This area is a purpose built tourist destination, somewhat like Cancun, so there is no downtown area, no church, no city square, just hotels, resorts, golf courses, two marinas, condos, villas, a few malls and other services that have opened to cover the needs of the local citizens and visitors. There's always the chance to jump into PuertoVallarta or go north to Burial, but it'll be a once or twice happening as it's a bit far away, especially if you want to save and take a bus.
There's a lot to do here too, biking, banana boats, parasailing, water skis and other aquatic activities, plus the malls that are close by will give them something else to do other than sit hypnotized in front of their portable “cuckoo” machines (you know: iPads, Smartphones and so on). There's a marina with stores, restaurants, cafés, and bars that should cover most of your needs, there was once a mall, but it didn't catch on and has been left abandoned... wonder for how long.
Many of the hotels open their doors to spring breakers, so the Marina area is definitively a place with a bit more noise, more “action” that caters more to a variety of clients. Besides the Marina and the boats you can take from here into the bay, this area doesn't have much more to offer than food, hotels and the golf course.
The hotel zone starts off around the harbor area, where you'll find the cruise ships and the Valeria Mall beside the local Walmart and SAM's Club. Pillar is close by, if you are interested in learning how real Mexicans live, a small town with its plaza, that has been engulfed by PV's growth.
This is the historical part of town, despite the name given to the area south of downtown PuertoVallarta, this is the real “old” Valletta, here's the plaza, the iconic parish, the hills, and the Gringo Gulch. It's in this part of town you'll find the Male con, a boardwalk that is the starting point of most the area's activity.
This area offers less than a handful of all-inclusive resorts, in part because space is limited, and mostly because it makes no sense, having an incredible array of options right outside the door, who would want to stay at the hotel for meals! Main attractions: the Male con, the Guadalupe Parish, the plaza, Los Marcos, the Seahorse statue and amphitheater, the hills and Gringo Gulch, Islam Rio Cu ale and the bridge from Gringo Gulch to the island, the various Flea markets, the Naval Museum, the side streets.
Even though the romantic zone is a part of town that is actually newer than the downtown area, it's also an area that developed primarily around the first hotels and bars on Los Puerto beach, so it's more geared for tourism, lots of stores, restaurants, cafés, bars, clubs, all one beside the other, so this place is electric with activity, but it's also a bit less attractive from the architectural and historical point of view. The main attractions found in this area are Himalaya beach, Los Marcos de Mismaloya, which can be reached by sea from Himalaya, the Zoo, a few nice beaches, El Tooth, the Valletta Botanical Gardens, Coca de Tomatlán and the beaches to the south that can only be reached by sea, which includes Las Animas, Quito, Mamacitas and Yelp.
Picking the right one for your needs can save time and even money that you might spend on transportation if you aren’t in the right area. Fortunately, I’ve visited several times now and have a pretty good feel of the city.
Hopefully my info will help you make an informed decision about the best area to stay PuertoVallarta for YOUR vacation. HERE’S some OTHER helpful PuertoVallarta info: to keep my website running without a lot of ads, there are affiliate links.
That means, I may earn a commission from those links if you book through them PuertoVallarta is on Mexico’s Pacific coast, in the state of Jalisco. The bay is the third largest in Mexico, and since PuertoVallarta lies almost in the middle of it, it means there’s about 30 miles of beautiful coast filled with hotels, condos and resorts.
The neighborhoods or zones, wrap around the Bay of Band eras, which means there’s a multitude of choices of where to stay in PuertoVallarta. November through mid April is considered high or busy season in PuertoVallarta.
It’s during this the time of the year when Canadians and Americans, head south to escape winter in their home countries. Easter Week or la Demand Santa is also a popular time for PuertoVallarta.
Weather wise, it’s still a great time to visit, and you can find wonderful deals on lodging. Because PuertoVallarta is popular with the ex-pat and snowbird communities, there are a multitude of condos and apartments in the city.
I personally have not done a home stay in PuertoVallarta, but I’ve had my list of my favorites for a while now. Every time I check Airbnb, there are new properties of all price ranges that have been added.
Southerners: you might see some maps that include Nero Valletta but technically it isn’t PuertoVallarta or even Jalisco for that matter. This area also includes the main bus terminal and International Convention center.
That way if I was delayed or exhausted, I wouldn’t have to travel far after a long bus ride. City Express is a chain of Mexican hotels geared more towards the business traveler.
