Puerto Vallarta has everything you need for a great beach vacation and we have complied our personal favorites into a list we call the Best of Puerto Vallarta!
Update Jan, 2016: All suggestions below are still running and links have been updated where necessary
We had the opportunity to live in Puerto Vallarta for three months which gave us time to really explore and experience this fabulous coastal city. Of course we couldn’t possibly sample all PV has to offer but we certainly did our best…it’s a tough job we have I know. Now we can share our picks for best restaurants, bars, sightseeing, excursions and even ways to stay fit in and around Puerto Vallarta.
Best Place to Watch the Sunset with a Margarita in Puerto Vallarta
*Update July 07, 2016: It seems that the Sea Monkey website no longer exists which may mean that the Sea Monkey itself is no longer operating. If anyone gets to Puerto Vallarta before us we’d love an update on whether out favorite spot for $1 beach margs is still there!
Sea Monkey at 174 Aquila Serdan (South end of the Malecon)
- With tables under palapas right on the beach, a perfect view of the sunset and $1 margaritas and beer how can you go wrong?
Best Puerto Vallarta Beach Vendor Snacks
- Sweet: The amazing donuts. They circulate the beaches with trays of these huge, fresh and delicious donuts…a must at least once!
- Savory: Fish or shrimp on a stick. These are grilled right on the beach and are simple, cheap and delicious.
- Drink: Coco Frio. A fresh, cold coconut with a straw to drink the tasty and hydrating coconut water.
Best Puerto Vallarta Pizza
La Piazzetta @ Olas Altos and Rodolfo Gomez #143, Romantica Zone
- Nice setting in the heart of Old Town and very delicious brick oven pizza at a reasonable price.
Best Puerto Vallarta Italian Food
La Piazzetta @ Olas Altos and Rodolfo Gomez #143, Romantica Zone
- Great pasta and gelato as well as the above mentioned pizza.
Best Puerto Vallarta Breakfast
Coco’s Kitchen @ Pulpito 122, Amapas
- Not the cheapest place in town for breakfast but worth the splurge at least once. Try the French toast!!
Best Romantic Beachside Restaurant in Puerto Vallarta
La Palapa @ Pulpito 103 (right on the beach just past the pier)
- A bit pricey but the setting can’t be beat and the food is delicious. Ask for a table on the beach lit only by torches and candlelight.
Best Puerto Vallarta Restaurant for Unique Setting
Cuale Paradise Riverside Dining @ somewhere on a river in the jungle?? The address is Manatial #372, Buenos Aires but that won’t help much. You will need to take a taxi and try to have a map or directions from the website as even most taxi drivers don’t know how to get there (the restaurant will pay for the taxi!).
- A somewhat hidden gem in PV as it is way out of the tourista area and far from the beach. It’s situated on a river in a jungle setting and is quite simply amazing. Try to get the table on a little strip of sand in the middle of the river. Be prepared to pay a bit more but its well worth it!
Best Place in Puerto Vallarta for Live Rock Music
The Roxy @ Ignacio L Vallarta, Old Town
- What is it with bars named The Roxy? They all seem to be the best places for live music and good times.
Best Puerto Vallarta Destination Restaurant
- In the middle of the Botanical Gardens is a lovely Hacienda which houses a shop, art gallery, chaise lounges and an amazing restaurant overlooking the jungle. The service and the food are great and the view can’t be beat. Be sure to try the traditional salsa made right at your table. You can read about our experience here.
Best Place in Puerto Vallarta for a Cocktail Away From the Crowds
Faro Lighthouse Bar Timon Paseo de la Marina, Marina Vallarta
- At the top of a faux lighthouse is a classy bar with a 360’ view. Worth the trip to Marina Vallarta even if you’re not staying near there.
Best Puerto Vallarta Restaurant Name
Nacho Daddy at Basilo Badillo #287
- Aside from the cool name it’s also a good place for a drink and some live music.
Best Place in Puerto Vallarta for Cheap Drinks on the Malecon
Cheeky Monkey @ 556 Paseo Diaz Ordaz (right on the Malecon)
Oceana Grille @ right next door the The Cheeky Monkey
- Both are great spots to watch the parade of people on the Malecon from an upper balcony but the best part is they both offer $1 margarita’s and beer all day!
Best Comida Corrida in Puerto Vallarta
Comida Corrida’s are restaurants which offer meals which usually include a drink and maybe a soup or salad at very reasonable prices. They often won’t have a consistent set menu but rather a choice of 3 or 4 entrees which may changes daily. Theses specials are usually only available from 1-3pm.
- Can’t remember the name but there’s a really good one on the corner right across from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.
Best Puerto Vallarta Local “Cheers” Bar
Bolero’s Corner of I Vallarta and Madero
- A cool hole-in-the-wall bar with good music, dim lights, strong drinks, a great bartender and mostly locals.
Best Free Event in Puerto Vallarta
Southside Shuffle at Basilo Badillo
- Every other Friday evening from 6pm-10pm from October to May many of the shops, restaurants and art galleries open their doors and offer up free drinks and a chance to browse and mingle. There’s also live music on the street. You can read more about it here.
Best Place in Puerto Vallarta to Exercise Outside
Agustin Flores Contreras Municipal Stadium at Francisco Medina Asencio across from the Sheraton
- This park and stadium has a great running track, soccer fields, exercise equipment and even a boxing area…and it’s all free to use!
