There are so many things to do in Puerto Vallarta with kids, and with year-round warm weather and heaps of family-friendly resorts, it is the perfect destination for those with young children in tow.
The resort town of Puerto Vallarta sits on Mexico’s Pacific coast. It is known for its beautiful beaches, spectacular marine life, and exciting attractions that the whole family can get involved with. I mean, really, what’s not to love?
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To help you map out your perfect Mexican getaway, I’ve put together this guide of things to do in Puerto Vallarta with kids. From free activities and paid excursions to the best beaches and family-friendly restaurants, you’ll soon have your Puerto Vallarta itinerary prepped and ready, so all that’s left to do is just count down the days until your holiday/vacation begins.
Best Beaches To Visit In Puerto Vallarta With Kids
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The great thing about Puerto Vallarta is the sheer amount of beaches, some of which are closeby to the city centre, and some which are slightly further out—but well worth the drive!
Roughly 30 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta is Playa Mismaloya, which has the most beautiful backdrop of the lush green Sierra Madre Mountains. And although the scenery at Playa Mismaloya is something you won’t want to miss, what makes this beach perfect for kids is the golden sand and the gentle waves that serve as an ideal paddling spot.
Despite its relatively small size, Mismaloya has plenty of palapa restaurants, water activities, and all the amenities you’d need for a relaxing day out at the beach.
Playa Conchas Chinas
Are you after a beach that’s pristine yet peaceful? Then Playa Conchas Chinas is the beach for you!
Twenty-five minutes south of Puerto Vallarta, this stretch of sand is a tropical paradise. The combination of turquoise waters, natural rock pools, and the beach’s dramatic surrounding landscape make it one of the most beautiful beaches in the Puerto Vallarta area. So, if you do plan to visit, be sure to pack snacks, drinks, and plenty of sun cream, as trust me, you won’t want to leave!
A few minutes up the coast from Playa Conchas Chinas is Playa Palmares which also boasts soft sand, crystal clear waters, and a sense of tranquillity that holidays are designed for.
At Playa Palmares, you’ll find umbrella and sun lounger rentals, restrooms, and even lifeguards, meaning you can feel safe, sheltered, and comfortable lounging on the well-deserved Blue Flag-certified beach.
Adventure-loving families, this one is for you. Playa Colomitos is a secluded, untouched stretch of sand that is nestled in a cove and backed by dense jungle. With a cascading waterfall and no nearby amenities, you’ll truly feel like you’re deserted on an island—as long as you get there early before other adventurists arrive, that is.
Playa Punta Negra
After a 30-minute drive south of Puerto Vallarta, you’ll find Playa Punta Negra, which has plenty of restaurants, shops, and facilities to accommodate your family for your entire day on the sand.
Kids will especially love paddling about in the azure-coloured ocean, snorkelling to get a glimpse of Puerto Vallarta’s sea life, or building sandcastles if that is more their thing. Plus, if you stay around Playa Punta Negra until low tide, you can even go rock pooling—something my family loves to do.
Families with slightly older children, or those who aren’t fans of just sitting on the sand, will love the beach at Playa Camarones. Of course, you can relax on a towel or lounger if you wish, but if you prefer to be active, you can instead rent paddle boards, jet skis, or even go parasailing to see the beach from a different perspective.
Los Muertos Beach
The final must-see beach in Puerto Vallarta is Los Muertos, which is one of the most popular in the area. Regardless of its popularity, the beach is long enough for everyone, and even at its busiest, you’ll still be able to find a spot to roll out your towel and wade about in the ocean.
Then once you’ve had enough relaxation for one day (is that even a thing?), you can grab a bite to eat at one of the beachside restaurants. A cocktail at sunset is also an option because there really is no better way to wrap up your day, in my opinion.
Unforgettable Tours and Excursions in Puerto Vallarta (get your guide)
Tours and excursions are a great way to not only participate in unique adventures but they also allow you to learn more about the history of your destination. It’s a win-win. Isn’t it?
Luckily for families, there are tons of things to do in Puerto Vallarta with kids, and below are some of my favourites.
It really isn’t every day that you get to see humpback whales. However, if you’re in Puerto Vallarta between November and May, then you’re in for a treat!
Humpback whales migrate down the Pacific Ocean, and if you book onto a humpback whale-watching tour, you can explore the Banderas’ Bay by boat to see some of the largest mammals on Earth.
Gaze at the Animals in the Vallarta Zoo
I have never met a child who doesn’t love the zoo and if your child is animal obsessed, then you’ll want to head to the Vallarta Zoo in Mismaloya.
What I particularly love about the Vallarta Zoo is the fact that it isn’t just a zoo, so to speak. The team at the zoo have made it their mission to protect endangered and threatened animal species while also educating the public about the animal residents, the environment, and local flora and fauna.
