Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Cruise Port

4.2 out of 5

About Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Essentially since its conception in pre-Columbian times, the seaside city of Puerto Vallarta has welcomed wash-ashores to its golden beaches, pretty bay, and busy marina. But like the word paparazzi, the sleepy port city has the stormy love of Liz and Dick (that’s Taylor and Burton, if you’re not in the know) to thank for its big break in the vacation zeitgeist. Today’s visitors stroll along the art-studded malecon, a beachfront boardwalk, tasting tequila as they wander.

Restaurants

puerto vallart mexico palapa shrimp plantain

Shrimp with soursop at La Palapa restaurant 
Photo by La Palapa

Breakfast: Café de Olla – This seasonal restaurant — which shares its name with the local style of coffee — serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but it gets harder to score a table here as the day progresses. Those outside are the best for people watching. The chiliquiles are a don’t-miss, as is the cinnamon namesake coffee.

Lunch: There are two countries in the world with UNESCO-protected cuisine. One is France; the other (surprise!) is Mexico. And no experience is more authentic or flavorful than hitting up a taco street vendor. A host of taquerias (taco joints) are located in the southern area of the city, along Cardenas and Constitucion, toward Playa Los Muertos. Don’t habla español? Point to what looks good. Just remember: The first rule is to look for a line. It indicates that the food is fresh and delicious.

Dinner: La Palapa – This family-run eatery, which is set on the sands of Los Muertos Beach, has been on the must-do list for half a century. Its open-air, oceanfront setting may be what brings people in, but its sophisticated approach to local favorites is what garners rave reviews. Menu favorites include lobster taquitos, and shrimp with a guanabana and coconut sauce. The romantic dinner at a secluded surfside table is also among the restaurant’s most famous draws.

Dessert: At Yarita Pandaria y Pasteleria in the Old Town, flaky, buttery goodness comes in a variety of sweet and savory offerings that are best enjoyed while strolling the historic streets. That is, of course, if you don’t gobble your sweet bread upon paying.

Tip: Sign on for a Puerto Vallarta culinary tour, which highlights a variety of family-operated purveyors throughout the city. 

Activities

whale coast puerto vallarta mexico

Look for whales from November through March.
Photo by ThinkStock

For Everyone: Don’t miss the chance to see whales from a tiny boat off the Coast of Punta Mita. From the port, hop in an official taxi and negotiate a day rate. (The resort area is about 40 minutes from Puerto Vallarta, so you want to make round-trip arrangements.) It’s an unbelievable thrill to see the giant animals surface and tail-slap from so close — you can often feel the water splash.

For Couples: The best bet for couples who want to drink in the culture of the region is a tequila tour. Hacienda Doña Engracia not only gives you a chance to imbibe in the area’s most infamous spirit, but it also provides a step-by-step look at its creation. The tour includes backgrounders on the agave plant and its cultivation, an explanation of the fermenting process, and tips on delineating the difference in flavors.

For Families:Hit the beach. Yes, it’s the marquee attraction, and with 26 miles of sand stretched along the picturesque Banderas Bay, there’s good reason: You can kick back, build sandcastles, and jump in the surf. Personal watercraft rentals are also available, as well as sailboats and dolphin-spotting opportunities. Best of all, kids will marvel at the flying dancers of Papantla, traditionally clad performers who climb and swing around a towering totem anchored in the sand.

For the Adventurous: On a canopy tour in the Los Veranos ecological preserve, you can soar high above the local flora, a gorge, and some rapids. Consider it your reward for signing up for a guided, backcountry hike, which also affords looks at colorful birds and rare orchid species. 

Tip: Silver may get all the fame as Mexico’s most sought-after handicraft, but Talavera pottery is cheaper and, in many cases, authentic. The colorful tiles, dishes, and vases can be found around town, but the best selections are at Mundo de Azulejos and Talavera Etc., both located in the Zona Romantica. 

Insider Tip

Bargaining is expected throughout Mexico, but there’s an exception to that rule. Many shops at tourist hubs have fixed prices. Such spots will have tags and pricing policies posted, and trying to haggle in these places is considered bad form. 

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Cruises to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

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1048 reviews and tips of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

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bikerdude73

Had the best time here! Las caletas was awesome. My girlfriend relaxed in a hammock and I snorkeled all over the place. The water was nice and clear, fish were abundant. Enjoyed the open air restaurant, the atmosphere was just what we were looking for! Only complaint, wished we could have spent much more time there. Highly suggest that excursion.

cycmendoza

This was the highlight of the trip. We hired a taxi driver who charged us $40 to give us a tour of downtown. We really didnt know where to go or, what to do. I asked the driver "if you had a lazy day off what would you do? He took us to a small a town (I can't remember the name). In town we had a local fisherman give us a tour of the bay. Evidently Steven Spielberg has his home here, if this helps. We ended up on a small beach call Las Animas. You can arrove here by boat. OMG the food was amazing!!!!!! We ordered a dz oysters. They literally went to a boat, grabbed the days catch and served us.......I could have had another 3 dzs... amazing!!!

Visited: Sep 16, 2017

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sammyvelvet

If you go to PV then go to OLD VALLARTA. Grab a Taxi as you exit the ship. Have them take you to the beginning of the " Malecon " ( Boardwalk ). Then just walk the Malecon and all the shops and food places there and within a couple of blocks from there. You will also run into where the Church is and just walk in ( but just remember its a real church so please respect that ). If you walk the entire Malecon go to a restaurant at the end called " Si Senor" ... you can sit by the beach ( 20 feet away ) right next to the Mueye De Los Muertos ( Pier at Los Muertos ) . While you sit there and watch the sea and all the people enjoying the beach and the vendors who will bring the shopping to you as you eat Ceviche and drink Cold beverages you will think that you never want to leave .. and for those of you who like massages .. you will see the ladies walking the beach and will give you a great massage while you sit and sip your cold Margarita ... and the prices here are amazing ... if you do get a massage ask for "Rosie" she is the best and we have been getting massages from her for the past 5 years.

Visited: Nov 18, 2017

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Aubsliz

I didn't get to explore downtown Puerto itself. I did the Las Caletas excursion and it was worth every penny. The boat ride out to the beach is a good 45 minutes but as soon as you get onboard they offered beverages both alcoholic and non. The entertainment staff on the boat were amazing and they made 45 minutes feel like 5. The beach itself has kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling, and zip lining. Lunch and drinks are also included. Do this excursion, it was a blast.

Visited: Oct 07, 2017

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3 of 21 shore excursions in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

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