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Cycling Puerto Vallarta and Bucerias:
your ultimate guide

If you want a cycling holiday in Mexico, but aren’t sure where, the answer is simple: check out the cycling in Puerto Vallarta and Bucerias on Mexico’s Pacific coast. 

It’s a cycling paradise that is only just being discovered.

In this guide we speak to local cyclist Joel Goralski. He and his wife Jillian moved to Bucerias in 2013. They were supposed to be staying for a year, but they never left. That’s partly because they fell in love with the cycling around Puerto Vallarta and Bucerias - so much so that they set up Bici Bucerias, running Puerto Vallarta/Bucerias bike tours, and then global brand VeloGuide.


Cycling Puerto Vallarta/Bucerias: what’s so great?

Mexico is a big country whose reputation for beaches, tacos and tequila is far stronger than its reputation for cycling. But for those in the know, this country has some awesome riding and Puerto Vallarta/Bucerias is a fantastic place to sample it.

From flat valleys to high mountains, from smooth roads to gravel and cobblestone, the variety of riding is endless. The region provides a warm escape for those living in the Northern Hemisphere; you can (pretty much) ride in shorts and short sleeves year around. 

Cycling Puerto Vallarta/Bucerias lets you take in all the sights, smells and vistas of an area that is a hidden gem of the world cycling stage.


Tempted?

In this guide Joel shares what you need to know about planning a cycling trip to the Puerto Vallarta region, including cycling routes, where to stay and where to get the best bike rental in Puerto Vallarta

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Bucerias and Puerto Vallarta: cycling routes

The Puerto Vallarta region has amazing riding for cyclists, no matter what your level of cycling. You can ride flat roads all day or climb to over 2,500 metres above sea level.

There is something for everyone: the vast variety of roads and terrain allow riders of all levels to try a new ride every day of their stay. I've always found the traffic is very friendly to bikes and there are great places for mid ride snacks, coffee or cold coconut water. 

Puerto Vallarta bike tours help you discover the region

VeloGuide pro and Team Rally Cyclist Training in Puerto Vallarta

Roads out of Bucerias with beautiful churches

Photo at the town square and church in San Jose de Valle

Cyclists in Bucerias Mexico

Post-ride beach time in Boca de Tomatlan

But first things first:


Where are Puerto Vallarta and Bucerias in Mexico?

Both towns are located on Mexico’s Pacific coast roughly at the halfway point between the US and Guatemala. Puerto Vallarta is located in the state of Jalisco and Bucerias in the state of Nayarit. 

Unlike the Caribbean side of Mexico, these states contain several ecosystems: from jungle to high Alpine mountains (in the shape of the Sierra Madre Occidental range). 

This means the region provides incredible diversity of cycling terrains. 

Map showing Puerto Vallarta Mexico


What are the roads like in Puerto Vallarta/Bucerias?

While newcomers are generally apprehensive about the drivers in Mexico, in my experience cyclists are treated well and with a lot of respect. 

Both Jalisco and Nayarit have a 1.5 meter passing distance law that motorists abide by. It is not uncommon to see a peloton of riders riding two abreast (which is legal in both states) and with motorists waiting patiently for an opportunity to overtake the group in the passing lane. 

A quick review of Trip Advisor will show you many similar responses in line with this review 

Generally speaking the road surfaces are pretty good. Since many of the rides pass through small towns, you do need to be prepared for changes in surface conditions which include cobblestone roads, dirt and topes (speed bumps).


What are the must-do cycling climbs/routes?

Below I share some of my favourite rides.

I live and am based from Bucerias, so you’ll see these rides are based from there. Bucerias is a 45 minute drive from Puerto Vallarta. Consider basing yourself in Bucerias and opting into a weekly package with Bici Bucerias that will include your airport transfers. If you're based in Puerto Vallarta, for a small extra charge, we offer bike delivery and customer pick up for specific tours.  

1. General pointers

Highway 200 between Puerto Vallarta and Bucerias is quite hectic. You might want to consider using other transport for the transfer, riding first thing in the morning or on a Sunday.

You’ll find flatter road cycling and smaller hills along the valley roads that connect to Bucerias and along the coast.

