Puerto Vallarta is quite popular, amongst other things, because of its closeness to the sparkling waters of Banderas Bay.
There are a lot of fun things to do in Puerto Vallarta and every visitor to this city is allowed to partake in the fun activities it offers like scuba diving, snorkeling, and sunset boat tours.
This guide covers Puerto Vallarta attractions as well as some of the best things to do in here, which will make your vacation in this city worthwhile.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta.
Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta (Mexico).
1. Islas Marietas National Park
The Islas Marietas National Park is more than a park as it is also a dedicated part of UNESCO biosphere reserve and also a site for RAMSAR.
Because of its specialty, fishings and hunting are not allowed on this island. Therefore it has become home to varieties of wildlife including whales, dolphins, thousands of tropical fishes, manta rays and seabirds.
Only a few tour companies are allowed to bring guests into the island. Therefore to gain access, you need to visit one of these tour companies.
In case you can’t, you can head towards the Sandy white La Noparlera beach. There you can explore the water by using a surf, snorkel, kayak or even a paddleboard.
2. Bahia de Banderas
Bahia de Banderas is the largest bay in the country and also the most frequently visited. It is located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico.
There are a lot of fun activities visitors engage in here. The most popular is to simply sail around the bay on one of the many boats there. These boats are for charter.
Amongst these charter boats is the Marigalante. This boat is a wonder and also the most sort after because it is the replica of Christopher Columbus’s ship called Santa Maria.
Marigalante also features an onboard museum. In this museum, artifacts as far as the time of the conquistadors are displayed.
You can also try snorkeling in the Bay. This is one of the best things to do in puerto Vallarta and should definitely make your Puerto Vallarta things to do checklist.
3. Área Natural Peotegida Estero El Salado
The Área Natural Peotegida Estero El Salado is an estuary which serves as a habitat for different species of fishes, reptiles and so many other animals.
It is also home for about 100 different species of birds. Birds of so many colors and sizes.
It is not surprising that all year round, birdwatchers from all over the world visit this wonderful destination just to watch these birds chip and lift their wings.
The fishes also are not left out too. Varieties of fishes lay eggs and raise their young in that habitat, thus they are on the increase periodically.
Other interesting animals you can find in this estuary includes the river crocodile, the garrabo and the green iguana.
On land, in the mangrove, some animals roam free and are frequently spotted. These animals include the raccoons and the opossums.
The estuary is open at specific times from Tuesday to Saturdays and you are expected to make reservations in advance so as to ease the stress of managing the crowd. It’s a wonderful place to visit.
Address: Av Francisco Medina Seems yo S/N, Villa Las Flores, 48335 Puerto Vallarta.
4. Lad Caletas Beach
Lad Caletas is a three-quarter mile-long beach that is situated to the south of Puerto Vallarta. This beach can only be reached by boat, thus it is a whole fun from the beginning.
The land upon whic the beach is located is leased by the tour company known as Vallarta Adventures. Therefore the only way for you to gain entrance into the beach is to come as part of one of the company’s tours.
One of the reasons why Lad Caletas is this popular is because sometime in the past, Hollywood director John Huston lived there. But, today no one does.
Visitors are allowed to enjoy the spa, dining areas and nature trails on the beach.
If you are to come with the company, you will be asked to chose between two options. One is a full-day excursion, while the other is a sunset cruise which includes a theatrical performance and a dinner on the beach.
5. Low Muertos Beach.
The most popular and the best-known beach along the Romantic Zone of Puerto Vallarta is the Los Muertos Beach.
On the beach, you will find people of all age brackets. You will find adults relaxing under an umbrella and sipping their cold drink.
And by the seaside, you will see some children playing around in the waves, while others build sandcastles.
You may find some other visitors like you strolling along the 200-foot pier. Those who are more adventurous go to the extent of parasailing.
The beach is known for its beautiful sunset. It also has bars, restaurants and cafes which are open all through the day and even late into the night.
This beach is quite a place. Make sure you visit it.
Another attraction in Puerto Vallarta is Malecón. Formerly called the Pasco we are Revoluciónis is a seaside promenade whose length is as far as 11 blocks downtown deep into Puerto Vallarta.
About 80% of the Malecón is reserved exclusively for pedestrians. This rule makes it completely safe for visitors to take long strolls without worrying about traffics or incoming cars.
