfortable stay tailored to your preferences. From quaint apartments in the heart of the vibrant city to luxurious beachfront villas overlooking the Pacific, the diverse array of Airbnb accommodations ensures you’ll find the perfect home away from home in this tropical paradise.

    I scored a stay in a quaint condo community called Puesta Del Sol, just up the hill from the Malecon near Centro. The description stated that this place had breathtaking views of the city and the Pacific Ocean, and it wasn’t lying! I stayed in a charming one-bedroom casita, which was quiet and furnished with wifi, kitchen supplies and beautiful views of the pool, gardens, and ocean. A spacious two-bedroom unit with a large private balcony and even better views of the city and ocean is also available for a short-term stay. Both units are inside the gated Puesta Del Sol community with 24-7 security. Both units rent fast in the high season, so make your reservation ASAP!

➡️ Find a place to stay in Puerto Vallarta on VRBO.

Safety and weather information for Puerto Vallarta

  • Puerto Vallarta is generally safe for tourists, but it’s essential to exercise the typical precautions you would in any major city and be aware of your surroundings.
  • The weather is usually warm and humid, so pack lightweight clothing, sunscreen, and a hat. As I mentioned above, I went in August, and it was scorching. I would recommend going in the Fall and Winter if possible. If not, be prepared to sweat, take multiple showers a day, and hydrate!
  • Remember to check for travel advisories or updates before your trip and respect local customs and regulations.

What to pack for Puerto Vallarta

➡️ Download the PV Packing List

➡️ Shop travel essentials on Amazon.

Watch the hop-on hop-off bus tour replay on YouTube

Tell me everything

What’s your favorite thing to eat, see, or do in Puerto Vallarta?

Read my blog for tips on where to eat, things to see, and where to stay in Puerto Vallarta.

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I use myself, and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting the Eat Well. Adventure Often. blog!