For the sheer variety of activities, Puerto Vallarta is one of the best adventure-vacation destinations on Mexico's Pacific coast. The water is warm and swimmable year-round, even downright bathlike July through November. The big blue bay attracts sea turtles, humpback whales, dolphins, and a growing number of snorkelers and divers. The fishing is excellent—from deep-sea angling for marlin and sailfish to trolling near shore for roosters and red snapper.
Banderas Bay and the beaches to the north and south have some surfable waves as well as plenty of calm bays and inlets for swimming and paddleboarding. Party boats and private yachts are great for accessing gorgeous and hard-to-reach beaches, primarily south of Vallarta along Cabo Corrientes.
The subtropical foothills are laced with streams and rivers that rush and tumble over rocks in the rainy season and dwindle but still impress at other times. Trails challenge mountain bikers and thrill dune-buggy and ATV aficionados. Many family-owned ranches have horse-riding tours at reasonable prices—lasting from an hour or two to overnight forays into the Sierra Madre.
Most of the well-established tour operators are in Puerto Vallarta. North and south of town, activities are often arranged through hotels, though there are companies springing up to meet an increasing demand. Operators generally provide transportation from strategic pickup points, usually in downtown Puerto Vallarta, Marina Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta, and sometimes in Conchas Chinas. To save traveling from one end of the bay to the other, try to choose an outfitter near your neck of the woods.