Puerto Vallarta Gay Travel
Puerto Vallarta gay travel recommendations for LGBT hotels, resorts, beaches, gay bars, clubs & the gay area.
The Gay Travel Experience: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Mexico’s classic gay travel destination, Puerto Vallarta lures the LGBT community with ritzy beach clubs, budget-friendly hotels and animated gay nightlife. This small city is a frequent choice for Americans and Canadians, especially in winter.
Before visiting Puerto Vallarta, I never fully understood what specifically makes this destination so attractive to gay men. Gay friends and acquaintances of mine always raved about Puerto Vallarta. I quickly found out why.
Puerto Vallarta is so popular because the city is quite conducive to groups of gay travelers. The gay scene here is physically compact. This makes things super easy for friends to coordinate plans.
The city isn’t just popular with gay travelers. The city has been a major tourist destination for decades, with tourism now comprising roughly 50% of the local economy.
Even with all these English-speaking tourists though, Puerto Vallarta maintains an authentic Mexican charm you’ll surely love. If you’ve never been to Mexico, it’s is a great first choice.
Is Puerto Vallarta Gay Friendly?
Puerto Vallarta is undeniably gay-friendly. You’ll see gay flags everywhere as you walk the city’s streets. With literally dozens of gay bars and clubs, there is certainly a huge affinity for the LGBT community.
Gay Puerto Vallarta: Hotels & Where to Stay
Geographically large, tourists in Puerto Vallarta are spread out everywhere. But most of the gay tourist activity is actually quite concentrated. Accommodations stretch from the Hotel Zone to the north, all the way to Conchas Chinas, south of the gay district.
I recommend staying in the either the Centro neighborhood or the Emiliano Zapata Zona Romántica (Romantic Zone), which I’ll explain in more detail below. These neighborhoods are the heart of the city and have a vibrant urban feel.
Imagine low-rise buildings and cobblestone streets for a dozen or so blocks, lined with shops, markets and food carts.
Getting around on foot between them is super easy, too. In general, Centro hotels will tend to be a little cheaper than in the Romantic Zone, but they aren’t too far apart.
Luxury Villa Rentals in Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta has plenty of private luxury accommodations. They’re typically found in the Amapas and Conchas Chinas neighborhoods at the southern end of the city.
You can find some truly stunning Conchas Chinas villa rentals on VRBO. While staying in these areas won’t offer you the convenience of walking out onto the liveliest streets, they will definitely make up for it with spacious, private accommodations.
If you’re planning to visit with a group of friends, check out the impressive private rentals south of Playa de Los Muertos. Keep in mind that some can be quite far down the coast. Take taxi times into consideration.
The Puerto Vallarta Gay Area
The Puerto Vallarta gay area starts in Zona Romántica (as described above) and continues southward to the border of the Amapas neighborhood.
Before mentioning the most popular hotels, I’ll say that I highly recommend staying in Puerto Vallarta’s gay area. With tons of options for restaurants, shopping and beach clubs, all within a 5-minute walk, you’ll never run out of things to do.
Most of the gay-friendly restaurants and nightlife are within the five or so city blocks from the waterfront. East of Road 200 in the Romantic Zone, things become more residential and quiet.
Puerto Vallarta Gay Resorts & Hotels
In this part of town, you’ll be close to the gay beach and within walking distance to all the gay nightlife venues.
Another popular gay hotel in Puerto Vallarta is Piñata PV Gay Hotel. Famous for their rainbow-striped swimming pool, Piñata is highly rated for being fun, clean, modern and having a great location in the center of the gay area. They also have a popular clothing-optional hot tub!
Jet’s Gay Hostel
I stayed at a few different hotels while in Puerto Vallarta, but they were fairly standard and nothing too special. I also tried out the famous gay hostel in Puerto Vallarta at the beginning of my trip.
Why did I choose it? Well, so many websites and gay travel blogs mention Jet’s Gay Hostel, but I have yet to meet anyone who has actually stayed there. So, I went ahead and booked a few nights!