From Malecón, you can view the Ocean. This view, in addition to the plenty restaurants, appealing shops, bars as well as local vendors makes Malecón worth revisiting
Then, there is a complete decoration using sand sculptures, regular sculptures and artworks just at trhe center of Malecón. You will also find the intricate Huichol motifs on the ground very peaceful.
Marigalante is an authentic Spanish galleon made from more than 30 different species of tropical wood. It a replica of Santa Maria which Christopher Columbus sailed around the world with.
The ship consists of about four decks and it can carry up to 240 passengers comfortably. It also has a fully stocked bar and a fully airconditioned dining room.
It offers a lot of tour options, one of which is the all-day option which consists of family-friendly activities like snorkeling and sunset cruise graced with fireworks and music for partying.
Both cruises offer meals with an open view of a very exciting show about pirates performed both in Spanish and in English.
Address: Paseo Diaz Ordaz Local 4, Centro, 48300 Puerto Vallarta.
8. Museo del Cuale
Museo del Cuale is a museum that offers a wonderful collection of pre-Hispanic ceramics that must have been made between 5000 and 2000 A.C.
The museum is located at Isla Río Cuale and the exhibit collections in its possession gives us a clear understanding of the lives the indigenous dwellers of western Mexico lived at that time.
Other interesting collections that tell more about their lives include, their hunting and gathering tools, a piece of art and a tomb which was dug out of Sayulita Zacoalco in Jalisco.
All these are carefully preserved in the Museo del Cuale. And each of them has an information panel written in both English and Spanish.
The museum is open for all at no cost. Visiting days are Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. A visit here should be added in your list of top things to do in Puerto Vallarta Mexico.
Address: Isla de Los Ninos, Local 1-A Col. Centro, CO 48300 Puerto Vallarta
9. Naval Museum Secretary of the Navy of Mexico
The Museo Naval Secretaria de Marina Armada de Mexico is a museum which was opened in the year 2006.
It is home to about 150 different cultural objects, all of them are related to the Mexican Navy.
The whole of the exhibits are spread out over 14 different rooms, thus, you will be taken to each of these rooms as you make your way around the museum.
Some of the exhibits found in the museum include a navigation simulator, a ship model built to scale and different uniforms that have been worn by the Navy since it was instituted.
On the second Saturday of every month, the museum holds a special event called the “Night of Museums”.
At this event, visitors enjoy activities like workshops, concerts, sailing competitions, and tours guided by actors playing so many characters and a lot more.
Museo Naval Secretaria de Marina Armada de Mexico is opened every day of the week aside Mondays.
Address: Zaragoza 4, Centro, 48300 Puerto Vallarta.
10. Ocean Friendly Whale Watching Tours
Would you like to watch some sea-beast as part of fun things to do in your checklist? You are covered.
The Ocean Friendly Whale Watching Tours was founded by oceanologist Oscar Frey. This tour company is a tour company that guides its visitors on whale watching tours.
On these tours, the company takes into consideration the whales well-being and also the safety of its guests. So,visitors are always advised to stay together.
All the tours are led by a marine scientist who is very fluent in both English and Spanish.
A bilingual naturalist also assist the scientist. Each tour lasts about 4-6 hours while some tours can be customized.
The boat is piloted by a crew whose members have received special safety training will all precautions put in place to ensure the safety of visitors.
The periods for watching of whales are from December 1st to Match 23rd.
Address: Muelle Los Peines, 48328 Puerto Vallarta.
11. Olympus Tours
One of the most outstanding tour companies in the entire Mexico is the Olympus Tours. They are known for their unique tours they offer and also their friendly service to customers.
With up to six branches in different cities, the company offers all the exciting things within its influence this area and is definitely amongst the fun things to do in Puerto Vallarta Mexico.
Some of these areas include the majestic Sierra Madre mountain range, the historic romantic zones and the beautiful waters of the Banderas Bay.
Amongst the tours it offers, the most popular is the Marietas Island tour. Other tour options include the canopy zip line circuit and the outdoor challenge tour. All of which are filled with fun activities.
In any of the Olympus tour, the visitor participates in activities like ATV excursions, horseback riding, swimming with dolphins, scuba diving and snorkeling.
Address: Zona Hotelera, Blvrd Francisco Medina Ascencio 2035, Las Glories, 48333 Puerto Vallarta.
Quimixto is a small village in Mexico known widely because of its beautiful beach. It is located in the southern part of the Banderas Bay.
The village is accessible through water and is a regular spot for most beach tour companies in Puerto Vallarta.
Visitors are also allowed to come on their own. If you are visiting alone, take a water taxi from the pair at Los Muertos Beach.
