Don’t get me wrong—Puerto Vallarta is amazing, charming, and full of things to do and see. But, sometimes, a day trip adventure is just what you need to explore a bit deeper, a bit farther.
Luckily, there are amazing day trips from Puerto Vallarta that will whisk you away to hidden coves, traditional Mexican beach towns, protected national parks, and more.
Trust me—I’ve lived for over two years in one of these “day trip” destinations! While Puerto Vallarta has it all, there’s even more magic that awaits you in the Riviera Nayarit.
Read more below to discover the best day trips from Puerto Vallarta including how to visit, what to do there, and unmissable local treasures. Ready to get away for the day? ¡Vámonos!
12 Fun Day Trips From Puerto Vallarta
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Yelapa is one of those underrated destinations that you can’t pass up if you hear about it. While it makes for a fun day trip from Vallarta, it’s better to stay overnight at least one night, so you can make the most of your time there.
That’s because there are plenty of things to do in Yelapa like hiking to waterfalls, visiting the local history museum, and scouring the beach to find the famous “pie lady.”
A trip to Sayulita—Nayarit’s famous Magic Town—is perhaps the most popular day trip from Puerto Vallarta. It’s no surprise, really, because not only is Sayulita easy to get to from PV via rental car or cheap bus, it’s just a town that oozes cute Mexican surf town vibes.
I’ve written an entire bucket list for things to do in Sayulita, but let me just give you a teaser here:
- 🏄♀️ Surf on Sayulita beach! Take a surf lesson if you’re a beginner
- 🇲🇽 Waltz around the cute flag-decorated streets
- 💜 Visit the indigenous Tierra Huichol museum and art gallery
- 💀 Celebrate Día de Los Muertos
- 🐳 Go on a whale watching tour
- 🍹 Sip on cocktails at Atico Swing Bar
- 💃 Go salsa dancing
- 🍳 Relax in one Sayulita’s adorable brunch cafés
And loads more!
Sayulita is only 40-minutes away from Puerto Vallarta which is another reason why so many tourists flock here on a day trip. But, chances are, you’re going to get swept away by its magic and want to stick around for a few days. In that case, make sure to check out my guide on where to stay in Sayulita.
3. San Pancho
After living there on and off for two years, I can say that this is the town that will stand out from all the other Puerto Vallarta day trips.
It’s located only ten minutes past Sayulita, so if you have a rental car you can get there easily. By bus takes a little longer as you’re dependent on bus times, etc., and it only drops you off at the highway (not inside the town—it’s a 20-minute walk from the drop-off point to the beach).
Once you get there, though, you’ll want to stay for a while. Maybe forever. Yep—if you’re the type of person whose day trip adventures could influence you to pack up your life and move to said somewhere, then be careful when you go on your day trip to San Pancho from Puerto Vallarta. ✨
Why? Just read my guides to find out. But most of all, it’s thanks to its eco-warrior community that welcomes you with open arms. You’ll go for the fiery sunsets but stay for the friendships.
Be sure to bookmark:
If you don’t want to make the day trip to Sayulita and San Pancho on your own, you can book a guided tour and knock out both in one day!
4. Lo De Marcos
Lo de Marcos is another place you have to visit on a day trip (or two or three…) from Puerto Vallarta.
Again, it’s the next town to visit on the coast of Nayarit; twenty minutes past Sayulita and ten-ish past San Pancho.
What’s different about Lo de Marcos?
Mostly, it’s the crowds that disappear. Without them, Lo de Marcos remains a sleepy fishing village (what Sayulita looked like maybe 20+ years ago and San Pancho 10+ years ago).
The Lo de Marcos beach is one of the longest and most suitable for swimming and surfing, as well. It’s sprinkled with up-and-coming restaurants and bars owned by locals and expats alike.
The sense of community is strong here, too, and so is their sense of activism.
There is an animal sanctuary, organic markets, a local artisanal market, and plenty of hikes, trails, and outdoor activities to discover. It’s here where we first experienced a Mexican Temazcal ceremony, too.
5. Bucerias & La Cruz
For more markets, and more traditional-style towns, head to Bucerias and La Cruz Sunday market. Bucerias is a sprawling little resort town just north of Puerto Vallarta (and Nuevo Vallarta, for that matter).
