Gay Puerto Vallarta
Travel alert concerning Covid-19:
Mexico was frighteningly unprepared for the Coronavirus. As the virus spreads, the government is still downplaying the danger. See Slate, March 19, 2020.
The United States and Mexico entered a joint initiative March 21 restricting non-essential travel along the U.S.-Mexico land border. The land borders between the USA and Mexico are closed to all non-essential travel until at least February 21, 2021.
Puerto Vallarta was founded the same year as Seattle, in 1851. The small fishing village soon became a local vacation destination, but access was limited to sea routes and mule trails, until airplanes first arrived in 1932. A road connection was built in 1942, the same year that vacation ads of the Air Transport Company of Jalisco began to appear in a New York magazine. By 1945 their DC-3s were bringing 21 passengers per flight for fun in the sun. But it was the 1963 John Huston film, The Night of the Iguana, with Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and their media-grabbing love affair and marriage, that really put Puerto Vallarta on the US tourist map.
The city's gay evolution began just two decades ago. That's when Paco Ruiz opened his namesake gay nightclub, Club Paco Paco in this seaside getaway on the west coast of Mexico. At the time, there was only one other gay bar in town. Despite being arrested three times, Ruiz refused to be intimidated by the police harassment. Eventually the media attention and public sympathy that followed created a friendlier environment for his and other gay businesses.
Now Mexico's most popular gay destination, bar none, this is a magnet for gay tourists from all over North America, a short flight away. Today there are around thirty gay bars and nightclubs at any given time, many gay-friendly cafes and restaurants, and over a dozen gay hotels and bed-and-breakfasts. There are also lively and eclectic local arts, crafts and live music scenes, along with chefs who trained in some of the world's finest restaurants at work here.
At Thanksgiving there's a Jeffrey Sanker White Party, and the New Years celebrations feature another Jeffrey Sanker White Party, along with Will Gorges NYE PVR at Oscars. Beef Dip is the annual men's week/ bear gathering in late January. Another White Party follows during the February President's Day Weekend in the USA. Vallarta Pride events take place in May, with Parade, Block Party, GlowJob Clothing-Optional Party, White Party, pool and beach parties, fashion show, boat cruise, Drag Derby, Pride Run, Health Fair, films and concerts, climaxing on the last weekend of the month. CarnavalPV was cancelled in 2019.
Zona Romantica. Almost all the gay businesses are located in the south end of the city in the historic district of Emiliano Zapata. Everything is easily walkable in this quaint, cobblestoned part of town. The gay section of the beach at Playa de los Muertos is here too, long associated with Blue Chairs hotel/restaurant and nightclub.
El Centro. This is the city's downtown, located just north of the Zona Romantica on the other side of the Cuale River. Although some refer to the Zona Romantica as the "Old Town," El Centro is older. This side of the river now has only two gay bars and just one gay men-only B&B, but a number of good restaurants, the Our Lady of Guadalupe parish church, and the Malecon boardwalk remain of interest.
The Hotel Zone. This is the area north of downtown where you'll find most of the modern high-rise hotels. Unless you are desperate to redeem points at a chain hotel, you'll be better off staying in Zona Romantica or El Centro.
The Puerto Vallarta Gustavo Diaz Ordaz Airport is just north of the hotel zone. A cab from the airport to the Zona Romantica can be found either among the official government taxis (tickets at the booth just past the timeshare hucksters), or by walking across the pedestrian bridge to take one of the city cabs lined up on the other side of the road for a bit less. Puerto Vallarta Tours and Vallarta Transfers offer stress-free and inexpensive pre-reserved tranfers into town, in air-conditioned comfort.
Diana's Tours offers pickup services for their cruise clients. For just US$24 a driver will whisk 1 or 2 travelers to their hotel. For larger groups in a van, that's US$10 per person. A company rep will be waiting by luggage claim, and again after you pass customs, to escort you.
Car rentals can be found in the arrivals terminal, but also in town without difficulty, for when you need one to get around beyond the city limits. Having a car can otherwise be more hassle than it's worth. For those traveling light and cheap, the city bus stop is just outside the airport gates.
