Last Updated on February 22, 2023 by Janine
Wondering what to wear in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico? This Puerto Vallarta packing list breaks down everything you need to bring for a great trip!
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If you’re trying to figure out what to pack for Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, I’ve got you covered! I know how confusing it can be to pack for a new destination, so I put together this handy Puerto Vallarta packing list to save you some guesswork.
This packing list is based on my recent one-week trip to Puerto Vallarta. I’ve included everything I packed and noted the things I wish I’d packed so you can learn from my mistakes!
And, no pressure, but I managed to fit my entire packing list into a 26L Patagonia Refugio backpack(I was highly motivated because I cheaped out and booked with a budget airline). So, if you’re a carry-on traveler, this Puerto Vallarta packing list is for you!
Traveling soon? Don’t forget to buy travel insurance for Mexico. Insurance gives you peace of mind knowing you can get the help you need if anything goes wrong. SafetyWing is the provider that I recommend.
Puerto Vallarta climate
Puerto Vallarta has a tropical climate, with temperatures averaging around 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit (27-29 degrees Celsius) year-round.
June through October is the rainy season, with the heaviest rainfall occurring in September and October.
November through May is the dry season, with the hottest months being April and May.
The best time to visit Puerto Vallarta in terms of weather is from December to April, when rain is scarce and the temperatures are most comfortable. However, this is also high season, so you’ll face high prices and high occupancy rates. The make the most of good weather and fewer tourists, plan your visit for early November when precipitation is minimal, and temperatures are comfortable.
Puerto Vallarta is sunny and warm all year long, so breathable clothing, sun protection, and quick-drying fabrics are always wise choices.
Related Reading: When is the Ideal Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta?
What to Pack for Puerto Vallarta
When choosing what to wear in Puerto Vallarta, think through the different activities you’ll do on your trip. What will you feel most comfortable in? What will be most practical?
Here’s what I packed (and what I wished I’d done differently).
Clothing & Shoes
I planned to do a lot of walking and hiking, take a surf tour, and lounge at the beach during my Puerto Vallarta trip. I prioritized packing comfortable, beach-friendly clothing, practical walking shoes, and a couple of cute, casual outfits to wear to dinner in the evening!
If you’re planning to spend time soaking up the nightlife or enjoying fine dining, you may want to pack some more dressy outfits. If you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort, look up the dress code for their on-site restaurants to ensure you have a couple of suitable outfits.
Here’s what I packed for my trip!
A few pairs of shorts are essential for any beach vacation. I suggest taking a few different styles so you can mix and match to create a variety of outfits. For my 7-day trip to Puerto Vallarta, I took:
- one pair of cut-offs – you can’t go wrong with a classic pair of denim shorts. They’re cute and comfy and go with pretty much anything. I wore these when I was out and about sightseeing during the day.
- one pair of linen shorts – Linen is super breathable and lightweight, which is great in hot weather! I wore these as a swimsuit coverup and to lounge around in the evenings.
- one pair of athletic shorts – I took a pair of Prana shorts to wear on active adventures (like my hike to Las Animas). They’re super comfortable, and the fabric is quick-drying, which is ideal when wearing them over a damp swimsuit.
For a one-week trip, I’d take at least two swimsuits so you can alternate between them while the extra one dries. Depending on what you’ll get up to during your Puerto Vallarta vacation, you might want to take a couple of different styles of swimsuits.
I suggest one that’s suited to activities like surfing or snorkeling and one with minimal straps for tanning. Think about what makes the most sense for your travel style!
I recently discovered Left on Friday swimwear, and I’m officially obsessed. I’ve never had a swimsuit that is SO flattering, SO comfortable, and SO functional. I wore mine surfing, swimming, and sunbathing and it was fantastic. These suits are a bit of an investment, but they come in TONS of fun colors and several cute styles. They’re my favorite swimsuits I’ve ever had. I have the Hi Hi Bottoms and the Pool Days Top.
FYI, ladies with larger chests: I’m 34DD, and I always struggle to find swimsuit tops that fit. I was skeptical, but Left on Friday’s D+ line actually fits and (even more surprisingly) looks GREAT. So, if you’ve been in this boat before, LOF could be a game changer. They have been for me.
Lightweight shirts are ideal in Puerto Vallarta, no matter the season. It will always be warm and humid. For a week-long trip, I took four tank tops and one t-shirt. I’m a big fan of these tees from CRZ Yoga, as well as these tanks. Both are basic styles that will go with anything, but they have a very flattering, feminine silhouette.
I would also recommend taking a lightweight, long sleeve shirt to cover your shoulders after long days in the sun.
