Tips + Trends

Get Outta Town for These Puerto Vallarta Day Trips

Puerto Vallarta is a popular resort city full of opportunities to try something new. Whether it’s your first time in the area or you’re one of the city’s repeat vacationers, you will appreciate these excursions in Puerto Vallarta and the chance to do something a little different, out of town.

OUT TO SEA

One of the best ways to get out of Puerto Vallarta for the day is to hit the waves. These two great offshore sites offer unique ways to explore the sea.

Los Arcos Marine Park

puerto vallarta day trips
The marine park will help you better understand the region’s sea life. (Photo: Getty Images)

This protected National Marine Park is just offshore, south of Puerto Vallarta near Mismaloya but visible from downtown. The arched granite islands are home to a vibrant coral reef, where you can dive or snorkel, meeting sea life and exploring underwater tunnels and caves. Even from the boat, the water is rarely choppy, making for clear, calm water.

Islas Marietas National Park

The beaches of these small uninhabited islands were recently closed to tourists, but it remains an amazing place to tour by boat from Punta Mita, looking for whales, dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays, colorful fish, and the many birds that inhabit these eroding volcanic rocks.

ON THE BEACH

Puerto Vallarta has nearly a dozen beaches within city limits, but these account for only a fraction of the number that dot the shoreline of Banderas Bay. Take a trip out of town for a change of scenery.

Las Ánimas de Quimixto

To get to Quimixto, you need to head south to Boca de Tomatlán first, the last beach along the highway before it turns inland. It’s the gateway to a number of other small beach villages only accessible by local water taxi. Las Ánimas is known for its fine golden sand and calm waves, great for relaxing, and for nearby Las Ánimas Beach Adventure Park, ideal for travelers who want a bit more excitement.

Sayulita

Just north of Punta Mita, this little fishing town manages to be both busy and tranquil. It is known for its excellent surf, so definitely check it out if you enjoy catching a wave, or think you might want to learn. The local hippie culture also means several yoga options. Don’t miss the panoramic views from the surrounding hills.

Chacala

Chacala beach is the opposite of Sayulita—small, quiet, and only really appropriate for beginner surfers and boogie boarders. The quiet bay is excellent for swimming, fishing, and snorkeling though, and a jumping off point for boats and hikers heading to other harder-to-reach surfing spots in the area.

INLAND

If you are heading to Puerto Vallarta it’s probably for the beaches, but there’s no reason not to spend a day away from the shore. Here are a few places worth getting excited about while planning your next vacation:

Tequila

puerto vallarta day trips
Tequila. It’s not just for drinking. (Photo: Getty Images)

If you’re up for a long day, take the drive into the highlands of Jalisco to the town of Tequila. Here, you can see blue agave growing in fields, and even visit a hacienda to see how tequila is made. It will give you a whole new appreciation for all those beach margaritas.

La Pila del Rey

Not far from Chacala, you’ll find the Altavista petroglyph complex near El Copo volcano, one of the largest rock carving sites in the world. They were created by the Tecoxquin people and are possibly several thousand years old. You can see many of them during the dry season, anytime between November and July.