Many people ask: “Is Puerto Vallarta safe from cartels in 2023”, considering the area has become a popular Mexico tourist destination. Is the crime rate high here? How secure is the transportation sector?
All these are reasonable concerns to have. In this article, I will walk you through several vital travel and safety issues, and I hope this information will make you feel more at ease about visiting Puerto Vallarta.
Despite the misconception that Mexico is an unsafe territory, it is a sizable country with many locations and one of the most popular vacation destinations. Here’s what you need to know:
- Puerto Vallarta is surrounded by the clear waters of Bahía de Banderas (Banderas Bay), the Sierra Madre mountains, and lush forests.
- Tourists who visit Puerto Vallarta still need to exercise caution and make adequate preparations, although crime rates have decreased.
- The local cuisine, sights, and beaches are all worth checking out. However, be on the lookout for pickpocketers in busy areas.
- A trip to visit Puerto Vallarta will not disappoint. Local authorities have rolled out measures to protect the residents and tourists. So, bring some sunscreen and a Taser (Just kidding!).
I shall look at more safety precautions to help you have a fantastic trip, but for now, let us look at drugs and cartel violence.
Is Puerto Vallarta Safe From Cartels and Dugs?
Much of the violence in Mexico stems from gangs vying for control of trafficking routes. However, drug traffickers have recently discovered that tourists represent a sizable and lucrative drug market.
This fueled an increase in violence in popular vacation spots like:
- Playa del Carmen,
- Mazatlan, and
- Los Cabos.
To be on the safe side of the law, you should know that drug use and possession in Mexico are both highly prohibited. Just say no if somebody tries to sell it to you on the street or at the beach.
The latest crime news in Puerto Vallarta happened in December 2020 when the former governor of Jalisco State, Aristóteles Sandoval, was shot and killed while on vacation at a well-known beach resort. The cartel is presumably responsible for this crime.
In recent Mexican history, this assassination has ranked among the country’s most publicized political events. Even so, the crime rate in Puerto Vallarta is exceptionally low, and the city and its surrounding area have remained remarkably secure throughout the years.
Aside from having drugs, there are other crimes that you, as a tourist, should be aware of. And that is what I am going to highlight next.
Tourist-Related Crimes of Which They Should Be Aware
Visitors to Puerto Vallarta may be wary due to the notorious crime. Safety relies on being aware of potential threats. Here are a few examples:
- Criminal activity on the street, i.e., petty theft,
- Stealing and robbery,
- Drug misuse and distribution,
- Fraud in the taxi industry,
- Crimes committed online, including cybercrimes,
- Crimes of kidnapping and blackmail.
So what should you do to avoid being a victim of the above crimes? You should:
- Reduce the amount of cash you carry,
- Never use an ATM alone at night,
- Avoid giving in to the excessive demands of taxi drivers,
- Don’t bother bringing your costly gear or valuables,
- If a call or email seems suspicious, hang up.
Some visitors to Puerto Vallarta once experienced a terrifying encounter. Two males offered a lift to the resort, but they tried to rob them when they arrived. Be wary of anyone who approaches you offering a favor. There are dangers in Puerto Vallarta beyond the ordinary, so be on guard.
How to Deal with Police Extortion in Puerto Vallarta
Tourists who are held by police for minor violations regularly fall victim to extortion. As a result, hundreds of cops, including some high-ranking officials, were fired by the authorities. So, how can you deal with extortion?
- A Mexican police officer will ask to see your registration, driver’s license, and insurance information if you are pulled over for a traffic offense. You’ll also be notified exactly where you went wrong.
- Don’t bribe them for a minor infraction, but if you pass a red light, it’s best if they give you a ticket. The amount they ask for will vary based on how severe the infraction is.
- You should offer 200 pesos (if you seem Mexican) or 500 pesos (if you are blond with blue eyes) to avoid having your car seized and paying a greater fee for driving without a license.
- You’ll likely have to pay a total fine of 1500 pesos (or serve 24 hours in jail) if police catch you consuming alcohol in public.
The trick is to stay cool and admit fault. When it’s clear you’re going to jail anyway, make a subtle bribe offer — just like in a negotiation.
You may start low and work until you reach an acceptable sum for all parties. Never and I repeat, NEVER try to be the tough guy because, in the end, the police will always win.
Places in Puerto Vallarta to Stay Far Away From
Puerto Vallarta has a remarkably low crime rate, so residents need not worry about feeling unsafe. However, the risk of being affected by harmful events increases the further inland you travel.
