Cozumel vs. Puerto Vallarta: Where To Go Next

It’s time to settle the score between Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta – two stunning destinations on the coast of Mexico. Whether you’re seeking tranquil island vibes or lively city energy, this showdown will guide you toward the perfect Mexican escape. Let’s discover the winner!”

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Related Post! The Best Beaches In Mexico

Which is Better? Cozumel vs. Puerto Vallarta?

The beaches in Cozumel are tropical and better suited for snorkeling and diving (after all, it’s next to the 2nd largest reef in the world!). Puerto Vallarta is good for water sports, but it also has the advantage of being a big city, so there are plenty of cultural and historical sites here as well.

But there are so many other factors to consider when deciding which place to go. To help you decide between these two areas of Mexico, I’ll compare different aspects like weather, activities, and even hotel costs so you’ll have a better idea of what to expect. 

Location and Weather

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Although they are both in Mexico, Cozumel and PV sit on separate sides of the country. That means their landscapes and weather patterns can vary quite a bit.

Cozumel is an island in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Cancun and Playa del Carmen. It has a tropical climate that is lucky to have warm weather all year round. Temperatures range from the mid-80s to the low 90s with a high humidity (especially during the summer). 

The best time to go is during the dry season, which lasts from December to April.  Heavy downpours and even hurricanes can hit the island the rest of the year, which can hinder your trip if you’re planning a beach vacation

If you head all the way west to the Pacific Ocean, you’ll find the city of Puerto Vallarta. Sitting on the Bay of Banderas next to the Sierra Madre Mountains, PV’s climate is more varied. Summer temps are in the mid-80s to the low 90s, while winters are a little cooler in the 70s

It also has a distinct wet season from June to October. Frequent rain and thunderstorms are common, although they may only last a few hours, giving you plenty of time to sightsee or visit the beaches

Beaches

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With so many beautiful beaches to choose from, Puerto Vallarta and Cozumel are great destinations for sun and sand. But because of their different locations, the beaches here are surprisingly different from one another. 

Cozumel beaches are exactly what you’d expect from a picture-perfect Caribbean island. The white sand is incredibly soft, and the turquoise waters are clear and calm. For this reason, many people consider them to be some of the best beaches in Mexico

On the western side of the island (facing the mainland), you’ll find Playa El Cielo and Playa las Rocas, two popular places for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. Cozumel’s eastern coast is a little more rugged but nonetheless beautiful, especially in Playa Chen Rio or Ixpalbarco Beach.

The beaches in Puerto Vallarta may not have that tropical island vibe, but they’re known for their lively atmosphere and fun underwater adventures. Playa Los Muertos is one of the busiest beaches right in town, but I can also recommend Playa Conchas Chinas and Playa Las Gemelas for peace and quiet.

It’s important to remember that PV is on the Pacific Ocean, which means the waves can be strong (especially in winter). Although the water may be intimidating to swimmers, it’s usually the perfect condition for surfers!

Related Post! Are Puerto Vallarta Beaches Rocky?

Activities and Attractions

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While the beaches are one of the main reasons people travel to Mexico, they aren’t the only attraction worth mentioning. Both destinations offer a wide array of activities (on land and on water) to make your journey even more exceptional. 

Some of the most popular things to do in Puerto Vallarta include:

  • Scuba Diving Los Arcos
  • Watching the sunset from the Malecon
  • Hiking Up to Mirador de la Cruz
  • Taking a walking tour or food tour in Zona Romantico
  • Visiting the Church Of Our Lady Of Guadalupe
  • Ziplining the Superman – the longest zipline in Mexico!
  • Whale watching from December to March
  • Golfing at the Vista Vallara Golf Club

If you’re going to Cozumel, there are tons of things here to keep you occupied. However, activities here are more focused on nature and outdoor sports rather than history and culture (Puerto Vallarta is the better place to visit for that). However, here are some things you can do on the island:

  • Swim with stingrays
  • Snorkel the second largest reef in the world from Playa Palancar
  • Enjoy the rides at Playa Mia Grand Beach Park
  • Take a boat tour to El Cielo beach
  • Zipline at Xplor Adventure Park
  • Take an Atlantis Submarine expedition
  • Ride an ATV to Jade Cavern
  • See ruins at Zona Arqueológica San Gervasio

Accommodation

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Choosing where to stay is an important factor when deciding between Cozumel or Puerto Vallarta.

As a large city, Puerto Vallarta has a wide range of accommodation options, from vacation rental apartments to luxurious all-inclusive resorts. Here are some well-rated places located in and around the city:

Budget:

Mid-Range:

Luxury:

Compared to PV, Cozumel is less developed and more laid-back, with more mid-range and budget-friendly hotels. However, you can still find some higher-end Cozumel resorts if you prefer an all-inclusive experience. I recommend choosing one of the options listed below:

Budget:

Mid-Range:

Luxury:

Dining

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As you might imagine, both Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta are ideal places for savoring Mexico’s culinary scene. But there are different influences and dishes that make each destination unique.