Inland is home to the big hills and mountains of the Sierra Madre.

The gravel scene is also growing and the roads are endless - from the flat canal roads in the valley to the gravel routes leaving Puerto Vallarta and heading into the connecting mountains surrounding the city.


2. Easy/intermediate rides from Bucerias


Bucerias to El Arroyo
  • Flat, quiet countryside to El Arroyo
  • Distance: 61 kilometres
  • Elevation gain: 150 metres

The ride to El Arroyo starts in Bucerias and heads inland through the Rio Ameca river basin, past the villages of San Juan and El Colomo. 

The ride turns around at a little restaurant located on an arroyo (dry river bed) where you can sample cold fresh coconut water, handmade tortillas and other delicacies

Cyclists love this route because there are many options to shorten or lengthen the ride. For example seasoned riders can add on another 20 km by continuing on to Fortuna de Vallejo. 

Get support from VeloGuide hub Bici Bucerias here.

Bucerias to Sayulita
  • Coastal rollers and smaller climbs to the party town of Sayulita 
  • Distance: 73 kilometres
  • Elevation gain: 780 metres

This ride takes you up the old coastal road that heads west from Bucerias. It’s lovely and quiet and a great ride to get acclimatised to a little climbing, with a few short but steady 2+ km climbs. This is a great ride to do before heading off into the bigger mountains. 

The route heads for the famous hippie party town of Sayulita, which was founded in the 70s by American surfers looking for good waves. It’s a quirky place that now attracts everyone from health gurus to party seekers to weekend tourists. This ride doesn’t go into the town itself as there’s quite a lot of traffic (but you could choose too!).

You can add miles and elevation by doing multiple laps of the local racing circuit.

Get support from VeloGuide hub Bici Bucerias here.

Cycling the valley roads from Bucerias

Always a church in every town square!

Cyclists in the Puerto Vallarta region of Mexico

A popular indigenous monument of the hunter, fisher, and gatherer

Classic Mexican fare to enjoy after a bicycle ride in Mexico

Visit a local brewery Ceverceria Bahia de Banderas post ride in Bucerias

3. Challenging Rides

La Estancia and the Bakery Ride
  • A favourite among many local and visiting cyclists. This is an approachable yet challenging 30 km climb from Las Palmas to La Estancia.
  • Distance: 58 kilometres
  • Elevation gain: 1,250 metres 


This bike ride starts in Las Palmas de Arriba (Las Palmas) (although you could of course make it a really long day and ride out and back up the valley from Bucerias to Las Palmas). From Las Palmas it’s a majestic climb into the heartland of Jalisco. The nature of the Sierra is an up and down profile that accumulates extra elevation and makes it a lot more challenging on the way back. 

23 km into the climb you will arrive at a large bridge. You absolutely have to stop at the bakery here, either on the way up or the way back down, to sample the fresh mountain baked goods. 

If you want extra kilometres, you could ride this from Bucerias/Puerto Vallarta.

Get support from VeloGuide hub Bici Bucerias here.


Bakery on bakery ride Mexico

The famous Carmen's Bakery at Puente el Progresso 

Veloguide relaxing at bakery Mexico

Enjoy a special coffee and sweet or savoury empanadas

Coffes stop on a cycling route near Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Coffee stop!

Zacualpan to San Blass  
  • One of the most beautiful rides in the state of Nayarit!
  • Distance: 119 kilometres
  • Elevation gain: 2,000 metres

It’s an 80 km drive (roughly 1 hour 15 mins) from Bucerias to Zacualpan where this majestic journey begins, with smooth roads and long steady climbs. 

Do not be misled by the descent back to San Blass. This is a rolling descent that still requires work. 

You will be rewarded with a beautiful view as you reach the ocean. Fresh bbq fish on the beach with a bucket of cold beers is the prize!

Get support from VeloGuide hub Bici Bucerias here.


