Adventures abound in Vallarta, and most of them are more than appropriate for kids. Here are the ones that will really wow youngsters:
- An Excursion to the Marietas Islands: Like the Galápagos Islands, these uninhabited beauties are far enough from shore to harbor species seen in few other places (like supercute blue-footed boobies). But unlike the Galápagos, these islands were used as a bomb-testing site by the Mexican government, which created cool caves to explore and, on one, a hidden beach in the center of an island (you swim under a low rock ledge to get to the heart of the island where the beach is; the perimeters of the island are all rock). During this daylong excursion you'll visit several islands, and either snorkel or go stand-up paddleboarding. A number of local PV companies offer these trips; for our suggested vendors, click here.
- Canopy Tours: We have yet to meet a kid who doesn't love ziplining, and they do these tours well in Jalisco and Nayarit. The courses are well maintained and offer a lot of variety. Please note that there are some limitations on who can do this sort of activity: For most outfits, you need to be over the age of 6 and under 275 pounds. For recommended zipline courses, click here.
- Quimixto Falls: Getting to them is half the fun. After a quick boat ride to the town of Quimixto (plenty of nice palapa restaurants there in case the kids get hungry), visitors rent a horse and a guide for the 25-minute ride to the falls. You can plan in advance, or simply hop a water taxi and hire horses on the spot. The falls are not only scenic but swimmable, though they can get a bit rough when the summer rains swell the river.
- The Malecón & Los Arcos Amphitheater: Clowns, acrobats, dance troupes, and other free, kid-friendly shows take place nightly during high season at Los Arcos Amphitheater. Before or after, stroll the malecón (seaside promenade), where there will be plenty of places to stop for a snack or ice cream, buy a silly souvenir, or watch street performers.
- A Pirate Ship Sailing: Arrgh and ahoy! The popular Marigalante is all duded up to look like a ship under the management of Captain Hook, and that goes for the onboard "pirates" who sword fight, sing and dance (much to the delight of the little ones, though teens will roll their eyes). After an onboard breakfast, you'll sail to a beach for treasure hunts, tug of war, and other fun and games. Parents: There is an open bar on board if this all sounds a bit too hokey to take straight.
- Vallarta Zoo: A petting zoo par extraordinaire. And by that we mean that this little zoo allows interaction with pretty much all the critters in residence, from tiger cubs to giraffes to monkeys. The zoo has more than 700 inhabitants, from mammals to reptiles to birds. For more information, click here.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.