Some neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta have significantly higher crime rates than others. Crimes like assault, petty theft, and drug dealing are rampant. Tourists should avoid El Pitillal, Ramblas, and Infonavit.
Staying in highly-traveled areas where other people are likely to be will keep you safer, especially at night. It would be best if you also did the following:
- Avoid driving in locations you aren’t familiar with if you’ve rented a car.
- Be cautious if you must use an ATM or the shopping centers in these areas.
- Inquire with the resort’s employees about any potentially dangerous regions in the surrounding area.
Joining a Facebook group can be helpful if you’re considering relocating to Puerto Vallarta. You can learn about the many areas of Puerto Vallarta there in ways that you can’t anywhere else.
Which Areas of Puerto Vallarta Are Most Secure?
While tourists need to be aware of the areas to steer clear of in Puerto Vallarta, they should also become familiar with the city’s safest neighborhoods. They comprise:
1. Marina Vallarta
Marina Vallarta was one of the first communities to develop as a competitor to Cancun and Acapulco in the 1980s:
- You may find it a short distance from the southern exit of an international airport and the major highway.
- You may go on long strolls without fear of being attacked, and there are plenty of beautiful yachts and sailboats to admire.
- Because of the many retirees who have made this area their home, it is relatively peaceful and secure.
2. Zona Romantica
The area is terrific for all families, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and asexual. The Romantic Zone is widely recognized as Mexico’s most welcoming area for the LGBTQ community.
- The area has trendy boutique hotels on cobblestone lanes and restaurants providing authentic Mexican cuisine.
- The Romantic Zone is also renowned for its lively nightlife and extensive heritage.
- The famed flea market is a great place to find customized handcrafted items, such as Mexican-style blankets, a variety of gorgeous textile products, and colorfully painted crockery.
3. Nuevo Vallarta
The area is another safe choice for vacationers in Nayarit, near Puerto Vallarta.
- Since there haven’t been any reported crimes in Nuevo Vallarta for years, it’s a safe place for visitors to relax and take evening strolls.
- Nuevo Vallarta is second after Marina Vallarta when it comes to peaceful areas.
4. Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone)
Many people spend their vacations here because of the abundance of convenient all-inclusive resorts.
- This area is known for its white sand beaches and proximity to the world-famous Galleria Vallarta Shopping Mall.
- Shopping malls and high-rise apartment complexes abound in the Hotel Zone, and one of the best is La Isla, which features a revolutionary movie theatre and stores worldwide.
- Tourists may easily arrange cab rides whenever they need them.
5. Conchas Chinas
Conchas Chinas is a great option to stay in, as the neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta seem like a romantic retreat without sacrificing safety.
- Because of its location on a sloping mountainside, Conchas Chinas boasts some of the finest sunset views in Banderas Bay.
- If you go during whale-watching season, you might also see some whales.
- The terrain of Conchas Chinas is quite hilly, and dining options are limited. The stunning scenery, though, could make the effort worthwhile.
Safety Advice and Precautions to Take
In as much as the goal is to enjoy yourself, safety should be a priority while at Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific coast. You should keep in mind the following general safety tips:
- After dusk, stick to busy, well-lit areas.
- Don’t experiment with drugs or venture into unknown regions.
- Keep your valuables safe and sensitive documents locked away.
- Obtain the emergency services and police numbers.
- Always keep an eye on your environment.
- Avoid drawing attention to yourself by flaunting your wealth.
- Communicate in Spanish if possible.
- Maintain a high vigilance to avoid harm and have a good time.
Ensure you always carry a first aid kit because accidents can happen anytime. This leads us to our subsequent discussion: how to handle emergencies.
How to Respond in Case of an Emergency
Emergency preparedness is essential in Puerto Vallarta. Anything can happen at any time. Knowing what to do and following simple safety guidelines can significantly increase your chances of survival. Here are a few tips:
- Keep Your Cool: When faced with a crisis, the best thing you can do is to remain calm and collect your thoughts.
- Reach out for assistance: Call 911 or the hotel.
- Give Specifics: Describe where you are and what happened in simple terms.
- Do As Directed: Abide in what you’re told when help arrives.
- Be prepared: Always have your passport, insurance card, and cash.
- Maintain vigilance: Monitor your things, and avoid dark places.
Now that you know the safety tips and precautions, let’s see: is Puerto Vallarta safe in terms of transportation?
Are the Modes of Transportation Safe in Puerto Vallarta?
