fresh perspective

Puerto Vallarta: 10 ways to slow down, take in the sun, & indulge the senses

Two men overlooking Puerto Vallarta from Casa Cupula
Puerto Vallarta is expanding its offerings with high-end accommodations and dining options. Photo courtesy of Casa Cupula

There is a renaissance happening in Puerto Vallarta, a top Mexican vacation destination with a well-deserved reputation as a place to party. But nestled within the undeniably delicious taco shops and lively gay bars of the Zona Romantica, Puerto Vallarta also boasts hotels, restaurants, and resorts that elevate the hospitality scene for those looking for a different kind of experience.

Nestled into the cliffs along the Pacific Ocean, where the sunsets light the sky on fire with a fiery glow, Puerto Vallarta appeals to all kinds of queer travelers. With a range of upscale accommodations, dining options, and bespoke experiences like water sports and spas (not of the bathhouse variety), Puerto Vallarta can feel like the ultimate indulgence for that dream vacation.

Casa Velas Resort

Casa Velas

Four-Star, Adults Only Elegance 311 C. Pelícanos · Puerto Vallarta, Jal. 48354
(322) 226-8670

For a truly elevated experience, Casa Velas is the only hotel or resort in Puerto Vallarta to earn a 4-star rating from Forbes. This property targets adults and offers the perfect environment for a romantic escape.

Casa Velas boasts one of the finest spas in Puerto Vallarta, a health retreat featuring holistic rituals, signature treatments, and therapeutic massages. There is also the beautiful golf course, and the resort’s ultra-chic Tau Beach Club is the perfect place to luxuriate the day away. Casa Velas is all-inclusive, although anyone staying at the hotel can have guests join them in the restaurants or purchase day passes for Tau.

Almar Resort

Almar Resort Luxury LGBTQ Beach Front Experience

The gay haven you have been waiting for Amapas #380 Col. Emiliano Zapata, Zona Romántica · Puerto Vallarta, Jalis 48380
(523) 222-2248

Almar Resort in Puerto Vallarta checks all the boxes: a beautiful property, luxurious guest rooms, in-room spa services, and excellent service from friendly staff. The infinity pool provides gorgeous views of the ocean and those legendary sunsets. Sitting at the rooftop Sky Bar is like floating in the sky with breathtaking views.

When you are in the mood for something more high-energy, walk over to their sister property, Mantamar Beach Club, one of the premier party spots in Puerto Vallarta.

Maxwell Residences Condominium Rentals

Maxwell Residences at Indah

Condos Serving The Glamour 478 C Sta. Barbara · Puerto Vallarta, Jal. 48399
(800) 410-9907

The condo scene in Puerto Vallarta keeps reaching higher levels of luxury, as each new building seems to out-glam all the rest. The Maxwell Residences, one of the newest players in the condo game, manages condos in several buildings in Puerto Vallarta, including two luxury towers Indah and Orchid, with all of the amenities and comforts of the finest resort.

Gyms, spas, infinity pools, and concierge service complement three- and four-bedroom condos with moveable walls to allow the ocean breeze, full kitchens, and modernist decor. 

Casa Nicole Restaurante

Casa Nicole Restaurante

Good Morning! 207 Pino Suárez · Puerto Vallarta, Jal. 48380
(322) 223-2444

Casa Nicole, a boutique hotel in Zona Romantica, has a wonderful restaurant with a charming outdoor patio, which is a popular spot for breakfast and brunch. (The restaurant is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) Restaurante Casa Nicole serves traditional Mexican breakfasts like chilaquiles and enfrijoladas, as well as American favorites.

The mimosas are heavy on champagne, so get ready for that morning buzz, although the fresh-squeezed juices are also quite delicious. Indulgent breakfast on a cute, sunny patio is the best way to wake up. Get the French Toast! You’re welcome.

