Puerto Vallarta is a resort town located on the Pacific cost of central Mexico. It is known as a timeshare, retirement and family destination, but Puerto Vallarta is more than just an expensive resort city. You are able to escape the resort life for the historical area, which is backpacker friendly. So for those who like sightseeing or are traveling on a budget, here is a list of 4 free things to do in Puerto Vallarta!

1. Walk the Malecon

The Malecon is a long boardwalk that follows along the oceanfront and is home to over two dozen amazing sculptures. The Malecon is a major draw to Puerto Vallarta with many shops, bars and street vendors along its length and it is a great way to spend a leisure afternoon or a sunset evening. Enjoy the day shopping or drinking cervezas on the beach!

Puerto Vallarta Sign Mexico
The Puerto Vallarta photo-op sign

Free things to do Puerto Vallarta - Outsidevibes

Puerto Vallarta Sculptures Malecon Mexico
Sculptures along the Malecon
Puerto Vallarta Sculptures Malecon Mexico
Sculptures along the Malecon
Puerto Vallarta Sculptures Malecon Mexico
Sculptures along the Malecon

2. Hike Mirador Cerro de La Cruz

Also known as the hike to the cross, this slightly strenuous city hike is a nice way to get some exercise while rewarding yourself with a perfect view of the city and ocean!

The hike can begin along the Malecon, starting at the La Rotonda del Mar statue, from there head away from the ocean, up Aldama street. Going straight up this street will take you up the back route through houses and you will end up on the backside of the cross or you can reach the top with the new stair rout from the corner of Abasolo and Emilio Carranza. Don’t worry about getting lost there are plenty of markings and you should see crazy people doing this hike as part of their morning workout!

Puerto Vallarta Cross Hike View Mexico
View of Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta Cross Hike Mexico
Viewpoint for the Cross Hike
Puerto Vallarta Cross Hike Mexico
The Cross of Puerto Vallarta

3. Enjoy a beach sunset

Puerto Vallarta is situated perfectly for watching the sunset. A lot of people gather in in the heart of the Malecon, next to the naval museum or you can enjoy the end of the day from one of the oceanfront bars. My favorite sunset was sitting on the beach with my sarong and a couple of cervezas!

Puerto Vallarta Beach Malecon Mexico
Enjoying the sand
Puerto Vallarta Beach Malecon Mexico
Some Puerto Vallarta beaches are more busy than others

4. Hike to Playa los Animas

This is a great day activity, especially if you want to get away from the city and still enjoy beach time, while getting some exercise in the process. Make sure to wear proper footwear as this is a trail hike not just wandering along the beach. There will be small areas of elevation gain as you wander through the national reserve.

First you need to take an Orange local bus bound for Boca de Tomatlan, the bus stop is located in the Romantic Zone on the corner of Calle Constitucion and Basilio Badillo.

The bus ride to Boca takes a little over 30 minutes and is a nice coastal road. When you arrive to Boca you will walk down from the bus stop to the beach, where a lot of boat vendors will be trying to offer you a ride and at the same time deter you from hiking to Los Animas. (A guy kept trying to tell us that the hike is dangerous and jokingly that there are leopards in the forest and don’t hike.)

You can either walk through the water and straight across the sandbar to join the hiking trail or you can walk to the left, through a parking area, where you will find a concrete foot bridge. For the hike follow the coast around the ocean, you will be walking through houses for a while but as long as you keep next to the coast you will be fine. Around the first point the trail will fully appear complete with distance markers and elevation.

Boca to Las Animas Hike Puerto Vallarta Mexico
Boca to Las Animas hike

If you need help just ask directions for Colomitos Cove, which will be your first beach stop during the hike. Most locals do not hike past this point, but be wary if it is a weekend this beach will be very busy. The hike to Colomitos Cove takes a little over an hour, if you are behind people and are taking pictures.

From there you can swim, jump off rocks and enjoy a small but great beach for a bit before continuing on the hike. The trail starts back up on the other side of the beach and this stretch takes roughly the same time to hike. Your next stop will be Caballo Beach which is only a few minute hike before Los Animas.

Pick your favorite spot and enjoy the day on the beach. If you don’t feel like hiking back you can always hop on a boat bound for Boca!

Boca to Las Animas Hike Puerto Vallarta Mexico
Colomitos Cove

Final Thoughts

I had a great time exploring Puerto Vallarta. This bustling city was easy to navigate and English was pretty wide spread. This would be a great introduction into Latin culture and Mexico.

There you go, my list of 4 free things to do in Puerto Vallarta! I hope you enjoyed these tips and your time in Puerto Vallarta. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what your favorite activity in Puerto Vallarta was! Also check out my Destination Mexico page for more great activities around this area.

Puerto Vallarta Beach Mexico
Empty Puerto Vallarta beach

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