Dresses are so comfortable in hot, humid climates. They’re great swimsuit coverups, and they’re super stylish. I tended to wear shorts and tank tops during the day and switch to a dress in the evening for dinner out. I only took two on my trip, but I wished that I’d taken more because it started to get a little embarrassing walking past the same restaurant staff every night in the same outfits.
I’d take at least three dresses if you’re spending a week in Puerto Vallarta.
You can’t go wrong with a classic sundress, day or night, and maxi dresses can be easily dressed up for dinners out (this is key when packing for an all-inclusive, as some of them have dress codes in their restaurants).
Pants & Leggings
You probably won’t wear leggings in Puerto Vallarta, but I always pack them to wear on the plane or on bus trips or any other time I know I’ll be in an air-conditioned space for a long time. They roll up super small inside your luggage, and they’re warm enough to replace pants. I’m a fan of the Lululemon Align leggings and these ones from CRZ Yoga on Amazon (which are about half the price).
A pair of lightweight, loose pants would be a practical thing to wear in Puerto Vallarta. I didn’t bring any, but I wished I had. They’re great for brisk mornings or afternoons when you want to shield your legs from the sun. Something like this linen pair would be ideal!
Sweatshirt or Cardigan
The climate in Puerto Vallarta is typically pretty warm, but you may find yourself reaching for an extra layer on cool mornings or in the evening once the sun goes down, so pack one just in case. You’ll definitely want to bring a sweatshirt or sweater to wear at the airport.
I always bring my Patagonia NanoPuff because it keeps me warm at the airport (since I’m coming from Canada, outerwear is non-negotiable). It packs down super small, and it’s very warm, making it ideal for carry-on travelers.
Depending on your choice of footwear, you may need to pack a few pairs of socks. I knew I’d be wearing sandals for most of my trip, but I wore running shoes at the airport. I packed two pairs of these athletic socks for my week in Puerto Vallarta, and that was sufficient.
Choosing the right sandals for Puerto Vallarta is key. It’s also one of the places I went wrong when packing for my own trip. I wanted something stylish but comfortable enough to do a lot of walking and opted to bring my Birkenstock Gizeh sandals. I love how they look, but they weren’t great for long walks. I got giant blisters on the bottoms of both of my feet.
Next time I’d bring a pair of Chacos as well because they’re better for longer walks.
If you’re more into flip-flops, you can’t go wrong with a pair of classic Rainbow sandals. I’ve had mine for over five years, and they have molded perfectly to my feet!
I packed a pair of runners to wear to the airport, thinking I might wear them on some Puerto Vallarta hikes. In the end, I only wore them at the airport. I ended up wearing Birkenstocks on my hike, and while they weren’t ideal (see above), it was much nicer to hike in sandals than runners so I could slip them on and off to walk in the water.
All that said, much of Puerto Vallarta consists of cobblestone streets, so having supportive footwear is a responsible choice. A pair of lightweight sneakers would be great for wandering around town, hiking, or taking long walks on the malecón. I am loyal to these Nikes, but whatever you typically wear will do!
I opted to streamline my toiletries to conserve space. I don’t use many products anyway, and I figured I could do without my favorite shampoo and conditioner for a week at the beach. In the end, I spent almost as much on sunscreen and toiletries as I would have on baggage fees to bring a slightly larger pack, so I don’t know that I did myself any favors here. I was also traveling with my brother and sister-in-law, so I benefitted from the fact that they packed some of these things for me (like moisturizer).
I knew there would be pharmacies and shops all over Puerto Vallarta where I could easily stock up on any toiletry items I needed or wanted. In the end, the prices for these products were higher than I expected (though I probably could have paid less if I’d gone to Walmart or Chedraui), and the selection was pretty limited.
Next time, I’ll pack my preferred products from home.
Another caveat with purchasing toiletries in Mexico was that there were no travel-sized products available, so I couldn’t take home any of the products I didn’t finish. In the end, I donated them to the hotel because they said their staff would take them home.
All that said, here’s what I recommend packing:
- Mineral sunscreen: Sunscreen is essential in Puerto Vallarta, and you should plan to reapply often. Pack waterproof sunscreen for your face and body. I recommend reef-safe sunscreen as they are free of toxins that leech into the water and harm the local ecosystems. They’re also thought to be better for humans, too. I like one from Raw Elements. For my face, this La Roche Posay sunscreen is the best one I’ve ever used.
- Moisturizer: Long days in the sun, salt water, and chlorinated pool can be punishing on your skin, so a good moisturizer is essential. I like this Dramatically Different lotion from Clinique. They often include travel sizes as freebies when you order other products, so I hoard them for travel.