Puerto Vallarta is in the same state of Jalisco as Guadalajara, just over five hours away by car or coach. ETN (website in English), one of several companies offering modern inter-city coach service, some with WiFi access, with eleven daily round-trips between the two cities.
Unless you plan to do a lot of driving outside of the city, don't rent a car. Taxis are plentiful and cheap, although you should agree on a fare before you get inside. Pay in Mexican pesos for a better rate. Although it's not customary to tip taxi drivers, locals will often round up the fare. Most North Americans do tip - one reason why drivers seem so eager to pick them up.
Buses run north and south for those who want to explore further out, and renting a Jeep or Volkswagen convertible is easy and affordable. Most hotels have excellent concierge service and can point you in the right direction. Looking for a day on a secluded beach? There are many local fishing boats you can charter to take you across the bay. Ask your concierge to recommend one.
Some parts of town have steep steps-only streets, inaccessible by taxi except from the top or bottom ends of the road. Those with potential problems should plan ahead and consult their hotels about getting around when venturing beyond the flat beach front areas - help can always be at hand. As in many Hispanic and European countries, address numbers usually follow the street names, but some businesses use the English/French convention of putting numbers before street names on their websites.
Currency and Money
Mexico’s currency is the peso, which is divided into 100 centavos. In 2017-18 the exchange rate ranged from 18-20 pesos to the US dollar. See XE for current rates. ATMs are everywhere around town, so there’s no need to carry a lot of cash. Remember to tell your bank about travel plans for hassle-free debit and credit card transactions.
GayGuideVallarta recommends using Cashola ATMs as having "the most up to date anti-skimming technology and has excellent bilingual customer support in the event of any problems" - this after reports of card cloning around town. PuertoVallarta.net has a list of local banks. HSBC, Santander, and Scotiabank are three internationals with local branch offices.
What to see & do
Hit the Beach: It's always warm enough to swim in Puerto Vallarta, so, not surprisingly, the beach is the city's most popular attraction. Puerto Vallarta's unofficial gay beach is the Blue Chairs Beach. It's on the southern end of Los Muertos beach, directly in front of the Blue Chairs Resort by the Sea. A second, smaller gay beach resort was established a few years ago, a short walk to the north, and the sands in front of other more traditional beachside restaurants have become more gay-friendly in recent years. Staff will soon welcome you like old friend to a shaded chair overlooking the shimmering water, with disarming smiles and a bucket of ice chilled beers - or whatever you fancy.
Walk the Malecon: the boardwalk on Banderas Bay runs from the north end of Zona Romantica, over the Cuale River and into downtown Puerto Vallarta. Interesting sculptures (including sand sculptures) dot the Malecon once you reach downtown. The famous dolphin and the arches that are symbolic of Puerto Vallarta are across from the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the city's best-known landmark. Several important religious festivals take place along these streets each year.
Stroll up the hill behind the church to find the famous pink Puente del Amor, the "love bridge" connecting mansions once occupied by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, at Calle Zaragoza 445.
Take a day cruise: Diana's Tours runs daylong catamaran excursions, departing every Thursday morning in season, from Los Muertos Pier, with snorkeling and beach stops along the way. Ocean Friendly Tours operates one of the most respected whale watching expeditions in Puerto Vallarta, December through March each year. Wet & Wild 6-hour cruises leave noon Saturdays in season from Los Muertos Pier, with on-board bar, snorkeling In Los Arcos Nature Reserve, lunch at a Las Animas beach restaurant, and a clothing-optional stop at Los Caballitos Beach - an 18+ "Gays Gone Wild" event.
Experience local scenery: Estigo Scooters offers off-road ATV tour adventures into the Sierra Madre Jungle, waterfalls, swimming holes and a beachside fishing village stop. Estigo also arranges zip-line canopy tours at Canopy Indio at Paradise Adventure Park. From a ranch north of Vallarta take leisurely rides with Boana Horseback into the hillside forest for a dip in the river, then a restaurant meal and drinks with a gay friendly guide. PV Sea Dive offers SCUBA diving tours and courses, snorkeling tours, whale watching and beach tours.
Shop on water: The island in the middle of the Cuale River includes a long stretch of shops where you can buy souvenirs and more artsy-fartsy stuff from local artisans.
