Puerto Vallarta

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 di
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
For the sheer variety of activities, Puerto Vallarta is one of the best adventure-vacation destinations on Mexico's Pac

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.

Recommended Fodor’s Video

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  • ATV and Dune-Buggy Tours

    Increasingly, ATV, dune buggy, and jeep tours are heading for the hills around Puerto Vallarta. Most rides are to small communities, ranches...

  • Bird Watching

    Although there aren't many dedicated birding operators here, this region is perfect for the pastime. Vallarta has more than 350 species in a...

  • Canopy Tours

    Canopy tours are high-octane thrill rides during which you "fly" from treetop to treetop, securely fastened to a zip line. Despite the inherent...

  • Cruises

    Daytime bay cruises generally begin with a quick jaunt to Los Arcos Underwater Preserve, off Mismaloya Beach. There's about a half hour for...

  • Dolphin Encounters

    Many folks find the idea of captive dolphins disturbing; others cherish the opportunity to interact with these intelligent creatures that communicate...

  • Fishing

    Sportfishing is excellent off Puerto Vallarta, and fisherfolk have landed monster marlin well over 500 pounds. Surf-casting from shore nets...

  • Golf

    Not a bad mango in the bunch" is how one golf aficionado described Puerto Vallarta's courses. From the two courses at Four Seasons Punta Mita...

  • Hiking

    The coastal fringe and the hills behind Vallarta—with streams and rivers heading down from the mountains—are beautiful areas for exploring,...

  • Horseback Riding

    Most of the horseback-riding outfits are based on family ranches in the foothill towns of the Sierra Madre, such as Las Palmas. Horses are permitted...

  • Kayaking

    Except on calm, glassy days, the open ocean is really too rough for enjoyable kayaking unless you’re based in the southern end of the bay, and...

  • Mountain Biking

    Although the tropical climate makes it hot for biking, the Puerto Vallarta area is lovely and has challenging and varied terrain. Aim for the...

  • Multisport Tours

    Ecotours. A PV–based operator (with the main office at Marina Vallarta) whose offerings include hiking, diving, snorkeling, kayaking, bird...

  • Sailing

    Although large Bahía de Banderas and towns to the north and south have lots of beautiful beaches to explore and wildlife to see, there are few...

  • Scuba Diving and Snorkeling

    The Pacific waters here aren't nearly as clear as those in the Caribbean, but they are warm and nutrient-rich, which means they attract a variety...

  • Skydiving

    Skydiving is an excellent adrenaline-pumping activity in Puerto Vallarta that is available for both new and experienced divers. There are beautiful...

  • Surfing

    The main surfing areas are in the north, in Nayarit State, and include Sayulita and Punta Mita, where there are nearly a dozen offshore breaks...

  • Turtle-Watching and Repatriation

    Mexico has seven of the world's eight sea-turtle species. Three of those species live in and around Banderas Bay. The fastest growing and earliest...

  • Whale-Watching

    Most of the boats on the bay, whether fishing boats or tour boats, also run whale-watching tours (December–mid-March). Some boats are equipped...