Best Places To Stay in Puerto Vallarta – Tips and Advice
- What will I find in Puerto Vallarta: Imagine stunning natural landscapes without sacrificing amenities, and clean, well-appointed beaches. In the nearby surrounds, there are national parks, forests, mountains, and wildlife preserves if you fancy a day trip.
- What can I do in Puerto Vallarta: If you like, feel free to lay on the same beach all day. Many do. But if you require a little more adventure on your vacation, you can go hiking, mountain biking, zip-lining, diving, paddleboarding, and more nearby. There are also a plethora of food tours specializing in mezcal, tacos, even chocolate.
- What is the weather like in Puerto Vallarta: With over 300 sunny days in the average year, Puerto Vallarta is pleasant year-round. While you may encounter a day or two of afternoon rain if you visit during the rainy season between June and October, you’ll also notice the prices are much lower.
Puerto Vallarta is one of the original booming resort towns in Mexico, and while spots like Tulum and Baja California have become increasingly trendy in recent years, no other Mexican city rivals this bustling Pacific metropolis as far as infrastructure and variety.
If you’ve overlooked Puerto Vallarta in the past, it may be time to take another look. There are a plethora of options of accommodations and activities for everyone from the budget-conscious to the luxury traveler, all wrapped in some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Puerto Vallarta Neighborhood Guide
With many reasonable, often direct flights available from the United States and Canada, you’re bound to find a plane ticket you simply can’t pass up. Once you’ve booked your flight, the next step will be finding a place to stay. Thankfully, there are a host of options available, some even at incredibly low prices.
Here’s a handy guide to help you pick the perfect hotel in a neighborhood just right for you. Puerta Vallarta is home to luxury spas, lively hostels, and even jungle eco-villages, so no matter what type of hotel you’re looking for, you’re bound to find it near these iconic Jalisco beaches.
The 8 Best Areas To Stay In Puerto Vallarta
1. Nueva Vallarta (New Town)
For those who want simple, clean comfort and enviable amenities.
As the name suggests, the hotels and resorts of Nueva Vallarta emerged to accommodate increasing tourism to the region. A relatively new expansion of the Puerto Vallarta metro area, it is located just outside of Jalisco in the state of Nayarit.
While the trappings of the city center certainly exist here – like nightlife, dining, and shopping – visitors to Nueva Vallarta can easily spend days in a row without leaving their hotels. All-inclusive resorts and spas are more popular here than any other neighborhood in the region, so if you’re looking for somewhere where you’ll find everything you need under one roof, you can easily find an appropriate resort here.
Although Nueva Vallarta isn’t necessarily the first choice of most budget travelers, there are deals to be found here. If you’re willing to stay farther away from the coast or plan your visit for the off-season, you can use the opportunity to enjoy the same pristine beaches as those paying upwards of a thousand dollars a night at some of the more luxurious villas.
If you’re only accustomed to the absolute lap of luxury, The villas in Nueva Vallarta are unmatched in the region. This is where you’ll find all the trappings of the high life: expertly manicured golf courses, opulent day spas, and truly world-class dining.
This is also a great place to stay if you’d like to take a day trip to the bohemian beaches of the Riviera Nayarit. Car rentals can be sinfully inexpensive here, particularly during the off-season, so a visit to Nueva Vallarta should definitely include a trip to the seemingly untouched beaches less than an hour away near Sayulita.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN NEW PUERTO VALLARTA:
2. Marina Vallarta (Puerto Vallarta Marina)
For those who prefer an inclusive experience.
Puerto Vallarta’s quaint, bustling marina is popular for a reason: it is designed specifically to cater to everything a tourist needs. Purposefully designed as a resort and luxury community, the marina may not be the best for parking, but everything you may need has been placed in walking distance or can be delivered to you with the help of a friendly concierge at one of its many hotels.
If your idea of a vacation involves getting out to explore, this may not be the best neighborhood to be based in. While certainly comfortable, the marina is sterile in a way that other neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta aren’t: if you like finding hidden gems and locals spots in back alleys, you may want to look elsewhere.
But keep in mind that this may be one of the best places to stay if you don’t want the responsibility of renting a car. The community was created for travelers who want to keep their vacation simple: if you don’t want to do much more than go to the beach in the morning and return to your property in the evening for dinner, the marina offers everything you need and nothing you don’t.
If you’re particularly keen on nightlife, a few bars and clubs are sprinkled throughout the neighborhood, but this neighborhood is particularly kind to those who like to retire early. If you’d prefer to take your desayuno – or breakfast – with the sunrise, you’ll fall in love with Puerto Vallarta’s immaculate marina district.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN PUERTO VALLARTA MARINA:
3. Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone)
For those looking for a great deal on an upscale property.