For example, Cozumel is focused on fresh seafood and Yucatan flavors that are salty, sour, and hot. Popular dishes include Cochinita Pibil (slow-roasted pork), Pescado Frito (fried fish), and Panuchos (thick tortillas with various fillings).

You can check out a list of our favorite Cozumel restaurants here. But at the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with a cozy beachside restaurant where you can enjoy views of the ocean while you dine!

Puerto Vallarta is a gastronomic city – not just for Mexican food, but for all types of international delights. Regional specialties include Pescado Zarandeado (grilled fish), Birria (stewed meat), and Ceviche

There’s something PV for every taste preference and budget. From mouthwatering street food stalls to gourmet fine dining establishments, you can definitely eat like a King or Queen during your visit!

Nightlife

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Looking for something fun to do after a beach day or sightseeing tour? Puerto Vallarta is the clear winner when it comes to nightlife. Being a big city, PV is dotted with bars, cocktail lounges, live music venues, and nightclubs

If you’re not sure where to start the evening, I suggest heading to the Malecon. This waterfront promenade is where all the locals come for sunset. Not only are the views outstanding, but you’re also just a stone’s throw away from the beach bars, restaurants, and nightclubs of downtown and the Romantic Zone.

While Cozumel is more laid-back, it still has its own charm and variety of things to do in the evening. Grab a cold beer at a beach bar, enjoy a traditional cultural show with dinner, or take a leisurely stroll on the island’s own waterfront Malecon. 

Travel Costs

When it comes to expenses, there’s not a big difference between the prices in Puerto Vallarta and Cozumel. But because Puerto Vallarta is bigger, which means you’ll have an easier time finding affordable dining and accommodation. 

Here’s a rough breakdown of what you can expect to pay in both parts of Mexico:

PV:

  • Mid-range hotel: $50 – $100 a night
  • Luxury hotel or all-inclusive: $200 – $400 a night
  • Meal at local restaurant: $5 – $10
  • High-end meal: $30 – $50
  • Cocktail: $5 – $10
  • Local beer: $2 – $4
  • Snorkeling Trip: $40 – $60
  • Zip Line Tour: $35 – $50
  • Food Tour: $40 – $60

Cozumel:

  • Mid-range hotel: $100 – $150 a night
  • Luxury hotel or all-inclusive: $300 – $500 a night
  • Meal at local restaurant: $5 – $10
  • High-end meal: $30 – $50
  • Cocktail: $5 – $10
  • Local beer: $1 – $3
  • Snorkeling Trip: $40 – $60
  • Zip Line Tour: $40 – $60
  • Jeep Tour: $60 – $80

Cozumel and PV are two of my favorite places in Mexico. With beautiful beaches, fun activities, and delicious food, it’s easy to see why people love traveling here. Whether you prefer the laid-back island lifestyle of Cozumel or the vibrant city atmosphere of Puerto Vallarta, these two travel destinations are worth visiting at least once in your lifetime. 

FAQs: Discovering Your Perfect Mexican Getaway – Cozumel vs. Puerto Vallarta

What makes Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta unique as beach destinations in Mexico?

Cozumel is celebrated for its white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters, perfect for snorkeling beside the world’s second-largest reef. Puerto Vallarta, set on the west coast near the Bay of Banderas, offers vibrant city life alongside beautiful beaches, making it ideal for those seeking marine life adventures and vibrant nightlife.

How do weather patterns affect my choice between Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta?

Cozumel enjoys a tropical climate with warm weather year-round, ideal for beachgoers, especially from December to April during the dry season. Puerto Vallarta experiences a wet season from June to October, perfect for sightseeing in its varied climate but also for those looking to catch the humpback whales migration.

Can I expect the same amenities and services in both destinations?

While both destinations offer a range of amenities, Puerto Vallarta, being a bigger city, has a wider array of dining, nightlife, and cultural sites. Cozumel, while more laid-back, offers unique experiences like swimming with stingrays and access to incredible Mayan ruins.

Is it easy to travel to Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta?

Yes, both destinations are accessible to tourists with direct flights available from the United States to Cozumel International Airport and Puerto Vallarta (PVR). Additionally, ferry services to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen and rental cars and taxis in both locations make exploration convenient.

What activities can I enjoy in Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta?

In Cozumel, dive into snorkeling at Playa Palancar or explore Chichen Itza on a day trip. Puerto Vallarta offers diverse activities from whale watching to ziplining in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Both places are fantastic for travelers seeking adventure and relaxation alike.

What should I know about traveling during the hurricane and rainy seasons?

Traveling to Cozumel during the hurricane season (June to November) and Puerto Vallarta’s rainy season requires travel insurance for peace of mind. While September and November can be less crowded during the low season, always check weather forecasts and plan for high season crowds from December to April.