Jet’s Gay Hostel is very popular, and one of the most inexpensive places to stay in Puerto Vallarta. While it’s by no means a luxury accommodation, it definitely satisfies a big demand. It was quite similar to any other standard hostel, having bunk beds with privacy curtains, electronic code entry and a small fridge.
My experience at Jet’s was truly great. The staff member who tidied up every day was kind and eager to learn about the guests and where they were visiting from. Other guys in the hostel during my stay were polite. I felt completely safe sharing a space with them.
If you do book Jet’s, make sure to bring some ear plugs to block the street noise from traffic at night. I’m a heavy sleeper though, so it wasn’t a problem.
Puerto Vallarta Gay Travel Experiences
You’ll firstly want to get oriented with the most vibrant part of Puerto Vallarta in the streets of the Romantic Zone and Centro. Los Arcos is a fun spot to walk through after sunset to see street performers.
Before you relax with drinks at the beach clubs and bars, here are two quick local experiences to check off your sightseeing list. First, stop by Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The structure is particularly pretty at night when all lit up.
Browse the nearby Cuale Island Flea Market. A cluster of outdoor shopping stalls line adjacent Rio Cuale. While you’re there, take a fun walk across the wooden suspension bridge that links the Centro and Romantic Zone neighborhoods.
The Puerto Vallarta Gay Beach
Droves of gay travelers spend their days at the gay beach. However, this spot is not specifically marked online. The Puerto Vallarta gay beach is at the very southern tip of Playa de Los Muertos, a long stretch of the most popular beachfront.
It will be obvious when you arrive, as you’ll see all the gay tourists in their fun speedo swimsuits splashing in the ocean and enjoying some people watching.
Plenty of men park themselves in the sand between the Blue Chairs Resort and the Mantamar Beach Club. Ritmos Beach Café is another popular gay hangout in this area, although all the beach cafés tend to blend together.
The beach is generally busiest between 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM. After 5:30, the area quickly empties out as everyone heads to dinner. It’s best to plan your beach time between 1:00 and 4:00 PM.
Lounge at Mantamar Beach Club
Mantamar Beach Club & Bar is a staple of the Puerto Vallarta gay travel experience. Everyone spends at least one afternoon lounging by the iconic glass-walled pool or visiting for evening cocktails. The vibe at Mantamar is very relaxed, but there’s definitely a fun energy with background lounge/house music playing all day.
It’s best to make reservations for Mantamar to secure a specific number of chairs, or stylishly lounge in a cabana. If you would rather not commit ahead of time, just drop by day-of. Put in your name and then chill on the beach until space is available.
Local Beaches: Playa Amapas & Conchas Chinas
There are plentiful options offering seaside serenity away from bustling Playa de Los Muertos. If you’re comfortable climbing some steep pathways, continue walking south.
First, you’ll stumble upon the picturesque Playa Amapas. Waves crash over rock outcrops along the shore, leaving lovely little channels of flowing water.
Even farther south, you’ll reach the dreamy Playa Conchas Chinas. You probably won’t find a tourist in sight at this beach. There’s plenty of open sand to claim.
The shoreline pathway continues southward, leading next to Playa las Estacas before the farther remote areas occupied by private resorts.
If you plan on making the journey over to these local beaches, some cleansing skin wipes will definitely come in handy. I love these especially for their exfoliating side that helps wipe away dirt.
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Blondies Loft + Slushbar
The alcoholic slushies at Blondies Slushbar are perfect. Sit down and relax or grab them to go. In the humid heat, you’ll be glad you stopped by.
Blondies has tables along the sidewalk as well as an indoor loft space seating. Ordering to go is simple as well, since they sell drinks at a bar right on the sidewalk.
Restaurants in Puerto Vallarta
Don Chava Taqueria Cantina
You absolutely have to chow down at Don Chava Taqueria Cantina. I had some of the best tacos al pastor here. The food was so good I came back twice!
They’re super inexpensive, have friendly service and they’re centrally located. Don Chava’s sidewalk seating is great for people watching, too.
Mariscos el Guero: Seafood Tacos
Mariscos el Guero is a superb alternative to traditional tacos, serving delicious seafood tacos and other traditional Mexican entrées. Super cheap (about $1 USD per taco) and undiscovered by tourists, Mariscos el Guero is definitely a restaurant worth trying. Note they’re closed on Wednesdays.
