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Nuevo Vallarta Travel Tips - Activities, Where to Stay & Eat

Updated on July 7, 2015

Nuevo Vallarta Mexico (near Puerto Vallarta)

Nuevo Vallarta has become our second home in recent years. Being from Minnesota, we definitely need a warm spot to visit in winter months. We love the Nuevo Vallarta area for many reasons, but first and foremost, is that the people in the area are extremely friendly and treat you like family. Surrounded by the lush, tropical Sierra Madre mountains, Nuevo Vallarta offers miles of white sand beach along Banderas Bay. If you choose a hotel or condo on Flamingos Beach which runs from Paradise Village all the way up to Bucerias, you won't be disappointed as you dig your toes into the soft sand. World class restaurants abound and there is no shortage of activities to suit just about anyone's taste.

Looking for recommendations about where to stay? Check out this hub about Villa La Estancia, the newest resort on Flamingos Beach in Nuevo Vallarta!

Nuevo Vallarta Travel Books

I find Fodor's travel guides to have the best information arranged in a way that I can really use it. However, many of my travel buddies like the other books listed as well. The renegade guide is great if you are planning to move or live in Mexico for an extended period of time. Neuvo Vallarta is only 10 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta so you can enjoy all the activities in these travel guides.

Location & Weather

Nuevo Vallarta is just 15 minutes north of the Puerto Vallarta airport on the Pacific coast of Mexico. It sits on Flamingos Beach along Banderas Bay (one of the largest bays in Mexico running from Punta Mita on the north side to Cape Corrientes on the south) and is surrounded by the Sierra Madre mountains. The backdrop is breathtaking.

The prime location means that temperatures only fluctuate between 80 and 90 degrees year round. In the winter, it cools off in the evenings and humidity is normally in the 50 to 60% range. During the summer months, it often rains in the afternoons and humidity can be high and averages about 80% on most days. The weather is quite predictable in the Nuevo Vallarta area, unlike Cancun and other Mexican resort areas on the Caribbean side. In addition, hurricanes are nearly unheard of because the mountains and bay protect Nuevo and Puerto Vallarta.

Villa La Estancia Condo - Nuevo Vallarta - One of the BEST places to stay in Nuevo Vallarta!

Beautiful condo close to the ocean!

Nuevo Vallarta Activities

My top 10 picks (in no particular order) for activities that should be on your 'must do' list. There is a little something for everyone - young or old, rich or poor, couch potato or adventurer. Enjoy!