- Face cleanser: Washing sunscreen, salt, and sand off at the end of the day will be a big relief for your skin. This is my go-to face wash because it’s really gentle but effective.
- Lip balm with SPF: Sun protection is important, so don’t skip this! I used this one, but any lip balm with sunscreen will do!
- Shampoo and conditioner: I bought Herbal Essences at the pharmacy in Mexico, but solid shampoo and conditioner bars are my typical go-to when traveling. They’re great for carry-on travelers because they don’t count against your liquid allowance (and they won’t leak all over your bag)!
- Toothpaste: You won’t have a problem tracking down Colgate or Crest in Mexico, but if you covet a particular brand, pack it for your own convenience. I’m a Sensodyne girl.
- Toothbrush & toothbrush holder: A good toothbrush holder is essential for travel. I bought this bamboo one, which is a bit bulky, but it’s cute, and it protects my toothbrush while letting it breathe enough to dry out between uses.
- Deodorant: Reliable deodorant is key in a warm climate. Solid deodorantis the easiest option to get through airport security (and for avoiding leaks in your bag). If you forget deodorant, you can buy it in Mexico. Dove and Nivea are two of the most prolific brands.
- Nail clippers: Any time I travel without nail clippers, I regret it. Stick these in the bottom of your toiletry bag, just in case.
- Nail file: Same with nail files, they’re essential. Buy this pack and stick one in every purse or travel kit.
- Comb or hair brush: I always forget mine, but you shouldn’t! You’ll need a comb or hairbrush to work out the tangles after a day at the beach.
- Tweezers: These Tweezerman tweezers are the best ones ever.
- Bug Repellant: I got tons of itchy bites in Puerto Vallarta, which were uncomfortable and unattractive. Definitely pack bug spray. I’m sure you could buy it there, but you’ll have more options back home. This one is my favorite because it really works (because it has DEET). I wore it throughout a jungle hiking trip in Costa Rica and got very minimal bites, so I swear by it. I know DEET is bad, but… desperate times…
- A mini first aid kit: We made a million trips to the farmacia to pick up last-minute supplies that we should have just packed. Create a mini first-aid kit for your bag with things like:
- Tylenol or ibuprofen for headaches
- bandaids for small cuts
- chewable Pepto-Bismol tablets in case of an upset stomach
- disinfectant wipes to clean cuts
- Polysporin for treating cuts or bug bites
You never know when you might need any of this stuff, and it’s nice to have it on hand before you find yourself in need. Plus, when you bring things from home, you can select from your favorite brands and purchase what you are familiar with.
When it comes to what accessories to pack for Puerto Vallarta, I recommend keeping it simple.
- Sunglasses: Polarized sunnies are essential for any beach destination to cut the glare from the water.
- Purse: I highly recommend a crossbody purse for Mexico– I have this one. While pickpocketing is unlikely, I like to err on the side of caution, and a crossbody purse keeps your bag close to your body and makes you less of a target. For ultimate protection, opt for an anti-theft purse!
- Belt bag: A fanny pack or belt bag is a great alternative to a purse, especially if you don’t need much space. I used a belt bag on my most recent Puerto Vallarta trip and found it extremely convenient. It was comfortable to carry and left my hands free for hikes and such. Check out these great fanny packs for travelers.
- Sunhat: A sunhat helps protect your face from sunburn and keeps the glare off the pages of your book when reading by the pool. This one rolls up, making it a convenient option for travelers. If you’re more into a bucket hat, this one is cute!
- Travel towel or sarong: It’s handy to have a travel towel or sarong for beach days. They’re lightweight and quick to dry, making them a better option than simply swiping a towel from the hotel. I took my Tofino Towel and was glad to have it!
When it comes to packing electronics for Puerto Vallarta, I recommend a minimalist approach. There’s so much to do in the city that you probably won’t find yourself longing for screentime at any point, but that said, here are the essentials I recommend.
Okay, it’s not like anyone is traveling without their phone these days anyway. Before you leave, check whether your phone plan will work in Mexico (or how much you’ll have to pay to access data while you’re there). If your existing plan won’t work for you, not to worry! You can purchase a cheap SIM card in Puerto Vallarta and use it to access data during your trip.
Pick up a Telcel SIM card at any convenience store (Oxxo, X24, Kiosko, etc.). It will cost $150 MXN for the card, and you can add any data increments that you like. I suggest starting with $100 MXN. You can top up any time at a convenience store or using the Mi Telcel app. (Pro tip: the word for phone credit in Spanish is saldo.)
Kindle (or e-reader)
If you’re a reader, a Kindle is awesome for the beach or pool because the brightness adjusts to accommodate the sunlight, making it more comfortable to look at than a book or the screen of your phone!
