Downtown Puerto Vallarta offers much to see and do (photo: Visit Puerto Vallarta)

LGBTQ Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta

By Diana Ballon

Puerto Vallarta has long been recognized as one of the most gay-friendly resort towns in Latin America. There are activities for all tastes: great nightlife and cultural attractions, excellent outdoor adventure and organized tours, as well as a range of noteworthy restaurants and accommodations. Some of the activities and establishments here are geared specifically to the LGBTQ community, while others are LGBTQ-friendly.

Puerto Vallarta (or PV, for short) also has an annual Pride festival. This year it’s scheduled to take place between May 21 and 28, and will include a fashion show, drag derby, film festival, boat cruise and Pride parade.

PV has many TAG-approved accommodations. These are properties that must meet six “LGBT welcoming” qualifications, including the enforcement of non-discriminatory policies around sexual orientation, and the provision of sensitivity and diversity training for their employees. These accommodations range from resorts and hotels to guesthouses, lodges and bed and breakfasts—suitable for any budget. Establishments that specifically welcome LGBTQ travellers include the luxury boutique hotel Casa Cupula and the exclusive adults-only all-inclusive boutique hotel Casa Velas. There is also Costa Sur Resort & Spa, which has a private beach sometimes used for LGBT weddings. And for the best value, consider booking a weeklong air and hotel package, which can cost as little as $,1100 per person.

Things to do in Puerto Vallarta ceviche wine
PV’s culinary scene is booming (photo: Visit Puerto Vallarta)

If you’re interested in learning about and tasting some great local food, a number of tour operators can introduce you to everything from high-end gourmet restaurants to late-night street food. For the latter, try an evening taco tour through the Emiliano Zapata, Centro (downtown) and 5 de Diciembre neighbourhoods, with visits to eight family-run eateries and food stands. If a sit-down meal is more your style, join a Tasting Vallarta tour, which progresses through four top restaurants to introduce you to everything from fresh-caught seafood to chicken asado to delectable cocktails.

And for an outing with a little more razzle-dazzle, the Cabaret Gay Bar Hopping Tour includes VIP treatment with a show, three-course meal and visit to two bars—and you won’t have to wait in any lines.

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Gay nightlife in Puerto Vallarta is concentrated in an area known as the Zona Romantica. Its Lazaro Cardenas street is where you’ll find most of the LGBT clubs, including the trendy Mr. Flamingo Gay Bar and Gastropub, which is a real “it place,” with a happy hour extending from 2 to 7 p.m. Foodies are also catered to in a big way: Start your evening with happy hour at one of the smaller bars or restaurants, then stop by La Noche, which has a great two-level rooftop garden bar. Or go to the excellent Maia restaurant. Not far to the south, the Olas Altas strip is also known for its solid variety of colourful restaurants—not to mention its proximity to the very popular Los Muertos beach.

An organized cruise can be a great way to meet people and see the sites. Diana’s Tours offers full-day gay and lesbian cruises that include snorkeling and swimming on a secluded beach, a continental breakfast and sit-down lunch, as well as drinks. Or men may prefer the Wet and Wild Gay Cruise, which begins with a stop at the Los Arcos ecological preserve, and includes lunch at a restaurant in Las Animas. A private sightseeing cruise of Puerto Vallarta’s South Shore offers a more intimate on-water option, with scenic vistas, a stop for snorkeling at Los Arcos National Marine Park and some free time at Las Animas beach.

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Harness your inner child with a range of exciting excursions. The Puerto Vallarta Outdoor Adventure Tour eco tour begins with a speedboat ride to Boca de Tomatlan, a secluded beach at the edge of the jungle in Banderas Bay. Here you will have an off-road expedition to a base camp in the Sierra Madre Mountains, a mule ride into sub-tropical forest and ziplining. Alternatively, you could combine ziplining and rappelling with river tubing and a tequila tasting. Looking for something a little more relaxing—but thrilling nonetheless? Try snorkeling with dolphins in the open ocean.

Or if you’d rather improvise, spend the day at Los Muertos Beach in the Zona Romantica. Visit the private beach clubs Safire Ocean Club and Mantamar Beach Club and enjoy different water sports like stand-up paddleboarding and snorkeling.

Things to do in Puerto Vallarta Art-gallery
Contemporary artworks can be scene at galleries across the city (photo: Visit Puerto Vallarta)

The historic centre of Puerto Vallarta features a number of galleries with a range of art on display—from local indigenous crafts to contemporary paintings, sculpture, photography, ceramics and jewellery. For instance, check out native and Mexican folk art at Galeria Colectika; it showcases the works of many internationally renowned Mexican artists, including Oaxacan woodcarving by Jacobo and Maria Angeles, and the erotic paintings of Gerardo Navarrao Gómez. You can also see great examples of Mata Ortiz pottery at Galería de Ollas. Or get a bit of exercise while you enjoy the unique views—via a three-hour Fat Bike graffiti tour, which takes you away from the crowds to discover Puerto Vallarta’s colourful street art.

However much of Puerto Vallarta you want to experience, AMA Travel can help with flights, hotels, car rentals, activity bookings and much more. Contact AMA Travel online, visit your local AMA Centre or call 1-844-771-1522.