1. Release Baby Turtles
If you’re visiting between August and March you can take part in a turtle release with Campamento Tortuguero Boca de Tomates, this is a conservation program and donations are welcome. You can’t book in advance, follow the camp on Facebook and when they have hatchlings a call will go out to reserve your place on the release line for that night.
2. Go to Mismaloya and Swim at the Beach Where Night of the Iguana Was Filmed
Mismaloya is the beach that put Puerto Vallarta on the map when in the 60s John Huston filmed the movie ‘Night of the Iguana’. You’ll hear so much about the movie while in Puerto Vallarta so a trip to PV just wouldn’t be complete with our checking it out.
3. Check out the View from Faro de Calle Matamoros
We like to think this is a bit of a hidden gem, no one really talks about it and you could easily walk past it if you don’t look up. Tucked away on Matamoros Street you’ll find the lighthouse, climb up the stairs to the top and you’ll be greeted with a breathtaking view. It’s a quick, easy walk and well worth the detour.
4. Visit Our Lady Guadalupe Church and People Watch in the Plaza
One of the icons of Puerto Vallarta, this beautiful church sits just behind the town square and was build and added to over many decades resulting in a mix of styles being used along the way, including neoclassic, like the main building, the crown is reminiscent of baroque European temples and the side towers have a renaissance touch.
5. Take Part in a Free Walking Tour and Explore the Streets
Free walking tours are our favourite thing to do, especially when arriving in a new place. It allows you to get a feel for the city, ask questions, and learn about the local culture and customs. We did our tour with Memo from Vallarta101 and we went on to book some of his paid taco tours too.
6. Stroll the Malecón and Learn About The Sculptures
On the Malecon, you’ll find 12 beautiful, cryptic statues. One at every cross-section. All of the sculptures have been created by famous local and international artists and have their own unique story. Like “The Subtle Stone-Eater” by Jonás Gutiérrez (2006). The author says us that he feels negative emotions are like stones which we swallow through life.
It’s also said that the Stone-Eater eats all the stones along the shoreline that disappear with the tides.
7. Visit the Zona Romantica Market and Watch Tortillas Being Made
If you want to really get to know a new place visit the local market, not a market that sells tourist souvenirs but a real produce and food market. We absolutely loved doing our groceries at the Zona Romantica market in Puerto Vallarta and watching the fresh tortillas pop out of the machine at the tortilleria. If you don’t need groceries we still highly recommend stopping by and grabbing something to eat or just browsing.
8. Browse the Trinkets and Souvenirs at the River Cuale Market
Speaking of markets, who doesn’t love a little souvenir shopping? Support the local store owners and pick your souvenirs up at the River Cuale market, located on the “island” between Downtown and Old Town (Zone Romantica)
9. Walk from Downtown through Conchas China to the Lindo Mar Resort For Lunch
Follow the beach along through all the beachfront neighborhoods from downtown to the Lindo Mar resort for beautiful ocean views and reward yourself with lunch at the end at the resort restaurant.
10. Hike to the Cross and Watch the Sunset Over Vallarta
One of the most popular free things to do is definitely hiking to the cross that looks over Puerto Vallarta and we actually never did it! We planned to in our last week but every time we tried the rain was pouring down 😬 but we saw loads of people up there every day so it’s gotta be worth it.