  1. Horse Back Riding on Flamingos Beach - Just north of the new Villa La Estancia development and south of Bucerias, there is a stretch of beach in front of the turtle sanctuary where one of the local vaqueros (cowboys) has horses that you can ride on the beach. His schedule is somewhat sporadic, but should you have a chance to go for a ride, hop on and enjoy!
  2. Whale Watching in Banderas Bay - From mid-December through March, the humpback whales migrate to Banderas Bay. Many companies offer whale watching tours, but my favorites are the 1/2 day afternoon tours from Vallarta Adventures & Pegaso Tours. In the afternoon, the weather is usually warm and both of these tours are quite affordable (around $55). Beware that parking at Marina Vallarta is often overcrowded and difficult at the lot once afternoon arrives. You may need to park on a nearby street or lot so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to park and get to the boat for your whale watching adventure. NOTE - if you don't want to go whale watching on a boat, bring along your binoculars. You can see whales from shore - just look for the boats and plumes of white water that the whales spew from their blow holes to find them.
  3. Sport Fishing For Black Marlin & Sailfish in the Pacific - The ultimate sport fishing experience is chartering a boat from either Master Baiter's or Charter Dreams for a 10 hour expedition to the abundant waters just outside Banderas Bay on the Pacific. Note that the charters are VERY expensive costing upwards of $1000 for 4 people to fish for the day.
  4. Golfing at El Tigre - Within walking distance or short taxi ride to many of the major resorts and condo developments in Nuevo Vallarta, El Tigre is a world class golf course that is a must for golf enthusiasts. It is sometimes referred to as one of the most difficult golf courses in Mexico, but we've found that it is still fun for amateurs.
  5. Surfing in Sayulita - About 30 minutes north of Nuevo Vallarta is the authentic Mexican beach and fishing village of Sayulita. The beach is known for its gentle surf and rolling waves that are perfect for beginning surfers. Several local companies have surf boards for rent and offer reasonably priced lessons. Just walk along the beach sidewalk and you'll see plenty of rentals available.
  6. Zip Line Canopy Tour - Get a unique look at the rain forest and flora surrounding Nuevo and Puerto Vallarta by taking a zip line canopy tour with one of the local operators such as Vallarta Adventures. A tour guide will lead you around from platform to platform as you zip down metal cables while being harnessed in. An activity for the truly adventurous!
  7. ATV - Dune Buggy Tour - Explore the hills and beaches around Nuevo or Puerto Vallarta in ATV or dune buggies. These tours are for the adventurous at heart and if you mind dirt, this isn't the tour for you. In the wetter summer months, exploring the hills is even more fun in the mud and deep puddles. Be sure to wear clothes that can get dirty!
  8. Walking the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta (PV) - Take an afternoon or evening stroll along the boardwalk in Puerto Vallarta where you can see sand sculptures, permanent statues, exceptional views of PV and Banderas Bay, great shops and fabulous people. On certain days of the week, you can see the Papantla Flyers who climb the tall metal pole and perform a death defying head first spiral to the ground. Also don't miss the symbolic arches at the South end of the malecon and the historic Our Lady of Guadalupe church.
  9. Watching the Sunset over Banderas Bay - Nuevo Vallarta has some of the best sunsets in the world and Flamingos Beach is a great place to sit back and enjoy the breathtaking view as the sun sets on the horizon. Depending on the time of year, the sun will set either over the water or the mountains at the North end of the bay. We've seen a wide range of colors from pinks to red, orange and purple. Gorgeous!
  10. Visiting Bucerias - Whether you want to kick back in a lounge chair at the beach and have them bring you a bucket of beers or you want to barter with the locals in the market place for a prized souvenir, Bucerias is our top choice for visiting an authentic Mexican town. The people are ridiculously friendly in this little town at the north end of Flamingos beach. The action centers around the local square where the historic church takes center stage. Bucerias abounds with delicious restaurants too!

Nuevo Vallarta Beach Weddings

Flamingos Beach in Nuevo Vallarta is one of the most popular places for beach weddings. Take a walk at sunset on Friday or Saturday evening and you are likely to see at least one couple getting married in front of one of the many resorts on the beach. And if you just happen to be on vacation for Valentine's Day, then you are guaranteed to see a beautiful bride and groom exchanging their vows. I snapped the photo to the right on February 14th, 2009. It was a perfect evening for a wedding!

P.S. Don't forget to buy your sweetie a romantic Valentine gift to celebrate the special day as well.

Leave Your Comments about my Nuevo Vallarta Tips

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    • MindPowerProofs1 profile image

      MindPowerProofs1 5 years ago

      Great tips. Thanks for sharing

    • MindPowerProofs1 profile image

      MindPowerProofs1 5 years ago

      Great tips. Thanks for sharing

    • sarahrk lm profile image

      sarahrk lm 5 years ago

      This is a great vacation place. One just needs to be careful and not wander off into dangerous territory.

    • profile image

      dessertlover 6 years ago

      Looks like a beautiful and adventurous place to visit.

    • tourism-india profile image

      tourism-india 6 years ago

      Nuevo Vallarta really seems to be a heaven place to travel.

    • squid-pinkchic18 profile image

      squid-pinkchic18 6 years ago

      Very pretty! I'm sure the beach weddings that are held there are just stunning.

    • rt8ca profile image

      rt8ca 6 years ago

      Nice lens on Nuevo Vallarta!

      I will certainly use you as a link reference when writing about this area on my travel website.

