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23 Things to Do in Nuevo Vallarta

DESTINATION | Published on 09/01/2023
Optimizada what to do in nuevo vallarta

Nuevo Vallarta, recently renamed Nuevo Nayarit, is an excellent jumping-off point to experience some of the west coast of Mexico’s most valued treasures and unforgettable experiences. While mostly known for its luxurious resorts and world-class golf courses, there is unlimited potential for things to do in Nuevo Vallarta.

If you are planning a trip and are wondering what to do in Nuevo Vallarta, check out our list of 23 fun things to do on your vacation.

1. Snorkeling

Banderas Bay is home to a large variety of marine life, including sea turtles, tropical fish, eels, manta rays, bottlenose dolphins, and even whales. Snorkeling is the perfect activity whether you want to check out life under the sea just offshore from the beach or you’d like to join one of the many tour companies that can take you farther offshore to coral reef spots, such as Los Arcos or the Islas Marietas.

2. ATVing

Thrillseekers will be enthusiastic about the prospect of epic ATV adventures through the Sierra Madre mountains. Most tours launch just south from Puerto Vallarta, and ATVing is known to be one of the most highly rated Puerto Vallarta activities. Tours will take you through a variety of terrains including city streets, dirt roads in the jungle, and even the famous Jorulla suspension bridge.

3. Hiking

Of all the things to do near Nuevo Vallarta outdoors, hiking is one of the most sought-after activities for families. Less than an hour drive north lies Monkey Mountain, a 6.5km roundtrip hike that starts from Sayulita. While Monkey Mountain is a steep climb, you will be rewarded with 360 degree panoramic vistas of Banderas Bay and Riviera Nayarit. You can choose to embark on this hike solo with your vacation companions or you can hire a guide to help you navigate the terrain.

4. Whale Watching

A splendid display of marine life at its happiest and healthiest, from December through March you can observe humpback whales raising their young off the coast of Nuevo Vallarta. Every winter, humpback whales return to Banderas Bay to give birth and teach their offspring to jump, swim, and feed, making whale watching one of the most memorable things to do near Nuevo Vallarta.

5. Baby Sea Turtle Releases

One of the most magical things to do in Nuevo Vallarta is participate in a baby sea turtle release. Banderas Bay offers a breeding ground for at least six species of sea turtles including hawksbills, green turtles, and leatherbacks. For the conservation of sea turtles, a variety of hotels and organizations have committed to protecting the local environment by keeping hatcheries of sea turtle eggs. Joining a baby sea turtle release typically includes a short talk about the turtles and the opportunity to release one of the palm-sized babies to sea.

6. Local Beaches

No program of vacation activities that detail what to do in Nuevo Vallarta would be complete without a list of the best local beaches. Known for their wide sandy beach banks and shallow shores, Nuevo Vallarta beaches are ideal for swimming, sports at the beach, or just hanging out with your loved ones. Playa Varadero, Playa Nuevo Vallarta, and Playa Bucerías are all top picks for the best beach spots to hit up in the idyllic Nuevo Vallarta weather.

7. Beach Day

While Nuevo Vallarta is home to some of the best local beaches, visiting one of the more secluded beaches down south that are only accessible by boat is an unforgettable experience. Breathtaking beaches such as Yelapa, Quimixto, or Playa Colomitos are favorites of both locals and tourists.

8. Spa day

After days of adventuring in the sun, you might want to take a step back and do what you actually came on vacation for - take a breather and relax. Whether you want to book a massage, a manicure or pedicure, or a facial, there are a wealth of spas in Nuevo Vallarta to soothe your mind, body, and spirit.

9. Visit Towns

Visiting towns near Nuevo Vallarta is without a doubt a must-do on your trip. Nuevo Vallarta is conveniently located on the border of the Mexican states of Jalisco and Nayarit, establishing it as an ideal starting point to visit a variety of other towns with fun things to do such as Puerto Vallarta, Punta Mita, San Pancho, and Sayulita. 

