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21 Ultimate Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta

21 Ultimate Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta

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Beaches, hikes, restaurants, adventures in the jungle, and more—check out our best bets for one of Mexico's most exciting destinations.

Puerto Vallarta, located on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, is not only an internationally famous vacation destination but is also widely regarded by many as the most liveable beach town in all of Mexico. Cobblestone streets meet modern luxury high rises, and the Malecon (boardwalk) runs past both new construction and charming authentic Mexican neighborhoods in what used to be a small Mexican fishing village. That all changed in the early 1960s when Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor brought international attention to the little-known Mexican town while brazenly carrying out their affair during the filming of Burton’s Night of the Iguana. Today, the friendly locals, well accustomed to mingling with visitors, are technically Vallartanese but are more commonly referred to as pata salada, or literally, salty foot. This is a term they embrace and are proud of as it indicates they are coastal natives. Famous for its stunning beaches, nightlife, impressive nature, and of course, being in Mexico, delicious local dishes, Puerto Vallarta is a destination that offers something for every traveler. In this guide to PV (as it’s often referred to by foreign visitors and the many ex-pats who reside in the beach town), here are can’t-miss things to do to have the best vacation possible.

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Hint: It is a multilingual, flamingo-flecked, diver’s paradise with no traffic jams (or traffic lights).

The word “undiscovered” is somewhat overused in travel, but Bonaire truly is, particularly outside diving circles. This Dutch Caribbean nation battles the overall perception that there is little diversion on offer beyond underwater frills. Bonaire often sits in the shadow of its more popular island neighbors, Aruba and Curaçao, so much so that even airport immigration agents haven’t heard of it. While visiting the island nation earlier this year, I curiously met countless people who fell in love with Bonaire and ended up relocating to the country, living up to the tourism slogan: Once a visitor, always a friend. I even found myself plotting my return before I left and was compelled to investigate this magnetic pull that many of us felt on the island. In asking people why they were inspired to move to Bonaire, I found 10 reasons they fell in love with the island (and why you might too).

A visit to Hawaii shouldn't be an episode of 'The White Lotus.'

Every destination has its own unwritten rules and way of doing things, and Hawaii (also known as The Aloha State) is no different, even if it is part of the United States. Some of this disconnect is down to the much overused (and often misconstrued) term of Aloha. More than just a word used to express everything from love, affection, peace, and sympathy, it’s a way of life and an honor code that focuses on kindness and respect, and one that’s extended reciprocally. As Hawaii re-opens to the world, coupled with recent Hot Vaxxed Summer antics—harassing endangered species for Instagram selfies, trespassing on state land and having to be airlifted to safety, general disregard for mask mandates—it’s not a bad idea to know what locals and residents consider pono (righteous) behavior, which also double-up as some sure-fire ways to earn their respect and Aloha.  

These breweries really raise the bar. (Sorry.)

“Craft beer” is just that — it’s a “craft.” And creating craft beer is like any other form of art, mixed with science. Certain cities in the U.S. just seem to have a bit of extra creativity when it comes to brewing fantastic beers (maybe creativity, science, and beer drinking go hand in hand?). From Southern California to Central New York and everywhere imaginable in-between, here’s a lineup of some of America’s Best Brewtowns to plan a happy (and hoppy) vacation getaway.  

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