Do you have concerns about your safety while exploring Puerto Vallarta? Well, it’s pretty secure. You have four main modes of transportation taxis, car/scooter rentals, public transport like buses and boats, and Uber.
Let us look at each mode in depth.
How Safe Is Uber in Puerto Vallarta?
In the same way that using Uber is safe anywhere else, the same applies to Puerto Vallarta.
- The Uber app provides access to all of the company’s security features.
- You may help by verifying the vehicle’s legitimacy and your identity with the driver before getting in.
- While Uber is convenient, the strong demand and shortage of drivers in Puerto Vallarta might be problematic. Expect to wait up to fifteen minutes at times.
How Safe Are Taxis in Puerto Vallarta?
You can feel at ease calling a taxi in Puerto Vallarta. However, it is not a good idea to hail a cab on the street, as it might belong to a vehicle used by pirates.
Taxi piracy is a serious problem in several cities around the globe. However, with the help of applications like Uber, getting a cab has never been simpler.
How Safe Is It to Use Public Transportation in Puerto Vallarta?
The best way to travel around Puerto Vallarta is by public transit, which is also very safe. The city’s public transportation options consist of bus and boat rides.
- The cheapest method to get around the city is on one of the local buses, which run from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
- The bus will arrive at your stop every five minutes because they operate on loops.
- If you are looking to spice up your trip to Mexico hop on one of the many water taxis sailing the country’s waterways.
- Their destinations are the beautiful white sands of the southern Playa de Los Muertos pier. After that, they stop in Playa de las Animas, Yelapa, and Quimixto.
How Safe Is Renting a Car or Scooter when Visiting Puerto Vallarta?
It’s completely safe to rent a car in Puerto Vallarta. Driving in Puerto Vallarta is a breeze, but beware of the potholes and cobblestones.
Renting a scooter in Puerto Vallarta is another popular option, and it’s fun to cruise down the coast to Boca de Tomatlan. As much as this is a gorgeous route, scootering along it might be risky because there is little room to maneuver.
Family: Is Puerto Vallarta Safe When Travelling With Family
Before taking your family on vacation, you must clear all the Puerto Vallarta safety concerns you might have.
- It has been confirmed that Puerto Vallarta is among the safest major Mexican tourist destinations for families.
- You’ll find international tourists and residents strolling about Zona Romantica and the Malecón, and the beaches here are much less dangerous than those in places like Los Cabos. This makes it an ideal place to bring kids.
- However, unlike popular family vacation destinations like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta does not have many all-inclusive resorts. Part of the reason is that many older people spend their golden years in Puerto Vallarta.
Solo Female Travelers: Is Puerto Vallarta Safe for Them?
You might ask yourself, “Is Puerto Vallarta dangerous if I go alone?” Well, there is no need for first-time solo female travelers to worry about their safety in Puerto Vallarta. Puerto Vallarta is a safe destination if this is your first time venturing alone.
Important still use caution and familiarize yourself with standard safety procedures. When sight-seeing solo travelers should:
- Stick to busy locations,
- Keep an eye out for cons,
- Take precautions by grouping up with other people.
When visiting bars, avoid accepting drinks from random people, and always keep an eye on your beverage. Always go with your gut instinct; if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
LGBTQ Community: Is Puerto Vallarta Safe for Them?
This demographic may have the most concerns about feeling safe in Puerto Vallarta. But there isn’t anything to be scared of in this place.
- Puerto Vallarta is one of the most gay-friendly destinations in Mexico.
- With areas like the Romantic Zone featuring dedicated gay nightlife options.
- Several establishments in Puerto Vallarta also feature pride parades, drag acts, LGBTQ-welcoming policies, and signage.
Black People: Is Puerto Vallarta Safe for Them?
Black tourists can feel at ease as they will find a warm welcome in Puerto Vallarta.
- Minor racism or prejudice against Black people is uncommon and does not represent the city.
- The number of Black Americans and other tourists who have decided to make Puerto Vallarta their permanent residence is rising.
When visiting Puerto Vallarta, or any other foreign city, Black tourists must use common sense rules and take the same precautions they would in any unfamiliar place.
Health: Is It Safe for Travelers to Visit Puerto Vallarta?
Take note of the possible dangers to your health! The sun, dirty food, and bugs are all potential hazards. Use protective measures to lessen potential harm, such as sunscreen, bottled water, and insect repellent to reduce potential damage.
