Mexico Mariachi sculptures on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Published on March 11th, 2014 | by Mark Chesnut

Mariachi sculptures on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Top 5 Reasons to Vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

One of the top Mexico beach destinations on the Pacific Coast, Puerto Vallarta was a hotspot for vacationers even before Elizabeth Taylor first wandered its streets and Richard Burton filmed the movie “Night of the Iguana” here. Today, it’s a diverse, sophisticated vacation paradise that manages to combine small-town charm with international flair. Need some convincing? These top 5 reasons to vacation in Puerto Vallarta will provide you with plenty of Mexico travel tips to inspire your visit (if you’re traveling with kids, check out Best Beach Towns: Puerto Vallarta with Kids, on the site Pitstops for Kids).

1. Delicious Mexican Food & Drinks — and Cuisine From All Over. 
Puerto Vallarta has attracted top chefs from around the globe for its annual Festival Gourmet International (which takes place next from November 22-24, 2014). But any time of year is ideal to savor the delicious Mexican cuisine and international culinary treats, whether it’s upscale creations at venues like Cafe des Artistes or homemade tacos from an authentic food truck. Your taste buds will never be bored. For more ideas, check out my roundup of 6 Great Restaurants in Puerto Vallarta (& Tasty Food Tours, Too).

2. Beautiful Puerto Vallarta Beaches.
This vacation paradise isn’t home to just one Mexico beach. You could spend several days discovering all of them, in fact. Top choices include Playa de Oro Beach, where you can enjoy a number of recreational activities, including parasailing, jet skis, and swimming. Los Muertos Beach, on the South Side, is the town’s liveliest stretch of sand, and a fun place for water and beach sports, as well as swimming — it’s also lined with plenty of options for dining. For a beautiful getaway, join a tour to Las Caletas, which was once the private home of movie director John Huston. Today, this lush hidden cove, with its  three small sandy beaches and rock formations, is an ideal place to relax, get a massage, or snorkel and scuba dive.

3. A Great Array of Puerto Vallarta Hotels.
Puerto Vallarta hotels are a diverse lot, with something to suit every taste. Choose large properties like the Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta, which has an amply sized beach as well as a large, attractive pool area (it’s where I stayed during my last visit — read my Fiesta Americana review here), or the Sheraton Buganvilias Resort, which also offers a prime beach location in the newer hotel district (I’ve stayed here too — read my Sheraton Buganvilias review here). If being in the heart of downtown is your thing, consider in-town gems with value prices like Hotel Catedral (my review of Hotel Catedral is here).

4. The Unique, Sophisticated — Yet Still Charming — Ambiance.
No other Mexico beach destination is quite like Puerto Vallarta. It’s part small town, part historical gem, part beach paradise and sophisticated international hotspot. Be sure to make time to stroll the Malecón, the waterfront boulevard that’s dotted with fascinating modern sculptures and is also one of the best places to watch the sunset (check out my video and photos of some of the coolest sculptures and attractions on the Malecón). You can also sample a variety of nightlife, whether it’s big brand-name bars or intimate venues (read my interview with the Argentinean group Bohemia Viva, which is based in Puerto Vallarta and plays live here during the high season). Puerto Vallarta is also home to an impressive array of gay nightlife (for more about Puerto Vallarta’s appeal as a gay travel destination, read my interview with Don Pickens, owner of Casa Cupula hotel — I will actually be heading to Puerto Vallarta again in June, to speak at the LGBT Confex, an international gay business expo and conference, so stay tuned to for more reports from that visit).

5. Memorable Puerto Vallarta Side Trips.
The city’s location on the Pacific coast of the state of Jalisco makes it easy to take side trips to lots of interesting places. I really enjoyed my afternoon swimming with the dolphins at Dolphin Discovery, which is just a few minutes north of the city. Also truly memorable are day trips (or even overnight trips) to the colonial towns in the countryside; my visit to San Sebastian del Oeste, an old mining town founded in 1605, was fascinating and kept my camera clicking all day.


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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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