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Is Puerto Vallarta Safe? Travel Warnings & Safety

Puerto Vallarta is a beach town on the Pacific Coast in the state of Jalisco. It’s not as well known as the likes of Cancun or Los Cabos, but it’s a well-developed community and a wonderful place to visit with delicious food and amazing views.

Is puerto vallarta safe? This is a question you’ll quickly find the answer to here. If you’ve wanted to visit Puerto Vallarta, then keep reading to learn more about this area.

An Overview of Mexico’s Safety

In general, Mexico is often in the news negatively. There is a risk of violent crimes that include murder, armed robbery, sexual assault, and kidnapping, as well as smaller crimes such as theft, bribery, and drug-related crimes.

While these problems occur in certain parts of the country, the more violent crimes are not common occurrences in Puerto Vallarta and shouldn’t deter you from visiting.

Tourist areas are always at an increased risk for certain petty crimes, but if you’re smart and pay attention to your surroundings, you’ll be fine.

Even though Mexico isn’t always the safest place, Puerto Vallarta normally is.

It is also full of great hikes and beach towns nearby that you will want to check out.

Picture of an empty Calendar

When Is The Best Time To Visit Puerto Vallarta?

Located on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta is one of the most popular beach destinations in the state of Jalisco.

You can expect warm and sunny days almost year-round, so you really can’t go wrong visiting Puerto Vallarta any time of the year.

Each season has its draw and attractiveness, so it depends on what you’re looking for in your vacation when considering the best time to visit.

Winter and Spring

The best weather occurs from December to March. The tropical climate at this time of year is nearly perfect, with the lowest chance of rain.

Keep in mind that January is the coolest month of the year and averages 72 degrees Fahrenheit which, for some people, doesn’t always feel warm enough for swimming.

This is a great time of year if you don’t want to be caught in the rain, but it isn’t quite as warm as the summer.

This is also the best time of year for whale watching. Humpback whales migrate to Banderas Bay from December to March.

Early in the season, you’ll spot more adult whales, and later in the season, you can see baby humpbacks. If you go on a boat ride in the bay during this time of year, you’re almost guaranteed to spot these gentle giants.

Summer and Fall

During the rainy season, you can typically expect a storm in the late afternoon or evening, so you can often enjoy a nice morning on the beach before the rain sets in.

Hurricane season occurs from June to November, so you should be aware of the potential threat of a severe storm if you choose to visit during this time of year.

June is the hottest month of the year, and it can be uncomfortably warm. September is the wettest month of the year when you can expect lots of rain during your vacation.

Also, late spring, including April and May, can be very hot and humid, but the water also warms up again, and it’s a great time to swim.

Summer is the best time for watching sea turtle hatches. Since this time of year is less popular, you can often get much better deals and enjoy the area all to yourself.

Peak Tourist Season

The most popular time of year to visit is the winter and spring months because this is the time of year with the best weather.

This is when most people will travel to Puerto Vallarta, especially during spring break, which has become increasingly popular in Banderas Bay.

If you visit during the spring and fall, you will be taking chances when it comes to weather, but you will save money on accommodations and be able to take advantage of a more cleared out and peaceful place.

Hurricane Season

Puerto Vallarta sits at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains, which also protects this area from storms, including hurricanes.

Storms tend to be milder here because the mountain range blocks a lot of wind out. If you do choose to visit Mexico during hurricane season, you’ll find that Puerto Vallarta is normally milder than other places in Mexico during storm season.

Police walking the beach in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta Crime Rate

The crime rate is relatively low in Puerto Vallarta and even lower than in certain cities in the US. Tourists aren’t typically the target of violent crime, either.

Criminal activity occurs everywhere in the world, and you can’t really avoid it in life, so don’t let that deter you from visiting Puerto Vallarta.

Keep up with the latest crime news and pay attention to your surroundings. The local police and local law enforcement are always looking out and will help you if you feel in danger.

There is crime just like anywhere else, but it’s still one of the safest places in Mexico.

Even though it has a lower crime rate than other places in Mexico, you must use common sense and stay aware of your surroundings.

Mexican security forces survey popular beach destinations and other tourist zones to watch for crime which helps keep the crime rate low.

The official crime rate of Puerto Vallarta is 38/100, which is fairly low. For example, this is lower than Miami.

Most crime is related to petty theft, bribery, and drugs. Puerto Vallarta happens to be safer than you’d think.

Again, while criminal groups exist everywhere in the world, Puerto Vallarta is among the safest destinations in Mexico.

Puerto Vallarta Safety vs. the U.S. Safety

Puerto Vallarta is safer than some cities in the United States, including Miami and Maui, to name a few. For this reason, some retirees and ex-pats have moved here to enjoy the beach paradise. The perception of Mexico is that it’s not safe and that there are violent crimes and other issues, but Mexico can be very safe, depending on where you are in the country.

Mexico is not a dangerous place to visit in general.

The cartel violence surely makes the headlines, but this is in a concentrated area away from the little beach town of Puerto Vallarta.

Crimes and the things you read about online should not deter you entirely from visiting the country, especially Jalisco state, which is fairly safe.

There are always travel warnings to be aware of, but the Mexican government and government employees want to make sure you’re in good hands.

If you stay up to date and read the news and various articles ahead of time, you’ll be aware of anything going on.

Follow simple safety guidelines, and you will have an enjoyable vacation in the Riviera Nayarit area.

It’s also smart to get travel health insurance before your trip to protect you in case something happens. This will give you peace of mind.

Woman Holding Mexico Flag out Car Window, driving on a road in Mexico

How Safe Is It To Rent A Car In Puerto Vallarta?

There is always the chance of scams and issues, but in general, renting a car in Puerto Vallarta is safe.

Be sure to pick a place with great ratings and make sure you get insurance. Be aware of places trying to upsell your insurance.

Book through a reputable online platform like Discover Cars, you will be able to get insurance through this site that will satisfy car rental insurance requirements in Mexico.

You shouldn’t have any safety issues while staying in and driving in Puerto Vallarta. It’s a relatively safe place.

Be sure to look at reviews of the car rental company, stick to main roads as much as possible, and pay attention to signs and laws.

Car break-ins can be a problem, so make sure not to leave anything important in the car.

The price of a rental car in Puerto Vallarta can vary but plan on about $30 a day for a car with insurance.

You can definitely find lower prices, but if you want to rent from a reputable place and have no issues, you’re better off spending a little extra money.

Colorful Apartment Building in Puerto Vallarta

What Are The Safest Neighborhoods In Puerto Vallarta?

The Romantic Zone

This is a popular place to stay among the LGBTQ+ community. You’ll find art galleries, bars, holes, restaurants, and a very lively environment in this area of Puerto Vallarta.

People of all backgrounds love the romantic zone. It’s great for all kinds of couples, and it’s considered the most gay-friendly place in Mexico.

Marina Vallarta

The neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta, known as Marina Vallarta, is also very popular among tourists. There is a large group of ex-pats that live here, so international tourists often feel very safe in this neighborhood.

It’s quiet and one of the safest neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta. You can enjoy seeing all the luxury yachts, too.

Hotel Zone (Zona Hotelera)

This is where most tourists stay when exploring Puerto Vallarta. This is where a majority of the hotels, boutique hotels, and resorts are located.

It’s very safe to stay at a resort because all-inclusive resorts are not open to the public. Many tourists visiting Mexico choose to stay in a resort where all the activities, food, and drink they could want are all in the same place, and they don’t have to leave.

There is a ton to do in the hotel zone, too, including shopping centers, restaurants, and bars, to keep you busy and entertained.

Where Not To Stay In Puerto Vallarta

If you’re going to travel to Puerto Vallarta, be sure to stay in tourist destinations. Don’t leave the beach or go outside of the Puerto Vallarta area unless you know where you’re going.

Once you’re too far inland, it can become more unsafe. Use common sense and plan ahead and you’ll be fine.

What To Do In Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is known primarily as a beach town. The most popular beach is Playa de Los Muertos on the shores of Banderas Bay in the romantic zone.

The number one thing to do in Puerto Vallarta is to enjoy time on the beach.

Picture of Mexico Map

Other Places to Visit Near Puerto Vallarta

Nuevo Vallarta

Nuevo Vallarta is located in the Nayarit state of Mexico but is the city right next to Puerto Vallarta. Nuevo vallarta and Puerto vallarta sit on the border of the state of Nayarit and the state of Jalisco.

Nuevo Vallarta is also a safe place to stay.

San Sebastian del Oeste

This town is about an hour and a half inland from Puerto Vallarta in the state of Jalisco. It’s a quaint town if you’re looking for some peace, quiet, and an authentic experience in Mexico.

It’s an adorable town to explore.


The largest city near Puerto Vallarta in the state of Jalisco is Guadalajara. The Guadalajara metropolitan area is a cool place to check out.

It’s the third-largest city in the county and offers a ton of things to do.

Colorful Cancun sign in front of the beach

Is Puerto Vallarta Safer Than Cancun?

The short answer is yes, Puerto Vallarta is safer than Cancun. There is a higher crime rate in Cancun and the presence of the cartel, but crimes aren’t usually targeted at tourist areas.

Puerto Vallarta has a lower crime rate, less of a cartel presence, and is overall very welcoming to all kinds of visitors.

Cancun is still a great place to visit, too, but Puerto Vallarta is the safer beach town. This popular tourist destination is well worth the visit.

Puerto Vallarta is also safe than Los Cabos, which is another popular tourist destination.

Transportation Safety In Puerto Vallarta

To get around Puerto Vallarta, you can take public buses, which run very often and are safe to use. Another option is to hire taxis.

Make sure to look up the taxi companies ahead of time and make sure you’re picking one that is safe and has good reviews.

There are also first-class bus companies as well as shuttles that your hotel concierge can set you up with, especially if you’re coming from the international airport.

Is Puerto Vallarta Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

Female solo travelers must always take extra precautions when traveling. Puerto Vallarta is considered safe for solo female travelers, but you must always pay attention to your surroundings and be on high alert.

Stick to the safe neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta and the tourist destinations, and you’ll have a fun and safe trip.