Eat outside: It's almost never cold, so dine at one of the many sidewalk, beachfront and rooftop restaurants, and don't be afraid to eat like the locals at sidewalk taco stands. Check out our 50+ restaurant listings, plus those to be found among the hotels and resorts.
See a show: Act II Stages (Insurgentes 300) presents Main Stage musicals, plays, concert series, and Red Room cabaret and drag shows. The Encore Bar is also here. Also see stage productions at Incanto (Insurgentes 109).
Hit the clubs and dance the night away: Nightlife starts late here. Don't expect to see anyone in the big gay dance clubs before midnight, but there are plenty of options along the beach and in back streets of the Zona Romantica all day long. The Jeffrey Sanker group WPPV and Will Gorges present big New Year's dance parties each year, and there are parties for Vallarta Pride too, in late May. We list over 80 bars and cantinas, nightclubs, cafes, restaurants, cocktail lounges, male strip clubs and dance clubs at our map & listings pages, with the pick of these below.
Mix it up: Mexicans love Americans and Canadians, and vice versa, and most gay people in Puerto Vallarta speak enough English to get by. Don't worry if you only speak the international language of love, we list some places to get together below, under 'Bathhouses & spas.'
Organize your day
Area gay nightlife offers a wide variety of restaurants, clubs, bars, and martini lounges, most in the Zona Romantica. The scene starts relatively late, then continues at some locations until 8am. To follow local custom, take an afternoon siesta before heading out for a busy night of dinner, drinks, shows and dancing. Among the many shows are comedy routines, and drag and stripper shows. The Olvas Altas sidewalk cafes and bars, close by the beach, provide a particularly pleasant place to stroll in late afternoons and early evenings. Later, the scene moves to the late-night spots further in. Take care when leaving the clubs late -- travel in groups or have the club call a cab.
Media and Resources
Be sure to pick up Gay Guide Vallarta when you get into town. It's easy to follow, written mostly in English and includes a handy gay map.
GayPV gay magazine and directory, in partnership with the PV Convention & Visitors Bureau, has a print guide and website promoting gay Vallarta, in both English and Spanish.
Discovery Vallarta is another good source for up to date local gay information, from people who really know and love this town, and without a lot of hype. In particular they list over 50 art galleries and museums in town. They also list cyber/internet cafes in town, for computer access, WiFi, inexpensive phone calls, and business services, along with meals and beverages; these include Café Vayan and Mi Internet Cafe.
Urbana Revista, the gay glossy monthly magazine with a focus on Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta - their website went dark, but they have facebook events listings and online issuu readers.
First time here? The bi-lingual tour guides of Gay Vallarta Bar Hopping will make you feel at home, touring the night life scene and getting you into the clubs without waiting in line.
Vallarta Eats offers tours to get you past the tourist traps, to sample authentic Mexican food with English-speaking guides. Vallarta Food Tours offers another, similar culinary adventure. The Fodor's Travel website lists good restaurants throughout Vallarta's neighborhoods, with diverse cuisines, at various prices.
Beck's Best, Puerto Vallarta's Restaurant Guide written by gay guy Gary Beck, may be bought online.
Visit Puerto Vallarta, by the PV Municipal Tourism/ Convention and Visitors Bureau Office, has information and services at their Independencia 123 and Mina 448 locations in Centro - as well as online.
Speaking in tongues
Most locals speak some English, so getting along without Spanish is possible. But it's always appreciated when the effort is made to speak the local language and a few phrases can go a long way.
Almar All-Suites Resort (Amapas 380; 52-322-222-4888), LGBT/straight-friendly, adults-only, luxury 78-suite beachfront resort. Affiliated with Mantamar Beach Club at Los Muertos beach, featuring infinity pool, cozy cabanas, lounge beds and gourmet fine dining. Also, Top Sky Bar, with meals, buffets, cocktails and shows.
The legendary Blue Chairs Resort by the Sea (Malecon 4, Playa Los Muertos; US/Canada 888-302-3662), one of the world's best known gay hotel resorts with 45 rooms, a popular beachside restaurant on the gay beach, and rooftop pool patio/bar nightly shows with Dirty Bitches drag and go-go boys. Staff here can book local tours and day trips.
