Take a Bay Cruise
While there are many ways to discover Banderas Bay, a unique way to take in the breadth of views and destinations is by taking a boat cruise throughout the bay. Daytime or evening, large or small, there are options for everyone, from families with children to singles. Bay cruises allow visitors to enjoy the view of our destination from a completely different angle, along with the opportunity to encounter all sorts of marine wildlife, from dolphins to turtles; and in season, whales. And when the cruises head south, Banderas Bay has a number of exotic seaside villages worthy of exploration. There are many cruise providers, each offering their own unique take on the overall experience, which is ideal for people of all ages.
Most bay cruises depart from the Puerto Vallarta Maritime Terminal, and southbound cruises make a stop at the Los Muertos Pier for additional passengers to board.
While all bay cruises offer an excellent opportunity to enjoy the view of Puerto Vallarta from the ocean some head toward the South Shore, making stops at some of the destinations located there. Many eco tours head to the Marietas Islands, a group of uninhabited islands near Puerto Vallarta, where marine life and several protected species of birds are abundant.
There is a broad variety of vessels available from the different bay cruise providers, from catamarans and sailboats to large, multiple-level boats. There is even a working replica of the Santa María, the largest of three ships used by Christopher Columbus on his maiden voyage to America.
Generally speaking, most cruises around Banderas Bay can be divided into daytime and evening cruises. Most daytime offerings head south, making stops at landmarks such as Los Arcos and a handful South Shore destinations. Evening cruises, such as Vallarta Adventures' Rhythms of the Night or the Marigalante pirate ship offer on- or off-board entertainment along with spectacular night views of the entire bay.
Beyond this, there are several specialty cruises catering to special interests, such as fishing, paddle boarding, whale or bird watching, and outings for members of the gay community.
Tips for Exploring Banderas Bay by Boat
Here are some things to keep in mind as you decide what type of experience you wish to have onboard a bay cruise.
- Traveling alone? In a small or large group? Bay cruises are great ways to meet new friends if you are traveling alone, but keep in mind that, the larger your group, the better off you might be by chartering a vessel, an option many tour providers are willing to offer.
- Looking for on-board entertainment, or for a way to get somewhere? Many cruises offer on-board entertainment along with food or drink, such that the experience itself takes place (for the most part) aboard the vessel. Cruises may also offer amenities such as snorkeling equipment to be used at specific places, and the option to disembark at one or several locations in Puerto Vallarta's South Shore. On the other hand, if you are looking to explore a specific destination and are simply looking for a way to get there, consider a panga or water taxi instead.
- Ask about graceful disembarking. While an increasing number of South Shore destinations feature docking facilities, many cruises use small motor boats to transfer their passengers to the beach. While their crews are trained and more than willing to help everyone disembark safely, ask for details if this is a particular concern for you.
- Is the vessel hooded? If extended exposure to the sun is a concern, ask ahead of time if your vessel is hooded. Otherwise, consider wearing a hat.
- Would you rather be pampered? With three spectacular marinas in the region, many privately owned vessels offer high-end yacht rentals for the ultimate experience in luxurious pampering, a perfect way to celebrate a special occasion with friends and loved ones.