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What To Do In Puerto Vallarta From Cruise Ship


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Sharity Barrick



Welcome aboard your cruise ship to Puerto Vallarta, a vibrant and picturesque destination on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Known for its stunning beaches, rich history, and vibrant culture, Puerto Vallarta offers a plethora of activities and attractions to explore during your visit. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a food lover, or a history buff, there’s something for everyone in this tropical paradise.


As your ship docks at the Puerto Vallarta port, get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure filled with breathtaking landscapes, fascinating landmarks, and delicious culinary experiences. From strolling along the iconic Malecon to discovering the hidden gems of the Romantic Zone, Puerto Vallarta is sure to delight and captivate your senses.


This article will guide you through the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta from your cruise ship. Get ready to make the most out of your limited time in this vibrant city as you immerse yourself in its beauty, culture, and charm.


Arrival at Puerto Vallarta

As you step off your cruise ship and onto the shores of Puerto Vallarta, you’ll be greeted by the warm Mexican sun and a vibrant atmosphere. The Puerto Vallarta port is conveniently located near the city center, making it easy to begin your exploration of this captivating destination.


Once you’ve disembarked from your ship, you’ll have various options for transportation. Taxis are readily available at the port, providing a convenient way to reach your desired destination. Alternatively, you can also opt to take a local bus or arrange for a private transfer to explore the city at your own pace.


Before setting off on your adventures, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the local currency. The official currency in Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN), and it’s recommended to have some cash on hand for small purchases and tipping. However, many establishments in Puerto Vallarta also accept major credit cards, so it’s always a good idea to have some available for convenience.


Additionally, it’s essential to be aware of the local customs and traditions. Puerto Vallarta is known for its warm and welcoming locals, so it’s polite to greet people with a friendly “Hola” or “Buenos días.” If you’re planning to visit any religious sites, such as the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, remember to dress modestly and be respectful of any ongoing ceremonies or prayers.


Now that you’re prepared, it’s time to start exploring all that Puerto Vallarta has to offer. Whether you choose to venture out on your own or join an organized tour, get ready to be enchanted by the beauty, history, and culture of this captivating destination.


Exploring the Malecon

One of the must-visit attractions in Puerto Vallarta is the Malecon, a vibrant and bustling promenade that stretches along the city’s stunning coastline. This iconic boardwalk is the heart and soul of Puerto Vallarta, offering a perfect blend of stunning ocean views, lively atmosphere, and a wide array of shops, restaurants, and street performers.


As you stroll along the Malecon, you’ll be greeted by an eclectic mix of art installations, creating a unique open-air gallery experience. Admire the famous sculpture of “The Boy on the Seahorse” or take a selfie with the iconic “Puerto Vallarta” sign to capture your memories of this picturesque spot.


Indulge your taste buds in the local cuisine by stopping at one of the many food stalls and restaurants that line the Malecon. From fresh seafood tacos to traditional Mexican dishes, you’ll find a variety of flavors to satisfy your cravings.


As the sun sets, the Malecon comes alive with vibrant nightlife. Enjoy live music, street performances, and energetic bars offering delicious cocktails. Dance the night away or simply relax and take in the lively atmosphere surrounding you.


Don’t forget to browse the local shops and boutiques along the Malecon, where you can find unique souvenirs, handcrafted jewelry, and traditional Mexican artwork. Take a moment to interact with the local artisans and learn about their craft, creating a more immersive experience during your visit.


Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll, a place to shop, or a vibrant spot to enjoy the evening, the Malecon is a must-visit destination in Puerto Vallarta. Immerse yourself in the energy and charm of this iconic boardwalk as you create lasting memories of your time in this beautiful Mexican city.


Visiting the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe

A visit to Puerto Vallarta would not be complete without exploring the cultural and religious heritage of the city. One of the most iconic landmarks is the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a stunning cathedral located in the heart of the historic center.