Is Puerto Vallarta Safe From Cartels?

Cartel conflict is not a huge problem in Puerto Vallarta though that’s not to say it doesn’t exist. However, the cartel doesn’t have nearly the presence it does in other Mexican cities.

The Jalisco Cartel does exist, but it’s not a huge threat to this beach town.

Be sure to keep up with the news ahead of time, and if something doesn’t feel right, you can always reconsider travel as long as you have travel insurance.

This is a great way to make sure you’re not putting yourself in danger, but it shouldn’t get to this point. Puerto vallarta is a safe destination.

Safety Tips For Getting Around Puerto Vallarta

Petty Theft

This is a common concern in Puerto Vallarta but also in many other cities around the world. Petty theft can happen to anyone, so tourists are encouraged to keep their belongings on them at all times and be aware of their surroundings.

You should keep your most important belongings in a safe in your accommodation and avoid traveling alone.

Make sure your wallet or phone is right where you can see or feel it to avoid it being stolen.

Puerto Vallarta Beach Safety

What Travel Scams Should Visitors Look Out for?

Sometimes, it can be hard to notice a scam when you’re a victim of one. If something doesn’t feel right, pay attention and call for help if you need it.

Below are some of the common scams to look out for. It’s important to educate yourself so that if one of these is done to you, you’re prepared and can respond the right way.

Mustard Scam

The mustard scam is when someone squirts mustard or another substance on you and then tries to help you to clean it up.

While you’re distracted, they will steal from you without you noticing. If someone is paying attention to you in this way or even asking you directions or randomly talking to you, always be aware of your belongings and keep a hand on them.

Fraudulent Ads and Listings

If you’re planning on staying in Puerto Vallarta for a while and renting a place, be extra careful. Make sure you read reviews and do your due diligence on a place ahead of time.

There have been fraudulent rental listings on Facebook and other platforms, and you could lose your money. It’s better to just book through a reputable platform where there are proven reviews and history on a place.

Exchange Rates, Cards, and Cash

When using your card and you’re given the option of paying in pesos or dollars, always choose pesos. This forces your bank or credit card company to calculate the exchange rate, and you’ll almost always get a much better exchange rate than if you were to accept the establishment’s exchange rate, which is often very steep and unfair.

Also, you’re much better off stopping at an ATM and taking out pesos instead of using dollars at restaurants and stores because you’ll also get a steep exchange rate when you’re given change back.

You should never allow your credit or debit card to be taken out of sight. This scam is known as bank card cloning, and it’s when your card is taken and duplicated, or the numbers are written down.

Always ask your server to bring the payment terminal to your table or go up to the cashier to pay. This is considered normal, so don’t worry about offending anyone.

If you follow these general safety tips, you shouldn’t have any troubles during your vacation in Puerto Vallarta.

Tips For Staying Safe In Puerto Vallarta

The best thing you can do for yourself to stay safe in Puerto Vallarta is to pay attention to your surroundings and use common sense, but here are some additional tips.

Don’t walk around at night alone because it makes you an easier target.

Don’t look flashy, you don’t want to draw unnecessary attention. Keep a low profile.

Keep your valuables locked up, or don’t bring them at all.

Make sure others are aware of your travel plans and where you’ll be staying that are not on the trip with you.

If something feels off, pay attention and call for help if you need it.

Don’t drink tap water.

Someone holding water that is coming out from a copper tab

Is Tap Water In Puerto Vallarta Safe To drink?

As previously mentioned, as a tip to staying safe while in Puerto Vallarta, you should avoid drinking tap water.

It’s safer than water in most other parts of Mexico, but you should still avoid it if you don’t know for sure that it was passed through a local filter.

That being said, you should be fine to brush your teeth and come in contact with some water but don’t go out of your way to drink it.

Consider bringing a reusable water bottle that has a filter or purchases bottled water to be safe.

You don’t want to feel sick your entire vacation because of something that could’ve been avoided, and you definitely don’t want to spend your sunny days in the bathroom.

Other Safe Destinations in Mexico

Mexico has a bad reputation, but there are ultimately many safe cities around the country you can visit. The safest cities in Mexico include some of the following:

Puerto Vallarta, of course

Merida in the Yucatan State

Mexico City – believe it or not, this is actually pretty safe for tourists. It’s the most visited place in the country.

San Miguel de Allende in the Guanajuato State

Sayulita in the state of Nayarit

Huatulco in Oaxaca State

As you can see, there are safe cities all over Mexico in the various states. If you visit Mexico, you have tons of options and lots of safe cities to choose from.

Visiting Puerto Vallarta: The Verdict and Final Thoughts. Is Puerto Vallarta safe?

Puerto Vallarta is a wonderful and safe place to visit. The beautiful beach town prides itself on inclusivity, and all are welcome here.

If you’ve been wanting to visit Mexico but don’t want to go somewhere so mainstream, Puerto Vallarta is a great choice.

You’ll feel safe, and you’ll have a wonderful beach vacation. Definitely consider visiting both Puerto Vallarta and Mexico in general. It’s a wonderful country with a ton of beauty.

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