Coastal adventures and lazy beach days await: our Puerto Vallarta travel guide

Published

31 October, 2022

Edited

16 November, 2022

Hugging the shores of Bahía de Banderas, Puerto Vallarta welcomes all. Whether you’re a keen seafarer, a sun-seeker, or a self-confessed culture vulture, this beautiful resort town holds a little something for everyone.

A once humble fishing town, transformed into a scintillating summer destination

Wander through the cobbled streets of Zona Romántica and you’ll quickly get a feel for the town’s welcoming and bubbly spirit. Cosmopolitan, yet with plenty of traditional charm, there’s much to explore beneath the rustling palms and bright bougainvillaeas. Further from the shore, the opportunities for sailing, diving, and swimming are plentiful; an entire underwater world waits just beneath the shimmering waters of the Pacific Coast.

Soak up the sunshine on Puerto Vallarta’s most beautiful beaches

A visit to Mexico’s Pacific Coast wouldn’t be complete without at least one day spent basking on the sand and doing little else. Although, we expect you’ll fit many more visits in than that - after all, Puerto Vallarta is home to a whole host of gorgeous beaches just waiting to be discovered.

Playa de los Muertos

Don’t let the spooky name put you off from visiting Playa de los Muertos or ‘Dead Beach’ - there’s absolutely nothing lifeless about this stunning stretch of coastline. Whether you plan on heading down early to grab a prime bathing spot on the bay’s golden sands, or visiting in the afternoon for a game of volleyball (there are several nets dotted along the shore for public use) - this bustling beach will keep the whole family entertained.

Mismaloya Beach

It’s rumoured that the turquoise shores of Mismaloya Beach are what transformed Puerto Vallarta from a quaint fishing town to an internationally renowned holiday destination. In the mid-1960s, the beach became a set for The Night of the Iguana - a Hollywood movie that brought stars from the big screen over to this unassuming yet spellbinding stretch of coast.

Las Caletas

Hop aboard a catamaran and enjoy spectacular seascapes as you make your way across to the idyllic shores of Las Caletas. This private beach is backed by a lush jungle, that visitors can explore and enjoy a range of activities within - children will especially love the zip lines and hanging bridges that wind through the dense foliage. Afterwards, head into the water for a scuba diving adventure and discover the thriving marine world of Puerto Vallarta.

Historic neighbourhoods and mesmerising miradors

It might have been Puerto Vallarta’s alluring beaches that first drew your attention, but there’s much more to this dazzling resort than its beautiful coastlines. If it’s an adventure you’re seeking, scenic mountain hikes and snorkelling excursions are always on the cards. But if you’d like to take it a little easier, the lovely streets of Zona Romántica have plenty to offer.

Take a stroll through the trendy streets of Zona Romántica

One of the oldest neighbourhoods in Puerto Vallarta, Zona Romántica - otherwise known as Old Vallarta - has retained much of its traditional charms. The town’s lively bars and restaurants - most of them decorated with vibrant, eye-catching facades - are always abuzz with locals and visitors alike. Stop by on a Saturday morning and you can make the most of the local farmer’s market, offering organic fruits and vegetables as well as one-of-a-kind jewellery and crafts from local artisans.

Spend a day snorkelling in the Los Arcos National Marine Park

Not far from Mismaloya Beach, the Los Arcos National Marine Park is a protected area and a haven for those who love nothing more than being out on the water. Snorkelling, diving, and kayaking are all popular activities here - with the option to rent any water sports gear from the nearby bays. Given the protected status of the area, you can expect to see a variety of seabirds and marine life, including the rare blue-footed booby.

Hike all the way to the top of the Mirador de La Cruz

Less than 20-minutes from the hustle and bustle of the Malecón Boardwalk, the Mirador de La Cruz offers a truly breathtaking 360-degree view across Puerto Vallarta and the mountains beyond. While the journey to the summit is a relatively short one, be prepared for some steep steps along the way - you’ll soon be rewarded for your efforts, though.

Hidden beaches and uninhabited islands

Set sail and explore the lesser-known beauty spots of Puerto Vallarta. From secluded fishing villages to golden beaches that avoid the usual summer crowds, there’s plenty for keen adventurers to uncover here.

Bask in the beauty of Las Animas Beach

Far less crowded than other beaches along the coast, the easiest way to reach Las Animas Beach is to get aboard a water taxi from Playa de los Muertos. With its calm waters, it’s a lovely spot to enjoy a morning swim before strolling over to one of the nearby restaurants for some seriously fresh seafood.

