Puerto Vallarta is home to Jalisco natives, local and international residents, Canadian and U.S. expats and retirees who now call the destination home.
Mainly due to its nearly year round perfect climate, Puerto Vallarta by nature, promotes a healthy, active lifestyle for visitors or locals, to this end there is no shortage of things to do!
“Framed by the Sierra Madre and the Bay of Banderas, Puerto Vallarta provides all kinds of ecosystems and settings for adventure,” said Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board when asked why the city is such a desirable destination for outdoor activity.
“We have everything a visitor could want, from zip lining in Mexico’s longest line to ATV to whale watching and releasing crocodiles and turtles.
Puerto Vallarta is also one of the most important places in Latin America for biodiversity, because it protects an impressive number of species – both flora and fauna on land and in the sea.
No matter what your interests, this impressive and colorful city lays its welcome mat for all to enjoy.
The following recommendations below are experiences or activities I suggest as a frequent traveler to Puerto Vallarta (even though there are hundreds of cool things to do).
1. Visit the famous and iconic Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Located in downtown (or el Centro), you can’t miss this gem in the heart of Vallarta. What is very cool to see are the locals who always show respect when they pass by with the sign of the cross.
2. See a performance at Vallarta’s Theatre, El Teatro Vallarta. A modern building, this impressive artistic space opened its doors in March 2010 and holds a capacity of approximately 900 people, offering spectacular stage productions including the Russian State Ballet, the world-renowned Filippa Giordano pop opera singer, and the must-see Fandango extravaganza. The theater also houses an exceptional modern art gallery featuring some of Mexico’s most up-and-coming talent.
3. Walk the Malecon. This promenade offers the perfect platform for taking in the sites, sounds and tantalizing aromas of the local scene. On Sunday evenings, you will find musicians, artists, local vendors selling all types of food, merchandise, bundles of balloons and fun souvenirs for kids. See the street performers show off their skills as well.
4. Take a surf or stand up paddle board (SUP) lesson. Head south to Mismaloya and rent boards. Paddle through Los Arcos at night for a bioluminescent fiesta! Possible sightings of sea turtles, humpback whales and giant manta ray wll make the experience even more special. Head to Punta Mita or Sayulita for a day of surfing.
5. Visit Los Mangos Library (Biblioteca Los Mangos). This beautifully landscaped, peaceful and resourceful community cultural center / library provides book lending in English and Spanish and holds classes for kids to adults, including art, yoga, language, dance, theatre, reading, computer access and much more.
6. Whale watching in Puerto Vallarta. From Noevmeber through March the humpback whales come into the Bay of Banderas to mate and birth their calves, resulting in majestic displays in the ocean. There are dozens of excellent day trips out on the water where you can expeiene this natural wonder up close and personal.
7. Turtle release – witness or participate in the spectacular turtle release program. Many hotels have special agendas for guests to enrich their experience during the turtle-hatching season. Check out Campemento… on Facebook for daily updates on turtle releases at this nursery.
8. Visit Los Muertos Beach – this is where the action happens. Lively entertainment and great dining options combined with beach chairs and umbrellas – what more could you need?
9. Experience the ‘Romantic Zone’ – Here you will find over 200 restaurants, bars and clubs along with boutiques and spas. From homey to high-class this busy neighbourhood is the heart of Puerto Vallarta.
10. Walking Tour of Puerto Vallarta. – The streets of Puerto Vallarta offer a glimpse into authentic Mexican lifestyle. From the beautiful flora to stunning vistas you’ll peek into the history of the city as you walk the charming streets. As an added bonus – there are dozens of murals and ublic art spaces for you to experience along the way.
11. Eat out and Dine around – There are dozens and dozens of exception restaurants in the Bay and through Riviera Nayarit. Visit during Restaurant Week – two weeks in May or the International Gourment Festival held each November to experience world-class dining.
12. Waterfall hike in Yelapa – Accessible only by boat, take a panga (water taxi) from the pier in old Town or bus to Boca de Tomatlan and go by water taki from there to Yelapa. There are two waterfalls in Yelapa. The smaller one is a short walk through the town while the bigger one is better accessible by horseback, along the river and back into the valley. Both are refreshing and beautiful exacples of the natural wonders of Banderas Bay.