One of the most iconic resort neighborhoods in all of Mexico, the Hotel Zone has been catering to tourists for years. Both budget travelers and those seeking a luxury experience will feel right at home here. Its proximity to the city center caters to those who want to explore, while the amenities in the vicinity are perfect for those who just want to relax.
While high-end resorts are in no shortage here, as one of the most established neighborhoods in the entire state for tourism, there is plenty of competition. This both brings the prices down on luxury properties and allows for more simple – but still very comfortable – accommodations in the neighborhood to flourish alongside them.
You won’t find the exact same feeling of seclusion that you might experience at a resort in Nueva Vallarta or the Marina, but the all-inclusive resorts in the neighborhood can cost as little as 25% of what one might cost elsewhere in Puerto Vallarta, with similar amenities.
If you demand a beachfront property, you’ll definitely find yourself paying for the privilege. But with five public beaches that anyone can visit, there are still plenty of opportunities for a comfortable stay for the budget sunbather. Conveniently, there are plenty of buses and taxis around to shuttle you wherever you may want to go, so staying at a hotel that’s not directly on the beach isn’t near as troublesome as you might think.
Keep in mind that with so many hotels in the area, the beaches can get crowded. But if you’re a fan of bustling beach culture – like beach sports, vendors, and plenty of opportunities to make new friends – you’ll no doubt feel right at home in the oldest of tourist neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta.
BEST PLACE TO STAY IN THE HOTEL ZONE:
4. Cinco de Diciembre (Downtown Puerto Vallarta)
For those who require a lively nightlife and bustling surrounds.
While officially called Cinco de Diciembre, this lively Puerto Vallarta barrio is colloquially referred to as “downtown,” or even more simply, “el centro” (the center.) Much like its moniker, downtown is the center of both tourist and local life in the region.
While upscale resorts tend to hug the coast, this is a vast, sprawling city center with hundreds of options, especially if you’re willing to trek a bit inland. Here you’ll find accommodations for everyone from those who prefer the quirks of bohemia all the way to those who demand only the most refined.
This is definitely the hot spot of Puerto Vallarta: think dining, shopping, and unequaled nightlife. But the highlight of staying downtown, possibly the most beloved attraction in the entire region, is unequivocally the Malecón.
The premier boardwalk in Puerto Vallarta, the Malecón is a mile-long promenade lined with shops, restaurants, and bars, all liberally peppered with public art. Here you can spend the day browsing handmade artisan crafts and the evening sipping craft cocktails, all while remaining just a stones throw from the ocean.
In some ways, the Malecón is the beating heart of Puerto Vallarta, with artisans, businesspeople, campesinos – generally, farmers – all sharing the same space. While certainly touristy, and particularly popular with Americans, the Malecón is a spot where you can experience a little slice of life in Jalisco without ever leaving your neighborhood.
Budget travelers can find some exceptional deals here; while hostel beds are plentiful downtown, with just a small additional investment you can score a lovely room in one of the many inexpensive, quirky boutique hotels in the neighborhood. What they may lack in amenities and proximity to la playa – the beach – they make up for in beautifully designed spaces and more comfort that many backpackers are used to.
BEST PLACE TO STAY IN DOWNTOWN PUERTO VALLARTA:
5. Zona Romantica (Romantic Zone)
For LGBTQ+ travelers and expats looking for a home away from home.
Just on the south side of the Rio Cuale from downtown lies the picturesque Romantic Zone, or Zona Romantica. With a relaxed vibe and options for sleeping quarters ranging from a bed in a hostel up to entire villas, this neighborhood truly takes all kinds.
The romantic zone is singularly popular among expats. Snowbirds from colder climates seeking to winter in Puerto Vallarta frequently choose this locale to stay for months at a time. Because of the demand, you’ll find plenty of short-term apartment rentals alongside traditional hotels, so if you’re planning on staying a couple of months or more, you may want to look into all of your options.
Because Zona Romantica is in such high demand, many of the properties here get reserved up to a year ahead of time. In order to have the widest variety of options, be sure to book well in advance, particularly if you anticipate a long stay.
Even if you’re only taking a brief vacation, if your priorities include dining, this is definitely the neighborhood for you. Zona Romantica boasts the largest concentration of bars and restaurants in the entire city, and you’ll find options here ranging from the cheapest street-food up to the most delectable, white-tablecloth meals.
Bars as well run the gamut here. This neighborhood offers drameries from the most simple beach-shanty cocktail-mongers up to establishments slinging the most elegant craft cocktails. If variety is the key to pleasing your palate, Zona Romantica will never leave you disappointed.
