Puerto Vallarta is one of the best resort towns on the Pacific coast of Mexico. It offers stunning beaches, a metropolitan and central area, lively nightlife and adventurous water sports. The beach destination has a charming ambiance, modern accommodations, shopping and outdoor activities. It’s a perfect spot for people wanting to unwind, relax and enjoy some down time. But, is Puerto Vallarta safe?

The town of Puerto Vallarta offers an array of experiences to every type of traveler and is less congested than hot spots like Cancun, which can attract a lot of volume. Travelers who set their sights on Puerto Vallarta can experience serene beaches and many arts and culture hubs. 

Although some issues occur in the area, it is relatively safe for travelers. Regardless, those making a trip soon to the area can learn more about the safety level of Puerto Vallarta and how travelers can best enjoy their trip to Mexico.

Official Travel Advisories

As with any travel destination, using common sense is always the best way to stay safe. However, another way to gauge whether or not an incident might occur is by checking for travel advisories from official agencies. Puerto Vallarta is located in the state of Jalisco which is on the western side of Mexico. While the state of Jalisco is listed as “reconsider travel” by the U.S. Department of State, this does not extend to tourist destinations like Puerto Vallarta. In other parts of Jalisco, gang violence is possible with the biggest risks being becoming an innocent bystander victim during a territorial battle, or kidnapping.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) simply notes that U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico should ensure that they’re up to date on their immunizations. While there are currently no COVID-19 entry requirements to travel to or from Mexico, the CDC does urge citizens to receive a booster before traveling. However, the organization does caution that travelers may be more likely to contract certain diseases passed through eating improperly handled food and drinks, or exposure to untreated water such as swimming in lakes, rivers, and even pools. Such diseases include cholera, giardiasis, taeniasis and cysticercosis, traveler’s diarrhea, and typhoid fever.

Is Puerto Vallarta Safe for Tourists and Solo Travelers?

Puerto Vallarta is among the safest places to visit in Mexico and has stunning views. Pictured: city lights brightening the night view in Puerto Vallarta

The crime rates in Mexico can be a concern for travelers, but what a lot of tourists may not recognize is that the questionable areas of Mexico are far from tourist spots. Puerto Vallarta itself is a safe destination for travelers to visit. In fact, the city is safer than many cities in the United States and even has a more welcoming atmosphere. 

Puerto Vallarta has a lower crime index level and higher safety scale score than both California and Hawaii. The area’s main types of violations are non-violent (and do not target tourists), with corruption and bribery being among the main issues in the city. Puerto Vallarta has a small population (around 250,000), so petty crimes are more common and visitors have little to worry about. This is usually limited to crimes like pickpocketing.

Common Scams to Be Aware Of in Puerto Vallarta

As mentioned previously, most crime that tourists will need to prevent center around pickpocketing. And to achieve this goal, thieves will usually employ distractions to keep a traveler’s attention away from their belongings. A common trick is the mustard scam, often labeled as that because a would-be thief squirts mustard (or any kind of sauce) onto an unsuspecting person’s clothing. While apologizing and offering to clean the victim’s shirt, the pickpocket is actively removing valuables. And only after the fact will the unsuspecting target realize they’ve been scammed.

Another scam is something that’s common to many tourist locations — being overcharged for transportation and accommodations. Often this happens when travelers arrive at the airport as they’re trying to leave. While these sales agents will offer enticing prices, avoid them as they’re not associated with the actual hotels or excursions tourists want to see. To avoid getting caught, book shuttle transportation and excursions through reputable sources or at the resort. Alternatively, Uber is available at the Puerto Vallarta airport.

Likewise, timeshare pitches are another common experience tourists should avoid. While most sales agents promise the presentation will only take an hour or two, sometimes tourists have reported spending nearly eight hours in a high pressure pitch. While not a true scam, since compensation is usually offered by way of tickets to local tourist attractions or small gifts at the resort, for people on short vacations, a lengthy presentation can rob them of time that could be spent at the beach or sightseeing.

How to Stay Safe in Puerto Vallarta

Using public transportation is a great way for solo travelers to stay safe while traveling. This is a way of blending in with locals so travelers can get to know the authentic culture of their destination. Tourists should also have emergency numbers saved, keep a low profile, secure valuables and stay in well lit and populated areas. Keeping up to date with local travel advisories is key to avoiding any areas of concern.

In terms of health safety, Puerto Vallarta is in good standing. The city earned the SafeTravels Stamp, which is important for travelers who prefer to travel to places with a high standard for safety and hygiene. Travelers will note that the tap water in Puerto Vallarta is exceptional and has earned a certificate of purity for 30 consecutive years.

Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta

As with many tourist destinations, Puerto Vallarta has a range of accommodations to suit a variety of price points. Tourists traveling on tight budgets that want to mingle with other travelers may appreciate hostels like the Oasis Hostel or Encino Hotel for more privacy. For luxe travelers, consider the all-inclusive resort Secrets Vallarta Bay with beach access. Meanwhile, families might like Fiesta American Puerto Vallarta All Inclusive & Spa.

Best Times To Visit Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta can be enjoyed throughout the year. Check out more about the safest times to visit the city. Pictured: stunning sunset silhouette

The proximity of Puerto Vallarta to the airport makes it a reliable destination for travelers who want to have easy access to their accommodations or activities. There are plenty of convenient direct flights to the city and the international airport (PVR) is just a short drive from downtown Puerto Vallarta. 

Puerto Vallarta is a great destination for year-round vacationers. On average, days are typically sunny for the city and the rainy season is usually around June to October (with the brunt of the short rain spurts happening in August and September). For travelers who want to partake in outdoor activities like the Los Arcos Marine Park, visit Boca De Tomates beach, see the Palo María Waterfall or go ride an ATV or hike, any time of the year is ideal. 

People Also Ask

Can you drink the water in Puerto Vallarta?

Yes, the water is safe to drink in Puerto Vallarta. The city has held a certificate of purity for its water for the last 17 years, confirming that the water is safe for human consumption. Puerto Vallarta is only one of two cities in Mexico to have this distinction.

Is it safe to leave the resort in Puerto Vallarta?

Tourists should always exercise caution when visiting other places. While Puerto Vallarta is generally safe, there are some areas that are considered optimal for tourists to frequent. This includes the Hotel Zone, Downtown, Zona Romantica, Nuevo Vallarta, and Marina Vallarta.

When shouldn’t I go to Puerto Vallarta?

June through October is considered the less desirable time for traveling to Puerto Vallarta. That’s because this time frame lines up with hurricane season. Even though the western side of Mexico experiences fewer hurricanes, the summer through early fall months can mean more rainfall and turbulent waters.

Should You Still Travel to Puerto Vallarta?

Puerto Vallarta is a popular tourist destination on Mexico’s west coast. It’s one of two destinations known for its clean drinking water, and with a generally safe approval rating by the U.S. Department of State for U.S. citizens. As with any travel plans, exercising caution and avoiding obvious red flag behavior like flashing cash or exploring questionable areas is always advised. On the whole, Puerto Vallarta is one of the safest tourist destinations in Mexico, along with several cities in the Yucatan Peninsula’s Riviera Maya such as Tulum, Cancun, and Playa del Carmen.