You can also get to the beach through Boca de Tomatlán.
Along the Beach, there are notable restaurants that serve fresh seafood dishes and Mexican cuisine.
You can purchase t-shirts, cups and other souvenirs you could go home within the village.
While you are at this beach, you can also visit the waterfall which is just one mile away. You can get there on foot or on a horseride (one could hire one at the beach).
13. Rancho El Charro
When making a list of best things to do in Puerto Vallarta Mexico, do not miss to add a visit to Rancho El Charro.
Located in a rural area that is about 15 minutes away from downtown Puerto Vallarta, the Rancho El Charro is a ranch where horses are reared.
There, horses are bred and well-cared for and each time visitors visit the ranch, they are provided with horseback rides which takes them deep into the Sierra Madre mountains.
The rider is not just given any horse rather he/she is matched to the horse most suitable for him/her.
There are a variety of other day trips offered by the ranch to each visitor.
The ranch provides a multi-day option, so you can ask for that whenIyou visit the ranch.
The ranch also provides food (as additions) and can also help you arrange transportation to and from Puerto Vallarta.
Sayulita is a very small but hospitable town that is situated at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountain range.
It is about 25 miles downtown of Puerto Vallarta. Map out a day out of your vacation for Sayulita and enjoy to the fullest all it has to offer.
In Sayulita, there are provisions for accommodation in case you decide to spend your night there.
Sayulita attracts visitors consistently due to its reputation as an excellent surf town. That doesn’t mean surfing is all you are going to do if you visit here.
You can try out other activities like fishing, horseback riding, snorkeling and various other tour activities.
The restaurants in Sayulita are diverse with each offering variety of food that tastes like heaven. You can even find some of these restaurants at the beach.
15. Sea Safari
The Sea Safari is a special tour operated by Vallarta Adventures which brings the visitors away from the typical tourist environs to an atmosphere of experience quite uncommon.
Instance of the places visitors are taken to is the fish villages on the south coast of the bay.
The first place you will be taken to on this tour is a small village inhabited by less than 500 people. Here you will be allowed to commune with the villagers.
After that, you will ride a horse to a waterfall which has a swimming hole. From that activity, you move on to the next, which is snorkeling.
The snorkeling activity takes place in a beautiful bay filled with tropical fishes. From there, you head to a private beach with Mexican grill and hammocks. Here, the tour ends.
16. Seahorse Monument
Formerly known as “The Boy on the Seahorse”, the Seahorse Monument is one of Puerto Vallarta attractions.
This wonderful sculpture was made by the artist Raphael Zamarripa Castañeda. It depicts a seahorse ridden by a naked boy.
The sculpture was first made in the year 1960 and it was placed on the beach at Los Muertos. Unfortunately, it got swept away in a storm.
In 1976, a larger replica of the first was made but this time, it was placed on the Malecon downtown.
Years later, the original sculpture was found and was placed at the beach again (its initial position before it was carried away by the storm).
For this reason, the city is now the home of two of the “Seahorse” sculpture, both the original and the replica. You can tell which is which by their size.
17. Vallarta Adventures
This company is one of the largest of tour companies in the whole of Puerto Vallarta and is committed to making tourist have a good time in Puerto Vallarta.
It is most sought after by tourists due to its reputation for giving the most adrenaline-induced tours in the whole area.
Vallarta Adventures calls it tours Outdoor Adventure Circuit. Some of its offers include jungle bridges, ziplines and the opportunity to rappel down waterfalls.
The jungle you will be taken to will have two thrilling waterfalls and you will be allowed to give the both a trial. Therefore, don’t forget to pack your bathing suit.
Other fun activities you will try out include a ride on a speedboat to a nice beach that is secluded. You will also be given an off-road excursion.
There is also a fully-equipped mule trek up the mountain and deep into the forest. It comes with the offer.
You need not worry about what to eat as provisions are made during the tour. You will be given light refreshments and water.
Also, there is a place to buy something at the base camp in case you need to.
Address: Las Palmas 39, Nuevo Vallarta, 63732 Nuevo Vallarta.
18. Vallarta Undersea
The Vallarta Undersea is a company located in the Bahia de Banderas, Puerto Vallarta. It is run by a team of professional divers.
Services offered include teaching PADI certified diving causes and most importantly, leading nature tours by boat.
On their boat tour, you will be offered the opportunity to see so many water animals including the whales, turtles, dolphins e.t.c, especially during the winter season.