The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a symbol of Puerto Vallarta, with its distinct crown-topped tower visible from various points in the city. As you approach the church, you’ll be captivated by its exquisite architecture, blending elements of Baroque and Neoclassical styles.


Step inside and be amazed by the intricate details, colorful stained glass windows, and ornate altarpieces. The church is dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe, one of the most revered religious figures in Mexico. Take a moment to admire the statue of the Virgin, a centerpiece of devotion and prayer for locals and visitors alike.


If you’re lucky, you may even witness a traditional wedding ceremony or a religious celebration taking place at the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The church often hosts religious processions, especially during important holidays such as the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe in December.


When visiting the church, it’s important to dress modestly as a sign of respect. Ensure your shoulders and knees are covered, and avoid wearing hats or sunglasses during the visit. Photography is usually allowed inside the church, but be mindful of any ongoing religious services or ceremonies.


Take a moment to explore the surrounding area of the church, known as the Downtown or Zona Centro. This vibrant neighborhood is home to quaint shops, charming cafes, and art galleries, allowing you to further immerse yourself in the local culture and charm.


Visiting the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe offers a unique glimpse into the religious heritage of Puerto Vallarta and allows you to appreciate the beauty and significance of this cultural landmark. It’s an experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression on your journey through this captivating Mexican city.


Discovering the Romantic Zone

Located just south of downtown Puerto Vallarta, the Romantic Zone, also known as the Zona Romantica or Old Town, is a vibrant and charming neighborhood that exudes a laid-back and romantic atmosphere. With its cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and diverse array of restaurants, bars, and shops, the Romantic Zone offers a delightful escape from the bustling city center.


As you explore the Romantic Zone, you’ll discover a unique mix of traditional Mexican charm and modern influences. Wander through the narrow streets, lined with art galleries, boutiques, and lively cafes. Admire the beautifully adorned balconies and vibrant street art that adds to the neighborhood’s distinct character.


The Romantic Zone is also home to Playa Los Muertos, one of the most popular beaches in Puerto Vallarta. Spend a relaxing afternoon lounging on the golden sands, taking refreshing dips in the azure waters, or savoring delectable beachside snacks and drinks at one of the many beachfront restaurants and bars.


For those seeking vibrant nightlife, the Romantic Zone offers a myriad of options. From lively nightclubs to cozy cocktail lounges, there’s something for every taste. Dance the night away to the rhythms of salsa, bachata, and reggaeton, or enjoy a romantic evening under the stars with a quiet drink in hand.


Don’t miss the opportunity to sample the local cuisine in the Romantic Zone. The area is known for its diverse culinary scene, offering everything from traditional Mexican dishes to international fusion cuisine. Head to one of the many cozy restaurants or food stalls and indulge in mouthwatering tacos, sumptuous seafood, or flavorful street food.


If you’re a fan of art and culture, the Romantic Zone is home to several acclaimed galleries and art spaces. Explore the works of local artists, browse unique handicrafts, and perhaps even find the perfect piece to bring back as a souvenir of your time in Puerto Vallarta.


As you wander through the Romantic Zone, take the time to enjoy the laid-back and welcoming vibe of this enchanting neighborhood. Whether you’re strolling hand-in-hand with your loved one or simply exploring on your own, the Romantic Zone provides a delightful escape and a unique glimpse into the heart and soul of Puerto Vallarta.


Enjoying the Beaches of Puerto Vallarta

When it comes to sun, sand, and relaxation, Puerto Vallarta is a true paradise. With its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and breathtaking views, this Mexican coastal city offers a myriad of options for beach lovers to unwind and soak up the sun.


One of the most popular beaches in Puerto Vallarta is Playa Los Muertos, located in the heart of the Romantic Zone. Here, you’ll find a vibrant atmosphere with a bustling beachfront lined with restaurants, bars, and shops. Lounge on the soft golden sands, take a dip in the refreshing waters, and indulge in delicious local cuisine as you enjoy the lively ambiance.


