Puerto Vallarta is an appealing destination for families. Located along Mexico’s Pacific Coast where the jungle-filled Sierra Madre Mountains meet the sea, scenic Puerto Vallarta offers a wide array of family-friendly tours and adventures. Parents and kids will be captivated by all there is to see and do in this authentic colonial city.
While Puerto Vallarta has much to offer, it’s the warmth of its people that captures many vacationers’ hearts. Residents go out of their way for children and families will feel very welcome here. If you’re planning to visit Puerto Vallarta with kids, here are five great ideas for family fun.
1. Stroll Along The Malecón. Puerto Vallarta’s downtown area is wonderful for families. Take the kids for a walk along the city's pedestrian-only seaside boulevard (malecón) and admire the beautiful bronze sculptures. There are often entertainers such as street mimes and clowns performing along this beachfront boardwalk, particularly on Sundays when many local families come here as well. You may see sand sculptors creating amazing works of art along the shore, food and craft vendors selling their wares, musicians playing, and other festive delights. There are plenty of shops and family-friendly restaurants along the malecón as well. While you’re downtown, don’t forget to check out the vendors' craft and souvenir stands in the Isla Rio Cuale area.
2. Get Up Close With Dolphins And Sea Lions. Some of the most popular tours in the Puerto Vallarta area are the dolphin swim and dolphin encounter experiences available through Dolphin Discovery. The company's Royal Swims and Swim Adventures let families interact with dolphins and enjoy a variety of fun activities together. Tamer dolphin encounters are designed with younger children and non-swimmers in mind. A sea lion interaction program is also available through Dolphin Discovery. All of Dolphin Discovery's dolphin and sea lion programs include admission to kid-pleasing Aquaventuras Park with its ten waterslides, zipline course, lazy river, pools, shows and restaurant. It's important to note that there’s plenty of marine wildlife in the seas surrounding Puerto Vallarta, too. Families visiting Puerto Vallarta between December and March may wish to take a whale watching cruise to see the whales playing in Banderas Bay. It’s an amazing experience.
3. Sail Away To Remote Beaches. Las Caletas, a lush privately-owned sanctuary accessible only by sea, is a favorite destination for families visiting Puerto Vallarta. Once owned by famed filmmaker John Huston, this exclusive beachfront preserve is now available for day or evening excursions through Vallarta Adventures. During the day, families can relax on the secluded beach, go snorkeling or kayaking, try out paddleboarding, take a paella cooking class, interact with parrots and monkeys, or take a nature walk. A full buffet lunch is included in this excursion. Scuba diving, spa treatments, clay modeling, and a sea lion encounter are available at an additional charge. Kids ages 4-11 will love the Kids Adventure Park at Las Caletas, with its petting zoo and specially designed zipline experience. Kids must be about forty inches tall to participate in this activity.
4. Fly High Above The Trees. Looking for some family-friendly adventure? Active families can fly high above the trees on a zipline canopy tour. There are several of these heart-stopping thrill rides located in the greater Puerto Vallarta area. Check out the exciting zipline experiences available at Canopy River. This excursion takes riders gliding through the peaks of the Sierra Madre mountains. The longest zipline here stretches over a quarter mile. Free mule rides and other activities are included as well. Other zipline experiences include the Los Veranos canopy tour and the El Eden canopy adventure, set in the location where the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie “Predator” was filmed. Children age six and up can participate in these zipline excursions.
5. Play Pirates For A Day. Families can have their own pirate adventure on the Marigalante, an authentic replica of a wooden Spanish galleon ship - complete with cannons. On this six hour tour, kids will have fun watching pirates fight with swords, swing from the ship's mast and walk the plank. Kids can even participate in a treasure hunt. As part of the excursion, the Marigalante visits the secluded beach area at Majahuitas. Here, families can go snorkeling, kayaking, ride banana boats, or just relax on beach chairs shaded by umbrellas. Breakfast and an extensive lunch buffet are also served as part of this daytime excursion.
Where To Stay
Many families first discover Puerto Vallarta's charms on a cruise. Several cruise lines include Puerto Vallarta in their itineraries for week-long sailings departing from ports in California. Puerto Vallarta is also a popular port for repositioning cruises as well. Once families have visited Puerto Vallarta by sea, they often want to return for a longer land-based family vacation.
Velas Resorts’ family-friendly properties are the perfect place for families to stay in the greater Puerto Vallarta area. These deluxe all-inclusive resorts provide a wide variety of activities and amenities for families with kids of all ages, plus plenty of family room for parents and kids. Velas Vallarta is located on ten beachfront in the Marina Vallarta area of Puerto Vallarta. Its sister property, Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, is set just 15-20 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta’s international airport. Both are superb for families.
Velas Vallarta caters to families with its well furnished one-, two- and three-bedroom suites with fully equipped kitchens. This lovely resort offers a wide array of activities and entertainment for both adults and children including their daily Kids Club program for children 4-12 years of age. Families will enjoy the property’s three huge swimming pools, lighted tennis courts, fully-equipped gym, spa services and nice beach area with beautiful views. The resort is just a quick ten-minute drive from downtown Puerto Vallarta.
Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is an excellent choice for families seeking an extraordinary luxury all-inclusive family-friendly resort. This beachfront AAA Five Diamond property features large one-, two- and three-bedroom suites with beautiful oceanfront views, exceptional restaurants with gourmet cuisine, a world-class spa, a massive multi-tiered three-temperature infinity pool complete with iPod minis, children's pool, tennis courts, non-motorized water sports, and great amenities for both kids and teens. Kids ages 4-12 enjoy a wide variety of activities at the Grand Velas Kids Club, open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Teens ages 13-18 love hanging out at their new $300,000 Teens’ Club at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit. This cool contemporary club includes a large game room, a karaoke set with an awesome multi-changing neon-lighted dance floor, a Chill Out area offering soft drinks and snacks, and much more. The Spa Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, a member of The Leading Spas of the World, offers spa treatments for adults, teens and children. This resort is truly family luxury at its best.