Mar Y Vino

Mar Y Vino

Splash Your Feet While You Eat 106 Manuel M. Dieguez · Puerto Vallarta, Jal. 48380
(322) 121-8852

Just chilling out on a hot day can be luxurious, especially in tropical destinations like Puerto Vallarta. Cool off at Mar Y Vino, where tables are set in the pool for a cooling foot soak. The experience is relaxing and sensual, especially while watching the sunset with a delicious drink. (They also have tables out of the water if you’d rather remain dry.)

Mar Y Vino offers inventive seafood dishes and vegan options, but the star of the show here is the cocktail menu, with a liquor collection sourced from around the world.

La Cascada at Costa Sur Resort

La Cascada at Costa Sur Resort

Oceanfront Dining Km. 4.5 Carretera a Barra de Navidad · Puerto Vallarta, Jal. 48400
(322) 223-6050

Costa Sur Resort is along the cliffs of Riviera Vallarta, a collection of resorts and condos that are south of Zona Romantica. Unlike most resorts that are set back behind the beach, Costa Sur is directly on the ocean, and its restaurant, La Cascada, offers magnificent views of the waves rolling in from the Pacific Ocean. The menu includes seafood and steaks, and of course, lots of fun tropical drinks. 

Costa Sur is also a popular destination for weddings, with the tropical decor making the perfect setting for intimate, oceanfront events. The resort has proudly hosted queer wedding ceremonies long before same-sex marriage was officially legalized throughout all of Mexico’s states in 2022.  

The Iguana Restaurant & Tequila Bar at Casa Kimberly

The Iguana Restaurant & Tequila Bar

Mexican Fine Dining 445 C. Zaragoza · Puerto Vallarta, Jal. 48300
(322) 222-1336

Up in the hills above the city, there is a stunning hotel, Casa Kimberly, that boasts one of the finest and most famous restaurants in Puerto Vallarta: The Iguana. This restaurant is a must-visit for any luxury trip to Puerto Vallarta, and not just for the sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. Guests at The Iguana dine on seafood with Mexican influences, complimented by extensive lists of wines and tequilas.

The Iguana is open to the public for dinner only, and reservations are a must. Arrive a little early to enjoy a drink at the bar, and be sure to ask about the story of the footbridge that spans across the street. It is a delicious, scandalous tale and an important part of Puerto Vallarta’s history.

Cafe des Artistes Bistro

Cafe des Artistes Bistro

French fine dining in mural draped building Guadalupe Snchez 740 · Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
(322) 222-3228

Cafe des Artistes has been a leader in Puerto Vallarta’s restaurant scene for years, and it is a landmark destination in the city. Serving French-inspired cuisine with a seasonal menu, Cafe des Artistes also has one of the best wine lists in Puerto Vallarta, and the cocktails are inventive and delicious.

The cavernous restaurant has several seating concepts, which range from a lush outdoor garden to an elegant dining room complete with white tablecloths and strolling musicians. The service is perfection, like any fine dining restaurant should be. Reservation recommended.

Acqua Spa for Men

Acqua Spa for Men

P.V.’s Premier Spa For Men 450 C. Constitución · Puerto Vallarta, Jal. 48380
(322) 178-0856

Acqua features a full range of services, including massages, scrubs, facials, a Turkish steam bath, aesthetic treatments like Botox (from a licensed practitioner), and of course, you can get a mani/pedi.

The couples’ massages are especially indulgent and romantic, and the Vichy massage is a combination of bodywork and gentle, warm showers to increase relaxation. This is a male-only facility, very popular, with professional service.

Casa Cupala

Casa Cupula

Gay resort with popular pool club Callejon de la Igualidad 129 · Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
(322) 223-2484

Casa Cupula is well-known as a party destination, particularly the lively pool. But the property owners have completed some major renovations to this guesthouse, high in the hills above the Zona Romantica.

There is a serene side to the property, with beautifully designed suites surrounded by lush greenery that offer solitude after a day of fun in the sun.

The top-level lounge serves spectacular panoramic views, and Bistro, the restaurant, is a fun spot that is popular with both guests and locals, especially for Sunday Brunch. Perhaps most importantly, the staff are quite friendly and provide excellent service.

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