If you prefer a quieter and more secluded beach experience, head to Playa Conchas Chinas. Nestled between lush hills and rocky cliffs, this pristine beach offers a tranquil escape from the crowds. Relax under the shade of swaying palm trees, explore the vibrant tide pools, or simply bask in the serenity of the picturesque surroundings.


For those seeking adventure and water sports, Playa Las Animas is the perfect choice. Accessible only by boat, this secluded beach is known for its crystal-clear waters, making it ideal for snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Explore the vibrant underwater world, spot colorful marine life, or simply relax on the sandy shore.


Another must-visit beach is Playa Bucerias, located just north of Puerto Vallarta. This expansive sandy stretch offers a more laid-back and local atmosphere. Take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, watch local fishermen bring in their catch of the day, or try your hand at surfing or boogie boarding in the gentle waves.


As you enjoy your time at the beaches of Puerto Vallarta, keep in mind the importance of sun protection. Apply sunscreen regularly, seek shade during the hottest hours of the day, and stay hydrated to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.


Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or simply a day of fun under the sun, the beaches of Puerto Vallarta offer something for everyone. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the coastline, embrace the soothing sound of the waves, and create lasting memories of your time in this tropical paradise.


Engaging in Water Activities

With its prime location on the stunning Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta is a haven for water enthusiasts and adventure seekers. From thrilling water sports to relaxing cruises, there’s an abundance of activities to keep you entertained and make the most of your time in this coastal paradise.


One of the most popular water activities in Puerto Vallarta is snorkeling and diving. Explore the vibrant underwater world teeming with colorful marine life, coral reefs, and hidden treasures. Embark on a snorkeling trip to the nearby Marietas Islands, where you can witness the beauty of this protected marine reserve, home to an incredible variety of fish species.


If you’re seeking an adrenaline rush, try your hand at surfing or paddleboarding. Head to beaches like Sayulita and Punta Mita, which are famous for their excellent surf breaks and perfect conditions for riders of all levels. Take a lesson from local surf schools and experience the thrill of riding the waves.


For a more leisurely water activity, embark on a scenic boat cruise along the coast of Puerto Vallarta. Sip on refreshing cocktails, soak up the sun, and marvel at the picturesque landscapes as you sail through the azure waters. Keep an eye out for playful dolphins, majestic whales (during the migration season), and other marine wildlife that often make an appearance.


If you prefer a more immersive experience, consider renting a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard to explore the hidden coves and secluded beaches at your own pace. Paddle through calm waters, take in the stunning coastal scenery, and perhaps even spot some marine life along the way.


Another exciting water activity in Puerto Vallarta is sport fishing. Known for its abundant marine diversity, the waters off the coast offer excellent opportunities for deep-sea fishing. Embark on a fishing charter and try your luck catching prized game fish like marlin, sailfish, dorado, and tuna. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a beginner, this thrilling activity promises an unforgettable adventure on the open sea.


No matter which water activity you choose, always prioritize safety. Follow the instructions of experienced guides and instructors, wear appropriate safety gear, and be mindful of your surroundings to ensure a memorable and safe experience.


Engaging in water activities in Puerto Vallarta allows you to fully appreciate the natural beauty of this coastal destination. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or simply a chance to connect with nature, the waters of Puerto Vallarta offer endless opportunities for fun and excitement.


Exploring the Marietas Islands

A visit to Puerto Vallarta wouldn’t be complete without a journey to the stunning Marietas Islands. Situated just off the coast, these uninhabited islands are a hidden gem, offering a sanctuary for marine wildlife and a paradise for nature lovers.


The Marietas Islands are a protected natural reserve, known for their unique ecosystem and breathtaking beauty. These volcanic islands are home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, both on land and underwater. Explore the secluded beaches, hike through lush jungles, and marvel at the incredible biodiversity that exists within this ecological sanctuary.


