Puerto Vallarta is a vibrant city full of history and beauty. It’s also a perfect place for a beach getaway! Families visiting Puerto Vallarta with kids will be pleasantly surprised by how much the city has to offer.
From boat excursions to beach exploration, cooking classes to snorkeling adventures, there really is something for everyone when you’re planning a trip to Puerto Vallarta with kids. Take a look at some of our ideas for how to explore this exciting city.
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Puerto Vallarta is a popular resort destination, located in Banderas Bay, on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. There are around 200,000 people living in Puerto Vallarta. Yet the city sees over 3 million tourists each year! Tourism certainly plays a big role in the city’s economy.
The city was once part of the Manila Galleon, which connected Acapulco, Mexico with Manila, Philippines. There is a rich maritime history in Puerto Vallarta. You can read more about Puerto Vallarta’s history in the Lonely Planet Mexico guide book.
Puerto Vallarta has an international airport which sees several million passengers per year. The airport services international destinations such as Los Angeles, Dallas, and Houston in the United States. Flights from Puerto Vallarta also fly out to places like Calgary and Vancouver in Canada.
Major international airlines that fly into Puerto Vallarta include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, United and Air Canada. Domestic airlines that fly into Puerto Vallarta include Aeromar, Aeromexico, VivaAerobus, and Volaris.
Families visiting Puerto Vallarta with kids can opt to look for hotels or vacation rentals in the Hotel Zone. This is located right along the beach. Families can also look at the Zona Romantica for lodging options, which is located adjacent to Centro.
Another option is Marina Vallarta. This neighborhood is located to the north of Puerto Vallarta. So it’s not necessarily the most convenient location. However, there are often a lot of vacation rentals available in the condo complexes around Marina Vallarta. This neighborhood is also near many of the all-inclusive resorts.
The easiest way to get around Puerto Vallarta with kids is by taxi. However, beware when taking a taxi! Drivers may try to charge you a higher than normal fare to get around town. Be sure to ask other travelers or locals what the regular charge should be.
Another option for getting around Puerto Vallarta is to take the public bus. These buses service routes mainly centralized along Highway 200. Average fare is around 12 pesos per person.
Mexico uses the peso for its currency. At the time of this writing, $1 USD is worth roughly 20 pesos. The bills come in the following denominations: 500, 200, 100, 50, and 20. For the coins, they include 20, 10, 5, 2, 1, and .50.
The main banks you’ll find in Puerto Vallarta are Banamex, Banorte, and Bancomer. You will also find HSBC, Santander, and Scotiabank. All these banks have ATMs that can accept foreign bank cards. However, they will have varying amounts of fees. There is usually a daily cap on how much cash you can withdraw.
Much like the rest of Mexico, the main language spoken in Puerto Vallarta is Spanish. However, because of the huge tourism industry, many tour operators speak English. The same is the case for many hotels and restaurants.
With that said, it is still helpful to brush up on some basic Spanish words before traveling to Puerto Vallarta with kids. Some examples of words you should know include hola (hello), por favor (please), and gracias (thank you). Desculpe is used when trying to get someone’s attention, and lo siento is used when apologizing.
In terms of packing for a trip to Puerto Vallarta with kids, be sure to bring your bathing suits and lightweight beach towels or sarongs. It’s also helpful to pack some water shoes for snorkeling or boat excursions.
Most toiletries items and first aid items are available for purchase in Mexico, so there really is no need to pack them for your trip. However, specialty items like motion sickness strips or reef-safe sunscreen may not be as readily available in Puerto Vallarta.
Explore the Pacific Coast region of Mexico here.
As you’re planning your trip to Puerto Vallarta with kids, take a look at the family-friendly activities suggested here. To get the full experience of Puerto Vallarta, you should aim to spend at least six days in the city. However, if you’re visiting Puerto Vallarta as part of a bigger Mexico itinerary, you can condense your trip to one or two days.
