Visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to activities in Puerto Vallarta. Whether you’re a gourmand, an adventure-seeker or an art enthusiast, this city has something tailored just for you.
1. Stroll the Malecón
Puerto Vallarta’s beautiful malecón – or beachfront boardwalk – is a mile-long stretch that doubles as an open-air museum. Start at the northern end of the route and make your way towards the Plaza Principal, admiring the impressive collection of sculptures and sandcastle art along the way.
Take a virtual walking tour of Puerto Vallarta's Malecón.
2. Go Whale-Watching
From November to March, Banderas Bay is home to humpback whales, migrating from their polar feeding grounds to breed and play in these safe warm waters. Go in search of these magnificent creatures, with their distinctive fluked tails, on a day trip with one of Puerto Vallarta’s many tour companies. Vallarta Adventures employs a light plane to spot the creatures from the air and radio to the ship’s captain, so visitors have a high chance of spotting whales in season.
3. Take an Art Walk
Until May 25, 2011, take part in the Historic Center Art Walk, a program in which 14 of Puerto Vallarta’s art galleries – all located within roughly a 12-block stretch of the centro histórico -- open their doors to the public every Wednesday from 6-10pm. There are complimentary cocktails and plenty of opportunities to add an up-and-coming Mexican contemporary artist to your collection.
4. Sample Tequila
The state of Jalisco’s most famous export is, of course, found everywhere in Mexico, but Puerto Vallarta offers the opportunity to better hone your tequila appreciation. The CasaMagna Marriott Resort, in Marina Vallarta, produces its very own brand of boutique tequila (made from agave plants grown on the property) that can be sampled at any of its restaurants.
5. Check Out Secluded Beaches
Some of Puerto Vallarta’s most stunning and secluded beaches can be found in the southern part of Banderas Bay, accessible only by boat. Playa de Las Animas, a protected cove flanked by rocky promontories with a scattering of palapas and seafood restaurants; Playa Quimixto, a sweet fishing village backed by jungle whose beach features warm water and white sand, and Majahuitas, an unspoiled tropical paradise of palm trees and crystal clear water, are three of the highlights. Water taxis depart from Los Muertos Beach in the so-called Romantic Zone in centro.
6. Dine Out
Take advantage of Puerto Vallarta’s excellent dining scene, one of the most sophisticated in Mexico. Eating spots range from the rustically charming – like the River Café, with its praiseworthy brunches and relaxed ambience by the Rio Cuale – to high-end tables like the acclaimed Café des Artistes and Mediterranean hotspot Trio. Further south, the European-inspired menu at Blanca Blue, the restaurant of luxury resort Garza Blanca, is the equal of any top-end restaurant in New York or Mexico City.
If you visit in mid-November, be sure to take part in the annual Gourmet Festival, during which the city’s best restaurants pull out all the stops to produce fabulously inventive set menus.
7. Hit the Golf Course
Links enthustiasts will have a field day in Puerto Vallarta, which is home to several world-class golf courses. There’s Vista Vallarta, a Jack Nicklaus designed 18-hole with views of the bay and the Sierra Madre Mountains; the Joe Finger-designed Marina Vallarta Golf Club and the picture-perfect Tamarindo Golf Course with its jungle and oceanfront setting. Further south, the Nicklaus-designed Four Seasons course is considered one of the best in the country.
8. Embark on an Eco-Adventure
The unspoiled tropical rainforest of the Sierra Madre Mountains is the setting for a host of adrenaline-filled eco-adventures. Zip-lining, rapelling, hiking, canopy tours, horseback riding, mountain biking, village tours, off-road adventures…you name it, a Puerto Vallarta tour company will offer it. On the water, there are numerous opportunities for snorkeling, diving, dolphin, sea lion and whale-watching, sailing and touring to remote beaches and islands, like the picturesque Islas Marietas.