Is Puerto Vallarta Safe?

How Safe is Puerto Vallarta in 2021?

With all the recent media hype about the crime rate in Mexico and Covid-19, new travelers to Puerto Vallarta want to know: Is Puerto Vallarta Safe for tourists in 2021? Simply stated: Yes! Puerto Vallarta is one of the safest places in Mexico for tourists.

Helpful and friendly tourist police officers ready to assist visitors.
Is Puerto Vallarta Safe for tourists? Absolutely! Plenty of super helpful and friendly tourist police are ready to assist visitors along the beautiful Puerto Vallarta Malecón.

The Crime in Puerto Vallarta:

Puerto Vallarta is absolutely safe for the hundreds of travelers arriving every day for vacation. Puerto Vallarta is also a safe place to live for the many American, Canadian and other expats who call Puerto Vallarta their home. In Puerto Vallarta crime is extremely low, consisting primarily of infrequent occurrences of petty theft. Puerto Vallarta news typically consists of upcoming social events, politics and real estate developments rather than crime.

Table showing the Crime Index and Safety Index of Puerto Vallarta.

Although Puerto Vallarta is safe, you should still use good common sense and situational awareness just as you would at home. Don’t walk around with large sums of money, or pull out a big wad of cash in a busy public place. Just employ good common sense and situational awareness during your Mexico vacation, the same as you would anywhere.

Is Puerto Vallarta Safe to Visit?:

To directly address the question: Is Puerto Vallarta safe for tourist? A few years back, the Puerto Vallarta Tourist Board hired prestigious global investigative security firm Thomas Dale and Associates (TDA) to provide a comprehensive Tourist Threat Vulnerability Assessment. The firm’s study focused on the tourist visitor who has concerns about relative safety. The emphasis of the investigation was on actual crime and the potential for crime. The report included an analysis of specific aspects which directly affect tourists. The study included threat assessment, medical services, law enforcement and traffic conditions. The resulting appraisal discovered that the most common offense in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is public drunkenness. And the most serious crimes were residential burglary, followed by auto theft, with the most serious of these crimes occurring outside the tourist zones.

Taxi Safe Program in Puerto Vallarta Mexico

An important safety feature highlighted in the report is that Puerto Vallarta, Mexico provides its city with a Safe Taxi Notification System where anyone who is the victim of a crime or who has witnessed a crime can report it to a taxi driver who will report the event to their call center which reports the incident to the Police Emergency Call Center by dialing “911” (which is the same as dialing 911 in the U.S.).  

The report also praised Puerto Vallarta for having 2 police officers for every 1000 persons, twice the Mexico national average for number of policemen. This enables the Puerto Vallarta police department to provide extra security in the tourist zones and have officers available to assist visitors. The TDA study concluded that Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is one of the safest international destinations for tourists and expatriates alike. The comparative analysis figures for 2011 are taken directly from the TDA report.

Is it Safe to Travel to Puerto Vallarta Right Now During the Pandemic?

The pandemic and potential exposure to Covid-19 is a real concern for most travelers. The latest Covid-19 data from the Mexican Government indicates that the entire area is in “Yellow Light” or “Medium” risk status. The risk status is expected to drop to “Green Light” or “Low” risk as the population begins to be vaccinated.

Sign at the Puerto Vallarta Malecón Reminding People to Social Distance

The vaccination of the elderly in Puerto Vallarta began on February 25, 2021. Unfortunately, only 21,450 doses were made available to the local population and by the end of February, Puerto Vallarta had run out of vaccines. More vaccines are expected to arrive soon.

Before traveling to Mexico from abroad, become familiar with any Covid-19 restrictions that may be in effect in Mexico or your country of origin. See our FAQ section below for more information.

What Are the Safety Measures Being Taken at Restaurants?

The Covid-19 safety measure being taken by restaurants include social distancing of tables, face covers required for all employees and patrons, temperature check prior to seating, hand sanitizing prior to seating. Many places also have sanitizing pads for shoes and offer Covid-safe alternatives for menus (disposable menus, online menus, menu boards, etc.)

Two customers entering a restaurant wearing face masks

What Are the Safety Measures Being Taken at Stores?

The Covid-19 safety measure being taken at stores include social distancing, face covers required for all employees and patrons, temperature checks prior to entering, hand sanitizing prior to entering, shoe sanitizing before entering, sanitized shopping carts, regular sanitation of checkout stations.

Covid Safety Measures Being Taken at LaComer Shopping Store

Stores like Costco and Sam’s Club are also restricting entrance to one person per membership card.

The Drug Cartel and Puerto Vallarta:

The drug and gang violence you hear about in the media is primarily concentrated in the cities along the US-Mexican border. When driving to Puerto Vallarta from the border, it’s a very lengthy 2-day drive. Because Puerto Vallarta is located so far away from the border, the US/Mexico drug wars have not affected Puerto Vallarta or any of the areas around Banderas Bay. When the whole country of Mexico is painted with one broad stroke, it’s similar to saying visitors to the United States should be concerned about traveling to Martha’s Vineyard because of gang violence in the west coast cities of Los Angeles and Oakland.

