By Karen Hosier. This guide to traveling in Puerto Vallarta solo contains affiliate links to trusted partners!
Looking to solo travel in Puerto Vallarta, but need help with the planning?
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Mexico’s Pacific coastal cities offer an unforgettable getaway, and one that should definitely be on your list is Puerto Vallarta.
Known for its hospitality, the city offers a bit of everything: beachside restaurants, delicious food, fun nightlife, natural excursions, a neighborhood that caters to the LGBTQ+ community, and more.
Once a sleepy hollow, Puerto Vallarta (PV) was thrust into the spotlight following the love story between Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. They purchased Casa Kimberly, now a luxury resort hotel, and the rest is history.
If you want to experience a part of their history, why not spend a night in the Virginia Suite and enjoy stunning views of Banderas Bay?
Quick tip: While Puerto Vallarta is safe for solo travel, it’s still smart to pack travel safety essentials. One top pick is the She’s Birdie Personal Safety Alarm, which is TSA-approved and can help scare away potential attackers. Other recommendations include Clever Travel Companion Pickpocket-Proof Garments and Speakeasy Travel Supply Hidden Pocket Scarves.
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Solo Travel In Puerto Vallarta: Is It Worth It?
Puerto Vallarta is one of the best places in Mexico to travel solo!
Thanks to the friendliness of PV’s locals, females traveling solo to Puerto Vallarta will never feel alone. And since the oceanfront tourist zones always bustle with activity, it’s pretty easy to strike up a conversation with a fellow traveler.
The coastal city offers plenty of ways to mingle with others. A few ideas include taking a cooking class, learning to dance salsa, or journeying into the hills on a zip line adventure with a tour group.
There are actually many fun excursions in Puerto Vallarta for meeting others, like these top tour picks.
Moreover, while Mexico’s official language is Spanish, many locals speak English — which can make it easier for many solo visitors to interact with locals.
Finally, you can truly customize your solo trip to Puerto Vallarta to be what you want. For instance, along with staying at a hotel or even an all-inclusive resort, another option is enjoying a number of coastal cities on a roundtrip Mexican Riviera cruise from California.
Where Is Puerto Vallarta?
Located on the west coast of Mexico in the state of Jalisco, PV attracts visitors wanting to enjoy its year-round idyllic temperatures and sandy beaches. Known for its party atmosphere, you can be part of the action or opt for a more laidback trip.
Set against a Sierra Madre Mountains backdrop, the panoramic views are stunning from the hills and out to sea.
Most travelers flock to Mexico’s Caribbean destinations; however, Puerto Vallarta offers a more authentic and raw experience.
Cancun may have cenotes and Maya ruins, but Puerto Vallarta has terrific whale-watching and even blue-footed boobies!
Best Time To Visit Puerto Vallarta
Like the Caribbean, this coastal city sees its share of tropical storms. Mid-May to late November sees the bulk of the stormy weather.
Instead, travel from January to March to experience the sweet spot of not-so-hot weather and little rain. Since this is peak season, expect to pay a higher rate for Puerto Vallarta hotels.
The fall months of September and October are great travel months too. While it’s the rainy season, rainfall comes in short bursts, followed by an explosion of sunshine to dry up what’s wet.
Expect daily highs of about 80-81°F (~27°C) from January through March and 89-90°F (~32°C) in September and October.
Even in winter, you’ll enjoy the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean, which has an average temperature of 73°F (23°C).
Getting To Puerto Vallarta
Solo travelers can reach PV by flying into Puerto Vallarta Ordaz, the local international airport. From the airport, it’s a five-minute taxi ride to Marina Vallarta or a 20-minute journey to the more popular area of Zona Romántica.
Spirit, American, Alaska, Delta, United, Southwest, and Aeromexico Airlines offer flights from many US cities. Flair, WestJet, and Air Canada offer flights to Mexico for Canadians.
A non-stop flight from California takes under three hours, and one from Vancouver, Canada, takes six hours.
From the airport, you can get a taxi from the designated taxi area or call an Uber. Just note that you’ll need to lug your things over a pedestrian bridge across the street from the airport to meet your Uber driver, though I find it worth it as Uber tends to be the cheaper option.
Getting Around Puerto Vallarta As A Solo Traveler
The tourist zones of the city border Banderas Bay, making it a walkable destination. With plenty of taxis as well as Uber vying for your business, it’s easy to travel if you choose not to walk.
