Spring is a great time to visit Mexico and the coastal city of Puerto Vallarta is no exception. Offering a warm climate (late November through April is typically in the mid-to-high 70’s), as well as stunning vistas and plenty of beautiful beaches, it is easy to see why it has become a popular tourist destination for people looking for some early fun in the sun. It is also only a short flight from most major cities in the western U.S. and Canada.
But did you know that Puerto Vallarta is a great destination for family vacations? Despite the bars along the beach-front strip – that try to entice passing pedestrians in the evening hours – Puerto Vallarta (during the day) offers up a number of unique and kid-friendly activities.
What follows is a list of 5-year old approved adventures, based on my family’s trip to Puerto Vallarta last year:
My eldest son still raves about this day trip. Designed especially for families, the fun starts at the marina when you get assigned your own personal “pirate” for the day and quickly continues on board during breakfast. Then, as you sail out to a special island (for some kayaking, snorkeling, banana boat riding, and a kid’s treasure hunt) you can explore the ship and join in with some audience participation games. On the way back, you are treated to an amazing pirate show – complete with stunt dives off the boat.
Even though the price tag is high at $90 per adult, it is hands down the best family food/show combo I’ve ever purchased and really good value when you consider everything that it includes: breakfast, lunch, all-inclusive bar, entertainment, land and water activities etc.
Kids Adventure Park at Las Caletas
There aren’t too many places in the world that offer zip lining catered to 4-year olds, but the nearby tropical hideaway of Las Caletas is one of them. In fact they have a specially designed canopy adventure park that your child will never forget. And best of all, the exclusive Vallarta Adventures tour includes plenty of activities to keep mom and dad happy too!
Puerto Vallarta Zoo
If you are willing to trade your flip flops for some walking shoes, then the Puerto Vallarta Zoo is a great place to visit – although you should definitely bring a stroller for little ones because the loop includes a steep incline. Only a short distance by car from downtown Puerto Vallarta, this little zoo not only provides the type of animal viewing that you would expect to see in other zoos, but it also introduces you to some of the local wildlife. In addition, for a small fee, you can purchase a bag of food that you can feed to the giraffes and other residents.
What child doesn’t love dolphins? The Vallarta Dolphin Center in Nuevo Vallarta offers a number of up-close-and-personal encounters with Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins, including a special tour designed for children ages 4-8. Carefully supervised in waist deep water (with you nearby), your child not only gets to learn a little about this gentle creature but he/she is also guaranteed a hug and a wet kiss!
There are many beaches to choose from in and around Puerto Vallarta, from the more secluded beaches just south of town in Conchas Chinas to the popular Los Muertos beach in downtown. Depending on the location of the beach, you can find everything from street peddlers, to lounge chairs and aquatic sports – not to mention nearby restaurants and refreshments.
My family and I have stayed in both hotels and private rentals while in Puerto Vallarta. But regardless of which type of accommodation you choose, a decent swimming pool is a must. Whether you pick the pools at the Sheraton Buganvilias or a private splash pool at a local villa, like the Carmelina, your kids will have a lot of fun.