Is Cabo or Puerto Vallarta Better?

Is Cabo or Puerto Vallarta Better?Choosing between Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta for your next Mexican vacation can be a tough decision. Both destinations offer stunning beaches, incredible food, lively nightlife and a taste of authentic Mexican culture. But which one reigns supreme?

This guide will take you through a head-to-head comparison of Cabo versus Puerto Vallarta. We’ll dive into everything, from the ease of getting to each location and getting around, to the accommodations, activities, dining scenes, beaches, weather and overall bang for your buck. By the end, you’ll have the insights you need to decide which sun-drenched Mexican paradise is the better fit for your dream vacation. Let’s get started!

Where in Mexico is Puerto Vallarta Compared to Cabo?

Both towns are along the Pacific coast of Mexico. However, Puerto Vallarta is in mainland Mexico in the state of Jalisco, while Cabo San Lucas sits at the tip of the Baja California peninsula in the state of Baja California Sur. The two cities are about 777 miles apart, separated by the Gulf of California. This geographic separation leads to some distinct differences in accessibility, climate, activities, and overall vibe between the destinations.

Which is Easier to Travel To: Cabo or Puerto Vallarta?

Getting to Cabo San Lucas

Cabo’s international airport (SJD) receives direct flights from many major US cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix, Denver, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Atlanta. Flight times from the West Coast are around two to three hours, while East Coasters can expect five to six hours in travel time.

The Cabo airport is just a 30- to 45-minute drive from the main tourist areas of Cabo San Lucas and the Corridor, making transfers very easy. Many resorts offer affordable shuttle services from the airport as well.

Getting to Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta’s international airport (PVR) is served by most major US airlines with direct flights from cities across the states. West Coast departures like Los Angeles and San Francisco take three to four hours to arrive, while East Coast origins like New York take five to six hours of travel time.

The airport is quite close to downtown Puerto Vallarta and the Hotel Zone. Transfers usually take 30 minutes or less depending on your resort’s location. Taxis and shuttle services are readily available as well.

Both destinations are very accessible for travelers from the United States and Canada. But Cabo may have a slight edge for West Coasters looking for a short, direct flight.

Which is Easier to Get Around: Cabo or Puerto Vallarta?

Getting Around Cabo San Lucas

Cabo is a relatively compact area comprising two main hubs: Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. They are connected by the 20-mile Tourist Corridor, a highway lined with resorts, golf courses, and beaches. Within the towns of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo, everything is walkable and taxis are affordable for longer journeys. Most visitors get around via:

  • Rental car (to explore at your own pace)
  • Taxi (plentiful and with fixed rates)
  • Shuttle (offered by resorts and tour companies)
  • Public bus (the cheapest way to get around).

If you’re planning to explore the Corridor area, you’ll want a rental car or shuttle service to get between the spread-out resorts and attractions. However, even if you’re just staying in Cabo San Lucas, you’ll have plenty of excellent options to unwind and have fun.

Getting Around Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta has a larger geographic footprint with more sprawl than Cabo. The main tourist areas include:

  • Downtown or El Malecón (very walkable)
  • Hotel Zone (walkable within each resort area)
  • Marina Area (some hotels are spread out)
  • Nuevo Vallarta (north of Puerto Vallarta, requires transportation)

For getting between zones, most visitors rely on:

  • Rental car (ideal for maximum flexibility)
  • Taxi (can add up for longer journeys)
  • Public bus (cheap but routes are limited)
  • Tours or shuttles (for day trips and airport transfers)

Both destinations are fairly easy to navigate, but Cabo’s smaller size gives it an edge for a more walkable, self-contained vacation without needing much transportation.

Does Cabo or Puerto Vallarta Have Better Accommodations?

Cabo San Lucas Accommodations

Cabo is world-renowned for its luxury resorts and villas. The Corridor area is lined with beautiful beachfront properties from top brands like:

  • Come To Cabo and Sun Cabo Properties
  • Riu Palace
  • Breathless
  • Marquis Los Cabos
  • Grand Velas
  • One&Only Palmilla
  • Las Ventanas al Paraíso
  • Esperanza
  • Chileno Bay
  • Viceroy
  • Waldorf Astoria Pedregal.

These resorts offer incredible amenities like infinity pools, world-class spas, championship golf courses, private beaches, and exceptional service.

You’ll also find plenty of mid-range all-inclusive resorts and boutique hotels in Cabo San Lucas town and San José del Cabo. Or splurge on a private luxury villa with your own pool, chef, and concierge services.

