It can be overwhelming to decide where to stay in Puerto Vallarta as a first-time visitor. Each district in the city has its own distinct personality and is like a little town in itself.
Fortunately, Puerto Vallarta is a relatively compact coastal city and there is arguably no such thing as a bad place to stay. Wherever you choose to base yourself during your trip, you can easily reach other parts of town via a short walk or cab ride.
Still, everyone has different preferences and it is good to know that you are staying in an area that suits your travel style and has the amenities that you are looking for. In this guide, we will explore the different districts in Puerto Vallarta, what they have to offer, and the best hotels and accommodation options within them.
Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta
Conchas Chinas, located just south of the city center, is one of the most exclusive areas in the city. It is known as the ¨Beverly Hills of Puerto Vallarta¨ and takes its name from the little shells that are found only on the beaches in this area.
¨Conchas Chinas¨ translates to mean ¨Chinese shells¨. If you are seeking peace and seclusion in a luxury boutique hotel away from most of the tourist hordes, this may be the right choice for you.
If you opt to stay in one of the hotels or luxury resorts high in the hills here, you can enjoy unparalleled views over the Pacific Ocean from your balcony. The panoramas are particularly magical at sunset.
At this time, the sky is illuminated with shades of pink and orange, and there is no one around, bar the occasional sailboat floating along the horizon. There are only a small handful of bars and restaurants in this area, although most hotels do boast their own in-house restaurants and offer room service.
This can be perfect if you want to unwind and relax! Restaurant Bar El Set (Carr. Costera a Barra de Navidad 1182) is a grill house restaurant with some of the best sea views in town. Meanwhile, Restaurant La Playita (Carr. Costera a Barra de Navidad Km. 2.5-Int. 1190) serves up the freshest seafood prepared with catches caught earlier that same day.
The beach here, though small, seldom sees more than a handful of people. It is framed by rocky coastlines and palm trees and looks like something straight from a postcard. The streets in Conchas Chinas are very steep and often overgrown with moss from the humidity. It is generally better to take a taxi to town from here than to attempt to walk.
Best hotels in Conchas Chinas
Conchas Chinas caters to those seeking a luxury travel experience. Still, this is Mexico, and even though upscale hotels come with a higher price tag than budget ones, they remain substantially cheaper than luxe properties in the US and elsewhere.
- Grand Miramar Resort
- Hotel Playa Conchas Chinas
- Mondavi Wellness Resort & Spa
- Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta
Punta de Mita
Punta de Mita is just under an hour away from Puerto Vallarta and, like Conchas Chinas, it exudes a chic, upscale, exclusive vibe. This private peninsula extends across an area of 1,500m and is home to several renowned international luxe hotels, including the Four Seasons and St. Regis.
Historically, Punta de Mita was little more than just a fishing village that was occupied by fishermen, tradesmen, and creatives. In time, it has developed into one of the best places to see and be seen in western Mexico.
The area is characterized by its pristine white-sand tropical beaches that give the feeling of being on a remote desert island somewhere. They are bordered by translucent, turquoise waters that are perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
From here, you can also take a boat out the Las Islas Marietas. This natural sanctuary, recognized by UNESCO, was designated as a protected biosphere reserve in 2008.
In the spring months, this is one of the best places to go whale watching in Mexico. At all other times of the year, it is still a wonderful place to hang out on the hidden beach and see the various other endangered flora, fauna, and wildlife that call the reserve home.
Like Conchas Chinas, there are a limited amount of bars and restaurants in glamorous Punta de Mita. However, you will definitely find exquisite dining options within your resort.
If you like to play golf, the Punta de Mita golf course is set on a little island off the coast that is joined to the mainland by a thin stretch of land. It is widely regarded as being one of the very best golf courses in the world.
Best hotels in Punta de Mita
Punta de Mita is a great area to stay in if you want the experience of being treated like a VIP. Many of the hotels found here are high-end, globally recognized brand names.
- Conrad Punta de Mita
- The W Punta de Mita
- Imanta Resorts Punta de Mita
- The St Regis Punta de Mita
- The Four Seasons Resort Punta de Mita
If you are wondering where to stay in Puerto Vallarta as a first-time visitor, Zona Romantica may be one of the best options for you. This district, also known as ¨Viejo¨ or ¨Old Vallarta¨ is one of the liveliest in town.
Some of the best Puerto Vallarta restaurants can be found here, and they serve everything from regional fare and traditional Mexican food to international cuisine. Zona Romantica is characterized by its narrow cobbled streets and passageways that seemingly take you on a journey back in time.
Here, you are within walking distance of many of the city’s best beaches and attractions. The quaint little stores and boutiques in the area sell everything from vintage fashion pieces and homemade cosmetics, to quirky handicrafts and quintessentially Mexican souvenirs (e.g. Dia de Los Muertos sculptures or mariachi figurines).
On Saturdays, you can stop by the Olas Atlas Saturday Market. Every weekend, thousands of farmers and vendors from across Jalisco set up stalls to sell fresh fruits and veggies, jams, jellies, baked goods, and artisanal products.
When night falls, Zona Romantica really comes to life. From a nightlife perspective, there is something for everyone here.
There are beach bars close to the Malecon where you can watch the ocean waves lap against the shore, chic cocktail bars, and livelier clubs and live music venues. Zona Romantica is also one of the most LGBTQI-friendly districts in all of Mexico and wider Latin America.
If you are looking for gay bars, add Mr. Flamingo, La Noche, Queens bar, and Blondies Loft to your radar. Several hotels in this area also market themselves as either gay-friendly or gay-only.
Best hotels in Zona Romantica
Despite the fact that Zona Romantica is one of the liveliest areas in Puerto Vallarta, you will still find that you are able to get a good night’s sleep at most of the hotels here. Many are located down side streets, away from the immediate noise of the bars and clubs.
Since this is one of the most sought-after areas of town, you will find something for every taste and budget here. The area has everything from budget backpacker hostels, to eccentric-themed boutiques and more luxurious options.
- Playa Los Arcos Hotel Beach Resort & Spa
- Almar Resort Luxury LGBT Beachfront Experience
- Pinnacle Resorts 180
- Casa Dona Susana
- Hotel Amaca
- Hotel Tropicana
- Rivera del Rio Boutique Hotel
- Los Arcos Suites
The Zona Hoteleria is a purpose-built hotel zone in the northern part of Puerto Vallarta. It occupies a stretch of land along the waterfront and contains the beaches of Playa de Oro, Playa Flamingos, and Playa Los Tules within its grasp.
Here, you will find many contemporary, modern, glittering hotel buildings, and some of the only all-inclusive resorts in the city. Puerto Vallarta airport is conveniently close (just a 12-minute drive/5km distance away), and the Galerias mall is right on your doorstep for all of your shopping needs.
This is a great place to base yourself if you want to have all of your amenities and home comforts, and prefer to spend your days relaxing by the pool or by the beach without needing to venture too far.
Dining-wise, the restaurants in this area are a varied bunch. You will find everything from artisanal coffee shops, to health food restaurants, Caribbean kitchens, family-owned Jaliscan eateries, and American burger joints.
If you want to venture into other parts of town during your stay, the historic center of Puerto Vallarta and the Malecon is a 35-minute walk away. (Or a 5-minute Puerto Vallarta Uber ride). From here, Playa Los Muertos and the bars and restaurants of Zona Romantica are 4.3km away.
Best hotels in Zona Hoteleria
A selection of independent and globally-recognized hotel brands can be found in Puerto Vallarta’s Zona Hoteleria. If you are looking to go all-inclusive, you can find double rooms with everything included in three and four-star properties from $120 per night (based on two people sharing).
- Villas del Sol en Los Tules
- Las Palmas by the Sea All Inclusive
- Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta All Inclusive & Spa
- Hotel Mio Vallarta
- Hotel Hacienda Vallarta – Playa Las Glorias
- Mexican Experience By Villa del Palmar Vallarta
5 de Diciembre/ Centro Puerto Vallarta
The 5 de Diciembre district and the Centro area are two neighborhoods that make up the beating heart of Puerto Vallarta. This is one of the more authentic districts in the coastal town and among the swathes of tourists, you will also encounter a lot of locals here.
5 de Diciembre is home to the golden sand beach of Playa Camarones and sits beside the Malecon. One of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta and a pleasant way to spend an evening here is to take a stroll by the waterfront, indulging in local street food eats such as elotes and tamales, while you watch the various street performers and musicians.
You will often see Papantla Flying Men here. This ritual dance has been recognized as an ¨Intangible cultural heritage of humanity¨ by UNESCO.
When it is performed, four men climb up a 98ft tall wooden pole. Four of the five dancers, tied to ropes, launch themselves from the top of the pole while the fifth dancer stays at the top and plays the flute and a drum.
Seeing the dancers gradually descend to the ground tied to the ropes can be one of the most fascinating (if anxiety-inducing!) spectacles to behold in Mexico. On any given day, the Plaza Hidalgo square, opposite the Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Refugio catholic church, is filled with street food stalls serving up some of the best tacos in town.
The Mercado del Mar can be an interesting market to check out. In particular, it is great for fresh seafood, and many excellent fish restaurants can be found nearby.
Best hotels in 5 de Diciembre and Centro
It may come as a surprise to hear that despite the ultra central location, Puerto Vallarta Centro and 5 de Diciembre can be among the most affordable areas to stay. Double rooms here start from around just $50 a night.
This is perfect if you are visiting Mexico on a budget. Mid and high-range options are also available, but it is nice to know that a visit to PV doesn’t have to break the bank.
- Casa Mission
- Hotel Portonovo Plaza Malecon
- Hotel Paloma del Mar
- Hotel El Pescador
Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta: FAQs
Do you still have questions or concerns about where to stay in Puerto Vallarta? Hopefully, you will find the answers you are looking for detailed below!
What is the nicest part of Puerto Vallarta?
Punta de Mita and Conchas Chinas are arguably the ¨nicest¨ parts of Puerto Vallarta as they are the most exclusive and upscale. Punta de Mita is a private peninsula home to secluded beaches and luxurious hotels and resorts. Meanwhile, Conchas Chinas is known as the ¨Beverly Hills¨ of Puerto Vallarta.
What part of Puerto Vallarta has the best beaches?
There are great beaches scattered all over Puerto Vallarta. If you are seeking peace and seclusion, you will enjoy Punta de Mita and Conchas Chinas.
Meanwhile, if you want to try your hand at kitesurfing or surfing, you will like Playa Bucerias, close to Nuevo Vallarta across the state border in Nayarit. Los Muertos beach is the liveliest in town and it is where you can go if you want to socialize with other travelers or have plenty of dining and drink options right beside you.
Is Puerto Vallarta walkable?
Yes. Puerto Vallarta is a very walkable place and it is perfectly safe to explore too.
You can essentially follow the Malecon and coastal streets all the way from one side of the city to the other. Both the historic center and the Zona Romantica area are made up of labyrinth-like networks of cobbled streets and passageways. It is fun to simply allow yourself the opportunity to get lost among them and check out the various shops and cafes at a leisurely pace as you go.
Where is better Nuevo Vallarta or Puerto Vallarta?
Preferring either Nuevo Vallarta or Puerto Vallarta is subjective and it completely depends on what you are looking for. Puerto Vallarta has a charming historic center and offers you the opportunity to experience Mexican traditions and culture. Meanwhile, Nuevo Vallarta can be a good choice if you want to stay in a modern resort that offers all the amenities, and you want to have plenty of western and international eateries nearby to provide home comforts.
Where do rich people live in Puerto Vallarta?
Amapas and Conchas Chinas are the most exclusive areas of Puerto Vallarta. Here, high in the hills, you will find incredible properties and luxury apartment buildings overlooking the ocean.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta
Which part of Puerto Vallarta appeals to you the most? Are you planning a trip here any time soon?
If you are visiting Mexico for the first time, you might also enjoy reviewing these travel tips. Have a wonderful time exploring!
Safe travels! Buen Viaje! Xo