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Gay Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

The town is referred to as “gay Puerto Vallarta” for a reason: it’s one of the most gay-friendly cities in Mexico. There are a couple of gay beaches, as well as plenty of gay-friendly hotels and an area of town almost exclusively dedicated to gay nightlife. In peak tourist season (the winter months), there are plenty of gay-oriented activities, including horseback riding, drag shows and even gay bingo. What keeps gay travelers coming back is the laid-back nature of the gay scene; it’s all very low-key and relaxed.

Visitors to gay Puerto Vallarta often talk about “the gay beach”. However, more than one beach fits this description. At the south end of Los Muertos Beach is the Blue Chairs Resort. You’ll recognise it by the rainbow flags. In front of the hotel is the Blue Chairs Beach, so called because (you guessed it) it’s full of blue chairs. In keeping with the general atmosphere of gay Puerto Vallarta, the beach is a chilled-out place to snooze in the sun. Take a chair and sunbathe, or eat some of the beach snacks on offer from vendors (grilled fish on a stick is a specialty). This is a good place to meet new people, both Mexican and American. The other gay beach is known as Paco’s Gay Beach. This is a secluded 20-acre area on the south coast of the bay, where you can enjoy snorkeling, beach volleyball and swimming. There’s also a restaurant and bar. Entry to the beach is about $5, and the privacy and beauty of the area makes it well worth the money. Paco’s Beach is inaccessible by road, so take a water taxi from Boca de Tomatlan. Sometimes there are cruises to the beach too.

As for nightlife, most gay clubs and bars are in the part of town known as the South Side, or the zona romantica . The kind of music on offer varies, but all clubs tend to be more down-to-earth and less high-energy than their straight counterparts elsewhere in Puerto Vallarta.

When you hear about gay Puerto Vallarta, you usually hear about the male scene, but it’s a very woman-friendly destination too. Diana DeCoste runs “Diana’s Tours”, and organizes many activities for lesbian visitors. For example, you can go on a five-hour ecological tour of the surrounding countryside, including horseback riding and swimming, for about $40.