Veloguide cyclists in Bucerias Mexico

Full vehicle support with VeloGuide and Bici Bucerias

Heading to San Blas Mexico by bike

Descending new pavement from Tepic to San Blas

Cyclists on bike ride to San Blas Mexico

The Road to San Blas

Conquering the Sierra Madre
  • 4 big climbs of the Sierra Madre
  • Distance: 117 kilometres 
  • Elevation gain: 3,160 metres


This is a ride for the mountain goats; it takes you up four categorised climbs including up and over La Virgen and back up.

If that was not enough, you will be tested with the final ascent to the majestic colonial town of San Sebastián del Oeste where its double digit grades and three kilometres of cobble will test every bit of your strength

Starting in Las Palmas de Arriba (which is around 43 km and 1 hour drive from Bucerias) and ending in San Sebastián del Oeste, you will cover over 116 km and almost 3,200 metres of elevation gain. 

Get support from VeloGuide hub Bici Bucerias here.

Road cyclists climbing the Sierra Madre mexico

Climbing La Virgen, Sierra Madre

CYclists in the Sierra Madre mountains Mexico

Kings of the Castle in the Sierra Madre

Cyclist on cobblestones near San Sebastian

On the cobbles near San Sebastián

Bucerias to El Tuito
  • One of our favourite rides. Coastal riding and smaller climbs before taking on the 20 kilometre climb up El Tuito.
  • Distance: 146 kilometres
  • Elevation gain: 1,650 metres

El Tuito is one of the most famous climbs in the region. It lies south of Puerto Vallarta and this route will take you there on rolling coastal roads. 

From Boca de Tomatlan you head through the jungle to a pine forest before starting a beautiful short ascent to El Tuito. It’s a nice steady climb to the top - and there’s a fantastic bakery there too.

For slower riders, there are a few ways to make life easier on this ride: 

  • you can drive from Bucerias to near the start of the climb at the beautiful bay of Boca de Tomatlan; and/or
  • you could make your summit the town of Columpio which is a total climbing distance of 18 Km.  

Here’s the Strava route from Puerto Vallarta

Get support from VeloGuide hub Bici Bucerias here.

Cycling El Tuito Mexico

On the way to El Tuito

Cyclist and horse El Tuito, Mexico

In the Sierra Madre

Arriving in El Tuito by bike

Approaching El Tuito


4. Gravel and mixed terrain rides

I recommend you bring or rent a gravel bike with a minimum of 33 mm tyres as there is cobblestone and gravel to contend with.

Bucerias to San Sebastián del Oeste
  • Valley ride plus 40km climb to magical San Sebastián del Oeste.
  • Terrain: smooth pavement, 10+ kilometres of gravel and 7+ kilometres of cobblestone.
  • Distance: 83 kilometres
  • Elevation gain: 1,730 metres

This ride to the magical town of San Sebastián del Oeste will challenge you. It’s around 40 km of climbing from Las Palmas de Arriba and you’ll be tested with some significant elevation gain as well as double digit grades and 3km of cobble to reach the final summit. 

San Sebastian del Oeste sits at 1,480 metres above sea level and is made up of early 19th century, colonial buildings and haciendas surrounded by green mountains. It used to be a prosperous silver mining town and it’s a beautiful place.

If you want to reduce the ride time, we offer this as a one way ride with a drive back home: here.

See how you fare against the pros from Las Palmas to San Sebastian... Phil Gaimon currently holds the KOM on Strava.

Get support from VeloGuide hub Bici Bucerias here.

Bucerias to La Bufa
  • Extremely challenging one day ride over dirt, pavement, cobble and one of the meanest and toughest climbs in Mexico.
  • Distance: 155 kilometres
  • Elevation gain: 4,050 metres

The ride starts in Bucerias. You head north on Highway 200 past Sayulita, before turning south again just after La Puerta de la Lima and into Alta Vista. From Alta Vista be prepared for a challenging 20 km of gnarly cobblestone, dirt and gravel with short but steep climbs. 

Once past Las Palmas de Arriba, the ride becomes more approachable until you hit the ascent to La Estancia and San Sebastián del Oeste, which is located at the foot of La Bufa.

From San Sebastian, get yourself ready for 10 km of cobblestone that averages 11% as you take on La Bufa. This is the climb that makes champions. We end the ride looking over the entire Sierra Madre. 

All of these rides are better with a VeloGuide but I’d put in a special recommendation that you hire VeloGuide hub Bici Bucerias bike guides to support you on this ride. This sea-level to 2,600 meters ride has over 4,000 meters of vertical gain and over 50 km of cobble and dirt. It’s really tough even with support!

We also suggest you do this ride on a Sunday as there will be less traffic on the first section that heads north. 


5. Multi-Day Challenge

A challenging multi-day adventure into the heart of Mexico’s Sierra Madre

This route takes four long and challenging days with over 600 km of distance and almost 9,000 meters of climbing.  Overnights in local hotels in historical "pueblos". 

It gives you an idea of the sort of trip we can organise for you from our VeloGuide hub Bici Bucerias. The ride will be fully supported with VeloGuide support car and riding VeloGuides. 

Road cycling in the mountains

Arriving in Mascota Jalisco

Cyclists in front of a church

Colonial architecture and churches in every town

On the Vuelta a Jalisco tour with VeloGuide

Quiet high mountain roads in Jalisco


Do you recommend booking a guide/organised bike tour in Puerto Vallarta/Bucerias?

Since I run VeloGuide hub Bici Bucerias, the answer is of course yes!

But seriously, our clients tell us how much more they get from their bike trips as a result of having a guide with them. Especially somewhere like Mexico where English is not widely spoken outside of the resorts and there’s so much interesting culture and history to share. Our local knowledge means we can help keep you on the best roads and vary up the riding to make sure the level and roads you’re riding are the best ones for you.

Coming with us also means you've got support if your bike or body break down!

We can arrange anything from a one-off Puerto Vallarta bike tour to multi-day cycling tours in Puerto Vallarta, Bucerias and the mountains - for private tours, groups or even cycling training camps. 

All of the rides I’ve mentioned above are ones we regularly take guests on - and you can see their feedback on TripAdvisor here.

This reminds me - as well as the road routes mentioned above, if you want something a lot more low key and leisure cyclist friendly, our foodie bike tours might be fun to try. It’s a couple of hours cruising the streets of Bucerias, taking you to our favourite bars and restaurants, enjoying some delicious tastings and helping you meet the locals. You can get all the details here.

Two cyclists in Mexico

Breathtaking scenery included!

VeloGuide in Mexico

Phil Gaimon and local VeloGuides

Fish on the beach near Bucerias Mexico

Post ride seafood bbq at Boca de Tomatlan

Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta/Bucerias

In this section I share the best places to stay in Puerto Vallarta/Bucerias for cyclists. But first...


Puerto Vallarta vs Cancun

One question I’m often asked is: Puerto Vallarta v Cancun. 

The answer is, both are beach resorts, both are well connected and very popular. Puerto Vallarta is on the Pacific Coast (west side) and Cancun is on the Gulf of Mexico (east side).

On balance, Cancun is better connected and easier to get to (especially for Europeans). The beaches and water are also slightly nicer (they have classic white sand and clear water compared with Puerto Vallarta’s golden sand and Pacific Ocean waves).

However, that’s where the advantages of Cancun end. Cancun and the other beach resorts on the Yucatan Peninsula are incredibly touristy. Many are purpose built tourist resorts, with high rise hotels and more of an American vibe than a Mexican vibe. Great if you’re a 20 something American kid on Spring break looking for a wild time, less good if you’re a middle-aged cyclist that wants to ride their bike!

If you’re desperate to go to the Yucatan Peninsula and see the Mayan temples, I’d suggest you avoid the coastal resorts and stay inland. The riding is still boring compared to Puerto Vallarta, but at least the towns are nicer. There’s more information in our cyclist’s guide to Mexico, here.


Puerto Vallarta vs Bucerias

You’ll notice we often talk about Puerto Vallarta and Bucerias (pronounced Boo-seh-REE-us) as one in the information above. It might be helpful to explain a bit more about the two towns, so you can decide which is best for you.

First, the similarities: both towns are on Banderas Bay, a sheltered cove about half way down Mexico’s west coast. They’re both old fishing villages with cobblestone streets and pretty buildings, beautiful beaches and lots of water sports. While they are most definitely now tourist destinations, they still retain an authentic sense of place.