Explore the remote fishing village of Yelapa

Yet another unique destination that’s best reached by water taxi, the quaint fishing village of Yelapa enjoys a slower pace of life than the rest of the region. Originally settled by four families, it was decided that no roads should ever be constructed into the village from the main town. With no cars, tour buses, or modern distractions, Yelapa’s beach is one of the most peaceful around.

Where to Eat in Puerto Vallarta

From sizzling seafood straight off the grill to bursting tortillas filled with fresh ingredients, Puerto Vallarta gives you so many options when it comes to enjoying authentic Mexican cuisine. Feel like trying something a little different? Many of the resort’s fine dining restaurants have created exciting infusions, blending the bold flavours of Mexico with cooking techniques from around the world.

Karuma Gourmet Grill

If it’s steak you’re craving, then there’s no better place to enjoy a perfectly seared prime rib than the Karuma Gourmet Grill in the scenic TierraLuna Gardens. While there’s a distinctly European influence on the menu, those seeking something a little more local will want to go for the Short Rib Chicharrón, slow-cooked for eight hours with zesty lime and spicy serrano chilli.

Gaviotas

Boasting four AAA diamonds, the award-winning Gaviotas is an excellent choice for a romantic evening meal. Set in a sophisticated dining hall that enjoys live piano music every night, the restaurant’s signature dishes are accompanied by an extensive wine list. Succulent shrimp-chipotle pasta, fresh grilled lobster, and the local catch of the day are just a few of the delectable mains from the menu.

Café des Artistes

Whether you’re sitting right at the chef’s table, in the elegant Drops Salon, or enjoying the peaceful ambience of the exterior garden, Café des Artistes offers an exceptional dining experience. At the helm of the restaurant is Thierry Blouet - a master of blending traditional Mexican flavours with cutting-edge, haute cuisine techniques. You’ll find Café des Artistes right in the heart of Puerto Vallarta, just five minutes from the promenade.

Trio

Trio has been serving delicious Mediterranean dishes since 1997, along with a very well-stocked wine cellar. There’s a traditional, inviting ambience within the dining room itself; a lovely spot for both a family meal and a date night for two. When it comes to deciding what to dine on, the restaurant’s fish dishes are particularly excellent; choose from baked red snapper, pan-fried Bahia, or La Gallega shrimp - each dish is presented beautifully and bursting with flavour.

Where to Drink in Puerto Vallarta

You don’t have to call it a day once the sun descends behind the coast; after dark, the cobbled streets of Puerto Vallarta transform into a lively hotspot for drinks and dancing in the resort’s balmy evening temperatures.

iK Mixology Lounge

For drinks with a view, you’ll want to make a stop at the iK Mixology Lounge in Zona Romántica. With open-air seating options overlooking the coast, it’s a fabulous spot to sip a refreshing cocktail at any time of the day (or night). While you could opt for a classic margarita, it’s well worth taking a look at the signature mixology menu for something a little different.

Monzon Brewing Co.

Mexico might be best known for its tequila, but craft beer connoisseurs will find lots of great options here too. The Monzon Brewing Co. uses local ingredients to brew a vast selection of beers; IPAs, stouts, pilsners, and blonde ales, you’ll find them all here. Visitors can see first-hand how the beers are made, before the most important part: sampling those delicious brews.

El Colibrí

Hidden among the streets of Puerto Vallarta is El Colibrí; a cosy speakeasy with a unique jungle-inspired patio to sit and enjoy an artisanal cocktail made with zesty local ingredients. There’s a fabulous selection of mocktails on offer as well, packed with just as much fruit and flavour.

The onefinestay experience

Here at onefinestay, we offer all of our guests an exclusive range of concierge services. Let us tailor your stay and plan the perfect itinerary - whether that’s arranging exciting outdoor excursions for your family or organising a private chef experience in the comfort of your luxury villa rental. Or, how about a soothing spa treatment after a private yoga session on the lawn? Whatever you have in mind for your next getaway, our Travel Advisors are on hand to turn your dream escape into a reality.

Pining for a Puerto Vallarta getaway?

SPEAK TO ONE OF OUR TRAVEL ADVISORS TO BEGIN PLANNING YOUR PUERTO VALLARTA GETAWAY TODAY. WE’LL FIND THE PERFECT VILLA FOR YOU AND CRAFT THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME.