Puerto Vallarta (PV) has long been known as one of the top LGBTQ+ travel destinations in the world. Aside from the warm and sandy beaches on the coast of Jalisco, PV wins over visitors with its romantic charm, bohemian cobblestone neighborhoods, and thriving nightlife. For members of the LGBTQ+ community, a trip to PV is somewhat of a right of passage, where you learn about the city’s rich history and how an actress by the name of Elizabeth Taylor (you may have heard of her) created a shift in the beach city of Jalisco that now makes it one of the safest and most visited places around the globe.
Fun fact: PV was celebrating same-sex marriage/union ceremonies long before Mexico legalized same-sex marriage in 2022.
Everyone assumes I have partied it up in PV many times–but contrary to popular belief, it has taken me all of 38 years to finally make a pilgrimage to gay Mecca south of the border. As the son of two Jalisciences, it was exciting to let my little queer Tapatio heart indulge in everything I know I’ve always been promised by PV.
I punctuated summer with a quick weekend to PV and immediately discovered why those who visit fall in love with charm. Thanks to my friends at ENroute Communications and Visit Puerto Vallarta, my first trip to PV was jam packed with an unforgettable experience that keeps me longing to return.
From luscious accommodations, to decadent gastronomy and breathtaking activities, it’s a trip that I’m going to need to sum up in two parts!
Here’s a look at some of the ways you can make the most of your next, or first, trip to Puerto Vallarta–even if for just a weekend.
STAY | Costa Sur Resort & Spa
Have you ever wanted to be on a private beach all by yourself? Here’s your chance! Costa Sur Resort & Spa is an ocean front property amidst the tropical mountains of Puerto Vallarta. The South Shore property has been a PV favorite for over 30 years. It is one of the few remaining resorts that is privately owned and operated.
The hotel immediately transports you to Mexico with its thick stucco walls and solid wood doors inviting guests into their 202 rooms overlooking Banderas Bay. The spacious guest rooms bring a freshness with their ceramic tile and stone accents. The property towers over a private beach and lagoon that is perfect for snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, or just floating around after a long day of sightseeing.
Costa Sur has two umbrella-lined pools, two bars, a gym, a relaxing spa, and quaint ocean view restaurant “La Cascada” where they have something on the menu for everyone. You have to try the chilaquiles verdes, but the stand out is their freshly baked pan dulce basket that is passed around at breakfast to make your meal the quintessential Mexican experience.
When you’re ready to hit the streets of PV, Costa Sur is just 10 minutes away from downtown and the Malecón where you can find shopping, premiere dining, and day excursions.
A special note about Costa Sur: The property hosts a high volume of same-sex wedding ceremonies. Prior to the legalization of same-sex marriages in Mexico, Costa Sur was one of the first properties that would host weddings for those looking to make Mexico the backdrop of their fairytale love story. It’s an incredible place to tie the knot at sunset!
TASTE | Noroc
In the heart of PV’s Zona Romantica is a gastronomic experience like none other. Noroc, meaning luck, is a dining experience among glistening pools and open air. From the mind of Chef Polo comes fusion that includes the freshest and vibrant ingredients. Every course is conceptual, fusing flavors of Mexican and international cuisine while they pair harmoniously with exotic cocktails and signature drinks.
Please your palate as you take in stunning sunsets at Noroc. The space is romantic and you can tell that it is one of the hottest reservations in PV.
A special note about Noroc: I was already over-served when I arrived at the restaurant, but I was captivated by the sunken tables among the water. We enjoyed a speciality drink pairing with every course and the whimsy of the restaurant grew more with each drink. Do yourself a favor and order it all!
INDULGE | La Dulce Vista
Deep into the mystery of the Sierra Madres is a sanctuary outside of Puerto Vallarta where indulgence awaits! La Dulce Vista is a transformative destination where relaxation is at your fingertips. The hacienda is a multi-dimensional experience where you can plunge into the pool, soak in your personal hot tub, lounge in a hammock under the shade of a palm tree, or regenerate in natural hot springs overlooking the tropical forest.
La Dulce Vista also offers various classes that bring Mexican culture to the palms of your hands. Through their cooking and tequila tasting you will learn how to make traditional Mexican staples and you will learn about their hand-crafted, small-batch tequila.
If you feel like you have a bit of an excursion in you, take advantage of horseback riding or a picturesque hike around the property.
A special note about La Dulce Vista: This was a highlight of my first trip to Puerto Vallarta. It was a nice opportunity to unplug and revel in nature. La Dulce Vista is about an hour drive away from central PV so if you get motion sickness you may want reinforcements. Once you arrive, though, it’s pure magia natural.
EXPERIENCE | Vallarta Food Tours – Street Taco Tour
Upon arriving in PV, the first opportunity to get to know the city was through Vallarta Food Tours Street Taco Tour. I recommend this approach if you want to get an up close and personal look at some of the best places you’ll ever eat that no one has heard of.
Vallarta Food Tours offers many great options for tours to get to know PV including mixology, seafood, vegan and more! That said–the Street Taco Tour is where it’s at! In a matter of three hours, you will take your taste buds and knowledge of Puerto Vallarta and food history to new heights. You definitely want to come hungry to this tour because throughout the experience you will try everything from carne asada, cabeza, al pastor, seafood, and marlin. You’ll even stop off for the best, and I mean the best, street churros you have ever tasted (sorry, Disneyland!). This tour is not for the faint of heart, but it is for the foodie who is willing to try everything and lean in to an authentic experience.
A special note about Vallarta Food Tours – Street Taco Tour: Our tour guide was Miel. She was incredible! She was charismatic, engaging, sensitive to the various food allergies and dietary restrictions in the group, and incredibly knowledgeable. By the end of the tour, I was sad that there were no more tacos, but I was more sad that I had to say goodbye to Miel.
This is only the first half of Puerto Vallarta travel recap. I’ll be following up with an iconic dining experience, a surreal interactive activity, the best way to capture an unforgettable sunset, and of course the pièce de résistance PV’s nightlife.