Crime Indexes of Top 10 Cities to Visit in Unites States vs Puerto Vallarta:

Here’s some additional food for thought: Every year, Travel and Leisure’s lists the top 15 best cities to visit in the United States. Here are the top 10 cities for 2020 (from #1 to #10): Charleston, New Orleans, Savana, Chicago, New York, San Antonio, Honolulu, Asheville, Austin Nashville. According to NUMBEO.COM, all of these 10 cities have crime indexes higher than Puerto Vallarta (see below). Nonetheless, tourists feel safe visiting these cities.

  1. Charleston, North Carolina – Crime Index: 38.05 (10% higher than Puerto Vallarta)
  2. New Orleans, Luisiana – Crime Index: 64.37 (87% higher than Puerto Vallarta)
  3. Savana, Georgia – Crime Index: 59..74 (70% higher than Puerto Vallarta)
  4. Chicago Illinois – Crime Index: 64.96 (88% higher than Puerto Vallarta)
  5. New York, New York – Crime Index: 46.85 (36% higher than Puerto Vallarta)
  6. San Antonio, Texas – Crime Index: 48.19 (40% higher than Puerto Vallarta)
  7. Honolulu, Hawaii – Crime Index: 43.91 (27% higher than Puerto Vallarta)
  8. Asheville, North Carolina – Crime Index: 38.6 (12% higher than Puerto Vallarta)
  9. Austin, Texas – Crime Index: 35.87 (4% higher than Puerto Vallarta)
  10. Nashville, Tennessee – Crime Index: 47.78 (39% higher than Puerto Vallarta)

The Real Dangers in Puerto Vallarta:

An actual danger in Puerto Vallarta is from its land sharks. These are Puerto Vallarta’s many large public buses, taxis and vehicles that barrel through the streets at fast speeds. Always use caution when crossing streets as pedestrians do not always have the right of way. Other dangers around Banderas Bay involve swimming. Never swim by yourself, or without being under the supervision of a trained lifeguard. Travelers should also note that the surf is rougher in the days following a rain or thunder storm. If you plan to hike or walk up into the jungle, wear long pants and closed-toe shoes to prevent possible injury from snake bites or scorpions. Bring bug spray for the evenings, and always wear sunscreen during the day. Avoid walking alone on the beach at night.

Report Tourist Abuse:

Puerto Vallarta’s police department has zero tolerance for tourist abuse by any member of its police department, such as the asking of bribes during traffic stops, etc. Tourists are encouraged to report any incident of abuse ASAP by dialing 088. Any offending police officer will be dealt with swiftly.

How to Report Abuse in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico prides itself in being a very safe place for tourists. The Mexican Internal Affairs Department wants tourists to know that they are stepping up efforts to battle police corruption and improve the image and reputation of its police force.

Here are the Answers to Some Commonly Asked Questions:

Is Puerto Vallarta Safe for Tourist?

As stated earlier, Yes! And for tourists, it should provide a level of comfort to know that Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is much less dangerous than the average American city. Most American expats report that they feel much safer here in Mexico than they did when living or traveling within the United States.

Is Puerto Vallarta Safer than Cancún?

Yes. According to the latest National Survey of Urban Public Safety (ENSU), which is conducted quarterly by Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) , Puerto Vallarta remains in the top ten safest cities in the country, while Cancun is 4th from the bottom, where 88.1% of the residents don’t feel safe.

Is there a Cartel in Puerto Vallarta?

For the most part, Puerto Vallarta has remained free of cartel conflict. However, being a world-class tourist destination, Puerto Vallarta does attract all sorts of tourist, from celebrities, to world leaders, and the occasional cartel leader.

What is the Crime Rate in Puerto Vallarta?

According to the latest survey data compiled by NUMBEO, Puerto Vallarta has a Crime Index of 34.47 (with 100 being the highest Crime Index) and a Safety Index of 65.53 (with 100 being the best Safety Index)This graph compares crime index of popular vacation destinations. Puerto Vallarta crime index is one of the lowest.

How does the Crime Rate in Puerto Vallarta Compare to Other Popular Vacation Destinations?

Using the latest data from NUMBEO, we’ve compile a Crime Index list for popular vacation destinations:

Are there any travel restrictions for entering Mexico during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Mexico does not have any restrictions for travelers, however, upon your arrival, you will need to fill out a Covid-19 questionnaire and will be subjected to a temperature check. Persons showing suspicious symptoms will need further examination by the health department.

What are the Requirements When Returning to the United States or Canada?

Both, the United States and Canada have testing requirements. For more information about travel restrictions for USA and Canada, testing requirements, cost of tests and where to get tested, please visit our Travel Restrictions for US and Canada page.


Here is a great article written by the that discusses the safety of Puerto Vallarta amid concerns over Mexico’s crime rate. “According to numerous professionals in the travel industry, much of what has been publicized about Mexico’s safety has been misleading, and they confirm that Puerto Vallarta is one of the safest places in the country for tourists to visit”