Puerto Vallarta Accommodations

Puerto Vallarta has a great mix of accommodations as well, though perhaps not quite as many ultra-luxury options as Cabo. Top resort areas include:

  • Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta
  • Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort
  • Hilton Puerto Vallarta
  • Velas Vallarta
  • Casa Velas (adults-only)
  • Marriott Casa Magna Puerto Vallarta.

You’ll also find many condo-style villa rentals and boutique hotels in the Romantic Zone and throughout downtown PV.

Both Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas offer exceptional accommodations for every budget and travel style. But Cabo’s reputation for ultra-luxury resorts and villas gives it an edge for those seeking the ultimate indulgent escape.

Which Destination Has More Things To Do: Cabo or Puerto Vallarta?

Activities in Cabo San Lucas

Thanks to its dramatic desert-meets-ocean setting, Cabo overflows with outdoor adventures like:

  • Sport fishing (marlin, tuna, dorado)
  • Whale watching (December to April)
  • Snorkeling and scuba diving
  • Sunset cruises
  • ATV and off-road tours
  • Camel outback safaris
  • Ziplining
  • Golfing world-class courses
  • Surfing, kiteboarding, paddleboarding.

You’ll also find plenty of entertainment in Cabo San Lucas, from lively bars and nightclubs to the Marina Golden Zone’s restaurants and shopping.

Activities in Puerto Vallarta

As a larger city, Puerto Vallarta offers just as many, if not more, activity options as Cabo, including:

  • Snorkeling and scuba diving (Los Arcos, Marietas Islands)
  • Whale watching (December to March)
  • Surfing, boogie boarding
  • Sailing or yacht cruises
  • Zipline tours
  • ATV tours
  • Swimming with dolphins
  • Golfing
  • Hiking
  • Exploring downtown’s El Malecón (restaurants and nightlife).

Puerto Vallarta is also a prime jumping-off point for day trips to towns like Sayulita, San Pancho, the Marietas Islands and more.

Both destinations pack endless opportunities for adventure and entertainment. Puerto Vallarta has lots of cultural and social activities, while Cabo has easier access to more water sports and outdoor pursuits.

Which is The Better Food Destination: Cabo or Puerto Vallarta?

Cabo San Lucas Dining

You’ll find exceptional cuisine in Cabo San Lucas, from taco stands and casual beachside palapa restaurants to elegant resort dining. Highlights include:

  • Seafood (Mango Deck, Edith’s, Acre, Hacienda Cocina y Cantina)
  • Mexican (Mi Casa, Acre, Hacienda Cocina y Cantina)
  • Sushi (Nicksan, SUR Beach House)
  • Steakhouses (Toro, Tomatoes)
  • Farm-to-table (Acre, Flora’s Field Kitchen)
  • Nightlife (Cabo Wabo, El Squid Roe, The Office, Mango Deck).

Many of Cabo’s top chefs trained in Mexico City, Tijuana, and beyond, bringing innovative techniques and flavors to the local cuisine.

Puerto Vallarta Dining

Puerto Vallarta is a foodie paradise with exceptional regional Mexican fare as well as global cuisines. Standout restaurants include:

  • Mexican (Cafe des Artistes, Barcelona Tapas, La Leche, Coco Tropical)
  • Seafood (La Palapa, Barcelona Tapas, Cafe des Artistes)
  • International (Trio, Archie’s Wok, Taste Restaurant)
  • Vegan or vegetarian (100% Vegana Taqueria, Cielo Verde)
  • Nightlife (The Top Sky Bar, La Bodeguita del Medio, Bar Morelos Mezcaleria).

Puerto Vallarta is also renowned for its street food scene, with incredible tacos, elotes, churros, and more found all over downtown.

Both cities are culinary heavyweights, but Puerto Vallarta’s sheer variety of regional Mexican cuisine from Jalisco and beyond gives it a slight edge as a foodie destination.

Which Destination Has Better Beaches: Cabo or Puerto Vallarta?

Beaches in Cabo 

Cabo San Lucas is blessed with stunning swimmable beaches lapped by the clear blue Sea of Cortez. Top beaches include:

  • Playa El Médano (Cabo’s most famous beach in the heart of town)
  • Playa del Amor (iconic beach accessed by water taxi from Médano)
  • Playa Chileno (long stretch of beach in the Corridor)
  • Playa Santa María (great for swimming and snorkeling)
  • Costa Azul (beautiful cove beach in San José del Cabo).