Boana-Torre Malibu Hotel (Amapas 325, 52-322-222-0999), gay resort hotel, short walk from beach; bedrooms, two baths, kitchen & salon, water-facing balconies, romantic pool. Tours can be booked here. Budget rooms at Boana 2 and at Casa Benito B&B where rates include access to pool and other main hotel facilities.
Casa 567 (Venustiano Carranza 567; 52-322-123-8707), quiet east end of street, restored townhouse, four 1-bedroom suites, one 2-bedroom suite, rooftop pool, patio mountain vistas, just 8 blocks from the beach.
Casa Cupula (Callejon de la Igualdad 129; 52-322-223-2484), gay boutique resort hotel, close to beach, restaurants, cafes, luxurious, stylish and intimate, with gourmet food, tempting cocktails, two pools, spa and gym.
Casa Enigma (Paseo de las Madre Perlas 154, Conchas Chinas; 52-322-292-8183), high-end guesthouse, three villa B&B with heated infinity pool, hot jacuzzi and steam spa.
Casa Fantasia (Pino Suarez 203; 52-322-223-2444), three old-style haciendas, patio and pool, furnished with antiques and artwork; gay owned, straight-friendly, but no unregistered guests allowed. Full breakfast daily, hors d'oeurves and champagne some evenings.
Hotel Amaca (Pino Suárez 583; 52-322-292-3546), 22 boutique hotel rooms, sea views, roof-top pool, bar, food deliveries, WiFi, parking.
Hotel Amapa (Púlpito 138; 52-322-222-4488), 55-room design hotel, rooftop pool/bar, café/restaurant; opening fall 2019.
Gay-owned and staffed, Hotel Mercurio (Francisca Rodriguez 168; 52-322-222-4793), 28 rooms, some with kichenette, good location, outstanding service and value, gourmet breakfast, romantic indoor pool with popular happy hour for drinks attracting guests, visitors and locals, mid-afternoons until after 10pm daily.
La Terraza Inn (Amapas 299; 52-322-223-5431), gay owned apartments and guesthouse, 10 cabana-style rooms, many with private patios, some with partial ocean view, all with free WiFi; near gay beach, restaurants and gay nightlife.
Piñata PV Gay Hotel & Bar (Carranza 322; 52-32-324-77237), men-only rooms at the center, bar, clothing-optional pool and Jacuzzi, rooftop bar/patio.
San Franciscan Resort & Gym (Pilitas 213; 52-322-222-6473), boutique luxury residence hotel, affordable prices, very private, convenient to beach and businesses; studios, 1-4 bedroom apartments, kitchens, free-weights gym, pool, WiFi, comedy club shows in season.
Vallarta Shores (Malecon 400; US/Canada 800-228-4552), general-public boutique hotel in heart of Zona Romantica gay area, directly overlooking the beach. Three-levels, 10 suites, 1 to 3 bedrooms, all with balconies and ocean views, living areas, and bedrooms.
Villa David (Galeana 348; 52-322-223-0315), gay men-only B&B guesthouse, downtown area, old-world hacienda style, nine rooms, some with balconies; common area living room and kitchen, courtyard patio garden, clothing-optional heated pool, rooftop sun deck, Jacuzzi with a view.
Villa Mercedes Petit Hotel (Amapas 175; 52-322-223-4543), gay-owned, pet friendly, hip and stylish boutique hotel; studios, suites, penthouses, pool, roofdeck, restaurant-bar.
CLOSED: Hotel Torre de Oro (Púlpito 138), formerly Abby Hotel, longtime gay hotel near Playa Los Muertos; Vallarta Cora (Pilitas 174), men-only hotel, backroom, bar, clothing-optional Jacuzzi/ sun terrace.
At the Beach/ Playa los Muertos
Blue Chairs Beach Club Restaurant & Bar (Malecon 4), famous gay beachfront bar and restaurant in front of the gay resort hotel and nightclub, iconic blue chairs on the sand shaded by thatched palapas, breakfast, lunch and dinner; the gay place to be on the beach. Their hotel rooftop Blue Sunset bar is open to the public, with every-evening drag shows and go-go dancers.
La Palapa (Pulpito 105), beachfront breakfast/lunch/dinner and snacks, seafood, steak and ribs, bar, shaded beach chairs; parasails, jet skis, ocean swimming.
Mantamar Beach Club/ Bar & Grill (Malecón 169), gay-friendly beach club with salt water and infinity pools, cabanas, Jacuzzi and lounge, yoga and massage therapy, DJs and WiFi; gourmet breakfast lunch and dinner by star chef, shows. Special event pool and foam parties.
Ritmos Beach Cafe (Malecon 177), "Green Chairs" next to Blue Chairs on the gay stretch of Playa Los Muertos; palapas-shaded seating on the sand, full bar, sandwiches, hot dogs and Mexican snacks, live music.
Sapphire Ocean Club (Malecón 1), beach club bistrot/bar with swimming pool, lounge chairs and cabañas, breakfast and lunch; gourmet Mediterranean grilled meats and fish specialties, Swiss and Mexican accents.
Restaurants and Cafes
This town has plenty of places to eat, with a variety of cuisines to reflect the cosmopolitan nature of the people who live and visit here. Several places are run by classically trained chefs from the finest kitchens of Europe and North America, alongside talented and imaginative local and regional maestros of the culinary arts. All listed below are in Emiliano Zapata/Zona Romantica, unless otherwise noted. See locations, website links, and more restaurants at our maps & listings page. Many places close during the summer low season, to open again in early October.
Archie's Wok (Francisca Rodriguez 130) blends Thai, Chinese and Filipino cuisines, with subtle sauces and reasonable prices; eat in or take-out.
Aroma (Lazaro Cardenas 231), gay-friendly breakfast and brunch, sandwiches, coffees, smoothies, juice bar, fruit plates, desserts; quiet courtyard seating.
Azafrán Restaurante Bar (Olas Altas 507), unique European cuisine, fusion influences by chefs Andreas Fisher and Gerwin Rutten; fine wines.
Azul Bistro (Ignacio L Vallarta 372), fresh seafood, regional Mexican cuisine in Zona Romantica, dinner served nightly, full bar, wine selections.
Barcelona Tapas (Matamoros at 31 de Octubre, Downtown), Spanish-style tasting menu and small plates, great vistas of surrounding streets around and below.
Bravos (Madero 263), casual fine dining, international food and drinks, seafood, steaks, chops, pasta; extensive wine list, eclectic martinis.
Cafe Bohemio (Rodolfo Gomez 127), patio bar and bistro, romantic outdoor dining, friendly host Sol and staff keep it casual. Mexican and International menu, nightly two-for-one happy hours drinks; fish, chicken, steaks, ribs, meatloaf and liver 'n onions, plus veggie meal options too.
Cafe des Artistes (Guadalupe Sanchez 740), Mexican and French bistro menu, formal and elegant setting, art works and lush gardens, piano music, over 350 fine wines, gourmet aperitifs; celebrity chef Thierry Blouet.
Cafe Oro Verde (Colombia 1373), often rated the best coffee in town, casual Bohemian vibe, deli sandwiches.
Casa Naranjo (Naranjo 263) small hidden-away restaurant, kitchen at center stage, classic Mexican and European cuisines, international crowd.
Café Vayan (Olas Altas 350), 11am-10pm cyber cafe and coffee shop/ restaurant breakfast, pasta, chicken, skewers, salads.
Chez Elena at Hotel Los Cuatro Vientos (Guadalupe Sanchez 740, Centro), on hill above Malacon in old colonial building, part of the old Vallarta of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton days; small restaurant, big reputation and fine cuisine.
Coco's Kitchen (Pulpito 122), good daily breakfast, lunch; European and Mexican foods, shady garden seating.
Coffee Cup (Rodolfo Gomez 146), for first or last coffee of the day (try their soy chi latte), breakfast. Easy-to-make-friends, locals and travelers, internet access.
Daiquiri Dick’s (Olas Altas 314), beachfront restaurant, Asian influenced Mediterranean & Mexican cuisine, nice view, good food and service, popular Sunday brunch; deli take-out food and drinks for picnic lunch.