- Stroll around the down plaza
- Visti the El Buzo dive statue
- Eat your way through all the beachfront restaurants
- Go on the Bucerias Art Walk
- Visit La Cruz market
- Lounge on the beach
6. Punta de Mita & La Lancha
Who’s in the mood for a surf & turf day trip?!
You could easily combine a visit to both on a day trip from Puerto Vallarta; surf at La Lancha in the morning and then hit the beach at Punta Mita in the afternoon to golf or stroll around the marina.
Don’t forget to head to NAEF for an icy treat!
7. Islas Marietas National Park (Hidden Beach)
The Marietas Islands are an incredible set of uninhabited, protected islands in the Bahía de Banderas. Since it’s a protected national park, going on a day trip requires booking with a licensed boat operator (which is pricey — around $100). Book here for an eco catamaran snorkeling experience.
Nevertheless, it’ll all be worth it once you plunge into the clear waters to snorkel and swim to the hidden cove beach — Playa Escondida — the only beach around with a natural “sunroof!”
8. Vallarta Botanical Gardens
If you’re looking for a family-friendly day trip idea from Puerto Vallarta, then look no further than the Vallarta Botanical Gardens.
While they’re not too far away, it’s still a 30-minute drive so if you’re packing up the kids, it’s better to rent a car and go.
The gardens are simply a tropical paradise. Entry costs around $200 MX pesos per person. You can also purchase a round-trip transportation ticket that includes your entrance fee as well.
Want the full experience? Book here to tour the gardens and get the culinary experience and transport included!
9. Las Caletas Beach
If you’ve ever strolled around Puerto Vallarta, then it’s more than likely that you’ve seen pictures of Las Caletas Beach.
It’s the picturesque beach with hammock swings on the sand that the Riviera Nayarit and the state of Jalisco love to promote. It’s become so famous because of its title as “one of the top private beaches in the world.”
But, for good reason!
Las Caletas is one of the highlights of the famous Rhythms of the Night Cruise & Dinner Show.
You could easily visit Las Caletas on a day trip from Puerto Vallarta and stay—quite literally—all day. You can lounge in a hammock, snorkel in its clear waters, do a mezcal tasting, and more!
10. Los Arcos Marine Park
Love snorkeling, diving, and sailing trips?
If so, then the perfect day trip from Puerto Vallarta awaits just out in Bandera’s Bay at the Los Arcos Marine Park.
Head there via boat from PV, or hop in your car and drive to Mismaloya where “Night of the Iguana” was filmed.
Click here to book an all-day snorkeling and sailing tour 🤿
Tip: If you go by car, don’t miss out on the Palo Maria waterfall! Yet another awesome Puerto Vallarta day trip to add to the bucket list.
11. Whale Watching Day Trip
From mid-December through March, you can witness some of the bay’s most majestic animals — whales!
It’s important to go in-season for the best chances of spotting wildlife at work. Pregnant whales migrate south to Bandera’s Bay to give birth in the warm waters, before heading north again.
A whale-watching excursion with a marine biologist would be an unforgettable day trip adventure from Puerto Vallarta.
12. San Sebastien del Oeste
San Sebastien del Oeste is an up-and-coming Magic Town in the Sierra Madre mountains surrounding Puerto Vallarta. It’s becoming more and more popular while preserving its old mining town charm.
On a guided day trip from Puerto Vallarta, you can:
- Tour the village on a history walk
- Visit an organic coffee farm
- Taste tradtional-baked bread
- Visit and tour an organic tequila distillery
- Stroll the cobbled streets, main square, and church
- Book this guided day trip here!
Bonus! ATV Adventure
Last but not least, if you are wanting to escape the busy streets of Puerto Vallarta in exchange for dirt and mud trails in the jungle, then go on a thrilling ATV tour.
This 4-hour day trip first takes you through the heart of Puerto Vallarta before taking you off the beaten path through the mountains, river, and beyond quaint Mexican villages.
Are there any other types of day trips you’d like to see?! I am mostly an adventurous traveler, so you’ll mostly find that style of travel from me! I wouldn’t mind a day trip to a spa or an eco jungle retreat either now that I think of it… 🌿
Do you have any more Puerto Vallarta day trips to check off your list? Or did I just add more to it? Let me know in the comments below!
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