Puerto Vallarta Gay Travel
Puerto Vallarta gay travel thrives with lively bar-lined streets, tasty tacos and pulsing gay nightlife. Don’t miss where to stay, the gay area and popular LGBT resorts.
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 thumping gay nightlife. This small city is a frequent choice for Americans and Canadians, especially when cooler weather arrives to the north.
Many of my gay friends and acquaintances rave about gay-friendly Puerto Vallarta for its fun nightlife and extravagant gay scene. I always imagined this city to be flooded with gay travelers buzzing around beach bars. But, before visiting Puerto Vallarta, I never fully understood what specifically makes this destination so attractive to gay men.
I quickly found out that Puerto Vallarta is exactly as I imagined! I soon found the answer to my question of why it’s such a gay hotspot. Firstly, Puerto Vallarta gay travel is so popular because the city is quite conducive to group travel. The gay scene here is physically compact, making it super easy for groups of LGBT travelers to coordinate plans.
Numerous direct flights from U.S. and Canadian cities also helps to fuel gay travel. But, even though many come to Puerto Vallarta with groups of friends, I tackled PV as a solo traveler instead. Plus, I made a couple friends along the way.
Puerto Vallarta is not only 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, PV is a great first choice.
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Is Puerto Vallarta Gay Friendly?
Puerto Vallarta is undeniably gay-friendly. As you walk around the streets of PV, you’ll see gay flags flying everywhere. In fact, it’s impossible to walk too far without seeing one. With literally dozens of gay bars and clubs in various neighborhoods, there is certainly a huge affinity for the LGBT community.
Puerto Vallarta Gay Travel: Where to Stay
Puerto Vallarta is geographically large, and tourists spread out everywhere. However, all the action pertinent to a gay traveler is actually quite concentrated. When browsing hotels, you’ll probably come across accommodations stretching from the Hotel Zone, or Zona Hotelera, all the way south to Conchas Chinas, south of the gay district.
I recommend you stay in the either the Centro neighborhood, or even better, the Emiliano Zapata Zona Romántica (Romantic Zone). These neighborhoods are most noteworthy and have a vibrant urban feel. Imagine low-rise buildings and cobblestone streets for a dozen or so blocks, lined with shops, markets and traditional Mexican food carts.
Centro and Zona Romántica are the heart of Puerto Vallarta. Getting around on foot between them is super easy, too. Restaurants line the waterfront promenade while even more authentic food spots are nestled along inland streets. In general, Centro hotels will tend to be a little cheaper than in the Romantic Zone, but they aren’t too far of a walk.
Luxury Rentals & Home Stays
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. 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 Puerto Vallarta gay travel with a group of friends, check out some of the impressive private rentals anywhere south of Playa de Los Muertos. Keep in mind that some can be quite far down the coast, so be cognizant by mapping taxi times.
The Puerto Vallarta Gay Area
I highly recommend staying in the Puerto Vallarta gay area because it’s convenient and you’ll never run out of things to do. Furthermore, meeting up with friends should easier here since there are so many hotel and resort options in close proximity. If you choose a place to stay in the gay area, you’ll have tons of options for restaurants, shopping and beach clubs, all within a 5-minute walk, more or less.
The Puerto Vallarta gay neighborhood starts in Zona Romántica and continues southward to the border of the Amapas neighborhood. Most of the gay-friendly establishments and nightlife is within the five or so city blocks from the waterfront. East of Road 200 in Zona Romántica, things become more residential and quiet.
Puerto Vallarta Gay Resorts & Hotels
Two popular and well-known resorts in the gay area are Blue Chairs Resort by the Sea and the Almar Luxury LGBT Resort. They are both convenient for their location in the heart of Puerto Vallarta’s daytime gay scene. In this part of town, you’ll be close to the gay beach, yet still be within walking distance to all the gay nightlife venues in Zona Romántica.
Another popular Puerto Vallarta gay hotel is Piñata PV Gay Hotel, however I personally have never been. 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. Check out rates and on their website.
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 serves a large market. It was quite similar to any other standard hostel, having bunk beds with privacy curtains, electronic passcode 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! If you stay at Jet’s, I’d love to know about your experience. Send wolfyy an email and let me know.
Puerto Vallarta Gay Travel Experiences
You’ll firstly want to get oriented with the most vibrant part of Puerto Vallarta in the streets of Zona Romántica and Centro. Los Arcos is a fun spot to walk through after sunset as street performers put on shows for tourists. With all their sound system equipment, you’ll probably hear it from hundreds of feet away!
While you’re probably eager to relax on the beach and grab drinks at the beach clubs and bars (those sections below), here are two quick local experiences to check off your list while visiting. First, stop by Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The structure is nicely lit at night, so you can walk by pretty much any time.
Afterward, browse the nearby Cuale Island Flea Market. A cluster of outdoor shopping stalls line adjacent Rio Cuale. While you’re there, walk across the wooden suspension bridge linking the Centro neighborhood to Zona Romántica. I took this walkway all the time while exploring everything PV has to offer.
Puerto Vallarta's Gay Beach
During the day, droves of gay men in hang out in a specific area along the shore. The gay beach is not truly marked online, so it may not be obvious. However, when you do reach it, you’ll definitely know.
For reference, Playa de Los Muertos is the main beach and its quite a long stretch. The Puerto Vallarta gay beach is at the very southern tip of Playa de Los Muertos. It will be obvious when you arrive, as you’ll see all the gay tourists splashing in the ocean and, without a doubt, 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. See the restaurants section of this guide for authentic places to eat afterward.
Lounge at Mantamar Beach Club
Mantamar Beach Club & Bar is a gay mainstay in Puerto Vallarta. 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 lounge in style with a cabana or gazebo. 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.
Explore Local Beaches: Playa Amapas & Conchas Chinas
Prefer tranquility instead of the bustling Playa de Los Muertos? There are plentiful options offering seaside serenity. If you’re comfortable climbing some steep pathways, continue walking southward along the shore from the Mantamar Beach Club.
First, you’ll stumble upon Playa Amapas. Enjoy the stunningly picturesque views over the water of the wilderness to the south. Waves crash over rock outcrops along the shore, leaving lovely little channels of flowing water.
Keep walking even farther south and you’ll reach an even more beautiful place called 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.
Get Slushies at Blondies Loft + Slushbar
Sit down and relax or grab them to go; the alcoholic slushies at Blondies are perfect. In the humid heat, you’ll be glad you stopped by Blondies Slushbar. They have almost a dozen flavors. Everything is sweet, delicious and definitely cools you off. I would frequently grab one of these on my early afternoon walks to the beach.
Blondies has a few tables along the sidewalk as well as an indoor loft space with more tables. Ordering to go is simple as well, since they sell drinks at a bar right on the sidewalk. Their hours are 11:00 AM to 2:00 AM.
Restaurants in Puerto Vallarta
For a place as popular as Puerto Vallarta, travel websites tend to list inauthentic, recommendations where you’re likely to surround yourself with other groups of tourists. So above all, don’t take just any suggestion. I’ll make sure you find some authentic Mexican food in Puerto Vallarta with these spectacular local food spots and LGBT favorite recommendations below.
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 entrees. Super cheap (about $1 USD per taco) and undiscovered by tourists, Mariscos el Guero is definitely a restaurant worth trying, even if it’s for a snack. Note they’re closed on Wednesdays.
Apaches Martini Bar: Rowdy Gay Hangout
Gay travelers in Puerto Vallarta love Apaches. 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 Martini Bar and make a reservation ahead of time.
Lonchería las Americas: Order In
For a quick bite to eat while walking through Zona Romántica, or if you’d like to have food delivered to your hotel, order from Lonchería las Americas. They have an amazing fruit, yogurt and granola plate made with freshly cut fruit. I ordered this more than once! If you stop by for lunch, try their amazing tortas.
Puerto Vallarta Gay Bars & Clubs
There are so many gay bars in Puerto Vallarta that it can be difficult to figure out which is the most popular or which to choose. If you’ve already done a quick search online for gay bars, you’ll notice how many places there are to choose from.
I was lucky enough to try almost all of them while spending nearly two weeks in PV. Here are some of my favorite gay bars I recommend adding to your travel list.
Mr. Flamingo: Puerto Vallarta Gay Travel Favorite
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, but before you know it, this hangout packs in with a great mix of English and Spanish speaking partygoers. Check out more on the Mr. Flamingo Facebook Page.
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. See events and photos on the CC Slaughters Facebook Page.
Paco’s Ranch: Dancing, Drag & Jello Shots
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 Nightclub Puerto Vallarta
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.
CO-DE: The Biggest Puerto Vallarta Gay Club
CODE is the biggest gay club in Puerto Vallarta, and the multilevel balcony-style venue is remarkable. I was completely blown away with my incredible experience here. I don’t often get the “travel chills”, but this awesome nightclub experience (with my newly-made local friend Luis), did the trick!