El Arrayán (Allende 344), regional Mexican specialties; black bean empanadas, shredded duck tostadas, seafood, local style no-egg quiche, pork, chicken mole, veggie options. Many-time local readers' choice winner.
El Rio BBQ (Felipe Angeles 245, Paso Ancho), Portland OR natives combine their own barbecue skills with local technique, Mexican-style hardwood fires and distinctive spices to achieve that special flavor; outdoors in upriver Rio Cuale area.
Hacienda Alemana (Basilio Badilio 378), resort hotel and restaurant, German and Bavarian fine dining, garden seatings, large Oktoberfest-style buffets, German beers.
Los Mercados (Aquiles Serdan 265), under-one-roof variety, beach picnics or back-at-hotel intimate-time provisions: Mikey's fine foods & delicatessen, K'rico pastries coffees & cakes, Don Fresco fresh fruit and produce, and Cork & Bottle with fine wines & spirits.
No Way José! (5 de Febrero 260) unique and diverse Mexican fare, seafood to vegetarian, music events, friendly staff, "warmth of a happy home."
Page in the Sun Cafe (Lázaro Cárdenas 179), cafe and coffee shop, sandwiches, pastries, bagels, baguettes, pies; English-language used books, sidewalk tables.
Pie in the Sky (Aquiles Serdán 242), cool, air-conditioned café, pastries, cakes and chocolates, coffee specialties, ice cream, brownies with molten center specialities, sugar-free options, WiFi access.
Planeta Vegetariano (Iturbide 270), central, inexpensive all-you-can-eat vegetarian lunch buffet, also breakfast and dinner.
Red Cabbage (Rivera del Rio, Remance), small, colorful, out-of-the-way café serves food of many regions of Mexico; arts, music scene, mural inspired by wedding feast of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
River Cafe (Isla Río Cuale 4) exotic tropical terrace by the Rio Cuale, soft music, bird song, insect buzz, sounds of babbling brook compliment International cuisine, fine dining experience.
Seasons PV (Ignacio L Vallarta 130), Canadian-American/ Mexican restaurant and bar, big breakfast bennies, eggs and homefries, pancakes, sandwiches and wraps, salads, entrées; Canadian and Mexican night specials.
Si, Señor (Guadalupe Sánchez 274, Centro), home-made tortillas, the genuine article Mexican dining, choice of garden outdoor or cool AC indoor seating.
The Swedes Bar & Bistro (Pulpito 154), breakfast, lunch, dinner bistro menu, cuisines of Scandinavia, Europe and Norh America; upstairs Crows Nest Bar.
Taste (Callejon de la Igualdad 129), Casa Cupula luxury gay resort restaurant, open to all; gourmet fine dining, light lunch, robust Sunday brunch. Chef Jose Luis Ponce.
Trio (Guerrero 264), downtown Mediterranean gourmet dining, highly-trained European chefs use fresh local ingredients and fine herbs; cosmopolitan, casual elegance, open courtyard with fountain.
See another two dozen restaurant/cafe options here.
CLOSED: Anejo Limon at Cucco's Market Bistro Cafe (Basilio Badilo 229); Mahi Beach Club (Pulpito 105, Playa los Muertos), the former El Dorado; Teatro Limon (Basilio Badillo 219), celebrity Chef Bruce's small open kitchen.
Going out/ Bars & Clubs
After the beach becomes dark and the restaurants wrap up the night, the clubs begin to get busy. Influenced by habits of visitors, this town runs on both Mexican/Mediterranean and North American/European schedules, so there's always somewhere to go to be sociable. As in most gay scenes, there are early warm-up pubs, cantinas, and lounges, many of which serve food, and late-night clubs to dance or to admire the naked male strippers.
Anonimo (Rodolfo Gomez 157), small video bar off Olas Altas, good drinks prices, martini specials, easy conversations, mostly guys, WiFi,
Antropology (Morelos 101, Plaza Rio, Zona Centro), north across the bridge, men-only "gentlemen's club," the study of man, non-stop nude male dancers, 9pm to 4am, good-looking staff.
Apaches (Olas Altas 439) restaurant and bar, gay, straight, lesbian, and artist types congregate at sidewalk tables chatting.
