what to do in puerto vallarta

Enjoy a massage listening to the sound of the waves in Puerto Vallarta. (Photo: Mark Knight)

Tips + Trends

Beach, Spa and Temazcal: Everything You Need to Relax in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta welcomes millions of tourists who come to enjoy the beach and the sea, disconnect from the world and its pressures, and perhaps sunbathe with a cocktail in hand. But if you want to take relaxation to the next level, this paradise offers specialized places for you to get a massage, experience a traditional temazcal and unwind at beautiful beaches away from the hustle and bustle.

Temazcal, a Tradition to Relax to the Fullest

This traditional steam bath has its origins in the pre-Hispanic era, and was considered a ritual and sometimes even a therapy to treat different ailments. On account of being a ritual, it doesn’t focus solely on the physical, but also on the spiritual and the energetic.

It takes place in a special place that has a spherical roof similar to that of an igloo and which, traditionally, is built with adobe or mud. The ceremony is guided by an expert who knows the tradition, using a variety of herbs and natural plants considered medicinal, as well as volcanic stones, which are heated for several hours in a stove or mound with firewood so they reach the necessary temperature.

Once inside, the guide pours water on the reddened stones, causing the steam that will raise the temperature of the enclosed space and of all the participants, who will sweat and eliminate the toxins from their body while they inhale the essence of the plants. In the end, cold water is used to clean the sweat, which is an essential part of the therapy. Generally, the ritual is performed in a group but this may depend on the space.

The healing effects of the temazcal will be felt on the skin and the respiratory, circulatory, muscular, immune and nervous systems, and are so wide-ranging that they are believed to even help with postpartum related issues.

Spas, Relaxation in Luxurious Spaces

what to do in puerto vallarta
Some spas have wet areas for you to use before your treatment. (Photo: Oscar Delgado Flores)

If you’re looking for something more conventional, but in luxurious environments that turn the experience into something unique, Puerto Vallarta offers a wide variety of spas with different types of massages. Choose between a Swedish, lymphatic or sports massage, or perhaps one using hot stones.

There are also special packages for a whole day that, in addition to the massage, include a facial, aromatherapy, music, refreshments and different amenities. And, for more romantic occasions, opt for a couples package.

You can also choose a body treatment, like a full body exfoliation or a chocolate wrap. The menu of relaxing options will surely help you enjoy your holidays to the fullest.

Beautiful Beaches to Get Away From the Hustle and Bustle

what to do in puerto vallarta
Enjoy some quiet time at the beach at Playa Punta Negra. (Photo: Getty Images)

Downtown Puerto Vallarta and its surrounding areas have several beaches where you can sunbathe and enjoy the sea, however, most of them will be full of local and foreign tourists.

If you prefer a more quiet beach without leaving town altogether, head to Playa Las Gemelas or Playa Punta Negra, located 15 and 20 minutes by car, respectively, from the center of town.

Even though they’re both in front of large condominiums, they’re small beaches with few visitors. They’re extremely clean and don’t have any restaurants, but you can find one or two people offering fruit and beach umbrellas.

Keep in mind that there are also no bathrooms, but trust us, the place is worth it. Unquestionably, the turquoise color of the sea and the fine sand at Playa Las Gemelas will astound you.