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Mexican Riviera

Puerto Vallarta Cruise Port Tips

The Puerto Vallarta cruise port is popular with sports fishermen. Credit: Wikimedia
The Puerto Vallarta cruise port is popular with sports fishermen. Credit: Wikimedia
The Puerto Vallarta cruise port is part of a lovely fishing community along the Mexican Riviera on the western coast of Mexico.

It is in the Bay of Banderas, one of the largest bays in the world. The bay is attractive for sports fishing and other types of water recreation for cruise visitors.

Although the number of visitors increases year by year, the city continues to hold on to its charm and laid back culture.

Cruise ships dock at the Marina Vallarta Maritime Terminal. A bit oddly, it’s right by the Marina Vallarta Golf Club. Not many cruise port terminals are right next to a golf course.

Quick Tips

  • The Malecon and El Centro are the main attractions in the city.
  • Decent beaches lie within walking distance of the pier.
  • February through April has some of the best weather

Attractions and Shore Excursions

The Malecon is a vibrant beach promenade, stretching the length of downtown Puerto Vallarta. It has live music, dancers, artwork and cultural events. It is a quick walk from the cruise port terminal.

El Centro, the main part of downtown, is a town square filled with colonial architecture. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the religious gem of the city.

Guided city tours cost about $45 to $65 or more per person depending on their length and amenities. Some of them last up to six hours. They may include lunch and transportation and usually cover the history, culture and architecture of the city.

Humpback whale
Humpback whale sightings are common at Puerto Vallarta. Credit: Pixabay Creative Commons license
Guests can swim with dolphins at Dolphin Discovery and have playtime with these friendly marine animals, guided by animal trainers. The cost ranges from $75 to $190. The address is Carretera Tepic Km 155 Bahía de Banderas 63732 Nuevo Vallarta, Nay.

Catamarans take guests to various areas including Las Marietas, Yelapas and Las Caletas. These are prime areas to see an abundance of stunning sea life. The average cost is $55-$75.

Guests will have to use traverse cables to make their way through the jungle canopy. There are a series of pulleys, ropes and platforms to assist adventurers. The cost is $90-$110.

San Sebastian in the Sierra Madre mountains is a quaint Mexican town with authentic rural life, food, entertainment, culture and cobblestone streets. This six- to seven-hour tour costs about $100 including lunch and transportation. Note that it takes 90 minutes to reach San Sebastian, so nearly half of the trip will involve driving.

Big budget visitors can try sport fishing with costs starting at $400 or more per person. The trip can last four to 10 hours depending on the type of fish and success at finding them.

Beaches Near the Cruise Port

For beaches that are a close walk from the port, visit any of the resort beaches along the Golden Zone hotel district to the south of the cruise docks. Playa Los Muertos Beach is upbeat and a place to grab lunch and a cocktail.

Unlike other cruise ports in Mexico, shore excursions that focus on beaches are not common in Puerto Vallarta.

Shopping / Restaurants

Cruisers that are looking for souvenirs and trinkets will find plenty of shops in El Centro selling pottery, glassware, jewelry and keepsakes.

The local currency is the peso and is about 20:1 against the U.S. dollar at the time of this writing.

The majority of stores and taxis accept U.S. currency and ATM machines offer dollars and pesos. The symbol for peso is the same as the dollar, $, so visitors need to pay close attention when making purchases.

Transportation / Getting Around

Taxis are abundant in the area and line up around cruise docks. Visitors need to be sure to negotiate before getting in.

A ride from the marina to town should cost no more than $5 U.S.

Buses are cheap in Puerto Vallarta, costing about $0.50 U.S. for a trip into town.

Weather / Best Time to Go

Puerto Vallarta has a subtropical climate with more than 300 sunny days per year. The average high temperature ranges from about 84 degrees Fahrenheit or about 29 Celsius in January to the lows 90s Fahrenheit or low 30s Celsius in the summer.

The dry season season begins in late October and continues through May. It is especially dry from February through April.

The rainy season is from mid June through mid October. July through September average more than 12 inches of rain per month, according to the Mexican meteorology service (Comision Nacional Del Agua).

Cruise ships visit Puerto Vallarta most often during late winter and most of spring.

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