Ecotours de Mexico offers nature excursions, adventure-based activities, and expeditions throughout Banderas Bay. The company also plays a role in whale research and conservation through its support of a local non-profit organization called Ecobac (Ecología y Conservación de Ballenas, Ecology and Conservation of Whales).
Tours offered by Ecotours de Mexico include wild dolphins snorkeling, bird watching, a sea turtle encounter, snorkeling, scuba diving, whale watching, and more. Ecotours de Mexico has a very extensive selection of eco-friendly activities that families can choose from when visiting Puerto Vallarta with kids.
In a destination like Puerto Vallarta, where tourists mainly come for the beaches and resorts, taking a food tour and cooking class may not seem like an obvious choice. But actually, it’s a great way for families to dive deeper into Mexican culture.
Cookin’ Vallarta helps visitors learn about Mexican culture by offering Mexican cooking classes five days a week. Every class includes a visit to the local market. And it also includes a cooking demonstration, with hands-on opportunities to prepare traditional dishes. The classes are $85 for adults and $65 for children between the ages of 7 and 14.
La Vida Bella Private Boat Tours is a family-owned company based in Puerto Vallarta. They offer a selection of tours and excursions, including dolphin encounters, snorkeling, whale watching, and other day trips from Puerto Vallarta.
Tours from La Vida Bella Private Boat Tours are private, which offers a lot of flexibility for families in terms of what they will see and do during their tour. The tours cost $65-$75 per hour, with a tour time between 3-8 hours.
If your family enjoys adventurous activities, then they’ll want to try a paddleboarding tour with Xiutla Riders Ecoadventure. It’s a locally-owned adventure tour company that offers ATV tours, paddleboard lessons, surfing lessons, and bike rentals.
Paddleboard lessons with Xiutla Riders costs $36 USD per person for a 2 hour lesson. They are done right at the beach. You can also do a 4 hour paddleboard tour of Los Arcos National Park. For families interested in bike rentals, hourly rentals with Xiutla Riders range from $4 to $28, depending on the length of the rental.
When you’re traveling with kids, you have to find ways to make travel fun for them. That’s why the Marigalante Pirate Ship tour is the perfect experience for families visiting Puerto Vallarta with kids. Although the prices for these tours are a bit hefty ($113 with the special online discount for adults, and $57 with the discount for kids), it’s nice to give your family a splurge from time to time.
The Marigalante Pirate Ship tour, which pays homage to Puerto Vallarta’s pirate history, offers an on-ship entertainment show that is completely bilingual, with plenty of dancing, singing, and action. Two meals are served on the ship during the tour.
The ship also makes a stop at Majahuitas beach, where activities like kayaking, beach volleyball, snorkeling, and banana boat riding are all set up for you. There’s even a bar on the beach, so while the kids are off doing their treasure hunt, led by one of the pirates, the grown-ups can enjoy a cold drink on the beach! Be sure to wear some reef-friendly sunscreen when you’re out in the sun.
Puerto Vallarta has a rich history. And spending some time learning about the city’s history and culture is well worth doing when you’re visiting Puerto Vallarta with kids.
Spend an afternoon walking along Puerto Vallarta’s Malécon. It’s lined with plenty of restaurants and shops. There is also a Naval Museum that provides more information about Puerto Vallarta’s history. And it offers beautiful views of the ocean.
You can take a walk through the Isla Cuale Flea Market to see the beautiful artisan goods for sale. Or stroll through the city’s Romantic Zone. Every Saturday, there is a farmer’s market at Olas Altas. And on Thursday evenings, there is a public market at Marina Vallarta.
Want to explore another popular beach destination in Mexico? Click here to learn more about all the fun things families can do in Cancun.
There is so much for families to explore in Puerto Vallarta. The city’s interesting history is worth diving into. But you can also dive into the city’s surrounding natural marine wonders too!
If you’re planning to visit Puerto Vallarta with kids, you really need to plan for a second trip as well! After your first visit, you will most certainly want to come back again.
Have you visited Puerto Vallarta with kids? What was your experience like? Drop us a comment on our Facebook page.
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