Puerto Vallarta
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Is It Safe to Vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico?

Without question, vacationers are safe to travel to Puerto Vallarta. Puerto Vallarta belongs to the sizable and unique state of Jalisco. Captain Peter Vines of travelvallarta.com says it the best, “I have lived here for over 25 years and believe it to be safer in Puerto Vallarta than in any metropolitan area in the United States.”

U.S. State Department

The following is the U.S. Department of State’s latest travel report as it refers to Puerto Vallarta.

Jalisco: Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta are major cities/travel destinations in Jalisco. You should defer non-essential travel to areas of the state that border the states of Michoacán and Zacatecas. You should also exercise caution when traveling at night outside of cities in the remaining portions of this state. There is no recommendation against travel to Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta. There is also no recommendation against travel on principal highways in Jalisco between Guadalajara including the portions that cross in to the southern areas of the state of Nayarit. The security situation along the Michoacán and Zacatecas borders continues to be unstable and gun battles between criminal groups and authorities occur. Concerns include roadblocks placed by individuals posing as police or military personnel and recent gun battles between rival TCOs involving automatic weapons.

So, the State Department does not have any cautions for the Puerto Vallarta/Nuevo Vallarta area. There are warnings that visitors should “delay non-essential trip to locations of the state that border the states of Michoacán and Zacatecas.” It is important to note that those areas are far from the Puerto Vallarta/Nuevo Vallarta region and are seldom travelled by tourists.

Comparison to U.S. Cities

The murder rate in Puerto Vallarta is similar to many cities in the U.S., including Cleveland , Oakland and Miami. There are many fewer murders in Puerto Vallarta than in New Orleans and St. Louis. Tourists are VERY seldom involved in crimes of any kind in Puerto Vallarta.

Is Puerto Vallarta Safe?

Puerto Vallarta’s tourist board recently hired the safety consulting firm Thomas Dale and Associates to complete a study to answer that very question. The company reported that “the number of negative events entailing tourists and non-foreigners is very low in comparison to the thousands of tourists that vacation every year in Puerto Vallarta.”

The investigation discovered that “guests to the destination feel safe and continue to visit Puerto Vallarta numerous times through their lifetime and that the destination’s support services are well above the average standards and dedicated to serving the visiting public. In relations to the drug wars, TDA found that the limited land transit makes the smuggling of guns and drugs through Puerto Vallarta very difficult and thus a non-issue in the destination.”

Irrelevant Comparisons

Violent crime against vacationers is extremely uncommon in Puerto Vallarta. Everyone working in the tourism industry has long complained that Americans paint Mexico using too broad of a brush. When violence is reported in one part of the nation, all of the cities hundreds of miles away are ruined by association. For example, few Americans would question the safety of Beverly Hills just because physical violence was reported in West L.A., yet numerous Americans judge safety in Puerto Vallarta by the criminal offenses reported in the Mexican border areas, hundreds of miles away.

Some Concerning Events

To be complete, we should mention that there have been some events that have worried potential visitors. There was tour bus in a remote area that was held up by a single gunman and robbed. A Canadian involved in the drug trade was killed in Nuevo Vallarta. And an ostensibly corrupt police chief was attacked by cartel members in Old Town. These are isolated events and no different than those that occur in any city in the U.S. or Canada. In fact, the man killed in Nuevo Vallarta was attacked in Whistler, British Columbia before the episode in Mexico.

To read more about this topic, see advice from the State Department and more Puerto Vallarta crime statistics.

The Bottom Line

Whether you stay in a Casa del Puente in Old Town or the Grand Luxxe on the North side of Puerto Vallarta, you really don’t need to worry at all. You can simply relax and enjoy your vacation.

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