In case you haven’t learned how to dive, you will be allowed to participate in the PADI Discover Scuba Program after which you will be certified.
But if you already know how to dive, you can join the others in the dive trip which normally commence by 9 a.m.
Some of the dive spots you could explore are Low Acros National Park, Marietas Island National Park and a lot of others in the south.
Address: Proa sn Local 22 Marina del Ray, Marina Vallarta, 48354 Puerto Vallarta.
19. Xiutla Riders Ecoadventure
The Xiutla Riders Ecoadventure was founded by a Mexican family whose desire is to share the love of Puerto Vallarta with its visitors.
This company specializes in tours which are mostly private and is aimed at showing the visitor what the area has to offer.
You could be that Visitor!
Some of the incredible offers they could offer you includes a bicycle tour, a scooter tour, a stand-up paddleboarding lesson, and even surfing lessons. You will be guided throughout these tours and lessons.
Also, there are other off-roading ATV experiences which the Xiutla Riders Ecoadventure offers. In this particular tour package, one could find a thrilling ride on a speedy zipline just above the jungle.
Invade you want to explore on your own, you can hire bikes, scooters, ATVs and paddleboards from the company.
This make one of the so many unique things to do in puerto Vallarta and this should be a must do in Puerto Vallarta.
Address: Avenida Francisco Villa 386, Puerto Vallarta 48330.
20. Ada Sailing
This tour company is completely owned and operated by a Family in Puerto Vallarta. They offer a lot of customizable tours to their visitor.
Ada Sailing is situated at Banderas Bay, thus, it is not surprising that they offer sea adventures.
I’m sure you will love to enjoy a relaxing sail with unavoidable spectacular views. So, the company owns a classic 45′ ketch both of which have a large sundeck. The name of this sailboat is Ada.
They also have a 30′ handcraft launch which moves at an incredible speed. Its name is Bruna and it is used for a more adventurous experience.
Other popular tour activities they offer include whale watching, sunset cruises, and snorkeling.
Also, you need not worry about food, as each tour comes with a gourmet lunch or dinner. Every meal is prepared with fresh local ingredients and served on the boat. Yea, it is indeed an experience on its own.
Address: Calle Marina Nacional 2755, Puerto Vallarta 48333 Puerto Vallarta.
21. Banderas Scuba Republic
Amongst so many Puerto Vallarta points of interest is the Banderas Scuba Republic and visiting here is one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta.
Banderas Scuba Republic is a certified PADI five center located just one block away from the beach.
Amongst their services is all levels of PADI certification from beginner to expert.
They are unique such that they allow their customers to choose between several good dive sites throughout the Banderas Bay.
The Sea creature that you will see is dependent on the site you choose and the season in which you came.
Expect to see dolphins, sea turtles, whales, eels, rays and other beautiful fishes.
If you choose to take up the diving lessons they offer, you will be taught in a confined water environment at the Vamar Hotel.
There is a provision also for divers that are already certified. And they are free to charter a boat for the whole day. You can also buy or rent scuba gear.
Address: Lazaro Cardenas, 230, 48300 Puerto Vallarta.
22. Eco Ride Mountain Bike & Hiking Tours.
Puerto Vallarta is blessed with so many jungles and mountains. This makes it a perfect place to carry out mountain biking and also to hike. It should make your list of fun things to do in Puerto Vallarta.
The Eco Ride Mountains Bike & Hiking Tours which was founded in the year 2002 offers high quantity tours of this area.
Also, they are dedicated to educating the populace on the ecology and help maintain a perfect trail access down the jungle for both the bikers and the hikers alike.
Their bike tours range in length from nine to about thirty miles. The range can be tailored to suit everyone regardless of fitness level.
Make sure you embrace the hiking opportunity the company offers. Not only will it be like an exercise, but it will also help you to appreciate nature’s beauty at a very slow pace.
There is also an option that makes you ride a distance, after which you hike the rest.
Address: Calle Miramar 382, Centro, 48304 Puerto Vallarta.
23. Estigo Tours
The Estigo Tours Company specializes in ATV tours. Though their tours are in small groups, they make excursions personalized for the customer and their guides are one of the most friendly in the business.
They offer a variety of tours which range from lush jungle trails and others which take their guests all through the historic parts of the city and even up into the Sierra Madre mountains.
Under ATV, the one-person and two-person option is very much available. To use this option, you need come with a valid license from your home country.