- Remember that mosquitoes can also spread more widespread diseases like Zika and dengue fever.
- Try not to get bitten by mosquitoes if you can help it.
- It would also be quite good if you had health insurance.
- Avoid eating from the street, and always wash your hands when you visit Mexico.
Stay healthy, and enjoy your trip! If you stick to the proper procedures, you’ll have the chance to create unforgettable experiences.
Beach Security in Puerto Vallarta
Most of the time, when you ask yourself, “Is Puerto Vallarta safe?” beach safety isn’t your top priority. But it ought to be if you intend to go swimming.
- Since Puerto Vallarta is located in Banderas Bay, the water there is generally considered safe for swimming.
- This is a perfect illustration of a beach paradise. Therefore, unlike Los Cabos, its ocean is safer from dangerous waves and rip currents.
- However, rip tides are a reality. If you want to know if it’s safe to go swimming, look at the beach flags.
- Ten of Puerto Vallarta’s beaches have been awarded the Blue Flag, signifying they adhere to stringent environmental criteria.
- They also have minimal levels of hazardous germs in their water.
Safe Accommodations in Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is home to many five-star hotels, making it an ideal destination for the many tourists needing a lavish vacation. Below is my hand-picked selection of Puerto Vallarta’s most luxurious hotels, where 5-star service meets 5-star luxury.
1. Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita
Elegant and serene, the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita can be found on the pristine coastline of the Riviera Nayarit. This five-star resort is the epitome of relaxation, thanks to its tranquil setting and sumptuous accommodations. Snorkeling, paddle boarding, and exploring the neighboring Marietas Islands are just a few activities for guests.
2. Imanta Resorts Punta de Mita
Imanta Resorts Punta de Mita is the pinnacle of paradise for those searching for complete privacy and a sense of exclusivity. This eco-luxury resort has private villas with infinity pools, attentive staff, and a close relationship with the surrounding natural environment. Discover the neighboring rainforests while indulging in spa treatments and fine dining.
3. The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort
The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort is the ultimate in luxury and sophistication. This luxurious beachfront resort is on a private peninsula and features panoramic ocean views, spacious accommodations, and the award-winning Remède Spa. Experience the finest cuisine, relax in the infinity pools, and play golf on courses built by Jack Nicklaus for a trip you won’t soon forget.
4. The Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit
The Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is a haven of luxury to explore. Suites at this AAA Five Diamond resort come with breathtaking ocean views, and the resort’s numerous dining and spa options are among the best in the world. This resort has something for everyone, whether resting by the pool, exploring the pristine beaches, or visiting the famous Kids’ and Teens’ Club.
5. Casa Velas
Casa Velas is a sophisticated and charming adults-only boutique hotel in the upscale Marina Vallarta neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta. The tranquil atmosphere, big rooms with plunge pools, and proximity to the exclusive Ocean Club beach club make this an ideal getaway. Enjoy delicious food and spa treatments at Casa Velas’s award-winning Spa.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Safe to Travel to Puerto Vallarta Right Now 2023?
Yes, it is safe to travel to Puerto Vallarta right now in 2023. However, tourists are encouraged to play their part by being extra careful with their belongings and not visiting dangerous places at odd times of the day.
Is It Safe to Walk in Puerto Vallarta at Night?
Yes, it is safe to walk in Puerto Vallarta at night. This is thanks to the low crime rate in Puerto Vallarta. But there is an exception. Going further inland, you are more likely to be affected by dangerous activities.
Is Puerto Vallarta Safer Than Cancun?
Puerto Vallarta is safer than Cancun. While both Puerto Vallarta and Cancun are safe places for tourists, Puerto Vallarta has a lower crime rate. Puerto is safer than other Mexican cities and is a popular tourist destination.
Which Is Safer, Cabo or Puerto Vallarta?
Puerto Vallarta is safer than Los Cabo as there are no violent crimes.
Is Puerto Vallarta safe? Yes, as long as you adhere to any travel advisories for Mexico, use your common sense, and keep up with local safety news, I don’t believe you will encounter any problems.
Remember that criminal activity can happen anywhere and is not limited to Mexico. I am confident that incidents like petty thefts are occurring in your locality.
Follow the common sense rules outlined above when visiting Mexico. This includes limiting your alcohol intake, taking a taxi rather than walking around aimlessly after dark, and not bringing any valuables like flashy jewelry with you.
I hope I managed to address your concerns about Puerto Vallarta’s safety. Share this article with your friends so they know more about safe travel, too: