Puerto Vallarta, also known as PV, is home to Latin America’s biggest gayborhood: Zona Romantica. It’s a major draw for North American tourists – especially LGBT+ travellers. Many wealthy Americans have second homes in Puerto Vallarta. It has the highest property prices in Mexico.
A perfect vacation spot, PV is compact, it has great beaches, many hotels, buzzing nightlife and a celebrated food scene. The local cuisine is considered to be second only to Mexico City. Although Puerto Vallarta attracts a lot of tourists, it still has an authentically Mexican feel. Whereas Cancun does not (it’s like a Caribbean Florida). If you’re looking for a taste of Mexico and a gay old time, Puerto Vallarta is the place to be.
Take a boat tour around Banderas Bay in the morning
Puerto Vallarta is in the state of Jalisco. Its coastline runs along Banderas Bay. The bay stretches to the next state, Nayarit, a major up and coming resort destination. You can take a boat tour from Puerto Vallarta around Banderas Bay. You’ll sail through caves, explore sparsely populated islands and far-flung beaches. You can also go dolphin spotting. There are many dolphins in Banderas Bay and even some whales. If you’re lucky, you may see a whale on your boat tour. You can even sail right up to it and come face to face with the king of the ocean.
Explore The Malecon in the afternoon
The Malecon is the main street in Puerto Vallarta. A Malecon is basically a street that runs along the sea. It’s the main shopping district. No cars are permitted so it’s ideal for strolling. You’ll find the famous PV sign on the downtown Malecon. A must for Instagram.
It’s great for people-watching. There are palm trees and sculptures right along the Malecon. You can join a tour and discover the city highlights with a local guide. If you’re a foodie, you could join a food and drink tour. A tequila tasting session is a must – you’re in Mexico, after all. Discover the difference between tequila and mezcal and the different local variations. You can do a tequila session in the afternoon, as long as you eat something! In our experience, the tequila is of such a high quality, the hangover isn’t too bad.
At the end of the Malecon, you’ll find Our Lady of Guadalupe, the most important church in town. Between December 1st to the 12th, Our Lady of Guadalupe Festival takes place. It’s one of PV’s biggest festivals. As with most Mexican festivals, it’s very colourful and exciting. The Day of the Dead takes place over November 1 and 2. PV will be buzzing during these festivals.
Take a trip to Casa Kimberly
Puerto Vallarta was a sleepy fishing town in the 1960s. It certainly wasn’t a tourist destination. In 1964, John Huston filmed The Night of the Iguana, his Tennessee Williams adaptation, in Puerto Vallarta. Richard Burton starred alongside Ava Gardner. By this point, Burton was dating Elizabeth Taylor. She flew over to Mexico to keep an eye on him. They both fell in love with Puerto Vallarta and bought two properties near to the Malecon. The properties were later linked with a bridge – designed to look like Venice’s Bridge Of Sighs! They spent many happy and not so happy evenings at the property.
The property was named Casa Kimberly. When Taylor died, it was sold and turned into a boutique hotel. You can stay there – if you have deep pockets. Even if you don’t stay there you can visit and have a cocktail in Elizabeth Taylor’s former crib.
Party in Zona Romantica at night
Zona Romantica is packed with gay bars. It has as many gay bars as you’d find in a major city. You could start at Garbo’s Piano Bar for a cocktail. It’s a more civilized place – your evening can become increasingly uncivilized, if you so wish. Let’s assume you do: head to Reinas for a drink. It’s a gay bar in Mexico that doubles as a shrine to the British monarchy. It’s charmingly bonkers.
Paco’s Ranch is considered by many to be the most popular gay bar in Puerto Vallarta. It’s pretty wild. Expect two floors packed with gay men, many of whom will be shirtless as the night progresses. There are regular drag performances, often of a very high standard. The Travel Gay team observed a Beyonce drag performer at Paco’s Ranch. It was a big production, almost like a main stage event on Drag Race.
The Almar Resort (pictured above) also has a great bar and as an LGBT specific resort, you’ll find plenty of gay and lesbian guests at this hotel in Puerto Vallarta. The Top Sky Bar & Restaurant is often where many of the gay and lesbian community meet up for fun and entertainment.
Tourists can develop a tendency to order a shot of tequila with every drink. It’s Mexico, after all, so why not? Well, you may be a bit of a hot mess if you do, so drink responsibly and get some tacos on the way back to your hotel.
Puerto Vallarta is one of the most exciting destinations in Mexico. It’s so diverse. You can enjoy a party vacation, a romantic vacation, a sporty vacation or a resort vacation. You can even experience all of these things at once. Puerto Vallarta may be small, but it has the buzz of a much bigger city. If it was good enough for Elizabeth Taylor it’s good enough for you.
by Alex | On: Gay Puerto Vallarta