South Side, Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide
South Side Summary
- Small-town "Old Puerto Vallarta" with cobblestone streets
- Less touristy; more of a cultural enclave
- Plenty of bars and beachfront cafes
- Excellent dining options
- Easily navigated on foot
- Vibrant nightlife
- LGBT-friendly (arguably the most in Mexico)
- Friendly, sociable locals
- Low-rise hotels can make street noise an issue in some rooms
- Older, smaller hotels
- Farthest from the airport (a pro for some)
- Jellyfish can be a problem in the fall
What It's Like
Even though it's just a 10-minute drive from downtown Puerto Vallarta, the vibrant South Side feels like it's worlds apart from the crowded tourist resorts just to the north. The small beach community feel here has earned it the nicknames "Old Town" or "Zona Romantica," and rightly so: here, the cobblestone streets are lined with small shops, charming cafes, authentic restaurants and red-brick roof houses. It's a veritable cultural enclave in a destination sometimes known for blatant tourist traps and overwhelming crowds during high season.
The famous Playa de los Muertos draws the beach-going crowd and offers popular water activities such as snorkeling, fishing, boating and kayaking. Once the sun goes down, beach-goers in search of vibrant nightlife don't have to venture far: popular bars line the beachfront and small clubs dot the cobblestones throughout the area.
The South Side has a vibrant gay community and is arguably the most gay-friendly tourist destination in all of Mexico. The area hosts many popular gay bars and clubs, as well as an open and accepting environment for travelers of all orientations.
Where To Stay
Playa de los Muertos leaves very little to be desired beach-wise, and finding a place to stay right on the water is not challenging regardless of your budget. Staying farther off the shore is by no means a deal breaker, though: You'll still be surrounded by small shops, grocery stores, tailors, restaurants and Internet cafes. Hotels such as the Blue Chairs farther south along the beach are popular with many gay and lesbian visitors.