Bucerias is about 30-45 minutes drive to the north of Puerto Vallarta. Puerto Vallarta is within Mexico’s Jalisco province. Bucerias sits just over the border in the Nayarit province. 

Now for the differences. Bucerias:

  • Is much smaller than Puerto Vallarta; it’s more of a town than a city.
  • Is more about small and luxury condos and vacation homes than large hotel resorts.
  • Feels more authentically Mexican.
  • Has a good range of restaurants but doesn’t have much nightlife. There are a couple of sports bars to enjoy some late-night drinks, but that’s about it.

Of course, which town you pick will be a personal decision, but as a cyclist, bear in mind that if you want to get out and ride, it’s nice to be able to do that without having to battle through a city! 

That’s certainly what swung it for me when we were deciding whether to base ourselves in Puerto Vallarta or Bucerias.

A final thing to add is that if you decide to base out of Puerto Vallarta, it’s no problem using Bici Bucerias as a cycling guide/bike rental. We often have guests based in Puerto Vallarta and can provide cycling guides and support for biking Puerto Vallarta, though there may be a small extra charge due to the transfer time between the resorts.  

Veloguide cyclists Bucerias mexico

Puerto Vallarta cycling friendly community

Beaches on Banderas Bay Mexico perfect for post ride recovery

Blessing of the Boats in Bucerias

Mexican architecture on a Veloguide bike tour of Puerto Vallarta

Thank You For Visiting!


What are the best hotels and accommodation for cyclists in PV?

There are plenty of places to stay in and around Puerto Vallarta to accommodate what you want to get out of your stay. From all inclusive resorts to VRBO/AirBnB’s where you can be more independent. Depending on what you are looking for, there is something right for you and your family. 


Best place to stay in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is split into five different zones. Which is the best for you depends on the kind of accommodation you’re looking for. 

1. Marina Vallarta: a smart, modern area of Puerto Vallarta with expensive hotels and resorts. This area is quite quiet and a bit of a way to the centre. It’s close to the airport though!

2. Zona Hotelera: as the name suggests, this is the “hotel zone,” with lots of all-inclusive resorts, villas, malls and chain restaurants.

3. El Centro (downtown): this is where everything happens - shopping, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and things to do. You’re within walking distance of many places. The hotels are generally smaller here.

4. Zona Romantica: the city’s old town with some old-world charm and independent boutique hotels. 

5. South Zone: a trendy area that includes the Conchas Chinas beach area. There are some great beaches, views, luxury hotels (and some all-inclusive resorts too).

The best areas for cyclists would be on the south side of Centro in the romantic zone. This gives you access to all the conveniences as well as an easy escape to highway 200 for a ride along the coast or further toward El Tuito.

Looking to spoil yourself or plan a special getaway? I recommend staying at
Hacienda San Angel. It occupies an elevated position above the narrow cobblestone streets of Puerto Vallarta and exudes elegance and romance. The building dates from the colonial era and inside you'll find turn-of-the-century furnishings. This historical hacienda was once the home of the late Richard Burton who purchased the home for his wife Susan. Check out  this video for an interview with the owner and some amazing footage.


Best place to stay in Bucerias

My wife and I run MaraVilla Nayarit in Bucerias.

You can see what our visitors say about our accommodation here:

We offer secure storage for bikes and each of our properties are located within several blocks of the Bici Bucerias bike shop and one block away from the beautiful beach and walking distance to all things food and fun. 

It’s also worth bearing in mind that one of the reasons to stay with us in Bucerias is that we are the de facto cycling hub.

Bike hire

Are there many places for bike rental in Puerto Vallarta/Bucerias?

Quality bike rental is still in its infancy in Mexico. However one of the advantages of coming to the Puerto Vallarta region is that you can rent from us and we know what cyclists want and need.

 

Bike rental Puerto Vallarta

The VeloGuide hub in Nuevo Vallarta is the best bike hire/rental option in Puerto Vallarta:

Bike + Life, Plaza 3.14, Avenida de Las Palmas 3, Local 33A, Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico


Bike rental Bucerias

In Bucerias, you can hire bikes here from us at Bici Bucerias.