Sail the Seas on the Pirate Ship Vallarta
If you’ve never done a dinner show, then I highly suggest you do—the kids will especially love it. Puerto Vallarta actually has two dinner shows, with the first being a pirate-themed adventure onboard a 700-ton galleon.
During your time on the ship, you’ll have the choice of seven different dinner options, an open bar with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and, to top it off, front-row seats to fireworks, special effects, and the pirate show itself. Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
Head Out on an ATV Mountain Adventure
Are your kids over the age of six and somewhat daredevils? If the answer to that question is yes, then an ATV mountain adventure should be right up their alley.
On this ATV tour, you’ll travel by ATV along the Cuale River, past Mexican villages, and into the Sierra Madre Mountains. With the tour totalling four hours, it is a fairly long adventure for little ones; however, their sheer excitement is bound to keep them entertained throughout the entire journey.
Set Off on a Snorkelling Tour
I have always loved snorkelling—especially in crystal clear waters like those in Puerto Vallarta. And as I’m sure you can imagine, there are plenty of snorkelling tours in Puerto Vallarta that take you to some of the area’s most secluded locations to see underwater marine life in its natural habitat.
Alternatively, there is nothing stopping you from bringing along your own snorkelling gear to explore the waters near Puerto Vallarta’s shores. But for the best chances of seeing high concentrations of fish, snorkelling tours are the way to go.
The other dinner show I mentioned earlier is the Rhythms of the Night Cruise and Dinner Show, which was choreographed by Gilles Ste-Croix, the co-creator of Cirque du Soleil—one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.
After hopping on a boat, cruising through the Bay of Banderas and having your captain drop you off at a secluded beach, Las Caletas, the show really begins.
The Rhythms of the Night acrobatic show features talented dancers, drummers, and performers who tell the story of the Aztec legend of past civilizations and the human race’s evolution through time.
The show is only suitable for children over the age of six, but if your kids meet that criteria, then you should definitely consider it.
Free Things to do in Puerto Vallarta with Kids
Vacations are expensive enough as it is, right? So if you want to keep the costs down but still entertain your little ones, then here are some free things to do in Puerto Vallarta with kids.
Stroll the El Malécon at Sunset
The El Malécon is a boardwalk that stretches a kilometre down the coast of central Puerto Vallarta. But what’s great about the boardwalk is there are various shops, restaurants and cultural sites for you to look at—-you really could spend hours strolling along.
While visiting El Malécon, be sure to snap pictures of the art sculptures, watch the dance of the flyers from 10 am to 2 pm and again from 6:00 pm to 10 pm, and stop in at Senor Frog’s for a drink and a visit from a balloon making clown. If you’re there at night, you may also be lucky enough to see some fireworks.
Release Baby Sea Turtles
A great opportunity to teach your kids about the importance of saving animals is to release baby sea turtles with the Campamento Tortuguero Boca de Tomates. Although this activity isn’t technically ‘free’ because you need to give a donation, it is still budget-friendly, unique, and something they’ll talk about long after the holiday is over.
Walk Around the Marina Vallarta
Boat lovers will enjoy the Marina Vallarta as it is home to both big and small boats as well as restaurants, spas, cafes, and shops. If you have time one afternoon, then I definitely recommend heading down and checking out what it has to offer.
Embark on a Free City Walking Tour
Free city walking tours are underrated. For families who enjoy learning about the history of the cities they’re visiting, then walking tours—with a knowledgeable guide— are an excellent way to learn some insider information about Puerto Vallarta.
The Municipal Tourism Office puts on two hour walking tours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 9 am and 12 pm and on Saturdays at 9 am only. You don’t need to reserve a spot; just head down to the Downtown (Centro) at the Municipal Tourism Office in the Old City Hall to meet your guide and set off walking.
Family-Friendly Restaurants in Puerto Vallarta
One of the toughest parts about going on holiday with kids is finding family-friendly restaurants that serve up food the kids will actually enjoy. If you’ve ever gone overseas, then you likely know the struggle.
With that in mind, there are some great restaurants in Puerto Vallarta for families—some of which even have playgrounds!
- Sonora Prime: Some of the best steak you’ll find in Puerto Vallarta, with an area for kids to play and socialise.
- Outback Puerto Vallarta: Australian-themed steak and seafood restaurant with a kid’s play area.
- Natureza: Family-friendly cafe including a kid’s room and varied menu.
- Capitán Cajún: Seafood restaurant with kid-friendly options and a children’s play area.
- Rincon De Buenos Aires: Latin, Argentinean, and Italian cuisines alongside a kid’s play area in the courtyard. :
- La Vaca Argentina Steak House: Argentinean cuisines with a kids club.
- La Palapa Restaurant: Beachfront restaurant with tables on the sand so little ones can play while waiting for food.
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