The best beaches have amenities like beach clubs, restaurants, water sports rentals, and more. Waves can get rough, especially during summer.

Beaches in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta’s beaches are more spread out compared to Cabo. The most popular include:

  • Playa Los Muertos (iconic beach in the Romantic Zone)
  • Playa Las Gemelas (twin beaches with calm waters)
  • Playa Camarones (long beach in the Hotel Zone)
  • Playa Las Caletas (isolated beach accessible by boat)
  • Playa Olas Altas (best for those wanting a vibrant nightlife beach scene).

Puerto Vallarta’s beaches tend to have calmer waters ideal for swimming and water sports, but they can lack some amenities compared to Cabo’s beaches. Both destinations boast beautiful beaches, but Cabo’s may have a slight edge in terms of developed beaches right in the main tourist areas.

Which Has the Better Weather: Cabo or Puerto Vallarta?

Weather in Cabo San Lucas

Cabo enjoys a classic desert climate with abundant sunshine and low humidity levels nearly year-round:

  • Summer (June-September): Very hot and dry, highs around 90-100°F
  • Fall (October-November): Warm and dry, highs around 80-90°F
  • Winter (December-February): Mild and sunny, highs at around 70°F
  • Spring (March-May): Warm and dry, highs at 75-85°F.

The most popular times to visit are winter and spring when temperatures are ideal. Summers can be brutally hot, while late summer brings a risk of hurricanes.

Weather in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta has a more tropical climate influenced by its coastal location:

  • Summer (June-August): Very hot and humid, highs around 90°F
  • Fall (September-November): Still hot, highs around 85°F
  • Winter (December-February): Warm and dry, highs at 75-85°F
  • Spring (March-May): Warm and dry, highs 80-85°F.

The best times are winter and spring when humidity is low. Summer is the rainy season which can bring heavy downpours.

Both destinations offer near-perfect weather for a beach vacation for much of the year. Cabo has an edge with lower humidity levels, while Puerto Vallarta is slightly milder yet wetter in summer.

Which Provides Better Bang For Your Buck: Cabo or Puerto Vallarta?

Consider several key differences when deciding which the better destination is when it comes to value for money:

Accommodations

  • Cabo has more ultra-luxury resorts and villas at premium pricing.
  • Puerto Vallarta has more mid-range and budget options.

Dining

  • Fine dining is pricier – but worth it – at Cabo’s top resort restaurants.
  • Puerto Vallarta has exceptional affordable street food and casual eateries.

Activities

  • Cabo San Lucas offers premium experiences like diving, fly fishing, and camel tours.
  • Puerto Vallarta has more budget-friendly options.

That said, Cabo does offer good value for all-inclusive resorts and package deals even if both destinations have high-end and affordable options across the board.

The Verdict: Which One is Better – Puerto Vallarta or Cabo San Lucas?

So which Mexican beach destination reigns supreme: Cabo San Lucas or Puerto Vallarta? Here’s a quick recap of how they stack up:

Cabo San Lucas Pros:

  • Shorter flights from the West Coast
  • More compact and walkable
  • Incredible luxury resorts and villas
  • Stunning swimmable beaches
  • Great for water sports and outdoor adventures
  • Drier climate with less humidity.

Puerto Vallarta Pros:

  • More affordable overall
  • Larger area to explore
  • Incredible regional Mexican cuisine
  • Calmer beaches ideal for swimming
  • Easier access to charming beach towns.

The truth is, both Cabo and Puerto Vallarta offer phenomenal vacation experiences. It really comes down to your specific travel preferences and budget.

If you’re looking for the ultimate in luxury and indulgence, with world-class resorts, spas and amenities, then Cabo San Lucas is hard to beat. The compact layout and beautiful beaches make it easy to maximize your relaxation. But if you want more of an authentic cultural immersion at a more affordable price point, then Puerto Vallarta may be for you. Whichever you choose, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable Mexican beach getaway. The most difficult part is deciding between the two!

Contact the Pros for Your Trip to Cabo

Have you decided to take a luxurious holiday in Cabo? Our expert team at Come to Cabo is ready to assist you, ensuring that you book the perfect accommodation, arrange the best activities, and make your vacation stress-free! Call Come to Cabo Villa Rentals at 1-800-975-5569 or send us a message through our online form.