Puerto Vallarta is an incredibly unique place to visit. The culture, food, sights and excursions truly left me in awe and swept me away. I had the pleasure of embarking on this 9-day trip with my boyfriend and his family to celebrate his mom’s birthday. I had an unforgettable time, and want to share about my tips and recommendations to encourage travel to Puerto Vallarta!
When to Travel to Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta experiences the best weather in mid-April to June and October through December. I traveled there in November. It is recommended to spend at least one week in Puerto Vallarta to truly get a sense of the area. My trip was nine days, including a two-day excursion to Sayulita.
What to Consider when Buying your Flight
For travel to Puerto Vallarta, buy flights at least 2-3 months in advance. Most destinations in Mexico are popular to tourists from all over the world. Booking too close to your intended departure date will most likely result in flight prices that are excessive. I booked my flight at the end of July (a little over 3 months before the trip) and I got an incredible deal through United Airlines! I paid $231 for a roundtrip non-stop flight from SFO. This price is one of the cheapest I’ve ever seen, especially for an international flight?? Too good! We flew in early Saturday, 11/7 to arrive in Puerto Vallarta around 2:30pm. We flew out Sunday, 11/15 at 3pm.
Where to Stay in when you Travel to Puerto Vallarta
It is recommended to stay in the main area of Puerto Vallarta, which is called Zona Romantica. The hotel we stayed in was right in the middle of all the restaurants, shopping, and beaches, so it was very easy to walk to our destinations. Emperador Vallarta and Suites features a beautiful entry way and lobby, plush king beds with beach views, expansive rooftop with view of the coast line, and a beachfront restaurant called Si Senor, which had the most yummy tacos and frozen strawberry margaritas!
Where to Eat & Drink in Puerto Vallarta
Everywhere and everything! Honestly, when you travel to Puerto Vallarta, know that the food is incredible! Here is a list of everywhere I ate and drank during my week, and many were repeats!!! I recommend them all!
- Litten Brod: the most tasty iced decaf vanilla latte, and they have warm and delicious chocolate-filled croissants!
- A Page in the Sun: coffee shop and a bookstore!
- Coco’s Kitchen: the spinach Benedict was SO good that I went back the following day and got the same order! Their hash browns and mimosas are also fantastic!
- Joe Jacks Fish Shack: They feature 2 for 1 mojitos on Sundays! I recommend the strawberry mojitos! For food, their fried chicken and Baja fish tacos were amazing!
- Si Senor
- Blue Chairs Resort: delicious frozen strawberry margarita! I got 3!
- Blue Shrimp Restaurant: we had dinner here our first night and the food is pricey, but the appeal is more for the ambiance! They also have a beautiful view of the water
- Serrano Meat House: one of the best steaks I’ve ever had! I ordered a well-done flank steak, mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables. They bring out complimentary chips and 4 types of salsa including a delicious bean dip, and a shareable salad for the table
- Sonorita Olas atlas: the BEST THING I ate all week, not kidding! I think about it often, and wish I could order it through UberEats. It is the pork baked potato, and it will surely blow your mind!
- El Taco Nazo: I came here multiple times during the week. The staff is so sweet and the tacos and incredible AND so so cheap! Less than $1 for a taco?? I’ll take 5!
Bars to Grab a Drink
- Barber and Booze: a barber shop with a bar– super cool concept!
- PLAYERS Sports Bar: the BEST margarita I’ve ever had! I came back twice more during the week
- Devil’s Bar: this place features huge goblets for their drinks, so well worth the money!
- No Way Jose
- Los Muertos Brewing Company: we did a beer flight here. Six 4oz beers for 150 pesos which is about 7-8 USD is WILD, but I’m not complaining!
- Mezcal & Sal: the cutest mezcal bar! Their drinks are very unique and tasty!
- 1983 Cafe & Bar: I took a mid-morning walk here and the staff was kind enough to take pictures of me in front of their murals! They have two murals on the property.
- Senor Frogs
- Bar La Playa: we came here every day of the trip—it’s a MUST GO-TO! We got a variation of tequila and mezcal flights, as well as tried multiple signature cocktails on the menu. Great staff and awesome ambiance!
- Oscar’s Restaurant: a highlight of the trip for sure! This free tequila tasting came with a complimentary food pairing! We were there for probably 2 hours, and had the BEST TIME! I learned all about tequila, in ways I never knew before!
- Arrecife Tequila Olas Altas: we came here multiple times and also bought a bottle here to take home! Manny, the store owner, has hundreds of items to choose from!
Sights to see in Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is a very walkable city! Here are the sights I saw on foot (& loved!):
- Zona Romantica
- The Plaza
- The Malecon: a long strip of road that is closed off to cars for miles! You’ll find street vendors, restaurants, and everything in between! I recommend visiting both during the day and at night! The Puerto Vallarta sign along the path is also a must-see!
- Church of our Lady of Guadalupe: stunning church that I was glad I got to see in person and walk inside!
