After stopping in Puerto Vallarta on a Holland America cruise a few years ago, I was absolutely determined to come back and explore more. What I discovered on a longer visit is glorious 85-degree weather; a friendly, welcoming atmosphere and an authentic learning experience, ideal for families. Whether you like to relax on a sunny beach, be enriched by fascinating Mexican culture or love a great outdoor adventure, Puerto Vallarta has more than enough to keep your family entertained.
This fabulous half-day tour included buffet breakfast and lunch, pirate-show fun, as well as a treasure hunt on the island. The morning started off at the Maritime Terminal where we were greeted at the pier by our own personal pirate, Angie, who was our server for the day. After a breakfast buffet, we took off for seas unknown. The pirate show was very entertaining for adults and kids alike with some stunts that took even me by surprise. We arrived at our destination, the Majhuitas Ecological Island, a secluded beach, accessible only by boat. Here the kids went on a treasure hunt, while the adults laid back and soaked up the sun. After two hours (that went by much too fast), we re-boarded the ship for lunch with more fun and games on the way back. Upon returning to the dock, the kids were loaded down with “loot” and everyone had a great time!
Zipping through the trees at the Canopy Adventure Park
One of the most popular ecological tours in Puerto Vallarta is at the Canopy Adventure Park. Families get a chance to zip from tree to tree, discover jungle wildlife while venturing across suspended walkways and sail through the air on a Tarzan swing. What’s so cool is that it’s a little scary at first, but the view from above is well worth it. Minimum age, 8.
Swim with the dolphins
It has been said that you haven’t lived until you’ve kissed a dolphin and I would agree. The Dolphin Encounter gives kids a chance to learn more about these remarkable creatures through face to face encounters. After a brief presentation about how dolphins interact with people, I waded into a shallow pool and had a chance to touch, rub and actually ride on the dolphin! Kids as young as five can participate.
For still more kid-friendly adventures in Puerto Vallarta, through outfitter Vallarta Adventures, you might consider taking an excursion to colonial San Sebastian in the Sierra Madre Mountains, with a stop at a working coffee plantation.
As far as dining in Puerto Vallarta goes, many area restaurants cater to families with special kids’ menus that offer standard American fare, along with smaller portions of Mexican specialties. If your kids are game for fish tacos, let them try!
I have friends who’ve traveled to Puerto Vallarta every year since the 90s. I couldn’t understand why they chose to go back to the same place year after year. Now that I’ve spent a week there, I get it. And I can’t wait to go back.
ChicaG0-Gal, who also goes by the name Mira Temkin, is a Chicago-based travel journalist who loves to see the world and write about it. From cruises to destinations to luxury hotels, she uncovers new experiences for families, couples and gal pals to discover. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.