Additionally, if you’re traveling on a budget, there is a decent local bus service offering inexpensive public transportation.
Since the city has cobblestone streets, expect a bumpy ride.
Like most metropolitan cities, Puerto Vallarta also has a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus if you want to see the local sites on a leisurely bus ride.
Puerto Vallarta Travel Map
To help give you a lay of the land, here is a map. It has most of the main points and solo activities mentioned in this guide to solo travel in Puerto Vallarta:
Is Puerto Vallarta Safe To Travel Alone?
Females traveling solo to Puerto Vallarta will be happy to know that it is considered one Mexico’s safest cities; however, it’s still wise to follow a few safety tips.
Keep the following advice in mind wherever you travel Mexico solo, or really anywhere you travel period:
- Wear a cross-body purse or a fanny pack — or opt for travel safety essentials like Clever Travel Companion Pickpocket-Proof Garments.
- Stick to the tourist areas; don’t wander off the beaten path alone.
- Leave your expensive jewelry and other valuables at home.
- Carry a personal alarm to scare away potential attackers or even animals — like a She’s Birdie Personal Safety Alarm.
- Tell someone at your hotel where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
- Carry a small amount of cash.
Another Puerto Vallarta travel tip: book a tour with a reputable operator because there is safety in numbers. Plus, local tours offer the chance for you to meet others on your solo trip to Puerto Vallarta.
Where To Stay In Puerto Vallarta When Traveling Solo
Okay, now let’s dive into some Puerto Vallarta travel tips.
Wondering where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for first time visiting solo? Want to make sure you consider safety in Puerto Vallarta when choosing where to stay? This section is for you!
Puerto Vallarta’s tourist areas are stretched out along the Pacific Ocean and are separated into zones, each of which has its own distinct vibe and offerings.
Marina Vallarta is the northernmost area and offers easy access to the airport. Expect upscale resorts, golfing, and plenty of great restaurants; however, you’ll be paying top dollar in this zone.
Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone)
A little further south, the Hotel Zone provides the widest choice of accommodation. With restaurants, activities, and the Galerias Vallarta Shopping Mall, you won’t need to travel far for anything.
Hotels range in price from modern resorts to budget-friendly lodging. And if you’re looking for an all inclusive solo travel experience, you’ll certainly have many options here.
Staying in the Hotel Zone also puts you close to familiar venues like Costco or Walmart should you need inexpensive snacks, water, or sundries.
El Centro (Downtown)
When ships are in port, expect crowds wandering The Malecon (boardwalk) in El Centro, which is also known as Downtown.
As with the Hotel Zone, you’ll have your pick of a modern or older venue with character; however, there are fewer choices.
The Malecon has many interesting art sculptures, restaurants, and tourist shops. Staying in this zone puts you within walking distance to venues in the Hotel and Romantic zones, although El Centro lacks the sandy beaches seen in other areas.
Zona Romántica (Romantic Zone)
Zona Romántica is popular among tourists. Along with being the popular pick for LGBTQ+ travelers, it has an electric atmosphere with art galleries, patio restaurants, shopping, and the beautiful Playa Los Muertos beach backed by mountains.
It’s separated from El Centro by the Rio Cuale (Cuale River), and is home to Puerto Vallarta’s Old Town — meaning you’ll also be immersed in historic charm.
While Puerto Vallarta has North and South zones, these aren’t areas generally visited by solo travelers. Away from the action, they are more suited to families or older couples who want a quiet stay.
Top Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta Solo
There are many fun things to do in Puerto Vallarta solo; the only limitation is your budget and sense of adventure. To help you plan the perfect solo itinerary for Puerto Vallarta, here are some top picks.
1. Go whale watching
If you’re visiting between December and March, you must go on a whale-watching excursion. In the winter months, the majestic humpbacks migrate from Alaska to the warm waters of Banderas Bay to mate and give birth.
Since whales don’t feed in Mexico, they often exude a cheerful spirit. You might witness fin waves, tail slaps, and colossal breaching on a two-hour tour.
If you’re prone to motion sickness, choose a tour on a large catamaran over the Zodiac boats, which often provide a choppier ride.
One recommendation is this Small-Group Half-Day Whale-Watching Tour, which includes marine biologist commentary and lunch!