- Isla Cuale shopping market: large, colorful market where I purchased all my souvenirs and lots of jewelry! Make sure to negotiate pricing!
Excursions to try in Puerto Vallarta
There were many activities to choose from during our time in Puerto Vallarta, and although we didn’t get to do everything, I wrote out the items we were able to enjoy as well as what we would have liked to do!
- Playa Camerones
- Los Muertos
- Los Arcos
- Jet Ski: It was mine and PJ’s first time going, and we had a great time! The normal rate is 50 USD for 30 minutes
- Parasailing: We did not get to do this, but it’s on our list for next time! Normal rate is 45 USD for 45 minutes
- Banana Boat: we didn’t do this, but it is 10 USD per person
- Hiking: there are many hikes to choose from, but we heard great things about the Mirador Cerrito de la Cruz hike
- ATV: can be done at many places, but we were told Canopy El Eden was the best!
- Zip-lining: We did this at Canopy El Eden, which is the sight of the Predator Movie! Gorgeous and lush green jungle, and the zip-line was a bit terrifying but super fun! We were going 60 mph at the steepest lines! Also, there is a built-in hike here as well! AND there was a bonus tequila tasting at the end! We paid 35 USD for the full experience!
Day Trip to Sayulita
Sayulita was my favorite part of the trip! To get there from Puerto Vallarta, I recommend taking an Uber. It is the fastest way to get there, and also you will avoid a crowded bus and multiple transfers. It is an hour away from Puerto Vallarta, and it’s about 25-30 USD for a one-way trip. Here is a list of where we stayed and we did:
- Hotel Vista Oceania: small hotel rooms but great rooftop views!
- Coco’s beach club: its a very cute set-up with the swing-set and the large format seating! The guacamole was some of the best I had all trip!
- Main street: where all the fun happens! So many street vendors, shops, and food all under the vibrant and beautiful flags that hang above the street.
- Margarita stand: there was a small stand serving a unique spin on the infamous tequila drink, paired with Mexican candy to swirl inside!
- Buonissimo Cafe and gelato: this was a cute little breakfast spot serving waffles, crepes, and ice cream
- Terra Viva Rooftop Restaurant: upscale Mexican food and great ambiance!
- Playa Sayulita: I highly recommend swimming in the ocean for hours! I did not want to leave!
- All the little hole-in-the-wall stands! I had the BEST battered shrimp tacos of my LIFE in Sayulita, and unfortunately it doesn’t have a name! Just keep your eyes peeled for the little gems!
- Mr. Flamingo
- Drag show at Bar La Noche
- Industry nightclub
Tips to ensure the BEST trip
Safety with Covid: The city of Puerto Vallarta regulated a curfew of 8pm for the majority of our trip. This was put in place to manage cases, and another good point to note is that the cases in this area have drastically decreased over the past couple months to the point they are openly allowing travel between the U.S. and Mexico, which is not the case with most countries in the world. I felt extremely safe in the area, wore my mask, and made sure to wash my hands frequently. In terms of physical safety, the area is extremely safe. PJ and I would walk back to our hotel around midnight in the city each night and it was very quiet and peaceful.
Pull out Cash: While there are ATMs available for use in Puerto Vallarta, it is best to pull out cash prior to entering Mexico. I would recommend to pull out 300 USD in Mexican Pesos for a one-week trip. If you have a travel credit card, I would recommend using that once your cash runs out, and save cash for food and souvenirs! For the lowest currency exchange fee, I suggest going to Currency Exchange International. You can find this in most large malls. There is one in Westfield San Francisco.
It’s OK to say No: From the moment you touch down in Mexico, to the second you depart, you will be approached by countless people. What threw me off, was that you get approached in settings you would never believe (such as while dining in a restaurant). Street vendors from children to grown adults will ask you to buy what they are selling. A simple “no gracias” will suffice!
Translation App: Downloading a language translation app will help greatly if you are not a fluent or even conversational Spanish speaker. My boyfriend did most of the talking, but when I needed to explain things for myself, I turned to the app which bridged the gap where needed. In the newest Iphone update, there is a “Translate” app built in! If you do not have an Iphone, there are many free apps you can utilize. The most important thing is to know the very basic words, and use the app for everything else.
Make a new friend! I can honestly say that I met some of the nicest people ever in Puerto Vallarta. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly, and would strike up conversations effortlessly. I met people at the market, on the beach, in restaurants, etc. Two very sweet girls I met in a liquor store, Thalu and Ale. They are from a different part of Mexico, and I am glad we connected on social media! I hope to see them again!
Overall, I had an amazing time in Mexico, and will definitely be back for another visit! To see my Puerto Vallarta experiences come to life, watch my latest YouTube video below!
I hope you enjoyed my “Travel to Puerto Vallarta” post and found it helpful for your upcoming trip! Please comment any thoughts and questions below, and share with your friends and family! For more content related to travel, check out my recent blog posts below: