Cabo vs Puerto Vallarta: which one to pick? This is a hard decision to make and if you are in that place, I will be happy o help you find the right answer for your next trip.
I went to both destinations a few times and for longer periods and I feel like I can help you understand what are the highlights of both so that you can decide which one is the right choice for you.
It is indeed a hard choice because both offer tropical climates, crystal clear waters, and plenty of opportunities for adventure.
However, there are some subtle differences that make one spot better than the other depending on your preferences.
Each of these locations offers unique experiences for visitors. Puerto Vallarta is a historic city with a rich cultural heritage, known for its colonial architecture, tropical beaches, and vibrant street life.
Cabo, on the other hand, is famous for its stunning natural beauty, including the desert landscape and Sea of Cortez, as well as its world-class golf courses and exciting water activities.
Both destinations offer a variety of outdoor activities, cultural attractions, and nightlife options, making them popular choices for travelers seeking a diverse vacation experience.
Today, I’m going to help you decide which one you should pick. I’ll compare both of these locations on a variety of factors, and give you all the info you need to make an informed choice.
Let’s get started!
Cabo vs Puerto Vallarta: an overview
Cabo (more appropriately called Los Cabos) is a popular tourist destination located in the state of Baja California Sur, Mexico. It is comprised of two distinct cities, Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, (although there are actually 5 “cabos” in total) and the 20-mile stretch of resorts and scenic coastline known as the Tourist Corridor that connects them.
Cabo San Lucas is known for its lively atmosphere, with a range of bars, clubs, and restaurants, as well as its stunning beaches and exciting water activities.
It is a popular destination for young travelers and those seeking a party atmosphere. In addition to stunning beaches, there are also many exciting water activities available such as snorkeling, fishing, and whale watching
San Jose del Cabo is a high-end tourist destination located in the Los Cabos area of Mexico’s Baja California Sur state.
It is known for its relaxed atmosphere, colonial architecture, and rich cultural heritage, offering visitors a unique and authentic Mexican experience.
Puerto Vallarta is located on the Pacific coast of Mexico in the state of Jalisco (actually not too far from Los Cabos by air).
It is known for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and rich cultural heritage, offering visitors a range of experiences to enjoy.
One of the biggest attractions of Puerto Vallarta is its gorgeous coastline, with miles of sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and a range of water sports.
The city is also home to a lively and vibrant downtown area, with a range of bars, clubs, and restaurants, as well as shopping and cultural attractions.
The town is also rich in cultural heritage, with a historic center that is home to many of the city’s most significant cultural and historical landmarks, including the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Malecon, a famous seaside promenade.
The city is also a hub for Mexican arts and culture, with a thriving arts community and several cultural festivals and events throughout the year.
The area is also rich in lush tropical vegetation, and home to the Sierra Madre Mountains.
There are several nature reserves and wildlife areas, offering visitors the opportunity to explore and experience the natural beauty of the region.
Puerto Vallarta vs Cabo – Location
Where is Los Cabos?
Los Cabos is located at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, Mexico. It encompasses the two main tourist destinations of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo and is situated at the point where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez.
The region is known for its stunning natural beauty, including dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and a vibrant marine ecosystem.
Where is Puerto Vallarta?
Puerto Vallarta is a city located on the Pacific coast of Mexico in the state of Jalisco. It is approximately 186 miles (300 km) west of Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco state.
The city is situated on the Bay of Banderas, which is one of the largest bays in the world and is surrounded by lush tropical vegetation, including the Sierra Madre Mountains.
Cabo vs Puerto Vallarta – Getting there and around
Getting to Cabo San Lucas and around
Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) will be the easiest option for you, especially if you’re flying in from out of the country.
The airport provides regular flights from cities across the United States and Canada, as well as domestically.
With several highways connecting Los Cabos to other cities (like Tijuana and La Paz) in the region, traveling by road is also a viable option.
If you’re located in Southern California, a road trip to Los Cabos is definitely something to consider.
Budget-conscious travelers can also travel by bus.
The area is also a port of call for many cruise liners. Cruise ships usually dock at either the Cabo San Lucas Marina or Cruise Terminal, both located in the center of the city.
From there, travelers can experience the area’s countless attractions.
The best way to move around is by car because of the long distances and so many things to see that you cannot reach by public transportation.
I recommend Discover cars rental to browse for the best available deal.
Here is the best Car rental searching platform
When It comes to renting a car in Mexico I always recommend Discover Cars platform where you can compare prices among different car rentals and then decide which one is best for you.
Getting to Puerto Vallarta
Getting to Puerto Vallarta is quite easy. The easiest option will be by air; the city is served by the Licenciado Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR), which provides regular flights from airports across the United States, Canada, and other locations within Mexico.
The airport is located just a few miles from the city center, making it convenient for travelers to get to their destinations quickly and easily.
It is also well-connected by road, with several major highways linking it to other cities in the region, most notably Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco state.
Alternatively, there are several long-distance bus companies that operate regular services to and from Puerto Vallarta, providing a cost-effective and convenient option for those traveling to the city.
Lastly, you can also arrive here on cruise ships. There are several major cruise lines operating itineraries that include stops in Puerto Vallarta.
You get to enjoy the luxuries of a cruise ship and explore this paradise, win-win!
Puerto Vallarta vs Cabo – Best beaches
Cabo offers a diverse range of beaches catering to different interests and preferences.
But one thing’s for certain: Cabo beaches are some of the most beautiful in Mexico, offering stunning views of the ocean, unique rock formations, and an abundance of activities.
The waters are clear and turquoise, perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
There are several beaches around Los Cabos that offer calm waters and are ideal for families with young children, while others are more popular with surfers and adventure seekers.
Almost every beach will have a variety of activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and beach volleyball, making Los Cabos a perfect destination for those looking for a fun-filled vacation.
Additionally, many of the beaches are also surrounded by nature and lush vegetation, adding to their natural beauty.
Puerto Vallarta Beaches
Puerto Vallarta’s beaches are also well-renowned for their stunning beauty, with crystal clear waters, soft sand, and lush tropical vegetation.
These beaches provide visitors with a wide range of activities, from swimming and sunbathing to snorkeling and kayaking.
With the majestic Sierra Madre Mountains as a backdrop, and the vibrant culture of Puerto Vallarta adding to the ambiance, these beaches offer an experience that is truly unique and unforgettable.
Whether you’re a local or a tourist, Puerto Vallarta’s beaches provide a perfect destination for those looking to relax, have fun, and soak up the beauty of the Mexican coastline.
From Playa de Muertos to Conchas Chinas, Quimixto, and the nearby Sayulita and San Pancho Puerto Vallarta offers the best beach time in protected areas and calm water for swimming.
Surfers also find some of the best surfing spots in Mexico, in the Sayulita area.
Puerto Vallarta vs Cabo – The best time to visit
Best time to visit Cabo
The best time to visit Cabo depends on several factors, such as weather, cost, and the desired level of activity.
As such, there’s no universal answer to: “What’s the best time to visit Cabo?” Below are some factors you should consider.
The high season in Cabo is generally from December to April, when the weather is cool and dry, and there are a lot of activities and events going on.
During this time, prices are also higher as it is a popular travel period. Los Cabos will be packed with tourists who are also looking to take advantage of the perfect conditions.
If you’re visiting during this time, prices for accommodations and flights will be much higher and you’ll have to make your bookings months in advance.
For those who are looking to save money and/or avoid crowds, there’s the low season.
The low season in Cabo is from May to November when there is a higher chance of rain and fewer tourists.
However, during winter, which is the high season, it can get cold and water-related activities less enjoyable.
To be more clear, the water temperature gets cold from December until May or June and you need a thick wetsuit to dive and snorkel. And in the months of December through March, you will need a jacket or a jumper when the sun goes down.
Prices are lower owing to lower demand, and money hotels/resorts and airlines are offering deals to entice tourists, making it a good option for those looking to save money.
However, it’s important to note that the weather can be more unpredictable during this time and some tourist facilities may be closed.
Also keep in mind that winter is also the time when the whales migrate to this area so you will be able to watch humpback whales from Cabo, grey whales in Bahia Magdalena, and whale sharks in La Paz, at only 2 hours drive from Cabo.
Check out my recent video on YouTube gray whale watching in Puerto San Carlos
Best time to visit Puerto Vallarta
Since Puerto Vallarta and Cabo are geographically situated so close together, the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta remains the same as Cabo.
The best time to visit Puerto Vallarta for the best weather is from December to April, also called the high season.
However, the type of climate is very different. Winters are also warm in Puerto Vallarta, while winters are pretty cold in Los Cabos.
You’ll get warm and dry weather, plenty of activities, and higher prices.
The low season is from May to November, with a chance of rain and lower prices. To save money, the low season is recommended, but with the possibility of weather and facilities being affected.
Cabo vs Puerto Vallarta – Things to do
Top Things to do in Cabo
🌊 Spend a day on the spectacular beaches
If you’re traveling all the way to Los Cabos, you cannot miss out on the spectacular beaches.
Start your day by visiting one of the many calm and serene beaches, such as Chileno or Santa Maria, where you can enjoy a swim in the clear, turquoise waters and soak up the sun.
For a more thrilling experience, head to the surfers’ paradise of Playa Costa Azul or Playa Monuments, known for their great waves and popular with surfers from around the world.
After an active morning, enjoy a delicious seafood lunch at one of the many beachside restaurants while taking in the stunning views.
As the day comes to an end, grab a drink from one of the beachside bars and watch the colors of the sky change as the sun sets.
With a stunning sunset, memories to last a lifetime, and a mix of relaxation and adventure, a day spent on the beaches of Los Cabos is sure to be a highlight of any trip to this beautiful region.
👉 Go zip lining
5⭐ 1,941 Reviews
The tour offers tourists an adrenaline rush and breathtaking views and is suitable for those who have an appetite for adventure.
Complimentary pickup and drop-off are included for all participants from most Cabo San Lucas hotels, making the tour convenient and hassle-free.
Whether you’re looking for a thrilling activity or simply want to experience the beauty of the landscape, the Canyon Canopy Adventure from Los Cabos is a must-do for anyone visiting the area.
5 stars!!⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Brittany_A, Feb 2023
Such an amazing adventure, Aside from the guys making it an enjoyable experience, from Brandon, Joel all of them, they were also very knowledgeable on the area and made it clear we were safe!! Definitely recommend and would do all over when I visit Cabo again!!
👉 Book your Canyon Canopy Adventure on VIATOR
🐳 Go whale watching (Winter only)
5⭐ 551 Reviews
If you’re in Cabo during the high season, there’s another thing that you absolutely shouldn’t miss: the chance to swim with humpback whales.
This tour lets you do just that. As a participant, you will join a small-group boat tour (limited to 10 passengers), accompanied by a marine biologist who will provide expert commentary and insights into the wildlife.
For those seeking a more intimate experience, you also have the option to upgrade to a private tour of four to eight people.
With several departure times to choose from, this tour is suitable for a range of schedules and preferences.
Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a unique experience, this tour is a must-do while in the area.
Great experience!⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Anonymous, Feb 2023
Clean and organized. Great experience in an small vessel with a biologist on board. Nice pictures of the whole trip were sold at the end. We were very satisfied.
👉 Book your Whale Watching Tour on VIATOR
⛵ Go Luxury Sailing
4.5⭐ 993 Reviews
What’s better than sailing on the coast of Cabo? Sailing on the coast of Cabo in luxury!
This tour offers a perfect way to spend a day on the shimmering waters of the Cabo coast.
You will board a luxurious sailboat and enjoy the Mexican sunshine while sipping cocktails and sparkling wine from the open bar.
After snorkeling, participants will enjoy a gourmet lunch featuring international specialties, including fresh shrimp and seafood.
The tour is limited to 16 people, ensuring personalized attention from the onboard guide.
With plenty of free time for snorkeling or paddleboarding among tropical fish, this tour is ideal for those seeking a relaxing and enjoyable experience.
Fun in the sun⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Rick_B, Feb 2023
Sailing and seeing the whales. This was a great way to spend a few hours. We saw many of the items on our agenda in one trip.
👉 Book your Luxury Sailing Tour on VIATOR
🌮 Take the best taco tour in town
5⭐ 748 Reviews
Explore the vibrant downtown district of Cabo San Lucas with this tour and discover local foodie hotspots while sampling classic Mexican dishes like tacos and quesadillas.
Join a 3-hour food tour in Cabo San Lucas led by a professional guide from Juan More Taco food tours.
Enjoy personalized attention on this small-group tour with a maximum of 12 people, and gain valuable insight into Mexico’s culture, history, and folklore.
Explore the downtown district and sample local delicacies on this culinary walking tour.
Great Tacos and Tequila!⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Stacy_B, Feb 2023
Milton is amazing and comfortable with what he does. You can tell this is his passion. I learned allot about tequilas and enjoyed some amazing culture foods mad from scratch right in front of you. I will definitely try the evening tour next when I return back to Cabo!
👉 Book your Cabo Downtown Taco Tour on VIATOR
🚢 Take a sunset cruise
5⭐ 689 Reviews
Take in the stunning coastal sights of Cabo on this scenic boat tour. Board a spacious and well-equipped trimaran and lounge comfortably while viewing iconic locations such as Lovers’ Beach, a sea lion colony, and the famous Cabo arch.
The tour includes unlimited drinks at an open bar and snacks, as well as a fun-filled music playlist and photo opportunities.
Savor the beauty of the sunset while taking in the best of Cabo San Lucas on this boat tour.
A must in Cabo!⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Lisa_G, Feb 2023
Great ride to Arch – able to see whales, sea lions and beautiful sunset! Service was excellent from crew members!
👉 Book your Los Cabos Sunset Cruise on VIATOR
Top Things to do in Puerto Vallarta
🐬 Swimming with dolphins (in the wild)
Swimming with dolphins in the wild in Puerto Vallarta can be a unique and memorable experience.
Observing these intelligent and playful animals in their natural habitat can be an educational and thrilling encounter.
However, it is important to choose an ethical and sustainable tour operator that prioritizes the welfare of the dolphins and follows responsible wildlife tourism practices.
👉 Book your Dolphin Watching Cruise on VIATOR
🌿 Check out Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens
5⭐ 1 Review
This tour of the Botanical Gardens in Puerto Vallarta offers a great combination of hiking and wildlife experiences.
Visitors will start by visiting the beautiful Puerto Vallarta Botanical Garden, famous for its collection of orchids and diverse plant life.
Then, they will take a walk along the Horcones River and witness the local wildlife.
After the hiking, the tour takes you for a delicious meal and tequila tasting at a riverside restaurant, as well as the chance to swim, and relax in the natural pools of the River.
To conclude the tour, you will interact with exotic animals at the Los Veranos Animal Sanctuary.
The animals in the sanctuary animals include monkeys, toucans, macaws, iguanas, snakes, and others.
It is an ideal excursion for families and friends seeking a unique and thrilling adventure.
Amazing bucket list tour⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ A Tripadvisor Reviewer, Feb 2023
The gardens were beautiful and the hike was tough. But thanks to my amazing guide Bruno I finished the hike. Professional, respectful, understanding, knowledgeable and handsome.
👉 Book your Botanical Gardens Tour on VIATOR
🏝️ Take a tour of the Marietas Islands
3.5⭐ 53 Reviews
This tour of Marietas Islands in Puerto Vallarta offers a unique opportunity to explore the diverse marine and bird life that inhabit the area.
Participants will be transported by boat to the island and will enjoy a continental breakfast and an open bar on board.
Along the way, you’ll snorkel at the Arrecifes shore of Marietas Island, as well as kayak and paddle board.
Visitors will also have the chance to visit Playa la Nopalera and explore the area. The tour is all-inclusive, providing snorkeling equipment, a delicious meal, and entertainment such as music and karaoke.
Wonderful⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Bertha_P, Aug 2022
It was wonderful. The crew is very helpful and organized. It was an amazing experience. And they make it so much fun. We loved it and had so much fun. We want to do it again with our kids.
👉 Book your Islas Marietas Snorkeling Tour on VIATOR
5⭐ 195 Reviews
Experience the thrill of ziplining in Puerto Vallarta as you soar over the treetops on this 11-zipline tour.
With flexible start times and pickup locations, this tour is designed for adventure seekers and offers varying lengths, speeds, and scenic views of the rainforest.
No previous zipline experience is required and it is the perfect adventure for anyone seeking a thrilling experience.
Fun and safe zip lining experience!!⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Julie_B, Feb 2023
It was a fun and exhilarating experience! Instructions were clear and they were very accommodating considering our fear of heights! Would recommend to friends!
👉 Book your Canopy Zip Line Tour on VIATOR
Cabo vs Puerto Vallarta Day trips
Day trips from Cabo
▶ Todos Santos
Todos Santos, located just an hour’s drive from Los Cabos, is a charming and historic town that offers a different perspective from the busy coastal resort town.
This day trip is a must-visit for those who are looking to immerse themselves in Mexican culture, history, and natural beauty.
The town boasts a rich cultural heritage, with its well-preserved colonial architecture, vibrant arts scene, and lively cultural events.
Visitors can take a stroll down the streets, visit local museums, or stop by one of the many art galleries to see works by talented artists.
Todos Santos is also home to some of the most stunning beaches in the area, including Playa Cerritos, which is known for its great surfing conditions.
In addition, visitors can go horseback riding, hiking, and exploring the surrounding landscape.
▶ La Paz
La Paz, known for its stunning turquoise waters, is the capital of Baja California Sur and is a hub for whale watching, kayaking, snorkeling, and other water activities.
Here, visitors can visit cultural attractions such as the Museum of Anthropology and the Museum of Natural History, and enjoy the city’s vibrant local street markets, shops, and restaurants.
Whether exploring the city’s charming streets, swimming in the crystal-clear waters, or simply taking in stunning landscapes, a day trip to La Paz is a must-do for anyone.
▶ Cabo Pulmo
A day trip to Cabo Pulmo from Los Cabos is highly recommended for those who appreciate the beauty of the ocean and the unique marine life that exists within it.
Cabo Pulmo Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has the only coral reef system in the Gulf of California.
In addition, the local community is actively working to conserve the area, making it a perfect destination for eco-conscious travelers.
Here, visitors can experience a truly breathtaking underwater world, with a rich variety of tropical fish, sea turtles, and even manta rays.
Understandably, swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving are popular activities in Cabo Pulmo.
The stunning beauty of this natural park is not to be missed.
▶ Sierra de la Laguna
A day trip to the Sierra de la Laguna from Cabo is a must for nature lovers. This beautiful mountain range is a protected biosphere reserve and is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, including endemic species that can’t be found anywhere else.
Visitors can hike through lush forests, swim in crystal clear streams, and spot rare animals like the bighorn sheep.
With its stunning scenery and diverse wildlife, Sierra de la Laguna is a hidden gem that is well worth a visit.
Day trips from Puerto Vallarta
Located just 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita is a charming, laid-back surf town known for its bohemian vibe and stunning beaches.
Explore the vibrant town, stroll through its streets filled with colorful murals and street art, visit local markets and boutiques, or just relax on the beach and soak up the sun.
Sayulita is also popular for its surf culture, making it a great destination for surfers or those wanting to try the sport.
Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun, try new foods, or simply relax, Sayulita offers a unique experience for all.
▶ Boca de Tomatlan
Boca de Tomatlan is a small village located in the lush jungle near Puerto Vallarta, renowned for its picturesque beach and peaceful atmosphere.
It’s a perfect destination for those looking for a peaceful escape from the bustling city life of Puerto Vallarta.
Here, you’ll be able to explore the stunning surroundings, take a dip in the clear turquoise waters, and relax on the soft sand of the beach.
With its laid-back vibe, delicious food, and breathtaking scenery, a day trip to Boca de Tomatlan is highly recommended to anyone who’s visiting Puerto Vallarta.
Quimixto is a charming fishing village with a population of fewer than 500 people. To get there, one needs to take a boat from Boca Del Tomatlan, so I recommend visiting both Quimixto and Boca de Tomatlan on the same day trip.
You can also take a taxi, but it’ll be the more expensive option. Once here, you can hike to the famous Quimixto waterfall, enjoy the delicious food in the area, and relax at the pristine and noticeably uncrowded beaches.
▶ San Pancho
Visit Playa San Pancho for a relaxing day at the beach, stroll around the town to admire the street art and local shops, and explore the local art scene at galleries and community centers.
Take a surf lesson or enjoy local cuisine, and visit the Olive Ridley sea turtle nesting site from October to March.
Rent a car or take a taxi to get to San Pancho, as it’s not easily accessible by public transportation.
▶ Punta de Mita
Punta de Mita, located north of Puerto Vallarta, is a picturesque beach town known for its stunning coastline, world-class resorts, and diverse outdoor activities.
During a day trip, visit the serene beaches such as El Anclote, try surfing or stand-up paddleboarding, and explore the local shops and restaurants.
You can also take a boat trip to the nearby Marietas Islands, a protected marine park, for snorkeling and wildlife sightings, or go on a whale-watching tour from December to March.
Cabo vs Puerto Vallarta – Renting a car
Whether you need to rent a car in Los Cabos depends on your personal travel preferences and plans.
If you plan to stay in one area and don’t have plans to venture far from your hotel, a rental car may not be necessary.
Taxis, shuttle services, and public transportation are available in the tourist areas of Los Cabos.
However, if you plan to explore the area more extensively, a rental car can provide more flexibility and independence.
Los Cabos offers plenty of scenic drives, beaches, and attractions to visit, and having a rental car makes it easier to get around and see more.
Additionally, many of the popular attractions, such as the Cabo San Lucas arch and some of the day trips I’ve mentioned above, are located some distance from the main tourist areas and can be challenging to reach without a car.
In Puerto Vallarta
The answer to whether you should rent a car in Puerto Vallarta is pretty much the same as in Cabo.
Puerto Vallarta offers many scenic drives, beaches, and attractions in the surrounding areas, and having a rental car makes it easier to get around and see more.
If your plan is to not venture far from the city, you most likely won’t need a car. On the other hand, if you plan to go see nearby places such as the Marietas Islands and San Pancho, you should definitely rent a car.
Driving tips and where to rent a car in Cabo or Puerto Vallarta
When driving in Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta, it is important to keep in mind the following tips:
✅ Familiarize yourself with local driving laws and customs – Mexico has different road rules and driving customs compared to many other countries, so it’s important to be aware of them before getting behind the wheel. Familiarize yourself with local driving laws, such as not using a cell phone while driving and yielding to pedestrians.
✅ Drive defensively – Mexico’s roads can be unpredictable, so always drive with caution and be prepared for unexpected situations, like sudden stops or livestock on the road. Consider using a designated driver if you plan to drink alcohol while exploring the local nightlife.
✅ Watch out for topes (speed bumps) – Topes are common in Mexico and are often unmarked, so be mindful of your speed when driving in residential areas.
✅ Be aware of road conditions – Some roads in Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta can be narrow, winding, and in poor condition, so be prepared for a slow and cautious drive.
✅ Pay attention to road signs – Road signs in Mexico are often in Spanish, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with common symbols and directional signs. Make sure you have a map or GPS navigation system, as some roads and street signs can be confusing for tourists.
✅ Plan your route carefully – Map out your route before setting off, and be mindful of remote areas where there may be limited cell phone coverage or gas stations.
✅ Avoid driving at night – As a general rule, you should avoid driving at night, especially in rural areas, as wildlife and poor road conditions can pose a threat.
By being cautious, aware, and well-prepared, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable driving experience in both Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta.
As for where to rent a car, there are several options in both areas. Major international car rentals companies such as Hertz, Avis, Budget, Alamo, and Enterprise have locations at the airports and in various locations around both cities.
Additionally, there are local car rental companies that offer competitive rates and services.
To find the best option, it’s recommended to compare prices and services before booking a rental car.
Browse through international and local car rentals and find the best deal.
Puerto Vallarta vs Cabo – Food and Nightlife
Cabo restaurants and nightlife
Los Cabos offers a wide variety of dining options and a vibrant nightlife scene. The restaurants here range from casual street food stalls to upscale, gourmet establishments serving Mexican, international, and fusion cuisine.
You can find various dining options in the city center, as well as in the tourist areas, such as Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo.
The nightlife in Los Cabos is lively and diverse, with a range of options to suit different tastes and preferences.
Cabo San Lucas is known for its vibrant party scene, with a variety of bars, clubs, and live music venues.
On the other hand, San José del Cabo is a more laid-back option, with a range of bars and restaurants offering live music, drinks, and a relaxed atmosphere.
Puerto Vallarta restaurants and nightlife
Puerto Vallarta offers a diverse range of dining options to suit all tastes and budgets.
From local street food stalls serving traditional Mexican dishes to upscale restaurants offering a variety of international cuisines, the city has something to offer everyone.
Seafood is quite popular here with tourists, as the city is located on the Pacific coast and has access to fresh seafood.
There are also many restaurants that offer outdoor dining with views of the ocean, making for a beautiful dining experience.
The nightlife in Puerto Vallarta is also lively and offers a variety of options for a fun evening out.
There are many bars and nightclubs that stay open late, offering a variety of music and drinks.
For a more relaxed evening, there are also many bars that offer live music and a laid-back atmosphere.
The city’s Zona Romantica is a particularly popular spot for nightlife, with many bars and clubs located in close proximity to each other.
Puerto Vallarta vs Cabo – Safety
Los Cabos, which includes Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, is generally considered a safe destination for tourists.
Crime rates in the area are lower compared to many other tourist destinations, even those in the US and Europe, and there is a strong presence of local law enforcement to ensure the safety of visitors.
However, as with any tourist destination, it is important to take common-sense precautions to stay safe.
This includes avoiding walking alone at night in unfamiliar or poorly lit areas, being cautious with personal belongings and valuables, and not leaving drinks unattended in bars or nightclubs.
It is also recommended to use official taxi services rather than hailing unlicensed taxis on the street.
Puerto Vallarta Safety
Puerto Vallarta is a popular tourist destination known for its stunning scenery, beautiful beaches, and vibrant culture.
Tens of thousands of tourists, Americans, and Europeans included, visit this paradise every year without incident.
As the town is a major source of tourism revenue, the Mexican government has taken steps to ensure the safety of visitors.
There’s a heavy law enforcement presence in the area, making sure that unpleasant incidents are few and far in between.
That doesn’t mean you can throw all caution in the wind, though. Petty crime still takes place in town, albeit rarely, and you have to be watchful for that.
The good news is that, with just a little bit of care, you can greatly reduce your chances of even falling victim to petty crime.
Take the same precautions that I’ve mentioned above under Cabo, and you’ll guarantee yourself a fun and safe time while you’re in the city.
For a more detailed safety guide, you can see my post here.
Puerto Vallarta vs Cabo – Where to stay (include a brief description of each hotel
🏨 Cabo Hotels
1. The Cape Thompson
The Cape Thompson is a luxury boutique hotel in Los Cabos, offering suites and villas with stunning views of El Arco and the Bahia Cabo San Lucas horizon.
It features two pools, a rooftop lounge, a spa, a fitness center, and diverse dining options including the signature restaurant Manta, helmed by award-winning chef Enrique Olvera.
2. Barcelo Grand Cabo (family)
The Barceló Gran Faro Los Cabos is a premium hotel located on the seafront of the Sea of Cortez.
With luxurious rooms and suites featuring private balconies and first-class comforts, this hotel is a great choice for peace and quiet, being 2.5 km away from the colonial town of San José.
The resort offers 5 restaurants, 3 bars, and a full-service spa, and is equipped to host all types of events.
The Barcy Club provides fun activities for kids, and the hotel has a heated pool and daily entertainment program.
It is ideal for families and anyone looking for a peaceful and comfortable stay by the sea.
3. Breathless (for singles)
Breathless Resort in Cabo San Lucas is an adults-only, chic resort that offers a luxurious and unforgettable vacation experience.
With its stunning views of the marina and Medano Beach and its contemporary suites with furnished balconies or terraces, this resort provides a perfect mix of relaxation and entertainment.
There are twelve gourmet restaurants and bars, two infinity pools, an award-winning rooftop lounge, and a lively entertainment scene with DJ pool parties, live music, fashion shows, and social sunset soirees, making it a great choice for singles looking for a vibrant vacation experience.
In addition, the local nightlife of downtown Cabo San Lucas is just a short stroll away.
With its stunning views, luxurious amenities, and endless entertainment options, Breathless Resort is the perfect choice for a stylish and unforgettable getaway.
4. Los Milagros Hotel (budget)
Los Milagros Hotel is a budget-friendly, boutique hotel located in the heart of downtown Cabo.
With its convenient location, guests can walk to a variety of ethnic shops, bars, and restaurants, and are just a few blocks away from the famous Marina, sunset cruises, world-class fishing, and water sports.
The vibrant nightlife of Cabo is also just a few streets away, making this hotel an ideal spot for those seeking an authentic experience.
With only 12 rooms, the hotel offers a more authentic experience of Cabo. If you’re tired of staying at hotels where there are always lots of people around, Los Milagros would be the perfect hotel for you.
🏨 Puerto Vallarta Hotels
1. Melia Puerto Vallarta All-Inclusive
Meliá Puerto Vallarta is a four-star, all-inclusive resort located in an exclusive corner of Marina Vallarta, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
The resort features comfortable rooms with balconies overlooking the ocean, magnificent pools, palapas, and restaurants that offer a chance to sample the local flavors.
With its tropical garden and the genuine essence of Mexico, this resort offers a perfect environment for family trips and romantic breaks.
The resort is integrated with its beautiful natural surroundings, and guests can enjoy the harmony of the area with a visit to the YHI Spa located in the middle of a beautiful lake.
This warm and friendly resort is the perfect choice for those looking for a memorable vacation in Mexico.
2. Luna Liquida
Luna Liquida Boutique Hotel in Puerto Vallarta is a unique place that blends inspiration and leisure.
Located just a short walk from some of the best beaches and tourist attractions in the area, the hotel features 17 rooms and 5 villas that offer a comfortable and inspiring atmosphere.
The handmade decor, carefully chosen by the hotel’s owner and musician Fher Olvera, creates a cozy and intimate atmosphere for guests visiting for a family vacation, business trip, or honeymoon.
At this hotel, guests can experience art, music, fine cuisine, and romance in a truly special setting.
3. Hacienda San Angel
Hacienda San Angel Hotel is a sophisticated and intimate boutique hotel located on a hilltop overlooking the Guadalupe Church and the Banderas Bay.
The hotel offers twelve luxuriously appointed suites surrounded by lush gardens filled with fragrant flowers and trickling fountains.
Each suite is distinct and features air conditioning, spectacular coastal views, private balconies, antiques, and fine art from the 17th century.
The hotel also boasts three pools, a roof-top fine dining restaurant, and nightly cocktail hours, making it a perfect escape for vacationers looking for a blend of colonial charm and outdoor activities.
4. Grand Miramar
Grand Miramar Resort is an intimate and elegant boutique resort located just 5 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta’s downtown, offering breathtaking views of the lush Sierra Madre Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
With a contemporary style, Grand Miramar features Residences with 1 to 4 bedrooms, each with a full-sized balcony, granite countertops, marble floors, hardwood furniture, and luxurious linens, as well as high-end appliances and 24-hour room service.
The resort also offers an adult-only terrace with 2 hot tubs and a heated pool, along with private chef service, two specialty restaurants, and a wine and spirits selection.
Cabo vs Puerto Vallarta: Final thoughts
So… is Puerto Vallarta or Cabo better? Objectively, there’s no answer to this question.
Both are amazing destinations with their own unique qualities that offer travelers the opportunity to experience a memorable vacation.
When it comes to choosing between the two, it all comes down to personal preferences.
If you’re looking for a vibrant and lively city with an authentic Mexican charm, then Puerto Vallarta is a perfect choice.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more upscale and luxurious experience, then Cabo San Lucas is the ideal destination.
There’s no lack of opportunities to relax and unwind at either location, whether it’s lounging on the beach, swimming in the sea, or exploring the local area.
Both also offer world-class dining and shopping experiences, with a range of local and international cuisine options to choose from.
Ultimately, whether you choose Puerto Vallarta or Cabo San Lucas, both destinations will offer you an unforgettable experience.
Whether you’re traveling with friends, family, or your significant other, both Puerto Vallarta and Cabo offer relaxation and adventure that will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.
So, use the information I’ve provided above to choose your destination (preferably without stressing too much about it), pack your bags, and get ready for an adventure that you’ll never forget.