One of the highlights of a visit to the Marietas Islands is the famous Hidden Beach. This hidden gem is nestled within a collapsed volcanic crater, creating a secluded oasis accessible only by swimming or kayaking through a narrow tunnel. Once inside, you’ll be greeted by a pristine sandy beach, surrounded by towering cliffs and crystal-clear turquoise waters—a true paradise for snorkeling and swimming.


During your boat ride to the islands, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins that often frolic in the surrounding waters. You may also spot sea turtles, manta rays, and various species of seabirds, creating an immersive wildlife experience.


Embarking on a guided tour is the best way to explore the Marietas Islands. Knowledgeable guides will provide valuable insights into the islands’ history, ecology, and conservation efforts. They’ll also ensure the preservation of the delicate ecosystems by promoting responsible practices, such as the protection of coral reefs and the proper disposal of waste.


As you explore the islands, take the opportunity to snorkel in the crystal-clear waters. Immerse yourself in the underwater world, marveling at colorful fish, vibrant coral reefs, and other captivating marine species. Snorkeling equipment is usually provided as part of the tour, making it easy for you to enjoy this immersive experience.


When planning your visit to the Marietas Islands, keep in mind that access may be restricted due to conservation efforts and limited visitor capacity. It’s crucial to book your tour in advance to secure your spot and ensure a memorable journey to this ecological wonderland.


Exploring the Marietas Islands offers a unique opportunity to witness nature’s beauty in its purest form. From hidden beaches to vibrant marine life, this captivating destination is truly a treasure worth discovering during your time in Puerto Vallarta.


Sampling Local Cuisine

A trip to Puerto Vallarta is not only a feast for the eyes but also for the taste buds. The city boasts a rich culinary scene, blending traditional Mexican flavors with international influences. From street food stalls to upscale restaurants, Puerto Vallarta offers a gastronomic adventure that will tantalize and satisfy even the most discerning palates.


One of the iconic dishes of the region is the mouthwatering fish tacos. Made with locally caught fish, these tacos are typically served with a variety of fresh toppings and savory sauces. The combination of tender fish, crunchy tortillas, and flavorful ingredients creates a harmonious blend of textures and tastes.


For seafood lovers, ceviche is a must-try delicacy in Puerto Vallarta. This refreshing dish consists of marinated raw fish or shrimp, combined with citrus juices, onions, cilantro, and other seasonings. The tangy flavors and vibrant colors make ceviche a perfect appetizer or light meal on a hot day.


No visit to Puerto Vallarta is complete without indulging in some authentic Mexican street food. Stroll through the streets and sample local delights such as elote (grilled corn on the cob smothered in cheese, lime juice, and spices), antojitos (various types of Mexican snacks like quesadillas, sopes, and gorditas), and tamales (steamed corn husks filled with flavorful fillings).


If you’re in the mood for a more refined dining experience, Puerto Vallarta offers a plethora of upscale restaurants serving gourmet Mexican cuisine. From innovative fusions to traditional Mexican recipes with a modern twist, these establishments showcase the culinary artistry of the region.


Don’t forget to quench your thirst with some refreshing beverages. Try the traditional margaritas, made with tequila, lime juice, and a splash of orange liqueur. Sip on a refreshing michelada, a popular beer cocktail mixed with lime juice, spices, and tomato juice. Or opt for a taste of the local tequila, which is sure to delight enthusiasts of this Mexican spirit.


Beyond the traditional Mexican fare, Puerto Vallarta also offers a wide range of international cuisine. From Italian and Mediterranean to Asian and fusion restaurants, you can satisfy your cravings for diverse flavors and international dishes.


When sampling the local cuisine, remember to venture beyond the tourist areas and explore the neighborhoods where the locals dine. These hidden gems often offer the most authentic and flavorful culinary experiences.