Blondies PV (Púlpito 115), open-air loft, slushbar with fresh fruit drinks, classic cocktails, wines, charcuterie snacks and bruschettas near Los Muertos Beach.
Blue Sunset Rooftop (Malecon 4, Playa Los Muertos), on Blue Chairs Resort roof. Popular nightly events include Sunday and Wednesday "Dirty Bitches, and Thursday & Saturday male strippers.
CC Slaughters (Lázaro Cárdenas 254), new remodeled nightclub and cocktail lounge from the guys of Portland OR, dancing, drag shows, old Mariachi Loco site.
Divas (Francisco Madero 388), intimate neighborhood party cantina, drag shows, popular with Mexicans and local gay expats, especially in later hours.
Fiesta Bar & Lounge (Lázaro Cárdenas 267), gay party bar, comedy and drag shows, live music, go-go boys, back yard patio, mixed/mostly male crowd, back yard smoking patio.
Frida (Insurgentes 301) cozy "only authentic alternative cantina," inexpensive drinks, English and Mexican music video jukebox, Wednesday bear nights, Thursdays bingo; meals include weekend steak nights.
Garbo (Pulpito 142), gay piano bar, live jazz, regulars meet for cocktails before the clubs.
Industry Nightclub PV (Lázaro Cárdenas 258), new large Wednesday through Monday men's nightclub by Jeffrey Sanker White Party group; international guest and resident DJs, opens at 10pm with dance floor and naked male strippers from 11pm.
Kika Vallarta (Lázaro Cárdenas 315), new nightly gay dance club; variety of different music makes each night unique; after parties run late.
La Cueva Cantina (Olas Altas 414, upstairs), gay cantina, videos, karaoke, pool games, Gay Bingo, bears and cowboys.
La Margarita Bar (Lázaro Cárdenas 257), small locals' bar, Latin music/ambience, all-afternoon Happy Hour.
La Noche (Lázaro Cárdenas 263), gay lounge club, rooftop garden bar, drag shows, go-go boys, usually packed to overflowing; early/ upscale crowd, locals and tourists spill into the street.
Los Amigos (Venustiano Carranza 239), 6pm-4am gay cantina, terrace, bears, cowboys, cheap drinks, Vaquero Sexy contests.
Mr Flamingo (Làzaro Cárdenas 255), The Swedes restaurant guys, gay open-to-street party bar 2pm-3am,cocktails, food, theme events.
Paco's Ranch (Ignacio L Vallarta 278), new evolution of Paco Paco, one of Puerto Vallarta's first gay clubs, new location between Roxy's and Liquid, dancing and drag shows, open nightly until 6am.
Palm Cabaret & Bar (Olas Altas 508), gay bar, November through early April, 7 nights per week international talent caberet, burlesque and comedy shows, street patio seating on popular strip.
Reinas (Lázaro Cárdenas 361), gay party bar, cheap drinks, juke box music, videos, films, conversation; Dutch hospitality, friendly staff.
Streetbar (Francisca Rodríguez 136), Palm Springs transplant gay restaurant and bar, American-style cocktails, casual comfort foods, indoor or patio seating.
Wet Dreams (Lázaro Cárdenas 312), men-only stripper club, guys in the showers or doing pole in the backroom, small VIP lounge for intimacy, open 'til 4am.
CLOSED: La Alhambra Lounge (Lázaro Cárdenas 240); Luna Azul (Lázaro Cárdenas 308); Club Mañana (Carranza 290); Open Vallarta (Venustiano Carranza 212); Sama (Olas Altas 510); Uncommon Grounds (Cardenas 625).
Bathhouses & spas
Blue Massage Spa (Olas Altas 411; 322 222-6034), the place for "total relaxation" on site in Zona Romantica, at home or hotel services; deep tissue, Thai massage, warm stones, Reflexology, Shiatsu, Reiki, scrubs and facials.
Metamorfosis Spa (Francisca Rodriguez 159; 322 222-6162), Swedish, deep tissue, hot stone therapy, reflexology, integrated therapies, facials, and manicures/pedicures for men and women.
