Well, this is a tough one, as Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta are always competing between them and Cancun for the title of Best Mexican Tourist Destination. Each one has different qualities and it may all depend on what kind of person you are and what are you looking for. Let’s remember that when we say Cabo, we are talking of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, and that when we say Puerto Vallarta, it includes the fascinating Riviera Nayarit.
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So, let’s start with Cabo San Lucas. One of the main assets of Cabo is that it’s closer to the States, so flights are cheaper and lots of visitors even drive down the whole Baja peninsula. Cabo is in the middle of the desert, which creates an interesting contrast with the sea and the greenery of the plentiful of golf courses. Both Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are small towns where you can get along by foot, and they are connected by a long stretch of beach called the “Tourist Corridor” where most resorts are located. All in all, Cabo is a tourist destination built with the American tourist in mind.
Puerto Vallarta is a bit different and a little more diverse. First, instead of desert weather, you have a tropical one. Wherever you look to in Puerto Vallarta is green and colorful, there are flower all over the place and they are pushing hard to become the World Capital of Buganvilia. That will tell you a lot about the character of Puerto Vallarta. In contrast with Cabo, Puerto Vallarta is not a town specifically built for tourism, it was first a fishing village, and just when John Huston, Liz Taylor, Rock Hudson and Ava Gardner filmed here “The Night of the Iguana” is that it became an international hot spot. So, it keeps the charm of a genuine Mexican village, downtown Puerto Vallarta is extraordinarily beautiful and Cabo has nothing to compete with that.
Another great asset of Puerto Vallarta is its mountains, this is a city nested between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre mountains, an outstanding combination that produces breathtaking views. Besides, we have to talk about the Riviera Nayarit, a stretch of coastline of about 100 miles running north of Puerto Vallarta. This is the up and coming Mexican destination, a place that can offer the most stylish and luxurious lifestyle in Nuevo Vallarta or Punta Mita; or a most relaxed, laid-back attitude in quaint, but hip villages like Sayulita or San Pancho.
It’s really hard to choose between Cabo and Vallarta, both have stunningly beautiful beaches, both offer high-style resorts and top notch infrastructure, you can play great golf and enjoy superb fishing in any of them, and I suppose that what tips the balance in favor of Puerto Vallarta in my case, is the authentic Mexican atmosphere that can be felt at every corner.
Villa Experience founder is German born but loves all thing Mexico! He has lived in the country since 2003 and has experienced Mexico´s premier destinations at first hand. His favorite destinations are the Yucatan Peninsula, Baja California Sur, and Puerto Vallarta.