Apaches Martini Bar
Puerto Vallarta gay travelers love Apaches Martini Bar. Live music and tables overflowing with a chatty crowd take over the sidewalk for drinks and dinner around 6:00 PM. It was so crowded, I couldn’t get a seat here!
If you’re traveling in a bigger group, this restaurant is definitely the place to be. Call Apaches and make a reservation ahead of time.
Lonchería las Americas: Order In
Order from Lonchería las Americas for a quick bite to eat in Zona Romántica, or get the food delivered to your hotel! They have an amazing fruit, yogurt and granola plate. Try their amazing tortas, too.
Puerto Vallarta Gay Bars & Clubs
There are so many gay bars in Puerto Vallarta that finding which suits you best can be difficult. Having tried almost all of them while spending nearly two weeks in Puerto Vallarta, so I’ll gladly help you decide.
You can party any day of the week at Mr. Flamingo, the most popular Puerto Vallarta gay bar. Perfect music selections, an open-air feel and space for dancing always attracts a crowd. They have one of the earliest happy hours in Puerto Vallarta, usually starting at 2:00 PM!
Earlier in the evening, Mr. Flamingo is calmer as vacationers casually grab drinks. Before you know it though, this hangout packs in with a great mix of English and Spanish-speaking partiers.
My favorite part about CC Slaughters is dancing in the thick clouds of the fog machine. CC’s is quite a popular bar with more of an intense ambiance in a dimly-lit bar. The venue is medium sized, so it doesn’t take too massive of a crowd to feel full.
While CC’s is not the most prominent gay club in town, I certainly wouldn’t skip it!
The only gay bar in Puerto Vallarta that’s open until 6:00AM, Paco’s Ranch is definitely a crowd favorite.
No matter what type of traveler or partier you are, Paco’s is welcoming and is sure to entertain. There’s a pretty steady crowd throughout the evening, but the bar really fills up when all the neighboring establishments close for the night.
Get ready for a wild night after 4:00 AM when the late night partiers fill in. It’s easy to dance into the early morning hours at Paco’s, especially considering the abundant 20 Peso Jell-O shots. Paco’s has pretty good drag performances, too. They’re usually on the shorter side, with the last performance at 3:00 AM.
Industry Gay Nightclub
Industry is definitely the best place to go if you like house/electronic music. This is one of Puerto Vallarta’s bigger gay clubs. Expect pulsating beats in a warehouse-style space with high ceilings.
Colorful laser lights, a dark interior and a fantastic bar attracts lots of guys, especially those who love a good circuit party.
Industry tends to be much busier on weekends, but you’ll still find dancing on weeknights. It just won’t be jam-packed Cover charge for entry is 60 Pesos at the door.
CODE Gay Club
CODE is the biggest gay club in Puerto Vallarta and is my personal favorite. The multilevel balcony-style venue is remarkable. I don’t often get the “travel chills”, but this awesome nightclub experience (with my newly-made local friend Luis), really impressed me.
The sound system, special effects, attentive staff and entertainment makes CODE one of the most unique clubs I’ve been to in a long time. On weekends, the staff concertedly hands out hundreds of sparklers during a monumental song as the time approaches midnight.
For those who dislike the traditional thumping gay club, you will probably have a great experience at CODE. This isn’t a club where everyone takes their shirts off. People here dress quite stylishly. I would compare it to a chic New York City nightclub.
Expect a mixed crowd of LGBT travelers and our straight allies. I would consider CODE to be more of a “straight-friendly” club, since it’s technically a gay club. General cover charge to enter is 100 Pesos.
The crowd at Divas Bar is quite diverse, so you’ll find more than just gay men. The LGBT crowd along with some allies attend for a night of dinner, drinks and shows.
La Noche Gay Stripper Bar
During the week they have some of the most popular drag shows in town. Entry cover fee is 60 Pesos.
Expect a relaxed, casual vibe at La Chachalaca, a perfect happy hour spot. It’s great to visit after the beach, before dinner. The bar is less than a five-minute walk from the central part of Playa de Los Muertos. They have open-air seating overlooking a quaint garden area on a street near the beachfront.
