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  • Writer's pictureCarmen Castro

Puerto Vallarta with Kids: 5 Things to Know and 5 Must-Do's!

Updated: May 9

"We travel because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something inside our minds has changed, and that changes everything"

Jonah Lehrer


Pacific ocean, sandy beach with some rocks, blue waters and blue clear sky
Puerto Vallarta Jalisco, México

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Mexico is a top destination for travelers that are looking for rich cultural experiences, amazing food, friendly people, and fun places to explore; not to mention the beautiful sunny days (of course if you prefer to visit during the dry season) that will bring you joy whether you choose to visit the cities, beaches, deserts, mountains, canyons, etc.

And Puerto Vallarta with kids is as fun as it gets.


About Puerto Vallarta:

Puerto Vallarta is situated on the Pacific Ocean’s Bahía de Banderas in the Jalisco state. With a beautiful climate ranging from 21 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius on average, the most popular months to visit are from mid-November to the end of March due to many people escaping the cold in other parts of the world and also because during these months the humpback whales arrive on the Bahía de Banderas to mate and give birth to their young, which can be an amazing spectacle to watch.

If you prefer a quieter visit, the summer months are usually less crowded; just keep in mind that this is the rainy season in Vallarta, with September being the wettest month.

From the picturesque downtown, cobblestone streets, and colorful scenery to the more contemporary Nuevo Vallarta on the north, Vallarta will not disappoint.


How to get there:

Traveling from Vancouver, BC, you can get direct flights to Puerto Vallarta, which has a small international airport. Tickets vary depending on the time of year you are planning to visit, and the airline you choose to fly with. Prices start at $400 round trip per person as of March 2023.


Travel requirements:

To enter Mexico, you’ll need to present a valid passport. No tourist visa is required.

If you are traveling with kids without the other parent, you might want to consider bringing a letter of consent signed by the other parent. Personally, I have never been asked for it, but I always have one with me because, you know, better safe than sorry.


Getting around Puerto Vallarta:

•Buses: Starting at a $10 Mexican pesos fare, buses can be very convenient to take and a great option to experience the city, although on rush hour they are usually riding at full capacity and aren’t exactly comfy.

•Taxis: Available almost at every corner around the hotel zone and the downtown area, they are easy to find, and if you are having trouble getting one, the hotel staff at your stay can call one for you.

•Car rental: Another option is, of course, renting a vehicle, which will probably be the most comfortable if you are traveling with kids. Prices vary, starting at around $15 per day, including taxes and fees, for an economy Hyundai Elantra.

Make sure to bring your kid’s car seat and add insurance to your rental.


Money:

Debit, credit, and cash are all commonly used in Vallarta, but if you are going to visit or sunbathe on the downtown beaches, we recommend you take some cash with you in case you feel like buying fruit, snacks, or souvenirs.

There are plenty of ATMs around town, and also Scotiabank and HSBC are easy to find here.

When you travel outside of your country, it is a good idea to let your bank know that you are doing so to avoid having your cards locked while you are on vacation.

Furthermore, be prepared to pay the withdrawal international fee that your bank account will apply to you when your money is withdrawn.

Another thing to consider is that money exchange places usually offer a lower exchange rate than the banks do. So be aware and choose according to your needs.


Now that we have learned some general information, here are 5 activities to do with your kids while in Vallarta:


Sea horse statue on boardwalk, sunset with orange colors, ocean
Photo Credit: Puerto Vallarta's Official Tourism Guide, Sea horse statue on the Malecón in Puerto Vallarta.

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1-Malecón

Price: free

The Malecón is a fun and vibrant seawall that extends for about one and a half kilometers. Here, you’ll find food stands, restaurants, stores, free night shows at Los Arcos, and an inviting pier that extends for 103 m out into the ocean, where you can stroll or perhaps relax on a bench while enjoying the scenery. Fish can be seen around the pier even at night when the structure gets illuminated with beautiful colors. Your kids will love to walk around and check out the big waves, the stores, and maybe get a nieve de garrafa (Mexican sorbet); it is all worth it.


crocodile on the sand, wooden bridge beside it, sunny day
Photo Credit: mexicodestinos.com, Cora crocodile Sanctuary

2- Crocodile Sanctuary

Price: $300 pesos per adult, $200 pesos per kid, tour included

If you have reptile lovers at home, you can’t miss the Crocodile Sanctuary in Puerto Vallarta. The tour lasts for about one to two hours approximately, and the guides are very knowledgeable and will answer any questions you might have.

There are also other animals that you’ll be able to see, and if the time is right, you can even feed the crocodiles.

Please note: The sanctuary is about 3 kilometers from the highway, and no buses go here. Make sure you have your ride here and back figured out prior to your visit.


Vallarta Botanical Garden, Mexican flag, green plants and people in a sunny day
Photo Credit: Jesus Reyes with Vallarta Botanical Garden

3- Vallarta Botanical Garden

Price: $300 pesos, general admission

As a top conservation leader in Mexico, the Vallarta Botanical Garden is a magical place for kids and adults alike. It offers 120 hectares of nature where you can enjoy hiking, birdwatching, beautiful flora, and also the opportunity to refresh in the river, which is very welcome under the Mexican sun.

It also offers various services such as: weddings, a chapel, a garden of memories and a pet cementery

In addition, you can also visit their restaurant, Hacienda del Oro, to indulge in authentic Mexican cuisine.


Conchas chinas beach, sandy with a few big rock formations, sunny day in the pacific ocean
Conchas Chinas beach

4- Conchas Chinas Beach

Price: free

Only a short walk south from the Zona Romántica lies a hidden gem. Seldom visited, this beach offers beautiful green-blue waters to swim in and is friendlier than those around downtown.

There’s no shade on this beach, but you can rent an umbrella from the locals for $120 pesos and use it all day. There are also no stores nor restaurants around, so if you venture here, make sure you bring plenty of snacks, water, and reef-friendly sunscreen.

On Conchas Chinas Beach, there are opportunities to see ocean creatures around the rock formations, and there are also small tide pools where you can see little crabs. It is a tiny paradise that your kids will cherish.

Please note: the walk to here, although short from the Zona Romántica, is not flat; there are steps that go up and down around the shore and they don’t offer a handlebar or safety around them, therefore, the walk is not suitable for people who have difficulty walking on rough terrain.


Clear ocean waters, sandy beach, hammocks on wooden boards by the water
Las Caletas Beach, Jalisco México

5- Las Caletas Beach Tour

Price: $143.11 per adult; $85.32 per kid, ages 4 to 11 years old.

Children ages 3 and younger are free.

This tour is sure expensive, but is it worth it? I’ll say yes!

The adventure will take most of the day (about 7 hours) and will start at the marina, where you and your kids will hop on a catamaran.

From there, you’ll be taken to the secluded beach of Las Caletas, nestled in the Sierra Madre Mountains. As you arrive, you will be welcomed with a buffet breakfast at their palapa restaurant, and after the meal is done, it is up to you to decide your own adventure: from basking in the sun to snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, zip lining, and interacting with birds. The kids can also zip line on a smaller, more mellow zip line, work with clay, or just swim in the ocean.

There are a lot of fish to be found close to shore, so it is easy for kids to snorkel. The waves are gentle, and the color of the water is just warm and beautiful.

At the end of the day, you will be taken back to the PV marina, and with any luck, you’ll spot dolphins and even whales on your way out.

Your kids and you will love this one!



 

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Things to be aware of:

Make sure to pay attention to what you consume in restaurants in Puerto Vallarta and double check your bill. It is very common for the tips to be added to the total of your bill, so you don’t have to tip twice.

When walking around and crossing streets, keep in mind that vehicles have the right of way in Mexico. So unless there’s a traffic light or drivers give you the right of way, Don’t cross without looking.

To wrap up:

This is just a small peek at all the things you can do while in Puerto Vallarta. In my opinion, the least amount of time you can spend there is two weeks, and even that doesn't seem like enough when you are in such a beautiful and fun place. I hope that you get inspired and give this getaway a go. You won’t regret it!



Prices shown are reflected in Canadian dollars unless otherwise stated.


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