      Thanks

    • Karicor profile image

      Karicor 6 years ago

      We just returned from a cruise to the Mexican Riviera and of all the ports I liked Puerto Vallarta the best. I wished I could have stayed longer than the few hours so I told my family our next vacation should be right here. Your lens just confirmed my determination to come back for an extended stay. This is a great resource that I will refer to when I plan our trip. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Jenny-cr 6 years ago

      wonderful lens! Nuevo Vallarta is amazing.

      I found cheap hotels with them.

    • profile image

      Mark-Raynes 6 years ago

      Ohhh, I went to Nuevo Vallarta

      last summer with my girlfriend

      and this is one of my favorite places

      I've ever been to!

      And I agree with you, people there

      are extremely friendly and do

      everything to make you feel like home.

      Top recommended travel location...

      Cheers

      Mark

      Destin Beachfront Condo Rentals

    • KokoTravel profile image

      KokoTravel 7 years ago

      We love Nuevo Vallarta... I thought I had posted a comment on this great lens but I don't see it, so wanted to send my kudos.

    • KokoTravel profile image

      KokoTravel 7 years ago

      We love Nuevo Vallarta, too! Quiet and safe, but you can take a bus or taxi to downtown Puerto Vallarta, but we prefer to walk the beach from our hotel to Bucerias.

      On our last trip, a local shared his favorite place for shrimp. So we walked the beach to find the Mason Bay. We discovered that they have All You Can Eat Shrimp and Seafood once a week, and we chose the perfect day to go. Fabulous meal, impressive salad with the meal for a great price!

      They also do an All You Can Eat BarBQue night with all kinds of steak, chicken, ribs... for a price that is less than what you pay for a good steak here at home - and the steaks were so tender and flavorful... I can vouch for the T-Bone as well as the New York...

      We have a couple favorite places to stay in Nuevo Vallarta, the Grand Moon or Grand Luxxe, one of our timeshares that we rent out and the other is our All Inclusive timeshare, the Vallarta Palace which we also rent out, if you are ever looking for a new favorite resort. We share our timeshares with folks so the price to them is much less...

    • profile image

      jessadaju 7 years ago

      Kanchanaburi is the town nearest to the infamous Death Railway, and although a very picturesque part of Thailand it would be fair to say a great number of visitors, both tourists from overseas and Thai, visit for an historical insight, not so much for the scenery. The main attraction, if thatâs the right word, is the bridge, made famous in the 1957 American film âBridge Over The River Kwaiâ. Kanchanaburi Tours - Thailand

    • profile image

      brookehudson 7 years ago

      I love traveling and this place will surely be on my list! Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      JodieR221 7 years ago

      Great information. Looks and sounds beautiful! It would be very difficult to come back home to Minnesota

    • imagelist lm profile image

      imagelist lm 8 years ago

      Great lens! Nuevo Vallarta is very nice. I did a lens on mexico! Vacation in Mexico

    • profile image

      GHouse 8 years ago

      Hi!! Just come to see your nice lens. I did my travel lens too. It's about my hotel in hua hin Thailand. Hua Hin is a charming town of clean white sandy beach. If you come to Thailand, please visit us.

    • profile image

      Cabo-San-Lucas 8 years ago

      This is a very cool and nice looking lens. Kudos to you. When you get a chance, check out My Cabo San Lucas Travel

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Very tempting place, I like it! Thanks for sharing.

    • Alex-and-Ra profile image

      Alex-and-Ra 9 years ago

      nice lens. very informative

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 9 years ago

      Great lens! Welcome to All Things Travel.

    • MexicaliBill LM profile image

      MexicaliBill LM 9 years ago

      I've visited this area, also known as Riveria Nayarit, a couple of times and can't wait to go back. We always stay at the north end, so we're within walking distance of Bucerias and away from the mega resorts.

    • mekon1971 profile image

      mekon1971 9 years ago

      Great Lens! 5 Stars all the way! Very well put together!