From my room facing the bay, I was even able to see the cruise ships come into the marina. Even though it was great for that night I arrived, I wouldn’t stay long term because I want to be closer to the beach and the male con.
However, it works great if you are going to travel around the region, are only in town a night or two, or just arriving. There are restaurants, shops, spas, hair salons, golf courses, a post office and more.
San Tropics Petite Hotel is where I stayed in the Marina Zone. The entire wall in the living room opened up to a huge balcony.
Most of the people I met were Canadians there for the winter and I can definitely see why this hotel is popular for long term. Onsite, there’s a bar that serves breakfast, drinks and beer throughout the day.
If you decide to roll out of your lounge chair and be a little more active, there are yoga classes poolside too. While it is a popular area, it might be a little more complicated getting a taxi to pick you up since these streets are residential and less commercial.
Couples families snowbirds or long term someone who doesn’t mind walking Full of hotels and condominiums, it’s a great area for a first-timer and someone that wants a resort stay with plenty of amenities.
The hotel zone is located south of the marina and runs along the beaches of north of downtown. There’s access to taxis, Uber and even public buses that will take you downtown.
First time visitors beach lovers families couples girls trip solo traveler who wants to be around other tourists Even though I didn’t like to have a great experience at my hotel, I loved the vibe of the neighborhood.
The first time I traveled to PuertoVallarta, it was peak season in February around Valentine’s Day. The trip was last minute so by the time I wanted to book a room, there wasn’t much available.
I snagged a room at the Hotel El Picador in the 5 DE December neighborhood. It was a great location, and it was clean or so I thought until I came back to a room filled with white mold falling off the ceiling.
Which was fine because it was cool enough in February that I didn’t need it, but I had paid for air. My biggest complaint with the hotel wasn’t the rooms and the inconvenience of moving three times but how they handled the problem.
I’ve also read good things online and in groups about Hotel Rosa, which is further south a couple of blocks, closer to the male con. Downtown area is, give or take, fifteen minutes from the airport.
Public transportation, Uber and taxis are plentiful and as long as your hotel has parking you would be fine with a car. It’s also a great walking neighborhood and as I mentioned, just a short distance from the start of the male con.
Playa Cameron sunset If you are looking to capture a piece of old Mexico on your vacation in PuertoVallarta, then look no further than the Romantic Zone or La Zone Romantic or Old Town. Situated south of the Rio Cu ale, which divides the downtown area, the Romantic Zone is full of smaller budget friendly hotels, boutique hotels, inns, condos and even a hostel or two.
In the Romantic Zone, you are just steps from the beautiful Los Puerto beach, the iconic PuertoVallarta pier and the male con. In a typical Mexican style, the rooms face inside to courtyards.
These types of properties are also very safe since the gate to the courtyard is locked nightly. Hotel Posed de Roger is the first property I stayed at in the Romantic Zone.
Hotel Yasmin is the other place I’ve stayed in the Romantic Zone. I started going to the restaurant first and when I found out they owned the hotel, I decided to give it a try to.
Hotel Yasmin is the cutest place decorated with bright cheery furniture and plants in a typical Mexican style. Unless your hotel or condo has designated parking, it will be hard to find a spot.
There is a public pay for parking lot across the street from the Marque Lazaro Cardenas. The good news is you really don’t even need a car if you are staying in the Romantic Zone.
It’s very walking friendly with plenty of restaurants, bars and shopping in a small area. If you don’t want to walk or can’t, then there are always plenty of taxis and Users in the neighborhood.
Many are perched high on the hillside and have stunning views of the Bay of Band eras. I didn’t stay overnight, but I had the opportunity to spend the day and dine at 5 star, Garza Blanca, an all-inclusive gorgeous luxury resort set in the jungle.
Most of these resorts in the South Zone have restaurants on site, offer spa options and can even arrange tours or a driver for you. You can snorkel or dive the nearby Los Marcos Marine Park.
Hiring one or getting an Uber to take you back to town could be a little more complicated due to the remoteness of the area. The public buses stop at a few of the resorts on their way to Coca de Tomatlan, so you could easily bus into the Romantic Zone.
You can catch a south bound orange and white bus in the Romantic Zone for forty cents. Looking out to the crystal blue water at Garza Blanca Honestly, I don’t think there is a bad location of where to stay in PuertoVallarta.