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Puerto Vallarta is Mexico’s most popular gay resort destination with more than two dozen gay bars and nightclubs and a half-dozen gay hotels. The resort city on Mexico’s Pacific coast also boasts a gay beach, four competing gay boat tours, a gay bar walking tour and even a gay zip-line adventure. Below is our LGBT Puerto Vallarta Guide.
WHEN WE GO
The biggest gay event is Latin Fever, which is a circuit party over the Thanksgiving weekend. The other two gay events of note are the Mardi Gras parade on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, and Vallarta Pride held over the Memorial Day weekend.
WHERE WE STAY
Puerto Vallarta has some great LGBT hotels to fit every taste and budget. All but one is in the gay Zona Romantica area and you can easily walk to the gay beach and gay bars from any of the gay properties. All the gay resorts include free WiFi and some throw in a free breakfast.
Casa Cupula is one of the finest LGBT resorts in the world. The clientele is mostly gay men and the rooms are perfectly furnished. Breakfast is included. Pinata PV is the newest gay hotel in Puerto Vallarta. It is built from the studs up on a quiet street in the heart of Zona Romantica. The boutique property is clothing-optional and for men only. It is beautifully designed combining modern minimalist design with retro kitsch art. Hotel Mercurio is a great budget option in Puerto Vallarta, targeted towards gay men but lesbians are welcome. The rooms are very comfortable, clean but basic. The hotel’s breakfast is delicious and filling, with a good selection of hot and cold dishes and made-to-order eggs.
By the way, the above three gay hotels have joined forces to offer discounts and specials through a joint website, staygaypv.com. All three hotels are gay-owned and are known for their work to support PV’s LGBT community.
You can also find some bargains at Airbnb or the gay version of Airbnb, Misterbnb, but you probably won’t have as much fun as you would if you stayed at a gay hotel.
WHERE WE EAT
Puerto Vallarta is known for its thriving street food scene. The Vallarta Eats Food Tours provide a good guide for street food to sample and what to pass up. PV has a wide variety of gourmet and everyday food to satisfy every taste and budget. By the way, with a very favorable rate for those exchanging U.S. dollars especially, expect to pay much less for a meal in PV than in a comparable restaurant almost anywhere in the US.
If you want to sample real Mexican food, be sure to stop by the El Arrayan restaurant in downtown Puerto Vallarta. It is owned by out- lesbian Carmen Porras, who is one of the organizers of Vallarta Pride and is known for her work in support of the LGBT community.
One of Puerto Vallarta’s best restaurants is part of the gay-owned Casa Cupula. Taste is open to the public and serves gourmet food with reasonable prices in a beautiful setting on a jungle-like hillside that will make you forget you are just steps from a bustling city.
WHERE WE HANG
All of the city’s gay nightspots are within easy walking distance of one another. Like most of Latin America, the lounge-type bars are busy in the evenings, while the bigger discos and dance-oriented clubs are busiest after 1 a.m. And Grindr has not slowed down the bar scene. Most people would rather be out than holed up with their phones in a hotel room.
The Gay Vallarta Bar Hopping tour is a great introduction to the gay nightlife scene and a must for first-time visitors. The hottest new bar is Mr. Flamingo, a tiki-themed bar at the corner of Lazaro Cardenas and Ignacio Luis Vallarta, which is the city’s gay epicenter. Paco’s Ranch is just a couple of steps from Mr. Flamingo and is busiest after 1 a.m. This club plays Mexican and American music. Blondies Loft and Sushi Bar is an open -air bar a block from the beach. It is one of PV’s newest bars and artfully mixes a chic modern style with comic book art.
WHAT WE SEE/DO
Be sure to take one of the city’s gay cruises. Diana’s Tours is Vallarta’s longest running gay cruise and is run by lesbian Diana DeCoste, an icon in gay Puerto Vallarta. Her cruise is mostly gay men, but is lesbian and straight welcoming. The Wet and Wild Gay Cruise is similar to Diana’s. On Bay is the newest of the gay cruises: It is not gay-owned but like Wet and Wild, it employs go go boys to entertain the cruisers. For a luxury high-end cruising experience, check out Salty Dog Voyages. This gay-owned tour offers gourmet food and tailors the trip to the weather, and to guests’ preferences.
Casa Cupula organizes the Go Gay! Jungle Ziplining Adventure. It’s an all-day program not for the faint of heart. The unofficially gay Blue Chairs Beach is a section of the public Los Muertos Beach, in the Zona Romantica area, just in front of the Blue Chairs Resort. The Blue Chairs and the larger Green Chairs sections are equally gay.
WHERE WE SHOP
The small gay-owned clothing shop Tops and Bottoms is on Basilio Badillo Street, just north of Olas Altas Street, which is the main street that parallels the beach. Liquid Men is another gay-oriented clothing shop just two doors from Mr. Flamingo, in the heart of the Zona Romantica nightlife zone.
WHERE WE WORKOUT
Casa Cupula’s Pump Gym is a small but well-appointed gay space to work out that is free to hotel guests. And day passes are available for visitors for a small fee. The facility includes showers and a steam room. The hotel’s pool and patio are right next door so after you build up your muscles , you can work on your tan.
Gay Guide Vallarta is Puerto Vallarta’s longtime LGBT guide. It has a great free app that can guide your GPS-enabled smartphone to the nearest gay bar. The guide also has a great map online as well as a hard-copy version that you can pick up for free once you get in town. The city’s other gay guide, Gay PV, includes articles and photos highlighting the PV gay scene.
Getting to your hotel from the airport
Don’t rent a car. Taxis are cheap. The standard rate for a ride to the gayest part of Puerto Vallarta, near downtown, is about $18-$25 depending on the exchange rate.
THIS, NOT THAT
Skip the Pirates of the Bay Night Tour which, unless you are really into the pirates genre, may not be the ticket for you. Take in the Rhythms of the Night show instead which includes a cruise out of the City with a meal and a great show on a private beachfront property. It’s run by the first-class tour company Vallarta Adventures.
Ed Walsh, Man About World | August 25, 2016
Images: Puerto Vallarta Tourism