Don’t miss these 10 fantastic experiences in Puerta Vallerta

Puerto Vallarta is a popular destination for sun seekers, beach loversand culture enthusiasts. But beyond the typical tourist attractions, there are many hidden gems and quirky activities that you can enjoy in this Mexican city. Whether you’re looking for adventure, history, art or gastronomy, here are 10 experiences you shouldn’t miss in Puerto Vallarta.

Watch the ritual ceremony of the Papantla Flying Men

One of the most unique and fascinating things to do in Puerto Vallarta is to watch the ritual ceremony of the Papantla Flying Men (Voladores de Papantla). This ancient tradition originated from the Totonac people of Veracruz and involves four men dressed in colorful costumes who climb up a 30-meter pole and then descend by spinning around it while attached to ropes. A fifth man plays a flute and a drum on top of the pole to honor the four cardinal directions. The ceremony is a symbolic representation of the connection between earth and skyand it’s performed daily on the Malecon.

Visit the Romantic Zone and Playa de los Muertos

The Romantic Zone (Zona Romantica) is the heart of Puerto Vallarta’s gay scene and one of the most charming areas of the city. Here you can find cozy cafes, trendy boutiques, lively barsand diverse restaurants. You can also stroll along the cobblestone streets and admire the colonial architecture and colorful murals. The Romantic Zone is also home to Playa de los Muertos (Beach of the Dead), one of the most popular beaches in Puerto Vallarta. Despite its ominous name, this beach is full of life and fun, with parasailing, jet skiing, banana boat rides and beach clubs.

Go whale watching at Las Islas Marietas

If you’re visiting Puerto Vallarta between December and March, you have a great chance of seeing humpback whales in their natural habitat. These majestic creatures migrate to the warm waters of Banderas Bay every year to mate and give birth. One of the best places to spot them is at Las Islas Marietas (The Marieta Islands), a group of uninhabited islands that are part of a national park and a UNESCO biosphere reserve. You can join a whale watching tour that will take you to the islands by boat and let you observe the whales from a safe distance. You can also snorkel or kayak around the islands and see other marine life such as dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles and tropical fish.

Take a day trip to San Sebastián del Oeste

For a change of scenery and a glimpse into Mexico’s colonial past, you can take a day trip to San Sebastián del Oeste, a picturesque town that was founded in 1605 and declared a national historic monument in 1988. San Sebastián del Oeste is located about 90 minutes away from Puerto Vallarta by car or bus and it offers a tranquil and charming atmosphere with its cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses, red-tiled roofs and flower-filled gardens. You can visit the main plaza, the church of San Sebastián Mártir, the museum of historical artifacts and the former silver mines that made the town prosperous in the 18th century. You can also enjoy panoramic views of the mountains and the valley from the Mirador de la Bufa, a lookout point that is accessible by a short hike or a horseback ride.

See the Rhythms of the Night show

If you’re looking for a romantic and magical night out in Puerto Vallarta, you can’t miss the Rhythms of the Night show, a spectacular performance that combines music, dance, acrobatics and fire. The show is held at Las Caletas, a secluded beach that was once the private retreat of film director John Huston. You can get there by taking a scenic boat ride across the bay at sunset and enjoy a candlelit dinner on the beach before the show. The show is inspired by the legends and myths of ancient Mexico and it features over 50 performers in stunning costumes and sets. The show is a feast for the senses and a celebration of Mexico’s rich culture and history.

Snorkel or scuba dive at Los Arcos de Mismaloya

Los Arcos de Mismaloya (The Arches of Mismaloya) are a series of granite rock formations that rise from the sea about 15 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta by boat. They are one of the most iconic landmarks of the city and a popular spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. The clear water and the abundant marine life make Los Arcos an underwater paradise for divers of all levels. You can see colorful corals, sponges, starfish, sea urchins, octopuses, moray eels, lobsters and many kinds of fish. You can also explore caves, tunnels and arches that create a natural aquarium. Los Arcos are also home to many seabirds such as pelicans, boobies and cormorants.

Indulge in exquisite artisanal chocolate

Chocolate lovers will be delighted to discover that Puerto Vallarta has a thriving chocolate scene that offers high-quality products made with local cacao beans. You can visit one of the many chocolate shops in the Romantic Zone and taste different varieties of chocolate bars, truffles, bonbons, brownies, cakes and more. You can also join a chocolate tour that will take you to different chocolate makers and teach you about the history and process of chocolate making. You can even learn how to make your own chocolate at a chocolate workshop where you can roast, grind, temper, mold and decorate your own chocolate creations.

Visit the historic town center

No visit to Puerto Vallarta is complete without exploring its historic town center (Centro Histórico), where you can find some of the most emblematic buildings and monuments of the city. You can start at the main plaza (Plaza de Armas), where you can see the city hall (Palacio Municipal) and the bandstand (Kiosko), where live music is played every night. You can also visit the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe), which is considered the symbol of Puerto Vallarta with its distinctive crown-shaped tower. The church was built between 1918 and 1951 and it features a mix of styles such as neoclassical, baroque and renaissance. You can also admire the art galleries, museums and sculptures that adorn the streets and alleys of the town center.

Night kayak in bioluminescent water

One of the most magical things to do in Puerto Vallarta is to kayak in bioluminescent water at night. Bioluminescence is a natural phenomenon that occurs when microscopic organisms in the water emit light when they are disturbed. The result is a glowing blue-green trail that follows your kayak as you paddle through the dark. You can book a tour that will take you to a secluded beach where you can launch your kayak and enjoy this amazing spectacle.

Take a walk along the Malecon

One of the most enjoyable things to do in Puerto Vallarta is to take a walk along the Malecon (Boardwalk), a 12-block promenade that runs along the waterfront from the town center to the Romantic Zone. The Malecon is lined with palm trees, benches, shops, restaurants, bars and street performers. It’s also an open-air art gallery that showcases more than 20 bronze sculptures by local and international artists. You can stop and admire each one of them or join a free guided tour that explains their meaning and history. The Malecon is also a great place to watch the sunset over the bay and enjoy the nightlife of Puerto Vallarta.

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