There are also other tours apart from the ATV tours. And they also offer coffee plantation tours, walking tours, boat tours, surfing lessons, and zip line jungle canopy experiences.
Address: Honduras 135, 5 de Diciembre, 48350 Puerto Vallarta.
24. Fishing Rebels
A fishing company which is one of the top fishing charter companies in the whole of Puerto Vallarta.
Fishing Rebels gives the visitors a private fishing charters which is lead by their skilled captains.
They can customize their services to benefit all skill levels.
There is also the chance to go target shooting and bow fishing for the guest that would like to try something new.
You will be taught how to catch a fish. You may release them back to the river if you like. All their equipment is new and of good quality, thus increasing your chances of success.
In the end, you would be given a fishing license which is valid at the end. You can request for fresh ceviche any time you want.
Address: Calle Nacional 2755 | Marina Los Peines Isla Iguana, 48333 Puerto Vallarta.
25. Los Veranos Canopy Tour
The Los Veranos Canopy Tour was the first Zipline adventure in the whole of North America and makes one of the unique things to do in Puerto Vallarta.
The offer their guest a wonderful opportunity to soar over the canopy of the lush jungle.
It has about fourteen Ziplines that covers about two miles in its length. The largest among these lines is 500 feet long.
The zip lines, allows the rider to travel at a speed of about 30 mph. Each of these wonderful tours lasts up to four and a half hours.
You will meet friendly guides who are very fluent in Spanish and English.
Just like the winner’s prize, the last Zip line brings the guest to a restaurant and a tequila bar that is by the river. Quite an exciting way to end an adventure.
Address: Francisca Rodriguez 336, Alta Vista, 48300 Puerto Vallarta.
26. Pescaderia Plazola Fish Market
While you are at Puerto Vallarta, consider visiting Pescaderia Plazola Fish Market.
If you come at the right time, you will see when the day’s catch is being brought into the market.
Though you might not be abkento cook the fish at your hotel, you can just visit to see the actions that take place in the market.
27. Puerto Vallarta Botanical Garden
Vallarta’s Botanical Garden is very beautiful and is one of the major attractions of the city.
In this garden, you will find all the beautiful flowers you can expect to find in a garden and even more.
Also, the garden has lush jungle trails, a river to swim in and an amazing bits watching opportunity.
Birds are attracted to beautiful flowers, so be sure to expect birds with so many colors you have never seen before.
The garden is open from Tuesday to Sunday every week. You can get to this garden by bus as it’s about 40 mins from the center of the town to the old town.
You can also take a bus from Aquacate and Carranza in the old Town.
28. Mismaloya Beach
Mismaloya is the main reason Puerto Vallarta is known in the first place. It got Puerto Vallarta into the Map of recognition.
It was used as a scene in the 1964 movie, “The Night of the Iguana”. Had it not been for this movie, the city as a whole may still be just a fisherman’s village.
The movie that made this city popular was mostly set at the Mismaloya Beach. Mismaloya Beach is just a quick bus ride away from the Old Town.
You can get to it by entering the orange bus that is heading towards Boca de Tomatlan.
The ride in the yellow buses is fun, especially for one who has never been in it.
The beach at Mismaloya is not so noisy. It is about 3 times more quieter than Playa Los Muertos. You can visit them just to enjoy the peace there.
You can also enjoy freshly caught fishes at any one of the restaurants at the beachfront. There are no basic washroom facilities on the beach and there is no WiFi. Sorry about that.
However, this should make your list of top things to do in Puerto Vallarta.
29. Tour the Marina
You can get to Marina from the Old Town by catching a short bus ride that will take you down there. Don’t confuse it with the loading dock where most tour companies depart from.
There are two sculptures which is uniquely attributed to the place. One is a giant whale and the other is King Neptune statue. These two statues are situated beside Plaza Neptuno.
The Marina is quite a place for those that love shopping. There are tons of shops, trendy restaurants and other great options worth snapping.
It also has a Gray broad ward which is a nice place to take a walk. You can admire the huge yachts docked at the Marina while you take a walk.
30. Get Some Huichol Art
The Huichol art is very symbolic for the indigenous Huichol people. It is also unique is some states like Durango, Jalisco and Nayarit.
The Huichol art is normally expressed through intricate beads works or yarn, this is used to make different art works.
You can get one for yourself at some shops, markets or galleries in Vallarta. It will serve as a souvenir at home.
You may find someone knitting it in the market. If you do, take a peek and learn this important tradition of the people of Mexico.