Cruises in Puerto Vallarta
Daytime bay cruises generally begin with a quick jaunt to Los Arcos Underwater Preserve, off Mismaloya Beach. There's about a half hour for snorkeling or swimming—sometimes with legions of little jellyfish in addition to the turtles that feed on them. Cruises then proceed to Yelapa, Quimixto, or Playa las Animas, or to Islas Marietas for whale-watching (in winter), snorkeling, swimming, and lunch. Horseback riding is usually available at an additional cost (about $15).
There are plenty of tours available; our list contains some of the most popular and professional.
Buy your ticket from licensed vendors along the boardwalk at Los Muertos Beach, online, or through area tour operators. Prices are fluid; like car salespeople, the ticket sellers give discounts or jack up the price as the market allows. Full-day booze cruises cost about $40-$55 per person, including open bar, Continental breakfast, snacks, and snorkeling and/or kayaks. Two-hour sunset cruises with open bar cost about $25 per person. Dinner cruises cost $55-$85. Expect to pay a small port fee (15 pesos, a little more than $1) at the maritime pier; it is not included in the cost of the ticket.
Cruceros Princesa. Full- and half-day trips take in the beaches of southern Bahía de Banderas with snorkeling, beach time, and lunch (on board or on the beach). The open bar features beer and a few brands of national spirits. Half-day cruises generally go to Los Arcos and either Las Animas or Las Caletas; full-day cruises access several different spots—such as Yelapa and either Majahuitas or Los Arcos, or Quimixto and Playa las Animas—as well as making jaunts to Islas Marietas for half-day whale-watching (in winter), snorkeling, swimming, and lunch. The boat Sarape heads to Los Arcos for 40 minutes of snorkeling and then continues to Las Animas and Quimixto; after beach time there's lunch aboard the boat on the return trip ($35). Terminal Marítima, Marina Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta, 48333. 322/224–4777. www.crucerosprincesa.com.mx..
Cruceros Santamaría. Full-day tours head to Los Arcos, Las Animas, and Quimixto. You can also rent boats for large private parties. You can buy tickets from booth vendors; if you order by phone, staff will give you a confirmation number, but you still have to stand in line at the public marina, or Terminal Marítima, where you pick up your ticket and pay the port fee. Blvd. Francisco M. Ascencio, across from Sam's Club, Terminal Marítima, Marina Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta, 48333. 322/221–2511. www.crucerossantamaria.com..
A really-and-truly sailing vessel that has circumnavigated the world more than once, the Marigalante has a pirate crew that keeps things hopping for kids and teens with games, snorkeling, kayaking, or banana-boat rides during a seven-hour day cruise. The five-hour dinner cruise, with open bar, snacks, and pre-Hispanic show, is for adults only and has some bawdy pirate humor. Women who don't want to be "kidnapped" may prefer the day cruise or another operator. Both tours cost $85 for adults and about half that for kids under 12. Buy tickets online at a discount or from licensed vendors in town. The boat embarks from Terminal Marítima, across from Sam's Club on Boulevard Francisco M. Ascencio, in Marina Vallarta. Av. Politecnico Nacional 78 Int 304, Col. Educación, Puerto Vallarta, 48338. 322/223–0309; 322/223–0875; 866/915–0361 from the U.S.; 866/954–5984 from Canada. www.marigalante.com.mx..
Vallarta Adventures. It's a well-respected operator with 20 years' experience, two offices, dozens of tours, and a staff of some 350. It's often used by high-end hotel concierges and cruise-ship activity directors for canopy tours, hiking, sailing, dinner-show cruises, Sierra Madre expeditions, and dolphin- and whale-watching cruises. Puerto Vallarta. 322/297–1212 in Nuevo Vallarta; 322/221–0657 in Marina Vallarta; 888/526–2238 from U.S. and Canada. www.vallarta-adventures.com.
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