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The 14 Best Puerto Vallarta Tours

Make the most of your time in Mexico with these top-rated excursions.

U.S. News & World Report

The 14 Best Puerto Vallarta Tours

Best Puerto Vallarta Tours

Puerto Vallarta is best explored with a local as your guide.Getty Images

Note: Some tour providers on this list may have ceased operations due to COVID-19. Check with your tour operator about availability before you book.

These guided tours in Puerto Vallarta, which earn high marks from experts and travelers alike, afford visitors plenty of opportunities to explore the area's scenic landscape and its ample animal and plant life. Whether travelers are hoping to zip line over trees and rivers, ride dune buggies through the countryside, swim with dolphins or indulge in local cuisine, these experiences offer something for everyone craving an immersive adventure beyond their resort.

Estigo Tours – Sierra Madre – ATV Mountain Adventure

If exploring the landscape, vistas and villages outside the touristy areas of Puerto Vallarta appeals to you, this four-hour ride atop all-terrain vehicles may be the tour for you. The route follows the Malecón, trails alongside the Cuale River and jungle areas in the Sierra Madre mountains. Along the way, you'll zip by villages just outside of the city. The majority of the riding takes place off-road, but portions of the trip will be on cobblestone paths. Tour-takers describe this excursion as lots of fun thanks to adept guides. Travelers also give the mountain vistas rave reviews. Tickets cost around $55 for a single rider (who must have a valid driver's license) and about $80 for a rider with a passenger (who must be at least 6 years old). The price does not include food or drinks. This tour takes place twice every day except Sunday starting at 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The company also offers an ATV tour combined with a zip line experience, among other options.

Wildlife Connection – Whale and Dolphin Watching

Humpback whales, several varieties of dolphins and other marine life can be seen in Puerto Vallarta's waters from early December to late March, which is when Wildlife Connection conducts its biologist-led tours. During the 4 1/2-hour boat tour, your guide will teach you all about the animals and share some of the research Wildlife Connection conducts. Travelers typically find the trips both educational and highly enjoyable. They also value the opportunity to see the various sea creatures up close. These seasonal outings occur twice daily beginning at 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. (Dolphin lovers might want to opt for the morning tour, when sightings are more likely.) Tickets cost approximately $85 for participants 12 and older and $55 for children 4 to 11; there's no charge for accompanied infants. Light breakfast or lunch is provided. Wildlife Connection runs a variety of other wildlife tours, several of which include turtle viewing.

Xiutla Riders – Beginner, Rio Cuale

Guides regularly earn plaudits for their knowledge and navigational skills during this tour for novice ATV riders. After some instruction, Xiutla Riders lead participants through the city to rivers and into the mountains. The ride also stops at a bar in the jungle for food and drinks (at your own cost) and a swim. Tours are offered twice daily at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and last about 3 1/2-hours. Tickets cost approximately 1,380 pesos (around $55) for individual riders and 1,620 pesos (about $65) for a driver with a passenger. A valid driver's license is required. Xiutla Riders also offers longer tours for intermediate and advanced ATV drivers.

Vallarta Eats Food Tours – Tacos After Dark

Spend an evening sampling Mexico's lauded street food on this 3 1/2-hour walking tour. While groups of up to 10 foodies stroll from one food cart or restaurant to the next, guides offer insights into the county's cuisine and other cultural traditions. Taco lovers consistently give high marks to the enthusiastic guides and describe the food as ample and excellent. Tours depart from Puerto Vallarta's Old Town at 6:30 and 7 p.m. each evening except Saturday. The approximately $55 fee covers food and nonalcoholic beverages. (Alcohol can be purchased separately.) Hungry for more? Try the company's Untouristed tour that strives to give you a taste of what locals really eat.

Puerto Vallarta Tours – Dune Buggy & Canopy

Ideal for visitors in search of adventure, this four-hour outing includes dune buggy rides along the coastal highway and via dirt roads into the mountain, tequila sampling, and zip lining above the forest canopy. You'll also stop for a meal in the town of El Nogalito. Reviewers say the staff is professional and accommodating. However, others complain the trip doesn't allot enough time for the adventure components of the tour. Prices vary depending on the number of people per vehicle; a couple can expect to pay around $315. The cost includes use of the four-wheelers as well as tequila samples, but does not include food. Tours are offered twice daily at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The company offers a variety of other tours, including zip lining, horseback riding and boat tours.

Marigalante Pirate Ship – Day Tour

Hop aboard a wooden pirate ship for a swashbuckling experience. Though you'll sail to Majahuitas Island where you'll have the opportunity to snorkel, swim and kayak, the real draw of this trip is the onboard experience. Crew members act out a pirate-themed show complete with music, dancing and acrobatics. Passengers are also provided with a full breakfast, lunch and an open bar. Travelers generally describe the tour as great fun and a spectacular trip for families. Others were disappointed with the service. Tours depart Puerto Vallarta's Maritime Terminal at 10 a.m. every day except Sunday and return six hours later. Tickets cost about $155 for adults and $120 for children. An evening version of this tour is also available.

