What to do in Puerto Vallarta?

If you ever find your self asking, “What to do in Puerto Vallarta.”  We came up with some thrill rides that should get your adrenaline pumping, or at least give you a few ideas of  what to do.

If you’re like me and can’t sit around watching but want to be doing something physically challenging, you’ll find there are plenty of thrills to be had in the Vallarta area. Local companies have drummed up some really cool, adrenaline-pumping activities for the adventurous visitor, ranging from ziplining down mountainsides to waterfall rappelling.  Here’s a short list of choices. You’ll find outfitters and tour companies all over the Vallarta area capable of getting you into any or all of these activities.

ZIPLINES

There are at least half a dozen different ziplines on offer in the Vallarta area these days, including our own 13-part local zipline down the road apiece here in Sayulita. Ziplines are fun, exciting, not really dangerous like they used to be (now that operators have figured out how to stop them rather than handing you a heavy leather glove and telling you to grab the line and stop yourself before you hit the tree!), and a great way to see the terrain. In addition to Sayulita, you’ll find ziplines in the El Eden/Chico’s Hideaway area inland from Mismaloya, up in the mountains at a couple of nature preserves, and strung across nearby rivers. It ain’t cheap—per person prices are in the $70-$90 range—but’s it’s a great, fun way to spend a day.

Doing it with a hangover is not recommended. Last year my daughter and I joined my pal Terry and his daughter Jasmin for a New’s Year’s Day zip here in Sayulita. Naturally, it being the day after New Year’s Eve, I was a little under the weather. Flying down a mountain on a zipline—13 different ziplines, that is, was a seriously challenging experience for Terry and I with our New Year hangovers. Ugh.

But the girls loved it!

BUNGEE JUMPING

Definitely not for the faint of heart—literally, since people with heart conditions are not allowed—the Puerto Vallarta bungee jump is about fifteen minutes south of town on the Mismaloya Road. The operator is called Pacific Bungee, the jump takes place over the ocean, and the drop is 120 feet. Yikes!

WATERFALL RAPPELLING

This lively activity, which combines “swimming” of a sort with some techniques from mountain climbing, can be booked as part of an adventure package that includes a speedboat ride, a truck ride into the mountains, a canopy tour by zipline, a slide down a natural waterslide, and the main even, waterfall rappelling. Guides will harness you up and strap you in and make sure nothing can go wrong, and off you go, bounding down a waterfall in the green depths of a tropical jungle. Puerto Vallarta is a whole lot more than a beach, and there is plenty to do outside sitting there, riding the banana boat, or sucking down cervezas and margaritas. Get out there and do it!

ATV TOURS

They’re loud, obnoxious, intrusive, annoying, and a hell of a lot of fun, those ATVs. I’ve ridden one through the jungle out to a deserted beach north of Manzanillo, and I can attest to the good and bad. You sure can’t sneak up on anyone, riding one of these, and when I see people riding them on the beach in Sayulita, I want to scream bloody murder. On the other hand, organized tours on recognized trails through the jungle or on empty beaches are not so bad—in fact are loads of fun. And there are plenty of tour operators in the Vallarta area ready to take you out to that deserted beach or into the depths of the jungle or up into the high country, for a thrill ride over the rugged terrain of the Sierra Madre, those misty green mountains that loom over Vallarta.

MOUNTAIN BIKING

Jungles, rivers, and yes, mountains, add up to some superb mountain biking options in the Vallarta area. You can ride right out of Puerto Vallarta up the Rio Cuale, climb into the Sierra Madre on an old mining road, tackle single track trails in and around Sayulita. Our local Wildmex guys run tours out of Sayulita, providing bikes, helmets, and seasoned guides, while several operators offer the same out of Puerto Vallarta. You can ride all the way out to Yelapa, on Cabo Corriente on the south side of Bahia Banderas, or take a plane to San Sebastian and bomb down the mountains all the way back to Vallarta. Alejandro Gonzalez of Vallarta Expeditions comes highly recommended for experience and knowledge of the best mountain biking in the area.

DUNE BUGGY TOURS

These critters are similar to ATVs except they’re equipped with VW engines and four speed transmissions and go up to 50 miles per hour, and seat two or four people. You can book them with one of the operators such as Amigo Tours Vallarta or Puerto Vallarta Tours and trip up into the mountains near Mismaloya to El Eden, a jungle paradise with waterfalls and swimming holes (this is where the Schwarzenegger movie Predator was filmed) or along the shores of Bahia Banderas towards the beachside town of Boca de Tomatlan. It’s a noisy, bouncy buzz of a ride, and loads of fun.

KITEBOARDING

This sport took over the realm once ruled by boardsailing (aka windsurfing) and has since been growing by literal leaps and bounds (you can get major, amazing air while riding these things). In the Vallarta area, you’ll find rentals, instructors, and steady wind primarily on the beaches in and around Bucerias. The learning curve is pretty fast, at least to get the basics—especially if you’ve had some experience surfing, sailing, windsurfing, or some combination thereof. The gear consists of a small board, similar in size and shape to a snowboard, a bunch of lines, a harness, and a kite, which looks more like a parachute than a kite you’d fly. Besides, when you ride one of these things it isn’t only the kite that flies—like I said, you get amazing airtime on a kiteboard. I’ve seen guys use waves as ramps, launch into space, and stay up there for what seemed like minutes.

All you need is wind. I’ve seen people race downwind all the way from Punta Mita to Bucerias, flying along under bright, billowing kitesails, and it was a beautiful sight. People riding waves on kiteboards call their sport kitesurfing—same sport, same skills required, with the added rush of riding waves! Contact Raquel at kitevallarta.com to dial yourself in to the windblown waves.

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