The popularity of Puerto Vallarta’s nightlife scene has given it an extra touch of sophistication that many other beach destinations don’t share. There’s something for everyone here: The offerings range from quiet neighborhood bars and numerous terraces with oceanview tables to ultra-cool rooftop lounges and pounding dance clubs. Since Puerto Vallarta is a top destination for Mexicans and foreigners alike, you can expect to find an international clientele at many of the trendy nightspots.
For the visitor this means that a night out isn’t the inexpensive fun it once was. It’s much harder on the wallet these days, but on the other hand, you won’t have any trouble finding a bartender who will pour you a wicked cosmopolitan or offer a lengthy martini or margarita menu with flavors that you hadn’t dreamed existed.
You’ll need to dress up more than you might when clubbing in other beach destinations, but don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes: There aren’t just the long nights of dancing to consider, there are also the cobblestone streets. But some things are the same as the rest of Mexico: The action doesn’t really start until after midnight.
As the hot spot for gay travelers in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta has seen an increase in the range and refinement of the gay nightlife choices as well. There are drag shows and friendly local bars, along with the pick-me-up, toss-me-down, shake-it-loose joints and strip clubs. The Zona Romántica, the area south of the Río Cuale in downtown Puerto Vallarta, is home to most of the area’s gay bars.
All this sophistication doesn’t mean that people looking for the serious party scene will be disappointed. Puerto Vallarta has a lot of raucous nightspots, especially along the Malecón during spring break and the student month of June. Whatever your taste, you’re bound to find something fun. Just get out there: The night lasts forever and the sun comes up late in Vallarta.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Puerto Vallarta, 7th edition