If you have an upcoming cruise that will stop at Cabo, Mazatlán or Puerto Vallarta, this is one is a series of must-read articles about these ports. I will go into detail about what we typically do and what we recommended you do when visiting these three wonderful ports. In this post I will focus on the cruise stop-over at Puerto Vallarta.
Excursions & Information About the Cruise Line Stop to Puerto Vallarta
First some background info: We are frequent cruisers based in San Diego who have found Mexico to be a very safe place to visit, especially the tourist areas around Cabo, Mazatlán & Puerto Vallarta. We have spent a lot of time in Mexico and Erika, my wife, is originally from Mexico. This isn’t an advertisement for the cruise lines, I will mention the ups and downs of each stop in the Mexican Riviera Cruise – while we normally don’t do excursions through the cruise line, I believe these are worth doing for various reasons which I will explain in more detail below.
This is our third stop in the Cabo – Mazatlán – Puerto Vallarta loop. We love PV and our most recent visit did not disappoint! We left the kids on the cruise ship and had a great day on our own in PV. The boys were in the Kids Camp and Emma was with the babysitter. If you follow us you know that PV holds a special place in our heart. We spend a lot of time there and that is where Erika and I originally met.
Our day consisted of getting off the ship, taking a taxi to 8 Tostada’s Mariscos which has great authentic Mexican seafood. We always catch a cab outside the cruise terminal. The cruise ship terminal wanted $20 USD for a cab and on the street we paid $60 pesos, about $3 USD for a taxi to take us to 8 Tostada’s Located in the Marina about 5 minutes away.
After we finished eating we took a cab over to Los Muertos Beach. $200 pesos. There are many options and beach bars there and all are pretty good. We spent the day at Sapphire Beach Club. It was $300 pesos for entry but that provided access to the facilities, changing room, lounge chairs, towels, swimming pool and WIFI. The food and drinks are very good. A little pricey for Mexico standards but very good and well worth it.
There are many options and beach bars there and all are pretty good. We spent the day and Sapphire Beach Club. It was $300 pesos for entry but that provided access to the facilities, changing room, lounge chairs, towels, swimming pool and WIFI. The food and drinks are very good. A little pricey for Mexico standards but very good and well worth it. We spent the day and Sapphire Beach Club. This is some of the yummy food we ordered.
Also keep in mind this beach area is LBGT friendly. It doesn’t bother us one bit but just putting it out there. It’s a great place to hang out and the evening life if you have a late leaving cruise ship is excellent. We spent most of our day going back and forth between the beach, the swimming pool, eating and lounging around. It was a perfect afternoon.
Afterwards we walked down towards The Malecón (Boardwalk in Spanish) and did a little shopping along the way. We purchased a cocktail and cigar at a cool cigar shop called El Gato Gordo Cigar Club. Rogelio Garcia Rios (Roger) was super cool and very knowledgeable at the El Gato Gordo Cigar Club. We will certainly return back soon.
After our stop at the Cigar shop we walked next door to this hotel called, Playa Los Arcos Hotel Beach Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta. The sun was about to set and we wanted a place with a nice restaurant and bar to enjoy the view and this was the perfect spot. We sat here for about an hour and enjoyed the view and a couple more cocktails.
After that we continued our walk to The Malecón. Erika purchased a new hot and we enjoyed the view. The walk along the boardwalk is beautiful. Our last stop was at another small bar we have stopped at many times. It’s very small but the perfect spot to get a drink to go. It’s called Devil’s Bar. We had a fantastic time in Puerto Vallarta. It’s a great place to visit!
Additional Cruise Excursion Options For Puerto Vallarta and other excursions we have done.
The Pirate Ship Excursion is fun, it takes you to Majahuitas beach and you have a pirate show during your boat ride to the beach. Drinks and food are included. Keep in mind for anyone who has visited the Caribbean, Majahuitas beach is very nice but it is hard to compare this beach to one that you might find in the Caribbean. Here is the website for the Pirate Ship Tour and you can view our video below from the time we did the excursion a few years ago.
The other excursion you might consider is Zip Lining, this is a popular option and has received a lot of positive feedback. There are a few companies that offer zip lining. In my opinion Vallarta Adventures is the largest and has the best track record. Here is a link to their website for additional information on Zip Lining.
Lastly, the other excursion that is very popular is the Las Caletas tour during the day and the Rhythms of the Night Tour in the evening. Remember above I mentioned that there are a couple excursions I would suggest you do through the cruise line? Rhythms of the Night is the primary excursion I was referring to. Because this excursion leaves later in the afternoon and returns within the last hour or so of the cruise ship departing Puerto Vallarta it leaves you very little time if you have an issue. For example, if you do this tour on your own and have an issue with the tour boat on your return you will be in a difficult spot. But if you are on a cruise ship organized excursion and have any delay or issue the cruise ship will wait for you. This is uncommon but it’s something to keep in mind. A cruise ship will wait for you if it’s their excursion especially if it’s a large group of passengers.
Because of the location of Las Caletas, you are fairly far away from the port on a remote beach. It would be difficult to find a taxi back to the port if you had an issue. I am all about doing excursions on your own but this is defently one I would do through the cruise line.
The Las Caletas tour is a toss up, because it leaves in the morning and returns in 5-6 hours you should have plenty of time to make it back to the port if you have an issue. But if you are not the adventuouerous type then book this through the cruise line if it gives you peace of mind.
Just about all of the other excursions end earlier in the day and many are within the city and on land. Any issues with one of these excursions and you can always take a taxi or uber back to the port if you have an issue.
We did do the Las Caletas day time excursion a few years ago if you are interested in watching the video. We really enjoyed the day and had a great time.
All three cruise ports: Cabo – Mazatlán – Puerto Vallarta are great and offer fantastic options to get out and have fun.
Be sure to follow us on our YouTube channel at Alex & Erika because we will post our videos from this recent cruise over there soon and we post a lot more content on YouTube. We just started posting detailed writeups like this on our website.
Summary of Puerto Vallarta
BUDGET CONCIOUS – Take the bus or taxi / Uber down to Los Muertos Beach. Uber works well in most popular cities in Mexico. Los Muertos beach is in the Romantic Zone. Hang out on the beach for free or spend a little money on drinks and many places will provide chairs and an umbrella. Later in the afternoon, usually at 4-5 when things start to cool down start to walk North along the boardwalk, the boardwalk is called The Malecón. This is a great walk. You can stop and eat along the way, buy drinks at various bars and there are plenty of options for souvenirs.
BIGGER BUDGET – WILLING TO SPEND A LITTLE MORE – Purchase a day pass at the Marriott, it’s usually available for $35 by calling the hotel directly or on ResortPass.com The Marriott is a great hotel with great food and drinks.
If you are looking for an adventure then consider a tour like a visit to Las Caletas or Rhythms of the Night. Both of these options are a lot of fun. Las Caletas is nice for a beach day and you should return in time to head down to The Malecón to walk around if you want.