Sampling the local cuisine is not just about filling your stomach—it’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of Puerto Vallarta. So be adventurous, open your taste buds to new flavors, and savor the diverse culinary delights that this vibrant city has to offer.


Shopping for Souvenirs

When visiting Puerto Vallarta, one of the best ways to cherish your memories and bring a piece of the city back home with you is by shopping for souvenirs. From vibrant markets to boutique shops, Puerto Vallarta offers a wide range of options for finding unique and meaningful mementos of your trip.


One of the most popular places to shop for souvenirs is the bustling Puerto Vallarta Flea Market, also known as the Mercado Municipal. Located in the heart of downtown, this vibrant market is a treasure trove of colorful handicrafts, traditional clothing, and authentic Mexican artwork. Browse through the stalls and barter for unique pieces such as embroidered textiles, hand-painted ceramics, beaded jewelry, and intricate wooden carvings.


For a more upscale shopping experience, make your way to the charming boutiques and art galleries in the Romantic Zone. Here, you’ll find an array of high-quality crafts, local designer clothing, and contemporary artwork. Support local artisans and artists by purchasing their handmade creations, which often reflect the rich cultural heritage and creativity of Puerto Vallarta.


If you’re seeking a taste of local flavor, head to the local food markets. Places like the Mercado Emiliano Zapata offer a variety of culinary delights, including traditional spices, Mexican hot sauces, and regional specialties such as vanilla and coffee. These edible souvenirs not only make great gifts but also allow you to bring a piece of the local cuisine back to share with family and friends.


Another unique shopping experience can be found at the Isla Rio Cuale, an island in the middle of the Cuale River. Here, you’ll find a charming market filled with stalls selling handmade crafts, textiles, jewelry, and traditional Mexican clothing. Take a leisurely stroll through the market, and perhaps even grab a drink or a snack from one of the vibrant cafes or restaurants along the riverbanks.


When shopping for souvenirs, keep in mind the cultural significance and authenticity of the items you choose. Look for products that are locally made and support fair trade practices. This ensures that your purchases directly benefit the artisans and contribute to the local economy.


Lastly, remember to leave some space in your suitcase for souvenirs. Check the customs regulations of your home country to ensure that any items you purchase can be legally brought back with you.


Shopping for souvenirs in Puerto Vallarta is not just about acquiring trinkets—it’s a chance to support local businesses, engage with the vibrant culture of the city, and bring a piece of this enchanting destination back home with you. So explore the markets, browse the boutiques, and find those special keepsakes that will forever remind you of your unforgettable time in Puerto Vallarta.



Puerto Vallarta, with its stunning beaches, rich culture, and vibrant atmosphere, offers an unforgettable experience for cruise ship travelers. From the moment you step off your ship, you’ll be greeted with warmth and immersed in the beauty of this Mexican coastal city.


Whether you choose to explore the vibrant Malecon, visit the iconic Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, or wander through the charming Romantic Zone, Puerto Vallarta offers a multitude of activities and attractions that cater to every interest.


Engaging in water activities such as snorkeling, diving, and boat cruises allows you to witness the breathtaking marine beauty of the Marietas Islands and the coastal waters surrounding Puerto Vallarta. The culinary scene in the city is a true delight, with diverse flavors and traditional dishes that showcase the best of Mexican cuisine.


As your journey comes to an end, be sure to explore the local markets and boutiques to find unique souvenirs that capture the essence of Puerto Vallarta. These mementos will serve as lasting reminders of your time spent in this tropical paradise.


Puerto Vallarta offers a perfect blend of adventure, relaxation, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re seeking thrilling water activities, immersing yourself in the local cuisine, or simply basking in the sun on the beautiful beaches, this Mexican gem has something to offer every traveler.


So, embark on your cruise ship adventure to Puerto Vallarta with anticipation, curiosity, and a sense of adventure. Explore, indulge, discover, and create memories that will last a lifetime in this enchanting destination on the Pacific coast of Mexico.