You can’t miss La Chachalaca with their gay pride flags lining the bar’s facade. They offer cheap happy hour specials, too. I recommend this gay bar for groups since there’s a lot of space and seating.
La Cantina Margarita
Directly adjacent to Mr. Flamingo’s, La Cantina Margarita is calmer option. It’s a small gay bar with seating and some of the friendliest bartenders in Puerto Vallarta. I ended up laughing and talking with the bartenders after ordering a drink.
Margarita bar is also a good meeting point if you’re traveling with a group of friends. Since its more subdued and you can sit down with a drink while waiting for your crew.
More Gay Bars in Puerto Vallarta
The bars described above are the mainstays of gay nightlife in Puerto Vallarta, but that is certainly not all of them. Here are a few other places you may be interested in.
Wet Dreams is a subdued gay bar where you can watch gorgeous go-go dancers while perched on a bar stool. They don’t accept credit cards and require that you spend a minimum of $10 USD. It never seemed too crowded whenever I passed the bar.
Antropology Gay Dance Club is exclusively a nude male strip club. and the go-to spot to drool over male dancers. This place gets mixed reviews, which is typical for any given stripping establishment.
Puerto Vallarta Travel Tips
Dinnertime in Mexico is similar what Americans are used to. Restaurants fill up starting around 6:00 PM and most do not stay open past 9:00 PM. If you tend to eat late like I do (or even later like Spaniards in Barcelona), don’t let yourself miss dinner!
Avoid Tourist Trap Restaurants
Since Puerto Vallarta is such a popular tourist spot, you’ll encounter tourist trap restaurants and bars that charge high prices for low-quality food. As a general rule, you’re going to find the best, most authentic restaurants away from the waterfront.
Restaurants that are farther south with seating directly on the sand are an exception in my opinion. Sometimes nothing beats a stylish beachfront dinner.
In general, avoid pub restaurants (this applies to pretty much any travel destination outside Europe). For example, Los Muertos Brewing & Pizzeria frequently buzzes with older American tourists while playing televised sports and overcharging for food. Plus, who wants pasta and pizza in Mexico, anyway?
Grab Some Gay Swimwear
If you’re in need of any new swimwear or beach accessories, there are a few spots I recommend for gay travelers. Directly behind the Blue Chairs beach bar, you’ll find a few stores across the street from the Sapphire Massage parlor.
The main store is called Men’s Boutique. They’re oriented toward the LGBT community and also carry towels.
Alternatively, you can shop at Liquid Men, a small boutique in the center of the Romantic Zone (exact location here). They have a wide range of clothing types.
Local Gay Events
There’s always and LGBT-related event happening in Puerto Vallarta. Gay Guide Vallarta’s Event Calendar lists local activities for the LGBT community. See what’s going on while you’re visiting.
They show events ranging from drag shows and karaoke to horseback riding. bird-watching breakfasts and boat tours.
When is Puerto Vallarta Busiest?
The high season for Mexico is November through April, but tourists certainly visit year-round. Puerto Vallarta is also quite popular for trips over holiday weekends.
Puerto Vallarta gay nightlife explodes Thursdays through Sundays. This is mainly because of an influx of weekend travelers.
Overall Puerto Vallarta tourism is so high though, that just about every weeknight has something going on. Gay bars on Monday through Wednesday nights are still lively, but not as much as the weekends.
Licenciado Gustavo International Airport (PVR) is about a 30-minute taxi drive from the Centro neighborhood, the heart of Puerto Vallarta’s tourism. It’s a pleasant drive along the shore. You’ll pass through Marina Vallarta, an area called the Hotel Zone and Las Glorias along the ride.
Lastly, there is no need to book a taxi in advance since Uber is widely available in Puerto Vallarta. There are always drivers near the airport and rides are quite inexpensive. There’s definitely no need to take any special discount offers from your hotel or anywhere else.
Uber cab drivers pick you up outside the airport terminal exit, but not inside the taxi loop. Walk a minute toward the street to meet your ride. Then, your journey begins!