Ideally, you’ll want to have something better than a smartphone to capture some fantastic whale breaching pictures.
2. See Puerto Vallarta from above through parasailing
For those not afraid of heights, parasailing allows you to enjoy Puerto Vallarta from the sky. While strapped into a safety harness, you’ll soar 150+ feet over Banderas Bay. In the winter months, you may even see the gentle humpbacks from the sky!
While parasailing tends to be expensive in other destinations, it’s a relatively inexpensive activity in Mexico.
Rides typically last 10 to 15 minutes, but it’s enough to take in the scenery of the Sierra Madre Mountains and far out into the Pacific.
You can often book your ride on the beach or pre-book here to reserve a timeslot. The other benefit of pre-booking is you can feel safe going with a reputable company with great reviews.
3. Visit the Marietas Islands
An excursion to the Marietas Islands provides an all-day adventure with a bit of everything: a boat ride, a buffet lunch, snorkeling, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and wildlife watching.
The twin islands are a national park and bird sanctuary. While you can’t walk on the islands except for a hidden beach called Playa del Amor, you can snorkel, kayak, and enjoy the myriad of bird species.
If Playa del Amor is on your bucket list, you must purchase a tour that goes there. Spots are limited, and only strong swimmers should go.
While many photographers and wildlife lovers come to see the yellow and blue-footed boobies, if you visit during whale-watching season, you’ll enjoy whale and porpoise sightings too.
Ideal for solo travelers, the six-hour Marietas Islands tour allows you to meet other vacationers and share stories of your travels.
4. Attend a Rhythm Of The Night show
A Rhythm of the Night show offers a similar experience to Cirque du Soleil, but in the jungle.
The award-winning show — which was written and directed by the co-creator of Cirque du Soleil — starts with a serene catamaran cruise across the Bay of Banderas.
Watching the sunset while sipping cocktails is an appetizer for what is to come: a 5-hour event including a fantastic meal, unlimited drinks, and a phenomenal show at Las Caletas beach.
You’ll experience fire dancing, acrobatics, and enchanting drumming — all under a starry night sky.
With food, drinks, a boat ride, and entertainment, this fun-filled excursion really has it all.
5. Shop at Isla del Rio Cuale
Vacations aren’t always about doing tours and activities; sometimes, you want some chill time.
Isla del Rio Cuale provides just that. Located on a small island between Puerto Vallarta’s Centro and Romantic zones, you can access it via a pedestrian bridge.
The island is home to numerous experiences: restaurants, tequila tastings, gardens, and, one of the biggest highlights, a large artisan market with locally-made goods.
This is a great place to get souvenirs like clothing, accessories, blankets, handicrafts, and bags. The other perk is that the vendors here tend to be less aggressive than on the main Puerto Vallarta beaches, so you can shop in peace.
6. Take a Mexican cooking class
Taking a cooking class allows you to cook, eat, and have fun with strangers.
During this local cooking class, you’ll master the art of making the perfect panela enchiladas, ceviche, and shrimp al ajillo — all while learning about Puerto Vallarta’s history.
An English-speaking chef will take you to a market, where you’ll purchase fresh ingredients to use in his kitchen for the opportunity to cook and dine in a local home. Each flavor provides the perfect way to delve into Mexican culture and learn the history of each dish.
Once the meal is complete, you’ll savor a feast. I can almost guarantee you’ll clean the plates!
7. Take a day trip to Yelapa
About a 45-minute water taxi ride from Puerto Vallarta’s Zona Romántica is Yelapa, a place known for its stunning beaches, waterfalls, and remote boat-in fishing village.
The local community hasn’t allowed roads to be built into town, which helps to preserve their way of life.
One of the main things to do is simply relax on a stunning beach while sipping margaritas and munching on ceviche and guacamole.
Additionally, you can walk into town for a more local meal — such as the fresh seafood at Gloria’s Restaurant.
Love hiking? You can trek to the lovely Cascada de Yelapa waterfall (information and directions here) or opt for a longer hike that takes you to two different waterfalls (information and directions here).
If you’d prefer to book a guided tour vs taking a water taxi, a few top-rated options include:
- Yelapa & Majahuitas Snorkeling Tour from Puerto Vallarta
- Mega Yacht All-Inclusive Yelapa Waterfall & Snorkeling Adventure
- Full Day Tour in Yelapa and Majahuitas in Catamaran with Snorkel
8. Go ziplining
Imagine zipping through the air while enjoying mountain and ocean views. Well, in Puerto Vallarta, you can do just that.