I love my Kindle because it’s super compact and can hold hundreds of books. I hooked it up to my library account through the Libby app, and I can borrow ebooks for free! It will save you from spending tons of money at Hudson News just to avoid getting bored on the plane!
I don’t even want to remember a time before wireless headphones (even though, apparently, Gen Z is using them again). Pack your AirPods to listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks during your flight. I love that you can clip this AirPods case to your backpack or purse strap for easy access.
You don’t need me to tell you to bring charging cables, but what you might need to know is that you shouldn’t count on having a three-prong outlet in your accommodation. If you’re staying anywhere a little older, there’s a good possibility that you’ll only have two-prong outlets, which could be a problem for charging laptops or other electronics. Something to keep in mind.
Waterproof phone case
If you’re traveling solo, these waterproof pouches are awesome for stashing your phone and or credit card while you’re swimming or doing water activities. Yes, they look a bit dorky, but it’s a much better theft-prevention option than burying your stuff in the sand and hoping for the best!
If you’re packing valuable electronics for Puerto Vallarta, make sure your travel insurance policy offers coverage for theft and lost baggage. Check that the amount of coverage offered is similar to what it would cost to replace your valuables if lost or stolen.
For most destinations in Mexico, I recommend a travel pack, but in Puerto Vallarta, you can probably get away with a rolling suitcase if that’s what you prefer. If you’re staying in a hotel or resort, a roller bag will be no issue, but some of the Airbnbs are located up steep streets where taxis and Ubers may refuse to drive. If this is the case, you’ll feel like less of a chump carrying a travel pack up the street than trying to roll a suitcase over the cobblestones.
All that said, here are my reccos for luggage:
- Rolling suitcase: I recently purchased the Carry-On Plus roller from Monos, and I love it. It’s stylish, well-constructed, and super light. They’re a Canadian brand, and their luggage comes in many beautiful colors (I got terracotta!). They also offer a lifetime guarantee, free shipping, and give you 100 days to try out their gear– can’t argue with those terms!
💡 Packing Tip: If you struggle to cram all your things into your carry-on suitcase, packing cubes can be a great way to condense items further. Plus, they make it so much easier to find things in your luggage!
- Travel pack: For those who prefer traveling with a travel pack, my favorite brand is Osprey. I have an Osprey Fairpoint 40, which I absolutely love and have used loyally for 8 years. It’s light, comfortable, and the perfect size for a week-long getaway. The Osprey Fairview 40 is another popular option. They come in a few different colors, so you have the opportunity to set yourself apart from all those black bag travelers.
- Daypack: Daypacks are handy for beach trips, outings, and shopping excursions. I use the Osprey Daylite, which is on the small side, at 13L– I find it helps prevent me from overpacking. The Osprey Proxima would be a good option if you want more space.
Additional Items to Pack for Puerto Vallarta
I wanted to include a few more items that might be helpful to pack for Puerto Vallarta. These items are easy to overlook but will undoubtedly come in handy during your time in Puerto Vallarta.
- A safety pin or paper clip – If you purchase a SIM card, you’ll need a pointy object to open the SIM card tray.
- A water bottle – Reduce single-use plastics! Our hotel had a garrafon (large bottle of filtered water) available on every floor for guests to refill their bottles. I used it to refill my single-use bottle from the airport, but it would have been nice to have something more sturdy to refill. I wished I’d packed my Nalgene bottle. Alternatively, a LifeStraw bottle with a filter enables you to fill your bottle from any tap!
- A tote bag – I never go anywhere without my Baggu shopping bag. I use it for market visits, trips to the lavandería, as a beach bag, and carrying extra items that don’t fit in my suitcase at the end of the trip! They fold up into a compact pouch so you can stash it in your purse or daypack in case you need it.
What do People Wear in Puerto Vallarta?
Puerto Vallarta’s street style is similar to what you’d expect in any warm-weather destination: lightweight fabrics, loose-fitting items, dresses, shorts, etc. You’ll probably notice that many locals wear pants, but of course, they’re more acclimatized. Plus, pants are generally considered more professional for many jobs.
Mexico is a predominantly Catholic country, and people do tend to dress a little more conservatively as a result, but that shouldn’t deter you from wearing shorts or dresses.
At the beach, pretty much anything goes, but if you’re outside of the tourist areas in Puerto Vallarta, you will likely attract more attention if you wear something revealing (like a bikini top and shorts). Just something to think about.
What to wear in Puerto Vallarta during the day?