Best Place in Puerto Vallarta for Partyers of All Ages
Andale’s at Olas Altas across from Los Arcos Hotel, Old Town
- Always a party at Andale’s with the kind atmosphere and music that gets both college kids and Grandma up dancing on the bar.
Best Seafood in Puerto Vallarta
Joe Jack’s Fish Shack at Basilo Badillo #212, Old Town
- A Puerto Vallarta fave for eight years with delicious fish tacos and fish and chips.
Best Puerto Vallarta Hike
- A really great way to see some beautiful beaches not accessible by road. We enjoyed it so much we hiked it 3 times!
Best Beach Outside the Town of Puerto Vallarta
Playa Gemelos: Take the bus towards Mismaloya and ask the bus driver to let you know when to get off.
- It’s a small beach but it’s very pretty with beautiful clear water for swimming. The best part is that it’s not very well known so there are very seldom more than a handful of people there.
Best Place for Fresh Produce in Puerto Vallarta
Emiliano Zapato Mercado @ the East end of Calle Lazarro Cardenas
- There is a fresh produce store on the corner across from the market where you can buy two or three bags full of fruit and veggies for about $10USD.
Best Excursion from Puerto Vallarta
- An amazing evening which includes a boat ride, a great live show and a romantic dinner by candle and torchlight on the beach of a private island. As with all the Vallarta Adventure tours it’s a bit pricey but it’s worth it and if you’re willing to waste some time you can get it for free like we did. See details here.
Best Puerto Vallarta Grocery Store
Mega at several locations
- Could be it was our fave just because we lived next door but it seemed to have the best selection at the best prices.
Best Nightclub for Dancing
The Zoo at the Malecon
- One of several nightclubs on the Malecon but it was our top pick because of the lack of cover and the numerous cages for dancing. Amazing what a cage and a few drinks will do to people…great fun to watch even if you don’t participate.
Best Place to Volunteer in Puerto Vallarta
SPCA PV dog sanctuary a secret location
- The people who volunteer and work at this sanctuary are amazing and the dogs they care for are so very happy and grateful. I just can’t say enough about this place. Please take the time to visit or donate in some way to this amazing place. For info on how to get there you can go to the FB page or look for them at the Saturday market in Old Town. We’ve even created a calendar to help contribute to the cause. You can purchase it directly from our site here.
Best Restaurant View in Puerto Vallarta
Hacienda San Angel at Miramar #336, El Centro
- We never actually ate here but we heard the food was very good. We just went to see the view of Puerto Vallarta.
Best Budget Hotel in Puerto Vallarta
Hotel Posada de Roger at Basilo Badillo #237
- A really nice budget option in the heart of Old Town with a lovely courtyard.
Best Puerto Vallarta View
Climb the steep steps up Calle Galeana and at the top you will have a great view of Puerto Vallarta. Try to go at sunrise or sunset for the best photo ops.
Best Puerto Vallarta Tour Operator
Vallarta Adventures is the #1 tour operator for good reason. They offer everything from ziplining to snorkeling to off road adventures.
Best Non Organized Tour in Puerto Vallarta
If you have a group of people you can have a great, more budget friendly day by organizing your own tour. Just start chatting with the many boat owners and fishermen along the beach and strike a deal to hire them and their boat for the day to take you snorkeling, whale watching and beach exploring.
Best Puerto Vallarta Hostel
Oasis at Libramiento #222 close to Our Lady Of Guadalupe Church
- Fun and clean hostel in a great location close to the Malecon. They have a rooftop deck with a great view of PV and the church. Just be prepared for church bells especially during religious festivals.
Best All-Inclusive Hotel in Old Town Puerto Vallarta
Playa Los Arcos Hotel at Olas Altas #380
Maybe not the most deluxe all-inclusive in PV but definitely the best location if you want to be in old town right on Los Muertos Beach. Try and get a room on the 4th floor as the balconies are bigger and overlook the pool.
Best Puerto Vallarta Waterfall for Swimming
- You have to take a boat to Quimixto and then it’s about a 20 minute hike to the waterfall but it’s worth it. Most people go to the waterfall at Yelapa which is really pretty but Quimixto has a great swimming hole and a natural waterslide. You can see a video of our trip here.
Best Way to Spend a Sunday Evening in Puerto Vallarta
Stroll the Malecon
- Sunday evenings are when the locals stroll along the Malecon. Join them and try some treats from the street vendors, watch a performance at Los Arcos Amphitheatre and join in the traditional dancing at the square in front of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It’s a great evening of free entertainment!
Best Thing to do In Puerto Vallarta if You Want a Taste of Home
Go to a movie
- There are several good modern movie theatres around Puerto Vallarta which play new releases and they are very inexpensive, especially on Wednesday when it’s half price. Just be sure to select the show times that are in English with subtitles and haven’t been dubbed in Spanish…unless of course you speak Spanish.
Best Puerto Vallarta Street Tacos
They are honestly all very good so we couldn’t pick just one. Some people may be cautious of street food but we ate it all the time in Puerto Vallarta and had no problems. One tip we can offer is to go to the more popular street stands since the higher turnover means the food will be fresher.
Have you been to Puerto Vallarta? Do you have any favorites spots? We’d love to hear about them!
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