Puerto Vallarta offers a more diverse and authentic Mexican life. There's no shortage of swanky hotels, but there are also charming haciendas, boutique aparthotels and budget backpackers accommodation along the boardwalks. Puerto Vallarta better caters to the budget-minded traveler, while Cabo is an elegant resort. Compared to average prices in Puerto Vallarta, Cabo is a bit more expensive.
While Puerto Vallarta is as safe as Cabo, the tourist area is more dispersed and it can be overwhelming to choose where to stay. You might also be able to get some incredible tips on bus routes, which I could have used when I took the bus from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita. Cabo is also a hot spot on the spring break scene, which comes alive once a year with American students looking for sunshine and cheap alcohol. Puerto Vallarta is located on the Pacific coast of Mexico, in the state of Jalisco, located in the beautiful Banderas Bay.
Both Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas have decent prices on an international scale, but as for the country, you'll find that Puerto Vallarta is the cheaper of the two. In contrast, “Cabo” is a massacred word that English speakers use to refer to the entire area of Los Cabos or, more commonly, to the more touristy Cabo San Lucas. But I also understand these destinations better than people who make a day cruise stop in Cabo and Puerto Vallarta. There are a variety of accommodations in Cabo San Lucas, and downtown is a strong option for the cost-savvy among us.
As a final note on nightlife, we've found that locals and tourists tend to mix more in Puerto Vallarta than in Cabo, whether in bars, clubs and even away from nightlife in places like gyms. As a tourist wandering around the city, one of the biggest differences you'll notice between Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta is that there's a lot more harassment from vendors in Los Cabos. In my experience, expats interested in immersing themselves in Mexican culture, dining at taco shops and befriending locals tend to choose Puerto Vallarta over Cabo. Personally, I prefer Puerto Vallarta, since it's not as touristy and it's more comfortable to walk as a woman traveling alone.
Because Cabo is a more touristy destination than Puerto Vallarta, you'll have easy access to many activities to enjoy. We've already spent some time weighing whether Cancun or Cabo are the best, and Cabo came out on top. Cabo is known for attracting luxury tourists, celebrities and people who cruise the Pacific on their yachts. While Puerto Vallarta is a charming mix of a coastal tourist spot and a working city, which might seem a little strange to some people.
Flights of approximately 5 hours from Vancouver (Canada), 4 hours from Chicago, 3 hours from Los Angeles and 5 and a half hours from Toronto will take you to Puerto Vallarta, where you will be sipping Mexican margaritas on the beach in no time.