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Puerto Vallarta Sets All-Time Record For Most Visitors – Here’s Why Travelers Love It

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If there was ever any doubt about it, now we can confirm Puerto Vallarta is one of the fastest-growing destinations in Mexico. Other than being acknowledged time and again for being a regional center for culture and wellness, it is now threatening to end the Cancun-Cabo hegemony by breaking its own all-time record for most visitors in a single year.

But why is demand for Puerto Vallarta rising so significantly? In other words, why do travelers love it so much?

Aerial View Of Historical Center Of Puerto Vallarta, Facing The Pacific Coast, State Of Jalisco, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta Is One Of The Main Driving Forces Behind Mexico’s Tourism Revival

In 2022, the first full restriction-free year following Covid, Mexico exceeded expectations by welcoming close to 40 million guests between January and December of that year, at a time when hesitancy around travel still permeated the air, and American families saw their purchasing power collapse amid the ongoing financial crisis.

Mexican Flag Displayed Against A Tropical Sea Background, Mexican Caribbean, Riviera Maya, Mexico

Considering many countries are still struggling to surpass their 2019 levels, either due to having reopened much later or simply failing to keep ahead of the latest trends in a rapidly-changing world, Mexico’s performance is nothing short of impressive. Naturally, a few select destinations have stood out as driving forces behind the latest tourism revival.

Puerto Vallarta (PV) is one of them: it rounded off the year with 6,208,700 arrivals, 2 million more than in 2021. This indicates the Pacific hub has both fully recovered from the Covid slump and entered a new growth phase. It’s never been trendier than it is now, and its cultural relevance and rejuvenating wellness scene could be two possible explanations.

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Modern Seafront Promenade Lined With Palm Trees, Facing The Pacific Ocean In Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta Has A Diverse Tourist Offer

While some destinations in Mexico cater exclusively to sun-seekers looking to splurge and others to History enthusiasts, PV is the perfect concoction of both: it is home to a modern beachfront packed with luxurious resorts, leisure centers, and nightclubs, as well as a colorful, picturesque cobblestone-paved Centro Historico dating back to the colonial era.

Traditional Houses With A Colorful Facade In Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco State, Mexico

This means you could be strolling picturesque that will make you feel like you’re in Europe in the morning and, for the remainder of the day, lounging on a beach with your feet buried in the sand as you listen to the soothing crashing of the waves and bask in that Pacific sun – two completely different vibes within walking distance of each other.

PV’s diversity is not the only reason why Americans love it, though. The state of Jalisco, it is a regional capital of wellness, offering some of Mexico’s most relaxing resorts only a five-minute drive from the airport. Quite literally, it’s straight out the plane to the nearest top-rated retreat, and trust us when we say you don’t want to miss this one.

Tourists Walking Along The Malecon, A Beachfront Path In Puerto Vallarta, On The Pacific Coast Of Mexico

Local chefs are also known for their culinary prowess. In fact, the elegant Tintoque, a restaurant in the Zona Romantica, was the first to be awarded a Michelin star in all of Mexico, reinforcing Vallarta’s status as a world-class foodie destination – and if fine dining isn’t for you, you can always sample some deliciously crispy street tacos from a Malecon food stall.

Cheap or upscale, Puerto Vallarta is Mexico at its finest, excelling in three out of five of the top travel trends for 2023: ‘Cultural Experiences’, ‘Nostalgic Travel’, and ‘Wellness’:

Modern Seafront Promenade In Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  • It has some incredible 19th-century architecture;
  • Great weather and beaches;
  • A plethora of spas and relaxation spots;
  • The food is out of this world.

High Occupancy Rates And The Return Of Cruising

According to Luis Villaseñor, the Director of the Tourism Promotion Trust, Americans account for more than three-quarters of all international visitors to Puerto Vallarta. Breaking figures down by states, Californians form a majority with ‘just over one-quarter’ of the sum: Los Angeles and San Francisco are two of PV’s most valuable markets.

traveling girls and their luggage in a hotel room

On top of registering a historical increase in passenger numbers, Vallarta’s hospitality sector obtained excellent results in 2022: between December 19 and 25, occupancy reached 81.8%, the highest in the nation, indicating Americans generally preferred spending their holidays on the Pacific coast as opposed to the overpriced, ever-busy Caribbean.

Finally, following renewed interest, Vallarta’s cruise industry has bounced back a lot stronger: for the whole year, 186 ships arrived in PV, against only 50 in 2021. In December alone, 28 ships docked at the port, more than double the year before. Whether it’s air travel, hotel occupancy, or cruising, there’s no denying this city is closing in on Mexico’s most powerful duo.

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Nick

Sunday 15th of January 2023

Just spent 2 weeks there. We are not snobs and the resort food was largely disappointing by any standard. Do no do all inclusive, resort is showing its age. Trust no one as they all want to sell you an excursion with a timeshare pitch attached. Weather was beautiful, Whale watching was great, beaches were trashy from the tourists, not as relaxing as last time we went. Had to be much more alert. High military and police presence everywhere. Sayulita was cool but def. not what it used to be. I dont think I'll go back to PV. Would rather rent a house someplace else than do resort again. 50/50 good/bad experience

Gypsi

Sunday 15th of January 2023

Pros: Lots of tourists. Locals were friendlier than Cancun. They value the contribution of the tourists in the economy. Some of them really kind and warm hearted.

Cons: Got mugged by local legit police officers. They asked me for ID but I didnt have that time. Ended up paying 50$ USD bribe. Lots of scammers you have to watch out. Bought this sim card from convenient store which didnt have any data left after 15 minutes use.

Steve

Saturday 14th of January 2023

Here in p v right now and saw this article. Just checked into an $80 hotel that should be and used to be $40. Double bed, 3 total outlets in the whole place, bathroom is 5x5 The encino...real shit hole but good location. Been coming to mexico for 25 years and now it's too expensive and even though I came from a 5 star all inclusive the last week, I haven't had a good meal yet. Mexico isn't what it used to be...sorry to say that but just being honest. Try s.e.asia now for quality and good value..spent a month in thailand and can't think of 1 bad meal there and incredible hotel value

Susan

Sunday 15th of January 2023

@Steve, Hi Steve, My favorite place in that neighborhood is “Casa del Puente”, behind Fuente del Puente Restaurant… It’s right on the Rio Cuale. It’s a bit more than what what your paying, but you have three beautiful apartments to choose from… Each unique in its own regard with that old architecturural charm. A hidden gem for sure!! You can see pictures on Tripadvisor & there’s a video onn no YouTube…😉

Mike baitti

Friday 13th of January 2023

I have lived in Puerto Vallarta for 20 years and love it, but this article is riddled with errors. I will point out one that jumped right off the page.... None, not one of Vallarta's streets are "hundreds of years old" and there is not one single 16the century building. The oldest building in Vallarta dates to circa 1865. Again, I love Mt town, but accuracy matters...