Puerto Vallarta has been a favorite destination of my family for the past 20 years. There are so many different activities; from water sports to zip lining or relaxing on the beach, there is something for everyone!
We have watched Puerto Vallarta grow and expand from a small Mexican village to an international tourist destination. I’m sure it’s because the temperature averages 77 degrees and it is sunny 300 days a year. Another reason is that it’s an easy flight from the Southwestern United States.
Nowadays, there is a wide range of accommodations in the Puerto Vallarta area. There are luxurious five star resorts, budget hotels, condos, villas and beach houses. They have surely built up the area to accommodate everyone. Over the years, depending on our budget, we have stayed at a variety of these options.
When I started thinking about this article I knew I wanted to write about some of our favorite family activities we have enjoyed, so I’ve decided not to list or preference any specific company we used for our excursions. We have done many over the years and have had good experiences with them all. I know that staff can change or equipment and weather issues can affect the outcome of a tour or day trip. Try to keep an open mind and enjoy the day.
Our #1 favorite family excursion choice….
—Day trip to Sayulita—
Sayulita is a small town about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta, depending on traffic and how you choose to get there. We have taken buses, taxis and rental cars. Sayulita is on its own small bay. We enjoy walking around the town and hanging out in the Parque Central in the center of town. Sometimes there is live music and there is always people watching. It’s so charming and there are delicious restaurants and plenty of shopping and art galleries.
Our family spends most of the time on the beach. My husband and kids will surf or we will rent Stand Up Paddle (SUP) boards. A large variety of boards are available at good prices from the vendor’s right on the beach.
There is also a variety of restaurants on the beach to choose from. There is nothing better than a fresh lime margarita with chips and guacamole! Sayulita is a picturesque town surrounded by thick jungle and mountains that come right down to the beach. After relaxing for part of the day, it’s fun to go exploring. Heading up the beach to the north there are more secluded area of beach and jungle trails for hiking. You can see iguanas, fire ants and crabs.
Choosing to walk south down the beach will take you around the bay and past he cemetery, then over to the secluded beach of Playa de Los Muertos. It’s a nice bay with calm water. It’s popular with locals and can be a nice change from the busier main beach.
One thing I would caution you about is I would recommend leaving nothing of value on the beach and always keep an eye on your things. Petty theft has been an issue in this popular town.
I can write about Sayulita all day so I better move on to another fun excursion!
—Horseback riding at La Jolla de Mismaloya—
This is an easy trip from Puerto Vallarta by bus or car. Driving south is a beautiful ride along the highway, with ocean and jungle views. After arriving in Mismaloya walk down to the ranch and arrange a guided tour. Everyone will get a horse and the guide will lead you through the dense jungle to Eden, the movie set of Predator. The river is refreshing and you can take a swim as well as grab a bite to eat at the restaurant. This horseback riding trip is a big hit with the kids!
Another fun excursion we have enjoyed is —Catamaran day trip to Los Arcos National Marine Park—
This is a fun trip for the family and safe for small children wearing life jackets. It will also let you know if one of your children gets sea sick or suffers from motion sickness. We found this out rather quickly as our daughter didn’t feel well while the boat was moving! Everyone else had a great time watching the dolphins swim ahead of the boat as we sailed down south through the bay. Once you arrive at Los Arcos, the huge rocks out in the ocean, the guides give you gear to snorkel. There are plenty of fish to be seen and it’s a fun experience, but nothing like Hawaii or the Caribbean. So, as long as you are aware of that you should have a fun time. It’s very pretty sailing along the coast and gives a different perspective of Puerto Vallarta.
For our last excursion, we have enjoyed this one a few times.
It’s back to —Sayulita for the Jungle Canopy Tour, AKA Zip-Lining!—
I decided to make this its own separate excursion from the Sayulita Day Trip because it’s too much to squeeze into one day and still relax.
In town you can sign up for a zip line adventure and if you are up for it they also have a combo trip which includes horseback riding. It will begin just outside of town at the ranch and you will be able to see Monkey Mountain. The zip-lining course is frightening and fun, depending on how you feel about heights. There are lots of photo opportunities in the jungle, such as crossing the suspension bridges along the course. The staff is well trained and they really add their fun personalities to the overall experience.
The Puerto Vallarta area has many other fun and exciting things to offer; scuba diving, sailing, tequila tasting, shopping and golf to name a few. There really is something for everyone to enjoy. I hope this article has given you a few ideas!
Have you been to the Puerto Vallarta area? What was your favorite excursion?