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February 13, 2023

Top 5 Experiences for Cruise Ship Passengers in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta's year-round sunny weather, beautiful beaches, and unique natural environment, along with its delicious cuisine, culture, traditions, and wide range of wellness and medical tourism options, make it one of the most popular destinations on the Mexican Pacific cruise route. 

Here are the Top 5 recommended experiences for spending a day (or just a few hours) in the World's Friendliest City. 

1. Explore the Vallarta Botanical Garden

Enjoy a morning of bird-watching at the Vallarta Botanical Garden during the first rays of sunshine. More than 200 bird species have been identified along the many trails that wind through the tropical dry forest vegetation and Los Horcones River. 

This natural reserve is considered one of the 10 best gardens in North America. It has a fascinating collection of trees and plants such as: oaks, agaves, native palms, bromeliads, among others, that inhabit its 120 hectares. Its beautiful orchid conservatory is not to be missed! 

The Botanical Delights Tour & Culinary Adventure experience ($125 USD per person) includes: round trip transportation, visit with professional guides, entrance to the vanilla plantation, plant conservatories, hiking trails, forest reserve, and meals at the Hacienda de Oro Restaurant. The duration of the tour is 6 hours. 

The Vallarta Botanical Garden is located approximately 45 minutes by car to the south of the downtown area of Puerto Vallarta.

2. Taste the authentic Mexican food 

We all love tacos, don't we? But you can't miss your visit to Puerto Vallarta without trying some of our other culinary delights such as birria, mole, ceviche, chocolate, tuba or one of the favorite breakfasts of Mexican families: chilaquiles

There is no better guide than Vallarta Food Tours for eating like a local. Their famous Original Downtown Food Tour ($55 USD, adults; $44 USD, children -13) was voted by TripAdvisor users as the fourth best culinary experience in the world in 2020. 

Discover exquisite dishes in 6 of the most delicious small restaurants and food stalls owned by local families, hand in hand with a foodie. You will have the opportunity to learn about the fresh ingredients used, the story behind each dish, and watch as they are prepared by expert hands. 

The tour takes place on foot through the streets of downtown Puerto Vallarta and Old Vallarta. It departs daily at 10:30 am from Lázaro Cárdenas Park in the Romantic Zone and lasts approximately 3.5 hours. It is ideal for groups of up to 10 people.

The Vallarta 101 Breakfast Welcome Walk is an ideal tour for first time visitors to Puerto Vallarta. The tour is casual and relaxed, like chatting with an old friend while walking through various points of interest in the historic downtown area. 

Accompanied by a young local guide Memo Lira you will visit: the Malecon, Gringo Gulch, the main square, Cuale River Island and the traditional market, among others. Breakfast is optional, but it is highly recommended, as you will have the opportunity to visit some of the restaurants in the area that specialize in Mexican cuisine. Don't miss this chance for a typical Mexican breakfast including birria, machaca, tacos, quesadillas, chilaquiles, huevos rancheros and refried beans. 

The tour lasts approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes and is available on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9:30 am. The cost of the tour is a voluntary donation. You decide how much you want to pay for this experience.

3. Adventuring and more adventuring in nature

Puerto Vallarta offers everything from luxurious yacht cruises with included water activities to the most extreme and fun mountain adventures in a stunning natural setting. 

At 492 feet-high Canopy River's Jorullo Bridge ATV Tour (from $125 USD per person) offers breathtaking panoramic views from the world's longest vehicular suspension bridge, making this tour ideal for adrenaline junkies. 

Travel the 1,542 feet in length of the bridge, nestled in the dense tropical jungle of the Sierra Madre Occidental, on ATVs or high-powered SUVs to the crystal clear El Salto waterfall. 

A version of this experience is also available on board an RZR (starting from 300 USD per person). Both tours are estimated to take 2 hours and include round-trip transportation and a tequila tasting at the end of the tour.

Vallarta Adventures' Majahuitas Luxury Snorkel Tour is a much more relaxed (but no less memorable) adventure. Travel to the paradisiacal beach of Majahuitas, a hidden oasis south of Puerto Vallarta, aboard a luxury catamaran. The tour is, without a doubt, a great way to get up close and personal with nature.

Majahuitas Beach is known for its rocky terrain, large variety of bird species, abundant marine life and crystal clear waters that are ideal for snorkeling and kayaking (both included in the tour). 

The Majahuitas tour lasts 5 hours. It includes a deli-style lunch and open bar. The experience is ideal for couples, groups of friends, and families with children 10 years of age and older.

4. Revitalize with a Day at the Spa 

Make the most of your vacation by treating yourself to a full day of pampering at one of Puerto Vallarta's luxurious spas, where you can rejuvenate your mind and reenergize your body. 

Indulge in a relaxing four-handed massage or the extraordinary red berry body treatment at Ohtli Spa at Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa. The spa offers a wide range of services and wet areas. You can also enjoy your relaxation ritual in a rustic cabin overlooking the ocean.

The legend of the Mexican goddess Mayahuel inspires Sheraton Buganvilias Resort & Convention Center's Maiavé Spa concept.  The healing power of nature and its elements - water, air, earth and fire - are blended into each of the spa's relaxation collections. A must before any treatment is Manare, the hydrotherapy circuit.

For a unique experience of total relaxation, The View Spa at Grand Miramar offers floatation therapy in individual capsules ($700 MXN, 30 min.) in an environment that creates the sensation of weightlessness. Massages, facials and body treatments, including ionization therapy and personalized hydrotherapy, complete the menu of services.

Inspired by wellness and with majestic 360-degree views of the ocean, Spa Imagine - located on the 15th floor of the Mousai Hotel - offers an exceptional selection of personalized spa treatments and therapies designed to balance the body, mind and spirit. Enjoy the luxurious hydrotherapy circuit with Jacuzzi, pressure shower, cold water pool and six-cycle vitality pool. You'll want to come back!

5. Take a walk along the Malecon and downtown Puerto Vallarta  

Once you leave the Maritime Terminal, take a taxi or public transportation. The route “Centro” will take you to Puerto Vallarta's Malecon. Here you will find an extensive collection of sculptures by renowned Mexican artists. They turn the city's main pedestrian corridor into an authentic open-air art gallery. 

Join Pacifico Gallery owner, Gary Thompson, for a sculpture tour of the Malecon. The tour starts at the sculpture The Millennia, located next to the Hotel Rosita; it is a walking tour and includes a very detailed explanation of each piece. This activity is free. It takes place every Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. until April 18.

Located in the heart of downtown Puerto Vallarta, don't miss the opportunity to visit the Parish Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe and its emblematic crown.

A few steps away from the church, you'll find the mural Puerto Vallarta, a colorful depiction of the customs and traditions of the fishing village of yesteryear. The mural is the work of renowned Vallartense painter Manuel Lepe (1936-1984). 

The naive-style painting of the "Prodigal Son of Puerto Vallarta" was restored in 2020. It is located on the indoor steps of the City Hall.

Another of his works, the small mosaic mural entitled Vendedores de pescado (Fish Sellers) is located on the Malecon, next to the Naval Museum.





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