Pump Gym (Callejon de la Igualdad 129; 322 223-2484 x121), at Casa Cupula gay resort but open to non-guests, for cardio, weight machines and free-weight workouts; with Jacuzzi, pool, tanning deck and Taste restaurant.
Spartacus Spa (Lázaro Cárdenas 240), 18+ gay sauna on four floors, at center of Zona Romantica scene; dry and steam heat, Jacuzzi, video lounge, pool, nude sunbathing, massage, smokers' area, bar, free WiFi. Open daily noon-midnight, Saturdays noon through Sunday midnight, non-stop.
CLOSED: Acqua Gym & Spa (Constitución 450; and Vallarta Cora (Pilitas 174).
Shopping & services
Cassandra Shaw Jewelry (Basilio Badillio 276), elegant store, original and unique handcrafted designs in the art of bijoux for both men and women.
Tropicasa Realty (Pulpito 145-A; 52-322-222-6505), superb service for those who crave their own little piece of paradise; for almost 20 years representing property buyers and sellers in Puerto Vallarta.
The beaches along Banderas Bay are warm and inviting, even at night. But being on the beach past sunset is not recommended, and be cautious with drug use or pickups. Accepting a solicitation for drugs or sex on the street could land you in a tight spot.
Ed Walsh In focus:
Cruising, Puerto Vallarta style
For 16 years now, Diana DeCoste has led gays and lesbians on tours of Puerto Vallarta's Banderas Bay. Her boat trips attract a mix of men and women, but the vast majority of the cruisers are gay men.
"I like to go to bed with women, but I can't make money off them," says DeCoste with her trademark cackling laugh that punctuates her tours.
Diana's Tours runs daylong catamaran excursions that depart every Thursday morning from Los Muertos Pier, two blocks north of the Blue Chairs Beach. Look for the boat flying the rainbow flag.
The first stop on the tour is usually Los Arcos, a local landmark just south of Puerto Vallarta. Los Arcos, which means "the arches" in Spanish, refers to three giant hollowed-out rock formations large enough for some small boats to navigate. (When you see arches used to symbolize Puerto Vallarta, they refer to these natural wonders.)
The swim-through rock formations rank as Puerto Vallarta's most popular snorkeling stop. Tropical fish, including angelfish and damselfish, dart in and out of the crevices, making for a colorful show. No need to bring your own snorkeling gear, as Diana's Tours takes care of that.
After Los Arcos, the tour makes another stop at a private beach complete with a walking trail and waterfall. That's followed by lunch at a restaurant onshore.
"Now that you are all here," DeCoste often says, as her guests take their seats, "please listen very closely to this 90-
minute time-share presentation."
She laughs, and everyone instantly gets the inside joke. Travelers are besieged by people selling time-share properties in Puerto Vallarta, starting when they arrive at the airport.
After the cruise, DeCoste invites all her guests to enjoy a drink and some male strippers at an after-party at the rooftop bar at Blue Chairs Resort by the Sea. The total charge for the day is $95 per person (2015-2016 season). Tickets, which may be bought online, tend to sell out 4-6 weeks in advance, so plan ahead. The last cruise this year: June 9, 2016.
If you're interested in whale watching, openly gay oceanographer Oscar Frey runs one of the most respected whale watching tours in Puerto Vallarta, Ocean Friendly Tours. While his clients are mostly straight, his tours are very gay-friendly. The four and a half to five and a half hour excursions cost $130-150 per person, including beverages, snacks and lunch. Whale watching season runs from December 1st through March 23rd.
Besides an on-board bar, snorkeling In Los Arcos Nature Reserve, lunch at a Las Animas beach restaurant, and a clothing-optional stop at Los Caballitos Beach, Wet & Wild 6-hour cruises feature sexy lotion boys, bartender hunks, and a "gays gone wild show" to wrap it up up. Departures are noon sharp Wednesdays and Saturdays in season, from Los Muertos Pier. Cost: $85 paid no later than one day before your cruise.
For more DXT articles, see:
Vallarta Pride - Apr 30, 2015
The Living is easy for LGBT travellers in PVR - Feb 12, 2015
Puerto Vallarta: Enjoy beaches and gay nightlife, but beware of the chupacabra - Jan 23, 2014