If there’s one thing you need to do in Puerto Vallarta, it’s enjoying a night out at CODE.
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 many nights, the staff concertedly hands out hundreds of sparklers during a monumental song as the time approaches midnight. There was even a Michael Jackson impersonator performing later in the night when I went!
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.
You can expect a mixed crowd, with tons of LGBT people and allies. I would consider it more of a “straight-friendly” club, since it’s technically a gay club. Try to go on the weekend before midnight to take part in the sparkler event.
CODE also offers VIP bottle service upon request. Make sure to visit the CO-DE Puerto Vallarta Facebook Page for fantastic photos of what to expect, or to book a table. The general cover charge to enter is 100 Pesos.
Divas Bar: Cozy & Lively
The crowd at Divas Bar is quite mixed, so you’ll find more diversity than just gay men. The LGBT crowd, and seemingly some allies frequently attend for an entertaining night of dinner and drinks.
La Noche: PV Gay Club & Stripper Bar
La Noche is a pretty popular gay club and stripper bar in Puerto Vallarta. I love their rooftop terrace. The lighting is cozy and there are plenty of areas to lounge around. In my opinion, La Noche is a fantastic spot for solo travelers to go out to make some new friends!
During the week they have some of the most popular drag shows in town. Check out the La Noche website for events and photo galleries of their parties. Entry cover fee is 60 Pesos.
La Chachalaca: Gay Happy Hour
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, seating and fun music.
Directly adjacent to Mr. Flamingo’s, Margarita Bar 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 guys behind the bar while grabbing a beer to start my night.
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 Modelo, Pacifico or Tecate while waiting for your besties.
Puerto Vallarta Gay Travel: More Bars
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. I did not personally spend any time at the couple of establishments below, but I did walk by to check them out.
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.
If you’re seeking yet another option to gawk at male dancers, is Antropology Gay Dance Club. Antropology is exclusively a nude male strip club. This place gets mixed reviews, however that tends to be the case with most stripping establishments, no matter where you are in the world.
Puerto Vallarta Gay Travel Tips
Dinnertime in Mexico is similar what Americans are used to, Puerto Vallarta being no exception. 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 destination, you’ll naturally encounter restaurants and bars that charge an arm and a leg for low-quality food. As a general rule, you’re going to find the best, most authentic restaurants slightly inland.
I recommend not settling with the generic restaurants right on the waterfront promenade. However, the restaurants that are farther south with seating right on the sand south are an exception. Sometimes nothing beats dinner right on the beach. These restaurants are certainly more stylish.
In my opinion, you should avoid restaurants/pubs, like Los Muertos Brewing & Pizzeria for example, which frequently buzzes with older American tourists while playing sports on the television and overcharging for food. Plus, who wants pasta and pizza in Mexico, anyway?
Stick to the good stuff while trying out local spots and I promise you’ll be more satisfied.
Need a New Swimsuit or Beach Towel?
If you’re in need of any new beachwear or accessories, there are a few stores directly behind the Blue Chairs beach bar across the street from a place called Massage at Sapphire. 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 Zona Romántica (exact location here). They have a wide range of clothing types.
Find Local Puerto Vallarta Gay Events
There’s always something LGBT-related going on in PV. Gay Guide Vallarta’s Event Calendar lists local activities for the LGBT community. Check it out to 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 Gay Travel Busiest?
In terms of seasonality, most destinations in Mexico experience more tourism when the U.S. and Canada start to experience cooler weather. The high season for Mexico is November through April, but tourists certainly visit year-round. PV is also quite popular for long weekend trips over holiday weekends.
On a weekly basis, Puerto Vallarta’s nightlife explodes Thursdays through Sundays. This is mainly because vacationers love Puerto Vallarta for weekend getaways. Tourism is so popular here though, that just about every night of the week will have something going on. Gay bars on Monday through Wednesday nights are still lively, but not as crazy as the weekends.
Getting to Central Puerto Vallarta from the Airport
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 and there are always drivers near the airport. Taxis and Uber rides are quite inexpensive too, so there’s no need to take any special discount offers from your hotel or anywhere else. In my opinion, the best rates on taxi fares are simply available right there at the airport.
Uber cab drivers pick you up outside the quaint exit of the terminal, but not in the taxi loop. Walk a minute toward the street exit to meet your ride. Then, your journey begins!
I hope you have a blast in Puerto Vallarta! It’s definitely one of the LGBT community’s favorite gay travel destinations.