Everything You Need To Know About Traveling To Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in 2021
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is a seaside gem that’s more than just your typical resort town. Puerto Vallarta is located on the country’s Pacific coast. Situated alongside the Sierra Madre Mountains, this is an area known for stunning landscapes. Epic, rugged mountains merge with beautiful, sparkling shores of the ocean for unbelievable views. This is your guide to visiting this beautiful city in 2021!
Info on Flights & Safety While Traveling
Good to know? Puerto Vallarta, Mexico’s international airport (Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport) is served by 12 major airlines. These include Aeromexico, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United, with direct flights from major US cities including San Francisco, Atlanta, New York City, and Chicago.
Widely recognized as of the friendliest cities in the world to visit, Puerto Vallarta has managed to stay true to its roots and remains a town filled with local culture, historic buildings, upheld traditions and artisanal arts and crafts.
I was surprised at how devoted the city was to cleanliness and Covid protocol during my trip. In my opinion, the city is way more vigilant when it came to sanitizing than anywhere I’ve traveled domestically. Every store, restaurant and hotel we stepped into required sanitization of the shoes and hands and temperature taking, in addition to the typical mask-wearing regulation. I felt totally safe!
When booking your travel, keep the following in mind. The United States requires a negative Covid test upon your return from Mexico. You’ll need to have done it within 72 hours of your return flight as well. Though Mexican pharmacies won’t take your insurance, rapid tests are quick and cheap here. And some resorts are now offering testing on-site making it even easier for you to get tested!
Back to Puerto Vallarta! There’s awesome Mexican food, as well as authentic street food; historical churches and buildings with beautiful architecture; bustling flea markets and mercados; and so much more to explore past the touristy areas.
From the blend of architectural styles and art galleries dotting the streets; to the lush scenery and gorgeous flowers growing out of every crevasse and sides of buildings; to its robust culinary scene, Puerto Vallarta is definitely the place to visit for those looking to dip their feet back into the world of travel!
For those specifically looking for unique, customizable dining options, a number of resorts are offering unique culinary experiences worth the trip.
As someone who covers dining, restaurants and cuisine for a living, I was very excited about the culinary experiences offered by the resorts. From trips to the market to guided tequila tastings, it’s great to see how hospitality experts are curating these food-driven experiences.
For more on these experiences, check out my Forbes story here!
And with that here’s my loose guide to the best things to do, see and eat while in Puerto Vallarta!
Where To Stay
The Westin Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta
The Westin Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta is a former palm tree plantation-turned-luxury wellness resort. It’s home to 279 rooms and suites situated on 14 lush, tranquil acres that exude relaxation. A few of the resort’s primary focuses include wellbeing and health. For guests that means experiences that provide serenity and calm which is easy to do at such a beautiful paradise of a place.
The resort features two sparkling swimming pools built around palms, four restaurants with plenty of dietary options, private oceanfront pergolas, beach coves and more! With 410 feet of private beach, there’s plenty to do right on the property. Kayak rentals, whale watching from your balcony (from mid-December through March!), swimming, tanning and more are all at your disposal!
My favorite dining experience? The brand new sunset picnic! With petates (woven straw mats) covering the sand, a rustic wooden table, comfortable pillows to sit on, and an overflowing traditional picnic basket this picturesque picnic is both romantic and relaxing. With its picture-perfect, mountains-meets-sparkling ocean landscape as the backdrop for dinner, this dining experience allows you to take in the best scenery while enjoying your meal alfresco.
Arrecifes restaurant is one of the resort’s three on-property restaurants and caters this pretty picnic. The meal includes a gourmet selection of charcuterie, fruits, crudites, gourmet sandwiches, and of course, bubbly, to accompany the majestic sunsets that have made Puerto Vallarta’s bay famous.
Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa
Nestled on a sandy strip between the Sierra Madre Mountains and Banderas Bay, Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa offers a beachfront retreat with 433 Jalisco-inspired rooms and suites, a dynamic mix of indoor and outdoor restaurant concepts, a spectacular poolscape, and the destination’s most expansive and impressive spa.
This property offers a stunning infinity pool with 180-degree views of Banderas Bay and its iconic mountains; six restaurants, including NOSH, its new poolside bar that features both local and international flavors; the nearby Marina Vallarta Club de Gold to tee off at; and more.
The hotel offers a ton of cool activities that will captivate any traveler. From its sea turtle rescue program to gourmet meals that bring together multi-course menus with recipes inspired by the chefs’ childhoods to water sports such as kayaking, paddle boarding and more, there is lots to do!
The most unique dining experience here? The guided tequila tasting!
The Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa is located in the region of Jalisco, which is also the birthplace of tequila. This resort’s longtime Tequila Education Program was originally designed to help educate guests on the origins of tequila and has now expanded to include a culinary pairing experience with the resort’s house-made brand of the spirit. The resort, which is just 90 miles from the town of Tequila, developed its own brand called CasaMagna Tequila in 2006. This resort is one of only a few resorts in the world with a proprietary brand of the famous Mexican spirit.
During a tasting experience, guests are invited to learn the art of sipping fine tequila or they can opt for a private session led by the resort’s own “Tequiler” (tequila sommelier), Audrey Formisano. The private experience, which can be booked in Marriott’s charming outdoor Herb Garden, features dishes that pair well with the three varieties of CasaMagna: blanco, reposado and anjeo.
An example of dishes includes Skirt Steak Brochette with peppers, chorizo, caramelized pineapple and dehydrated banana; Crab Enchiladas with marinaded corn tortillas filled with crab Veracruz style; and Lime Soup with chicken broth, lime essence, shredded chicken and crispy tortilla strips.
Take A City Tour
Exploring Puerto Vallarta on foot is the way to go! This city is just what you’d expect Mexico to feel like. Walking along the cobblestone streets of the downtown area you quickly get a vibe of how full of life this place is.
From the popular Malecon boardwalk to the cosmopolitan Romantic Zone to the historic Old Town, it’s an authentically Mexican destination that has something unique for everyone.
Gastronomy, art, nightlife and stunning natural beauty are just a few of the things that should entice you to come one day when you feel ready to travel.
On an afternoon stroll, we explored a number of unique places. Stops included a busy flea market; an artisanal leather shop with handcrafted goods ranging from shoes to backpacks; a colorful tile shop; Elizabeth Taylor’s old home; the lively Malecon boardwalk and beach; and more.
For the best view of all of Puerto Vallarta, head to Mirador Cerro de la Cruz! This incredible lookout takes a little effort to get to, but is totally worth it! The panoramic views at the top of Cerro de la Cruz hill include all of downtown Puerto Vallarta, the stunning coast & sparkling ocean, over to Punta Mita & Los Arcos on the other side!
Check out the view here:
To get here, start at the Malecón and take Abasolo Street. After a couple of blocks, turn left onto Emilio Carranza Street, then turn right at Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez Street and follow the steps through the cobblestone streets uphill towards the large communications tower all the way up! Bring water & be ready to walk up a lot of steps!
Jorullo Bridge & Hiking Tour
For a memorable excursion, book a hiking tour with Canopy River. Guests are guided by nature experts on a scenic mountain hike through the Sierra Madre Occidental filled with flora and fauna, and wildlife in their natural habitat.
During the afternoon excursion, you get to cross the world’s largest suspension bridge. This bridge measures at 1,540-feet (150 meters above the River Cuale). Once you cross the bridge, you finally reach the stunning El Salto waterfall for a dip.
Hike through lush greenery and random cows, while spotting parrots and macaws in their natural habitat for a day of epic adventure. The best part was definitely the refreshing swim in the rushing waterfall after the sweaty hike. It was a fun way to get some exercise in between tacos and margs!
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