There are loads of ziplining options in Puerto Vallarta, like Canopy El Eden, which allows you to zip through the area featured in the movie Predator.
You can soar through the trees on up to 15 lines depending on where you go. Each one varies in speed, length, height, and scenery. Some run over waterfalls, and others over deep canyons.
Since tours run with a minimum of guests, solo travelers will enjoy the thrilling adventure with others.
If you prefer an extended tour, operators combine ziplining with ATVs, speed boat rides, horseback riding, and indoor sky diving. Most tours offer transportation to and from Puerto Vallarta.
9. Visit Our Lady Of Guadalupe
Paying a visit to the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is free to enter, is a must when visiting Puerto Vallarta solo.
This impressive structure, known locally as Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, towers over El Centro and is easily recognizable from The Malecon.
Outside, a gleaming iron crown held up by angels tops its impressive tower. Its original crown was crafted in 1965 and was later replaced twice due to damage.
To fully appreciate this site, go inside mid-afternoon when few people are there. You don’t need to be religious to enjoy the gorgeous architecture from floor to ceiling.
Our Lady Guadalupe is still a practicing church, so if you visit on the weekend you can enjoy a service in English.
10. Take a day trip to San Pancho
Located in Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit, San Pancho — which is often referred to as San Francisco, Nayarit — makes for a relaxing day trip.
North of Puerto Vallarta, the coastal town exudes a more authentic Mexico vibe as it’s far less developed.
You can reach San Pancho by taking a bus for about 50 pesos (under $3 USD) or booking a local tour, like this Sayulita & San Pancho Tour.
The eco-conscious town oozes tranquility and tends to attract artists, writers, musicians, and those into yoga.
Contrasting with the bustling Zona Romántica and El Centro in PV, a day in San Pancho provides a rural experience.
So, if listening to music or doing yoga on the beach is up your alley, San Pancho is the place for you!
11. Spend a day at Chico’s Paradise
Located in the Sierra Madre Mountains, Chico’s Paradise provides a nice day trip away from the waterfront.
To reach the restaurant, you can book a taxi or Uber, which offers a scenic ride.
After you leave the cobblestone streets of Downtown, you’ll reach the affluent area of Conchas Chinas. Perched on a hill, the views of Banderas Bay are spectacular.
Once you reach Chico’s Paradise, its charm will embrace you. The quaint restaurant sits beside the Tuito River surrounded by jungle and massive granite boulders.
Dining at Chico’s is a treat, but expect it to come with a much higher price tag than eateries downtown. A local cliff diver will entertain you with his cliff-diving skills during your meal — including diving while blindfolded!
12. Learn to make chocolate
Mexico has the ideal climate to grow cacao, which is used to make chocolate. In El Centro, ChocoMuseo offers a variety of classes to make the sweet treat. You can sample their chocolate in their small shop and tour a museum upstairs.
Their Bean To Bar Workshop teaches you the process of chocolate-making. You’ll extract the cacao from their pods, roast and grind it, and turn it into yummy chocolate. You’ll also able to personalize your chocolate with toppings to suit your tastes and can take it with you at the end of the class.
Alternatively, you can master the art of truffle making during their Chocolate Truffles Class — yum!
13. Savor a tequila tasting
No visit to Mexico is complete without tequila tasting. Shops along The Malecon and waterfront allow you to sample tequila; however, the most authentic experience comes from visiting a factory — like Doña Chanita Distillery, located in the mountains just outside of Puerto Vallarta.
At a factory, you’ll see the pinas (which look like giant pineapples) that supply the agave to make tequila.
Discover the process of how the pinas are heated in an horno (oven), pulped, and distilled into Mexico’s signature drink.
Oh, and don’t think that tequila comes in one flavor either. You can choose from coffee-infused, passionfruit, coconut, pepper, and chocolate, to name a few.
In short, visiting some of Mexico’s tequila distilleries is a great way to savor local culture!
14. Book a food tour
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the culture of a place is through food. The beauty of a food tour — particularly as a solo traveler in Puerto Vallarta — is you can try many flavors for one price and can more easily meet new people over your shared interests.