Vallarta Adventures – Islas Marietas Eco Discovery
Snorkel, swim, kayak or paddleboard in the waters surrounding the Marieta Islands on this daylong cruise. Though you won't set foot on the islands themselves, you'll see their breathtaking beauty from the water and aboard Vallarta Adventures' catamaran. The trip does include a beach visit to Majahuitas. Guides provide information about the sea life in the Bay of Banderas (which includes dolphins and, during winter, whales), and tour-takers find their commentary entertaining. Tickets cost approximately $90 for participants 12 and older and $60 for children 4 to 11. Lunch and use of snorkeling gear and paddleboards are covered in the price. The seven-hour tours are offered every day except Monday starting at 8 a.m. If you want to visit the Marieta Islands, check out the company's Marieta Islands Hidden Beach Tour.

Whale watching is a popular wintertime activity in Puerto Vallarta.Getty Images

Ocean Friendly Tours – Whale Watching Ocean Safari

Guides earn top marks from travelers for providing ample information regarding humpback whales and the Banderas Bay ecosystem throughout this five-hour sailing. The tour allows ample time to see whales and snap incredible photos, according to reviewers. In addition, the company provides a bird-watching guide onboard to help passengers identify the bay's various sea bird species. Tours are available the second week of December into late March, when humpback whales are frequently spotted in the area. Boats depart from Muelle Los Peines pier at 9 a.m. daily. Tickets cost around 2,950 pesos (around $118), which includes lunch. Ocean Friendly Tours offers a four-hour version of this tour as well as private charters.

Puerto Vallarta Cycling – Fat Bike Graffiti and Mural Art Tour

Mexico's muralism movement dates back to the 1920s and is still a prevalent tradition today. This approximately three-hour tour allows you to see some of Puerto Vallarta's best street art and murals while also enjoying a bit of exercise by riding fat bikes (bicycles with oversized tires). The approximately 8-mile trip follows a route outside the tourist area that is safe to ride. Leaders win praise for their informative commentary and for their efforts to keep participants safe and comfortable. Tickets start at 1,475 pesos (about $60) and include the use of bikes and helmets as well as snacks and refreshments. This artsy outing occurs on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday starting at 8 a.m. Puerto Vallarta Cycling also offers road tours from Bucerías, among other options.

Indio Adventures – Zip Line Adventure

Sail above the verdant jungle canopy of Puerto Vallarta during this half-day zip line tour. During the excursion, you'll travel along 10 different zip lines, taste local tequila and even go for a swim. Satisfied zip-liners consistently call this activity very fun and find the guides both professional and entertaining. Excursions are offered multiple times daily, with the earliest tours starting at 9 a.m. Tickets for the five-hour outing cost approximately 1,170 pesos (about $47), which includes transportation between area hotels and the Canopy Indio Adventure Park. Lunch and tequila are available at a riverside restaurant after zip lining, but meals are not included in the tour's price. Note that there is some hiking and climbing between the various zip lines.

Los Veranos Canopy Tour

In addition to rides on zip lines as high as 500 feet above the ground, this 3 1/2-hour expedition includes a tequila tasting and a visit to an animal sanctuary housing iguanas, turtles, exotic birds and more. Weather permitting, you'll also have the chance to swim or kayak in Los Horcones River. For many travelers, the highlight of this tour is the professional, welcoming staff. Tickets cost around $100 with discounts for children and anyone opting out of the zip line portion of the tour. The price includes round-trip transportation from hotels and cruise ship ports; it doesn't include food. There are multiple start times every day except Sunday.

Vallarta Food Tours – Taste of Pitillal

Travel to El Pitillal, a small town not far from downtown Puerto Vallarta, to sample a varied array of regional cuisine. The approximately three-hour walking tour visits both family-owned restaurants and street stands for a total of seven stops. You may sample birria, a meat stew that originated in the state of Jalisco; carnitas, slow-cooked pork; and seafood tostadas. Along the way, guides share information about the local cuisine along with the area's history and folklore. Foodies typically award high marks to both the insightful guides and the tasty food. Tours depart from the gazebo in Pitillal's main plaza on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at 10:30 a.m. The price for the mile-long guided walk and the tastings is approximately $50 for adults, $45 for teens and about $40 for participants ages 5 to 12. Vallarta Food Tours also runs a food tour in downtown Puerto Vallarta, among other options.

EcoTours de Mexico – Wild Dolphins & Snorkeling at Los Arcos Combo

An ideal outing for wildlife lovers, this boat tour starts with an informal lecture detailing the biology and ecology of dolphins before heading out to Los Arcos Marine Park to spot these creatures (and other colorful fish) in the wild. If conditions allow, tourgoers may even be able to swim with the dolphins. Guides are considered exceptionally knowledgeable and helpful. The 3 1/2-hour tour begins in Marina Vallarta at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Friday year-round. Trips cost around $90 for adults and $75 for children 4 to 11. (Children 3 and younger, as well as pregnant women, may not join the tour.) The price covers use of snorkeling gear as well as a light lunch. EcoTours de Mexico also operates a series of bird-watching tours.

Wild Treks Adventures – ATV or RZR + Canopy

Adventure junkies – this tour is for you. In addition to driving or riding an ATV or a RZR (a larger vehicle capable of holding several passengers), you'll also whiz down 11 different zip lines. The tour also includes time to relax with a swim or rest in a hammock, along with a tequila tasting. Tour-takers laud the guides for their commitment to safety and their good humor. Tickets start at approximately 1,260 pesos (around $50) for adults and 900 pesos (about $36) for children. The price for this three-hour adventure covers use of a four-wheeler and safety equipment, as well as a tequila sample. Keep in mind: There are age requirements for drivers and riders. Wild Treks Adventures also operates a river adventure atop ATVs or RZRs, in addition to several other adventure-themed outings.

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