Relative to the rest of the world, Mexico is quite LGBTQ+ friendly, with Puerto Vallarta standing out as a haven for queer-identifying travelers. Zona Romantica is home to several hotels and resorts that cater specifically to the queer community, but all the hotels in the area are happy to accommodate anyone who wants to enjoy the singular pleasures of the Riviera Jalisco.
BEST PLACE TO STAY IN THE ROMANTIC ZONE:
6. Conchas Chinas (“Chinese Shells”)
For the discerning traveler who requires a little extra solitude.
In this part of Mexico, “pelo china” means curly hair, and in this same tradition, Conchas Chinas was named for the ornate, “curly” shells that litter its sandy beaches. Much like it’s name suggests, this little beach barrio caters to those who love beachcombing and strolling.
The beaches here are truly pristine: stemming from an ecological initiative that began in the mid-80s, special care is taken in educating guests to the area and grooming efforts to assure the surroundings are clear and clean. Because the water is so clear this is an ideal spot to visit if you love ocean swimming, so there’s no need to assure that your hotel has a pool as long as you’re keen on visiting the beach.
Conchas Chinas is a favorite for couples of all stripes. The unrivaled privacy and electric-hued sunsets lend the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway. In this same vein, there are plenty of activities, tours, and spas that cater specifically to couples seeking a respite from the grind back home.
Snorkeling and diving are common here, so if you have one, be sure to bring an underwater camera. The ultra-clear surf here makes for perfect underwater photography.
BEST PLACE TO STAY IN CONCHAS CHINAS:
7. Mismaloya (“Same Thing”)
For those who’d like to get out onto the open sea.
In Mismaloya, the jungle-covered mountains meet the sea in a way that creates a singular natural environment. Ironically, it stayed off of most tourists’ radar for a long time because of its inaccessibility. These days, you can easily reach it by a road from central Puerto Vallarta that was built late last century.
The most popular beach in Mismaloya, though it’s little more than a slight cove, is still surrounded by dense vegetation. While it’s increased greatly in popularity with tourists, you won’t find the same vibrant, teeming crowds that you might encounter in the center of the city.
This is the perfect place to snap those enviable vacation photos that will leave folks back home wanting to book their own trip immediately. Though it’s relatively developed, particularly in the last 15 years, it hasn’t lost its centuries-old fishing port vibe, and it still maintains the vistas to match.
This is the perfect place to stay if you’d like to get out on the ocean; here you can hire a myriad of vessels ranging from simple fishing boats to elaborate sailboats. Your skipper will be happy to take you to a number of eclectic locales for snorkeling or diving, or even just an elegant meal on the open seas.
BEST PLACE TO STAY IN MISMALOYA:
8. Boca de Tomatlán (“Mouth of Tomatoland”)
For nature lovers and adventure seekers.
Tomatoes are famously indigenous to the Americas, and here in Boca de Tomatlán, they have named their village in accordance with this tradition. Besides tomatoes, you’ll find plenty here for the perfect vacation: isolated beaches, colorful pensiones, and relaxed restaurants serving up the daily catch.
This is the place for folks that want not to be divorced from their flip-flops for the duration of their stay. Unlike the resorts further north, the properties in Boca de Tomatlán are for those who prefer t-shirts and shorts and eschew displays of wealth or status. This is a place to relax for those who truly want to let go.
Don’t expect much by way of nightlife here. Once you’ve checked into your hotel, the clubs of El Centro will seem a million miles away. Similarly, the dining options here aren’t particularly slick nor are most of them part of a recognizable chain, but the food here is excellent and largely served up my a close-knit circuit of charming restaurateurs.
If you’re a fan of the outdoors, there’s a lot more to see here than merely the beach. Because of its proximity to the Sierra Madre mountains, there’s ample opportunity to go on a day trip inland for mountain biking or hiking. And if that seems more strenuous than you’d like to commit to, there’s a lovely botanical garden through which you can take a slow stroll.
BEST PLACE TO STAY IN BOCA DE TOMATLAN:
If you’ve never considered a respite on Mexico’s exquisite Pacific coast, there’s a lot more to Puerto Vallarta than you may have been familiar with. With a wide variety of activities and accommodations, there’s something here that will appeal to every type of traveler. Whether you’re flying solo or planning your honeymoon, Puerto Vallarta has some of the most ideal hotels and resorts for all kinds of visitors, and some of the wildest and eclectic – or chill and relaxed – communities in all of Mexico.
- Best Luxury Hotel in Puerto Vallarta: $$$ • Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit
- Best Boutique Hotel in Puerto Vallarta: $$ • Patio Azul Hotelito Boutique
- Best Cheap Hotels in Puerto Vallarta: $ • San Trópico Petit Hotel
- Best Family Hotel in Puerto Vallarta: $$ • The Westin Resort & Spa
- Best Romantic Hotel in Puerto Vallarta: $$$ • Casa Ventana