Puerto Vallarta is typically warm and moderately humid. Plan to wear shorts and a t-shirt or a sundress during the day. If you prefer more sun coverage, a maxi dress or lightweight linen pants and shirts will help you stay protected and cool.
What to wear in Puerto Vallarta at night?
Evenings in Puerto Vallarta are also warm and moderately humid. The temperature dips a little after the sun goes down, but probably not enough to warrant wearing pants (though it depends on the time of year). That said, the bugs do come out at night, and long pants or a maxi dress are a great way to protect yourself from itchy bites. Otherwise, apply bug repellant for protection.
Additional Packing Tips for Puerto Vallarta
Since your ultimate Puerto Vallarta packing list might look a bit different from mine, here are some questions to keep in mind as you decide what to bring:
- What types of activities are you planning to do in Puerto Vallarta? Are there any particular things you need to pack to ensure you’re comfortable?
- How many days will you stay, and how will you do laundry? I was in Puerto Vallarta for a week, so laundry wasn’t a concern for me (though I did find a great lavandería). Depending on how long you stay, you may wish to bring extra clothing or factor a laundry trip into your plans.
- What will be the most comfortable? I don’t know what it is about packing, but so many people (myself included) can become quite delusional about the type of person we truly are when it comes to packing for vacation. If you hate wearing heels at home, you’ll undoubtedly hate them on vacation too. Don’t pack them!
- Which items are the most versatile? When it comes to carry-on packing, selecting versatile items is key to reducing what you bring. The biggest struggle for me was shoes. I wanted to bring cute (but comfortable) walk shoes for around town and practical shoes for hiking, but I also needed something warm to wear in transit on the way to and from the airport in Canada.
- What can you buy there? Opting to purchase extra toiletries in Mexico enabled me to cut down my packing list significantly. If there are any items, you know you can purchase easily in Mexico or feel on the fence about, opt to buy them when you arrive. You’ll probably realize you don’t really need the item and never end up buying it!
Puerto Vallarta Packing FAQs
Do you need a jacket in Puerto Vallarta?
If you’re planning to visit Puerto Vallarta during the wet season (May through October), you should definitely pack a rain jacket. In the winter months, temperatures can dip into the low 60s (Fahrenheit) at night, which may warrant a jacket or a warm sweater, depending on how you handle the cold.
If you’re traveling to Puerto Vallarta from a cold, northern climate, I’ve found my Patagonia NanoPuff jacket to be a lightweight but very cozy jacket that packs down small when I’m not using it. It’s a great transitional item for wearing at the airport on either end of a trip!
Do you need water shoes in Puerto Vallarta?
A pair of sandals that you can easily slip off at the beach is a super practical item to wear in Puerto Vallarta. My rainbow flip-flops are my go-to. If you prefer a pair of shoes you can wear into the water, Chaco sandals or a pair of aqua socks would be practical.
Do you need bug spray in Puerto Vallarta?
Insect repellant is an essential addition to your Puerto Vallarta packing list. The city’s lush jungle setting makes it a haven for mosquitoes and other critters that will leave you covered in itchy bites. Pack your favorite brand from home (I recommend this one) and buy more in Puerto Vallarta if you run out.
What should I pack for a 7-day trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico?
The items I listed above are exactly what I would pack for 7 days in Puerto Vallarta!
Continue Planning Your Trip!
Mexico Guide Books
This Mexico phrasebook will help you communicate, even if your Spanish skills are lacking.
This Mexico travel guide is packed with all the info you could ever need.
I use a combination of Booking, Airbnb, and VRBO to find accommodation throughout Mexico.
Booking.com is awesome for booking hotels and resorts, while Airbnb and VRBO specialize in apartments and villa rentals, making it a great place to find long-term stays.
Some cities in Mexico have more listings on VRBO than Airbnb (or vice versa), so it’s best to check both to find the perfect place!
Rental cars add tons of flexibility to your travel plans. If you opt to rent one, I recommend using Discover Cars to find the best rates!
Skyscanner is my favorite tool for finding the best deals on airfare.
Never leave home without travel insurance.
SafetyWing offers super-affordable policies that cover things like medical expenses, trip interruption, and lost luggage. They even offer coverage for some expenses related to COVID-19. Their policies are particularly great for long-term travelers, making them a great option for Mexico.
There’s no question that knowing basic Spanish is wildly beneficial in Mexico. It helps you stay aware of your surroundings, solve problems, and make friends!
RocketSpanish has a well-structured program that will take you from bumbling to conversational in just a few modules. Start your free trial today!
Still have questions?
Join my Female Travelers in Mexico Facebook group, a supportive community of fellow Mexico travel enthusiasts, where you can find answers to all your travel questions!