10. Day Trip to Sayulita

Of all the towns near Nuevo Vallarta to visit, the pueblo magico, Sayulita, is by far the most popular choice for those wanting those small beach town vibes. A hip, vibrant surf town with many locally-owned restaurants, cafes, and boutique shops, Sayulita is the ideal spot for a day trip of eating, drinking, and chilling with your loved ones.

11. Sea Fishing

Fishing enthusiasts will have no shortage of game in Banderas Bay. Whether you want to take a boat out to sea or stay near shore, a variety of species of fish such as mahi mahi, sierra, mackerel, yellowfin tuna, or marlin might end up on the end of your line.

12. Isla MarietasTour

A trip to the uninhabited Isla Marietas is unquestionably one of the most special things to do near Nuevo Vallarta. While the national park’s biodiversity is protected and you cannot actually walk on the rocky island, you can visit its mystical hidden beach with a tour company and observe its unique wildlife such as the blue-footed booby by boat. You can also enjoy its underwater treasures and coral coves via snorkeling and paddle boarding.

13. Los Arcos National Marine Park Tour

One of the most iconic rock formations on Mexico’s west coast, Los Arcos National Park is a top pick for gorgeous places in the bay. If you are looking for a more active day trip, a tour to Los Arcos includes an array of fun things to do such as paddle boarding, snorkeling, and scuba diving.

14. Take a Tour

Besides the tours already mentioned, there are a spectrum of other tours you can take and tourist places you can visit with both educational experiences and fun things to do near Nuevo Vallarta. From candlelit dinner shows to rides in a luxury yacht, Banderas Bay is chock full of vacation activities to suit your personal taste.

15. Water Park

Located in the heart of Nuevo Vallarta, Splash is an eclectic water park featuring water slides high as 40-feet-tall, a pirate ship, a lazy river, and professional dolphin shows. Of the many activities for families, a trip to the water park will provide fun and enjoyment for all ages.

16. Surf Lessons

Only a half hour drive from Nuevo Vallarta are the best waves in the bay for surfing. Whether you are an experienced surfer and looking for the best breaks or a beginner wanting to take surf lessons on some friendly waves, surf spots such as Burros, La Lancha, Sayulita, and Anclote will guarantee that you leave the water feeling exhilarated and refreshed.

17. Golf courses

The best and most beautiful golf courses in the entire state of Nayarit are undoubtedly located in and around Nuevo Vallarta. Of all the vacation activities to do on your vacation, a trip to the world-class golf courses of Nayarit is essential for golf enthusiasts.

18. Yoga

After stretching out your long days on the beach, why not stretch out and strengthen your body as well with a yoga class? The wellness scene in Nuevo Vallarta provides an abundance of yoga classes for beginner and advanced students. You can find classes in professional studios in town or most resorts will host outdoor classes amidst the fresh ocean breeze.

19. Cooking Classes at the Resort

If you can’t get enough of the aromatic flavors of authentic Mexican cuisine, try taking a cooking class to spice up your meal plans for when you return back home. Many resorts will offer cooking classes by local chefs which will enhance your recipe repertoire and leave your stomach satisfied.

20. Go shopping

You can find everything under the sun in and around Nuevo Vallarta for your shopping delights. If you are looking to bring home some hand-crafted Mexican goods, you can find many artistnal shops and galleries which contain local Mexican art, jewelry, clothing, and souvenirs.

21. Go Eat and Drink

Nuevo Vallarta and the towns near Nuevo Vallarta are home to top rated bars and restaurants featuring both authentic Mexican and international cuisine. Don’t skip out on the locally caught fresh seafood and be sure to try some original tequila that was distilled in the town of Tequila just a few hours away.

22. Sunset Dinner

Many of the best restaurants of Banderas Bay are located right on the beach. Take a leisurely stroll just north of Nuevo Vallarta to the town of Bucerias for a sunset dinner with a margarita in your hand and your toes in the sand.

23. Nightlife

After a long day taking in the Mexican sun, perhaps you are seeking a night out on the town. Look no further than Puerto Vallarta. Of the many Puerto Vallarta activities you can partake in, attending one of the many bars or clubs in Puerto Vallarta’s Zona Romantica will promise a night of rhythmic music, tireless parties, and instagrammable moments.

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