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Nestled along the Bay of Banderas on Mexico’s west coast, some of the world’s most stunning beaches stretch out from verdant jungles. Tiny fishing villages and charming surfing towns are spread out along the shores, some of the top destinations in Mexico, inviting travelers from around the world to kick off their shoes and stroll along the crashing waves. Vacations to Nuevo Vallarta in Riviera Nayarit or Puerto Vallarta, the two most popular destinations in the bay, offer access to incredible beaches, exciting jungle tours, and warm Mexican hospitality. Knowing the difference between Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit will help you plan out the ultimate Mexico vacation.


If you’ve been debating between Nuevo Vallarta in Riviera Nayarit or Puerto Vallarta vacations, you’ve probably noticed their close proximity. Both are located at the center of the Bay of Banderas within minutes of Puerto Vallarta’s International Airport, one to the north and the other to the south. From either city, you can take relaxing day trips to quaint surfing towns, mountain ranches, or the Vallarta Botanical Gardens. Whether you choose to stay in Riviera Nayarit or Puerto Vallarta, you can travel between each one by taxi or bus within minutes and enjoy the best of each.

Despite the close proximity, each city has its own style and vibe that make vacations there unique. Puerto Vallarta vacations bring you closer to the history of the area, to cobblestone streets and the iconic cathedral. As you wander through plazas and along the Malecon boardwalk, you’ll find tasty local eateries and gourmet restaurants. Shop for tourist treasures or artisan crafts in downtown or visit one of the several shopping malls. For entertainment, live bands start cranking out tunes in restaurants as the sun goes down, and DJs start dropping beats at the nightclubs. Even if you choose a Nuevo Vallarta vacation, you can enjoy all the best of Puerto Vallarta vacations with just a quick taxi ride.

One difference between Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit are their coastlines. On vacations to Nuevo Vallarta, there’s less of a bustling downtown but a wider expanse of sandy shores, making it the ultimate beach destination. Here, you’ll have room in front of your resort to spread out, build sandcastles, and run along the gently crashing waves. There’s also miles of bike trails under towering palm trees in front of the resorts. For renting bikes, a Nuevo Vallarta vacation is your best choice. Since Puerto Vallarta’s roads are cobblestone, this difference between Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit will give you a much smoother ride. At night, there are several delicious restaurants offering Mexican, Italian, Asian, and gourmet food, and you can find live music rocking the night away.


Vacations to Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta are both filled with exciting adventures and cultural exposure. From either destination, take a journey into the jungle, zip lining above the canopy of trees and chasing hidden waterfalls. Escape to sea on any number of Vallarta tours for a day of swimming, snorkeling, and paddleboarding. End each night of your Puerto Vallarta or Nuevo Vallarta vacation with mouthwatering Mexican cuisine and a fresh margarita as the sun sets, taking in the best views of the water.

No matter which city you travel to for your Mexico vacation, you’ll be surrounded by the tranquility of the sea and majesty of the mountains. It’s a land to be explored and cherished where you’ll encounter the vibrancy of Mexican culture and the natural beauty of the Bay of Banderas.

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