These two establishments have been in business for over eight years. They will be the most reliable and offer the best service.

At both the Puerto Vallarta and Bucerias hubs you can hire a great range of bicycles: road bikes, leisure bikes, mountain bikes, fat bikes and e-bikes. You’ll find quality bikes that are regularly maintained and replaced with new bikes every two years at a minimum. 

Booking through VeloGuide also allows the customer to add insurance which will cover up the full replacement of the bike in the event it is damaged. 

Cyclists in San Blas Mexico

The Malecon (boardwalk) in San Blas

Cyclists getting an ebike Puerto Vallarta Mexico

E-bike options for rides from Puerto Vallarta

Veloguide at el Tuito Mexico

A VeloGuide we'll help you find the best places to ride!


Bike shops Puerto Vallarta/Bucerias

The best repair option in Puerto Vallarta is Velo Bike Puerto Vallarta

In Bucerias, head to Pepe’s Bike Shop at Bici Bucerias.

When to visit

Most of the information in the Epic Road Rides Mexico guide also applies to Puerto Vallarta/Bucerias. However, I’d also mention 

  • The Puerto Vallarta area tends to get very busy around the winter vacations: Christmas, New Year and Easter. March is also popular with with Spring-breakers.
  • If you are hoping to see whales while in town, the season falls between December to early March. 
  • Normal riding season here is all year around!
  • During the winter months (December to end of March) temperatures will get cool in the morning, especially when riding at altitude in the mountains. In most cases, arm warmers and a light vest will suffice for the few hours you may need it. 

Tips for Puerto Vallarta cycling 

Our Mexico guide has got lots of tips for cycling in Mexico that also apply to cycling in Puerto Vallarta/Bucerias. However I’d also add

  • Plan to ride early in the morning before it gets too warm and pack sunblock and two full bottles. 
  • Bring some Pesos with you so you can stop at one of the many coconut stands or convenience stores to fill up your bottles. 
  • For safer riding, it’s sensible to ride with a rear and front flashing light, especially if you are heading out early. 
  • Be sure to sport the speedbumps (topes). There are a fair number of speed bumps which keep traffic moving at a safe pace and are easy to navigate on a bike. Remember to point them out to each other if you’re riding in a group!
Gravel riding Puerto Vallarta region of Mexico

Vaqueros (cowboys) herding cattle along cycling route

Cyclists cycling to San Blas Mexico

Quiet valley roads outside Bucerias

Cyclist in the Puerto Vallarta region of Mexico

VeloGuide Pro Sara along picturesque valley route


How to get to Puerto Vallarta?

Puerto Vallarta has an international airport, but not every country in the world flies to it. If you’re coming from North America or Canada, you may well be able to get a direct flight.

Otherwise, if you find your international flight ending in Mexico City, the quickest way to Puerto Vallarta is via one of several airlines that offer economical regular flight to Puerto Vallarta, including Aeromexico. 



Want to know more about cycling in Mexico?

Don’t miss the guide to cycling in Mexico, which shares the best regions of Mexico to ride in and lots more practical information.


Want help organising your trip?


VeloGuide are our cycling holiday partner in Mexico.

Their website and app puts cyclists in touch with local guides. This means you can take a look at the guides' profiles, find one you like and then book in for a one-off ride (or more!).

We love the flexibility VeloGuide offers, with no need to sign up for traditional multi-day rides or large group rides. They can also arrange your bike hire, hotel bookings and transfers if needed...

Still undecided? Just take a look at the glowing reviews on Trustpilot!

Got questions? Get in touch with the team at  www.veloguide.com (and be sure to tell them we sent you!).

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Joel Goralski, VeloGuide

More About Joel

Joel Goralski is originally from Calgary Alberta moved with his wife and two young children to Bucerias Mexico in 2013. What was supposed to be a one year “Life Experience” turned into permanent. To keep busy, Joel created www.BiciBucerias.com which provided cycling tours and bike rentals from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita. Joel, also known as the Original VeloGuide in Mexico, has been guiding bike tours in Mexico since and has clocked over 100,000 km of rides in the area.

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