Mexico: Puerto Vallarta
Fly in/out: Puerto Vallarta (PVR)
Recommended ages: 3 and up
Ball Park Price: $1,500/person for up to four travellers (airfare not included)
Best Season: Humpback whale season November-March. September is wet.
Summer & Fall: Sea tortoises nesting season
Currency Pesos but US dollar widely accepted
Time Zone: Central Standard Time
DAY ONE: Take a direct flight from Chicago to International Licenciado Puerto Vallarta airport (PVR) and take 10 minute taxi to the Westin Resort, a beachfront property.
DAY TWO: Spend first day exploring the area with a walk down El Malecon boardwalk, the town’s oceanfront promenade, lined with sculptures and white sandy beaches. Stop and enjoy dinner at Daiquiri Dicks Restaurant.
DAY THREE: Take a morning snorkel expedition out of Marina Vallarta with Eco Explorer Vallarta. See some beautiful parts of the Bay including Los Arcos, Majahuitas and the Marietes Islands. Enjoy dinner at Cafe Des Artistes.
DAY FOUR: Take an extreme ziplining tour with Vallarta Adventures. Depart from Nuevo Vallarta Marina and spend a day selecting a from a wide variety of adventures for the whole family.
DAY FIVE: Spend a day relaxing in the marina area, renting kayaks and swimming in the ocean.
DAY SIX: Known as Banderas Bay’s secret hideaways, take a tour to Yelapa and Majahuitas’ beach villages on a boat tour through Vallarta Adventures.
DAY SEVEN: Depart for airport by taxi and head home.
- Puerto Vallarta is a lively resort town in the state of Jalisco. Situated between the lush forests of Sierra Madre Mountains and overlooking the blue waters of Banderas Bay, Puerto Vallarta is an excellent family destination. Stylish restaurants, picturesque cobbled streets and multiple water based and land based excursions, make a fabulous family vacation.
- Downtown Puerto Vallarta offers a variety of attractions like El Malecon, a striking sea-side boardwalk in the heart of downtown. Head there before sunset and enjoy street performers and sand sculptors creating works of arts. Historic churches, lively markets and art galleries are among the other sites to enjoy. Beautiful squares in the heart of downtown like Plaza Principal and Playa Los Muertos. See if you can catch a performance in Los Arcos, a beautiful open-air theater.
- A day trip to the tropical Yelapa and Majahuitas’ beach was a definite highlight. It’s only accessible by boat and you can get there by water taxi (pre-negotiate) or by boat tour. You can sunbathe, swim, snorkel, hike waterfalls and eat fresh grilled seafood. There are beach vendors who carry fresh baked pies on head baskets and they will be the most amazing pies you’ve ever tasted. (Coconut Cream was divine). You can then hike up a river to see waterfalls.
- It is easy to enjoy the many stretches of miles of sandy beaches by boat or land. Both offer unique scenery with the Sierra Madre Mountains and jungles with small coves and smaller stretches of beach.
- We thoroughly enjoyed our snorkeling excursion on Eco Explorer Tours. Dolphins were everywhere swimming and playing alongside our boat. The islands Los Arcos, Majahuitas and the Marietas Islands were beautiful. Snorkeling the rock formations was really neat and we saw schools of fish, stingrays and turtles. It’s also possible to see many whales during the whale season. (November-March)
- Zipline through a stunning treetop canopy on a series of amazing zip lines including Mexico’s longest and fastest over 1200 meters long. The tour company Vallarta Adventures accommodated the family members and provided options like tarzan swings, crazy ladders and repels for each family member ranging from the fearful to the fearless. They were very friendly throughout.
Places to stay
- The Westin Resort and Spa offered all the nice amenities you would expect in a four star resort at very reasonable rates including a kids club. The hotel was accommodating and did provide adjoining rooms. The resort is located directly on a swimmable beach with dramatic pools for those who prefer to relax all day outdoors. The greatest feature is the location where just across the road is the marina district to shop and explore. It’s also safe to let older kids go shop and explore independently. The hotel is situated between two marinas, one next door and one north and easy to get to for the boating excursions.
- Located on the northern edge of Banderas Bay, the Grand Velas Resort is great for ocean swimming, beach activities in a tranquil area of Puerto Vallarta. The hotel is an all-inclusive resort offering two bedroom suites or adjoining suite and five gourmet restaurants. Explore the family package that includes some excursions and visits to the Dolphin Center. With many amenities for the children to choose from on the resort, the older children can roam freely. If you enjoy all-inclusive resorts, this one is a favorite.
The restaurant scene is creative and festive and most restaurants have friendly dining with kid’s menus as an option. Whether you choose a dine-in for an all-inclusive or a dine out resort, you can’t lose in Puerto Vallarta. Some of our local favorite restaurants include:
- Right next to Malecon Boardwalk on a stretch of the popular beach Los Muertos is Daiquiri Dicks.
- A gorgeous restaurant in an old house in downtown Puerto Vallarta is Cafe de Artistes. Leave the younger kids back at the resort for this night out.
- We enjoy Barcelona Tapas offering a delicious tapas menu that allows experimenting with many Mexican cuisines for kids.
- For a more comprehensive list with pricing information and rating information read Frommer’s list.
- Puerto Vallarta is a very easy place to travel to for an international family vacation. Everything is easy including time change, language, restaurant options and flight options. It’s a charming town with beautiful landscapes and a laid back and customer friendly atmosphere.
- Book your excursions through Vallarta Adventures and negotiate if you take multiple excursions with them for a 15-20% discount. They were very friendly and accommodating.
- There are many resorts to choose from in Puerta Vallarta or the Riviera Nayarit area. If you can book well in advance, the rates are incredibly reasonable for a family vacation. You can negotiate for “stay two nights and get the third free” packages for even the most luxurious hotels.
Before You Go
A valid passport is required with six months remaining before expiration.