How to Have an Adventure-Filled Vacation in Puerto Vallarta
November 12, 2021
By Danielle Owen

There are so many wonderful destinations across Mexico. Cities, beaches, mountains, jungles—but Puerto Vallarta is one of the only places to offer the best of everything. The bustling city is full of a wide array of restaurants and is surrounded by impeccable clear water beaches, mountain hikes, ziplines through the jungle, and so much more.

Here are just some of the highlights of the adventures to be had in Puerto Vallarta:

Go zip lining, off-roading and cross the longest suspension bridge in the world

Head just outside the city and you’ll find mountains full of lush greenery, rushing rivers, diverse wildlife and people soaring above the canyon floor. Canopy River is a Puerto Vallarta tour provider with ATVs, RZRs, zip lines, horseback riding and more. It’s the perfect place to spend the day adventuring.

Here, you can ride an ATV across the longest suspension bridge in the world. You can also zipline above canyons on sections with names like “Speedy Gonzalez” where you’ll go as fast as 30 mph. There’ll be a bit of a hike between some of the zip line sections so be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes. Once you reach the end of the course, you’ll find mules waiting to give you a ride back to the top!

Enjoy dinner and a show… on a pirate ship!

Head out on the high seas (well, into Puerto Vallarta Bay) and enjoy one of the top-rated adventures in the city. You’ll climb aboard an authentic 700-ton Spanish galleon where you’ll be treated to pirate-themed shows, live music, dining, an open bar and even a fireworks display, depending on which adventure you choose.

Daytime journeys include breakfast and lunch and you’ll make a stop at an island to enjoy a wide range of activities like snorkeling, kayaking, beach volleyball, treasure hunts and more. Nighttime voyages include a premium open bar, gourmet dinner, contests, games and a drunken pirate show. Oh, and you’ll be assigned a personal pirate to your table to ensure you’re enjoying your adventure.

Embark on a fishing excursion

From small boats that throw out lines in the Puerto Vallarta Bay to full-loaded 40+ feet deep sea fishing boats, there’s something for every type of fisherman (or woman) here. Head out for a few quick hours or enjoy the whole day on the water with drinks and lunch included. Marlin, tuna, sailfish and mahi-mahi are among the most popular catches in the area.

Set sail to the islands

The Marieta Islands off the coast of Puerto Vallarta are perfect for adventure lovers. These small, uninhabited islands are home to diverse wildlife species like sea turtles, wild dolphins, humpback whales and over 90 species of birds (including blue-footed boobies!).

Boat trips will offer you full snorkel gear along with refreshments. They frequently stop at the ‘Hidden Beach’ where you have to swim through a cave to reach a white sand beach with an open-top skylight (like someone cut the top off a hollow mountain!).

Hike to some spectacular waterfalls

The Palo Maria waterfall hike is a favorite of locals and ex-pats living in Puerto Vallarta. This is a moderate to intense hike depending on how far along the trail you venture—you’ll want to wear a bathing suit and good non-slip sneakers or water shoes.

Begin your journey to Palo Maria by taking a cab to the start of the hike. Any Uber or taxi driver can drop you off by the entrance to the trail next to the Garza Blanca hotel.

While there are 7+ waterfalls along this hike, and they become increasingly more difficult to access, with some requiring the use of ropes, pulleys, hand/food holds, etc. Even if you only make it to the first cascade, this hike will be one of the best adventures you have in Puerto Vallarta.

Enjoy healthy, delicious Mexican cuisine

Verana Restaurant presents a seafood-focused menu of elevated Mexican dishes like manta-ray flautas, tuna in mole sauce and creative ceviches. They frequently feature different veggie options as well, like vegan empanadas and fried cauliflower. Be sure to try their signature hibiscus margarita (margarita jamaica) as well.

There’s also an incredibly yummy, 100% vegan restaurant called Playa Detox that serves vegan versions of classic Mexican dishes like enchiladas and chilaquiles. Beyond the staples, they also offer ultra-healthy smoothies, veggie burgers, falafel, vegan pizza and more at their cute indoor/outdoor laidback cafe.

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About the Author

Danielle Owen
Danie is a full-time traveler and freelance travel writer. She’s been on-the-move since 2015 from Albania to Zambia (and 70+ others in between). She’s developed a very sophisticated algorithm that evaluates countries based on a thorough analysis of their wine, hot sauce, local friendliness, and how hard she happy-cries at their nature. You can find her portfolio at or her photos on Instagram @danieelizabeth