Is Puerto Vallarta safe?

Located on the Pacific coast in the state of Jalisco, Puerto Vallarta is one of the most popular beach destinations for US-based travelers in Mexico. Drawn by year-round sunshine, beautiful white -sand beaches, excellent local cuisine, and a vibrant nightlife scene, visitors flock to this beachside resort, making it Mexico’s second-most visited tourist destination, after Cancun.

The wide range of attractions in the Puerto Vallarta area, including nearby Nuevo Vallarta and Sayulita, appeals to all kinds of travelers. It’s family oriented, and the resort frequently features as a stop on cruise itineraries. The region also has a great reputation as a friendly destination within the LGBT community.

But should you be concerned about your safety when planning a trip to Puerto Vallarta? While the US Department of State has a range of travel advisories for various parts of Mexico due to cartel violence and elevated levels of violent crime, Puerto Vallarta has long been considered one of the safest cities in Mexico for travelers.

Of course, it’s important to keep security in mind and use common sense, no matter where you’re traveling. The major safety issues that tourists face when traveling in Mexico often happen when they stop being careful. Here are some safety tips to help you enjoy a relaxing vacation in Puerto Vallarta.

Beware of scams

While the risk of being a victim of a violent crime is fairly low in Puerto Vallarta, tourists are often easy targets for scammers. Be aware of offerings that seem too good to be true — like an unlicensed taxi bidding to take you from the airport to your all-inclusive resort for a rock-bottom price.

When dining out, if a restaurant wants to take your credit card into the back to charge you, ask that instead they bring a portable terminal to your table. And, if you’re going the vacation rental route — a popular choice in Puerto Vallarta — be sure to rent your accommodations through a reputable booking platform that offers buyer protection. You’ll want to ensure you have vacation rental travel insurance, too.

Keep a low profile

Avoid drawing attention to yourself and inviting petty crime, even in Puerto Vallarta’s more touristy areas. Don’t wear flashy jewelry or carry expensive electronics. All valuables should be safely locked away in your hotel room safe while you’re out exploring.

If you’re withdrawing cash from an ATM, be especially aware of your surroundings when doing so. And never  take more cash or credit cards out with you than is necessary. A money belt can also be a great way to carry your belongings without having to worry about your bag getting snatched. Simply put, the best way to prevent petty theft is to use common sense.

Swim safely

Puerto Vallarta’s blue-green waters are simply irresistible, but it’s important to practice water safety when you’re swimming in the ocean. Most beaches don’t have lifeguards on duty, so it’s essential to pay attention to conditions and currents. Also, be sure to heed andy posted signs and flags, which warn would-be swimmers about large waves and rip currents. Keep an eye on younger swimmers, stay close to shore, and never swim under the influence.

Watch the weather during hurricane season

Most years, the Caribbean coast of Mexico is where the majority of the hurricanes hit, but Mexico’s Pacific coast is also susceptible to hurricanes, especially between July and September. While hurricane season can be a great time to take a trip to Puerto Vallarta as it’s less crowded, you’ll want to stay tuned in to local news and reputable weather sites so you can be prepared for any incoming storms. If a hurricane is approaching, always listen to the advice of local authorities.

Avoid mosquito bites

Make sure to pack (and use!) bug spray, especially in the humid summer months, the early mornings, and around dusk. Mosquitos in and around Puerto Vallarta have been known to carry the dengue and zika viruses, the latter of which is a special concern for pregnant women.

Safety tips for visiting Puerto Vallarta

When traveling in Puerto Vallarta, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Avoid unfamiliar areas, especially at night and when traveling alone. This goes for both walking and driving. Stick to main roads and avoid unfamiliar roads and highways after dark
  • When hiring transportation, rely on Uber. You won’t have to haggle about the price, and since the drivers are rated, you may find yourself on a less harrowing ride — in a nicer vehicle. The one place you may have to rely on a taxi instead is when you arrive at the international airport, where Uber pickups and drop-offs are restricted
  • Nothing throws a wrench into the works like a lost or stolen passport. Bring along a color copy, which you can carry with you each day, while leaving the original locked in the hotel safe
  • Learn a little Spanish. Not only does it help you get around more easily, but it can come in handy during an emergency. A translation app on your phone (with a local SIM card, of course) can be a good backup

Travel with peace of mind

Even in the safest vacation destinations, unexpected challenges and emergency situations can crop up. That’s where travel insurance comes in handy. Whether it’s a last-minute change of plans due to an incoming hurricane or an emergency medical evacuation after a car accident, travel insurance can protect both your vacation investment and your well-being.

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