A few of the many top-rated food tours to book include:
- Downtown Puerto Vallarta Food Tour
- Food & Mixology Tour: Tequila, Tacos & Mexican Cocktails
- Signature Taco & Street Food Tour in Puerto Vallarta
15. Have a beach day
Of course, you can’t go wrong with a solo beach trip in Puerto Vallarta.
The destination is home to many beautiful stretches of sand, like Playa Los Muertos in the Zona Romántica, Playa Conchas Chinas (located at the south end of Playa Los Muertos), and Yelapa (mentioned above).
Choose your beach, grab a swimsuit and a book, slather on the sunscreen, and then head out for a day in the sand.
Best Tours For Solo Travelers In Puerto Vallarta
As you can see, there are many fun solo activities to enjoy in Puerto Vallarta — including guided tours. Booking a tour is a smart way to get to know the destination while also interacting with locals and connecting with other travelers.
A few top-rated tours to add to your Puerto Vallarta itinerary include:
- Day Sailing on Banderas Bay
- Las Caletas Day Tour from Puerto Vallarta with Lunch and Open Bar
- Guided Hike to Colomitos Beach
- Taco Adventure Evening Food Tour
- Whale and Dolphin Watching with a Biologist
Tips For Solo Dining In Puerto Vallarta
Nervous about eating on your own in Puerto Vallarta? You’ll be happy to know that many travelers to the destination enjoy a table for one without any weird glances from staff or other patrons.
The following tips will help elevate your solo dining experience in Puerto Vallarta:
Don’t wait until you’re starving to eat. You could get frustrated trying to find a restaurant without a long wait. Better yet, make reservations so that you always have a seat ready for you.
Do research online to find restaurants that appeal to you. This is especially important if you need vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free dishes.
If you’re a social butterfly, get a seat at the bar. You’ll enjoy conversations with those next to you and the restaurant staff.
Bring a book or table activity. If you’re nervous about looking awkward while dining alone, a book can help you feel at ease. It immediately makes you appear like someone who is simply enjoying a tasty meal and a nice ambiance while relaxing with a travel read.
Travel Insurance For Solo Travel In Puerto Vallarta
When visiting Puerto Vallarta — or anywhere else in the world — it’s wise to get travel insurance.
One of the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country.
Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.
Frequently Asked Questions About Puerto Vallarta Solo Travel
Q) How many days should I spend in Puerto Vallarta?
You’ll want to spend a minimum of four days in the city; however, if you’ve traveled a long distance, a week will provide you with relaxation and time to enjoy the local culture.
Q) Is Puerto Vallarta dangerous for tourists?
The city is one of the safest tourist destinations in Mexico. The authorities work hard to keep a high level of safety, especially as travel is a large income source for the country.
Q) Can you get around Puerto Vallarta without a car?
Absolutely! Taxis, buses, and rideshare options are readily available in Puerto Vallarta. Plus, if you stay in a central area on the waterfront, you can reach most venues by walking.
Q) What should I avoid in Puerto Vallarta?
Tap water and ice made with tap water, as it can give you traveler’s diarrhea. Always order drinks in bottles and cans at restaurants. For day trips, use a filtering bottle like a LifeStraw to prevent illness.
Q) What is the best month to visit Puerto Vallarta?
January through March provides drier days and warm weather without being scorching hot. While it’s high season, you’ll have plenty of hotel choices. Plus, these are the best months to see humpback whales.
Q) Can I use US dollars in Puerto Vallarta?
Yes, US dollars are readily accepted; however, you will receive change in pesos. Before paying, check the exchange rate charged by the vendor, as the rates vary significantly in Mexico. It is almost always more economical to pay in pesos.
Final Thoughts On Solo Travel To Puerto Vallarta
A solo trip to Puerto Vallarta provides a more authentic experience than many other popular Mexican destinations.
And as it’s also very safe, solo travelers can also explore with confidence — while of course keeping the usual travel safety tips in mind.
With sandy beaches, delicious food, and unique tours, you can do as little or as much as you want in this incredible destination!
What tips would you add to this guide on solo travel in Puerto Vallarta?
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About The Author
Karen Hosier is a Canadian cruiser and traveler as well as the creator of ForeverKaren.com. Born in Asia to a British military family, Karen grew up traveling the world. Today, she continues to travel and enjoy faraway lands. You can find her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.
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