Top Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta – Perfect for First Timers!

top things to do in puerto vallarta

Today, on, I am ecstatic to share the top things to do in Puerto Vallarta (PV)! This travel guide is perfect for first timers.

About Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco

Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful town located in Jalisco, Mexico. It offers a colorful atmosphere with mountains in the background and beautiful beaches. (Personally – I love how artsy and colorful it is!)

PV has a rich history. It was once a small fishing village before it became a popular tourist destination in the 1960s. (The filming of The Night of the Iguana probably had something to do with its rise in popularity.)

Today, the city is a vibrant and bustling destination, offering a range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. From shopping and dining to outdoor adventures and cultural experiences, there is something for everyone.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to Puerto Vallarta.

Top Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta

zip lining in puerto vallarta
Los Veranos Canopy Tour

If you’re thinking about it, they probably have it. From snorkeling and scuba diving to hiking and zip lining, Puerto Vallarta is sure to deliver on its promise of creating a memorable vacation. Below listed are some of the top things to do during your visit:

  • Book a Whale Watching Tour: During the winter months, you can take a whale watching tour to see the majestic humpback whales that migrate to the area. OR you might get lucky and see them from the comfort of your villa like I did in 2012.
  • Go Snorkeling and/or Scuba Diving: For coral reefs and exotic sea creatures, plan a snorkel or scuba dive adventure. In case you don’t know, Puerto Vallarta is home to some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving spots in Mexico.
  • Go Horseback Riding: For a unique perspective of the jungle, and the surrounding countryside, consider going horseback riding. Many local tour operators offer horseback rides through the jungle, complete with stops at scenic waterfalls and other natural attractions.
  • Book a Yacht or Boat Tour: There are many boat tours available that will take you to hidden coves, secluded beaches, and picturesque islands.
  • Take a Cooking Class: If you’re interested in Mexican cuisine, take a cooking class. You’ll learn about the local ingredients, techniques, and flavors that make Mexican food so unique and delicious.
  • Go to Los Arcos: Are you feeling adventurous? Head over to Los Arcos for a real adventure. This place has an abundance of marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and manta rays, making it a popular spot for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Local Beaches
Marietas Islands

Puerto Vallarta is surrounded by stunning beaches, including Playa los Muertos, Playa Mismaloya, and Playa Conchas Chinas. Whether you are looking to swim, sunbathe, or simply relax, the beaches are a must-visit.

  • Marietas Islands: The nearby Marietas Islands are a popular destination for snorkeling and diving. There is mystery behind how this group of uninhabited islands were formed, adding to the wanderlust.
  • Mismaloya Beach: This stunning beach is located just a short drive from Puerto Vallarta and offers clear blue waters, soft white sand, and breathtaking views. It’s a great place to relax and soak up the sun.
  • Colomitos Beach: This is a small and secluded beach that is only accessible by boat or by hiking along a rugged trail. It is a great little beach to escape the crowds and experience a more remote and peaceful setting.
  • Isla Cuale: This is a hidden pathway filled with art galleries, street vendors, and restaurants along the Cuale River. It is centrally located in the heart of Zona Romántica. Neat little area to explore!
sayulita - pueblo magico
Pueblo Mágico – Sayulita
  • Visit the Malecón: This is the perfect place for a leisurely walk or bike ride. With its stunning views of the bay and the city, it is a must-visit for anyone spending time in Puerto Vallarta. At night, there are random firework shows.
  • Explore El Centro: The downtown (main) area is decorated with cobblestone streets, colonial-style buildings, and lively plazas. This is THE place to do all your shopping. You can also try local cuisine, find unique treasures, or simply stroll the streets.
  • Eat, Drink, and Explore Zona Romántica: This is a charming and picturesque neighborhood that is known for its cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and lively nightlife. Highly recommend this area! It is so aesthetically pleasing.
  • Visit Sayulita: If you have enough time, I highly, highly recommend visiting Sayulita, a magical town nearby. Literally. Sayulita is known to be a Pueblo Mágico, which translates to Magical Town. This is because it is known for its cultural richness, traditions, folklore, and so much more.
  • Visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe: This beautiful cathedral is a great place to visit if you’re interested in architecture and history. The iconic parish is recognized as one of the most important structures in Banderas Bay.

Top-rated Tour Companies

For an extensive list of things to do in Puerto Vallarta, I am linking a helpful resource HERE. If you are interested in booking a tour for any of the abovementioned activities, I found the top-rated tour companies for you! They’re listed below and not necessarily listed in a particular order of preference.

  1. Puerto Vallarta Tours
  2. Vallarta Adventures
  3. Estigo Tours
  4. Jet’s Private Boat Tours
  5. Los Veranos Canopy Tour

Final Thoughts

If you decide to make your way to PV in the future, I hope this travel guide shed some light on what this beautiful town has to offer. My intention was to share the top things to do in Puerto Vallarta and hopefully you feel I’ve done my job here.

I must say, I have visited PV at least four times in my lifetime, and it never gets old. I truly feel there is always something new to discover. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can email me at or you can send a DM on Instagram.

Ps. Also, if you are celebrating something special, I HIGHLY recommend booking a picnic on the beach experience. It is truly a one-of-a-kind, especially for girlies, or lovers. All about our experience with The Picnic Company is shared HERE.

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More Photos from Our Trip!

puerto vallarta, jalisco
puerto vallarta, jalisco
puerto vallarta, jalisco
puerto vallarta, jalisco
puerto vallarta, jalisco
puerto vallarta, jalisco
puerto vallarta, jalisco
puerto vallarta, jalisco
puerto vallarta, jalisco
puerto vallarta, jalisco
puerto vallarta, jalisco
puerto vallarta, jalisco
puerto vallarta, jalisco
puerto vallarta, jalisco

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