Published on March 29th, 2015 | by Mark Chesnut


Mexico Vacations: Which Puerto Vallarta Neighborhood is Right For You?

I love Puerto Vallarta. and one of the things I like about it most is the diversity of experiences that you can have there — from outdoor adventures and water sports to sophisticated culinary experiences, from history and art to day trips.

When a friend recently asked me to recommend the best parts of town in which to stay in Puerto Vallarta, I realized that choosing the right neighborhood is an important part of creating the perfect Puerto Vallarta vacation. This Mexico beach destination is graced with several very distinct neighborhoods — all of them great for vacations, but each with its own unique selling points. So depending on the type of traveler you are and the type of vacation you desire (as well as the type of hotel you prefer), you might find that some areas fit your needs better than others.

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Here are a few of the places in Puerto Vallarta that can fit the bill for your next Mexico vacation:

Marina Vallarta: There are some very nice hotels in the Marina Vallarta area (read my review of the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, and there is also a Westin there), and the fact that there’s a marina and golf course there makes it great for people who’d like to tee off or head out onto the beautiful Pacific waters. It’s also one of the most conveniently close neighborhoods to the airport, making arrivals and departures easy. Marina Vallarta is at least a 15 or 20 minute taxi ride into downtown Puerto Vallarta, though, so keep that in mind if you plan on spending a lot of time in town.
Best For: Golfers, boating enthusiasts, people who like full-service hotels and all-inclusive options.


The Zona Romántica: The Romantic Zone is the most central neighborhood, meaning you can walk to the beach, restaurants, galleries, nightlife and shops — but the hotels there tend to be smaller. The last time we stayed on our own, we rented part of a “villa” in the Romantic Zone, so you might want to check VRBO, Homeaway and AirBNB, as there are a lot of private apartments, villas and small homes downtown that are owned by foreigners and rent out short-term. The Zona Romántica is also the gayest neighborhood in the very LGBT-friendly Puerto Vallarta; there are several gay hotels there. I’ve heard that one of the nicest gay hotels is Casa Cupula, though I haven’t stayed there myself.
Best For: Vacationers who like being in a smaller place that’s walking distance to restaurants, beach, galleries and nightlife.

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Zona Hotelera Norte: The northern hotel zone, located between the airport and downtown Puerto Vallarta, offers the largest selection of hotels — ranging from budget to luxury accommodations, with all-inclusive options, too. If you prefer a full-size, resort-style hotel with a big pool but still want to be relatively close to downtown, two of the closest are the Sheraton Buganvilias and the Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta, which recently turned all-inclusive and added new amenities and features, including new restaurants and a teen’s club.
Best For: Travelers looking for full-service hotels, lots of options and a central location near activities and attractions.

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Mismaloya: This lush, beautiful area, just south of the city, helped put Puerto Vallarta on the tourism map (it was the site of most of the 1963 movie Night of the Iguana) and it still maintains much of its unspoiled natural feel, and offers a variety of outdoor activities. Hotels here include Casa Iguana All Suites and the recently opened, all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. You’ll need to take a taxi or bus (or rent a car) to access the main part of Puerto Vallarta, but it’s less then 30 minutes to most activities.
Best For: Nature lovers and people looking for a secluded getaway with lovely scenery.

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About the Author

The founder and editor of, Mark has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and manager. He's worked with some of the biggest consumer, in-flight and travel trade publishers that cover Latin America.

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