New comers to Puerto Vallarta often ask, "How safe is the city?". We won't try to convince you that there is no crime here. But violent crime, directed toward tourists, is virtually unheard of.
Many of our guests have been returning year after year for decades and they tell us they feel safer in Puerto Vallarta than they do anywhere else. Indeed, some say their own hometown isn't as safe as our piece of paradise.
The violence that makes the evening news around the world is often related to Mexico's war on drugs. The majority of the criminal activity happens along the USA Mexico border near Ciudad Juarez, Nogales and Nuevo Laredo. These areas are over 1,000 miles/1,600 kilometres from Puerto Vallarta.
Violent crime is rare in Vallarta and even more rare is crime directed toward tourists. Most major North American cities have higher crime rates and tourists are sometimes the target. In any city around the world, tourists who fall prey to the criminal element are often in places at times of the day (or night) that they wouldn't normally be in their own hometown.
In many of the incidents where tourists have been harmed in Mexico, they have been intoxicated in public places, confrontational with locals and/or police or in physically dangerous situations. This doesn`t justify what happens to them but if you would not place yourself in these unsafe situations at home, please don`t do so while on vacation... anywhere. It is a reciped for disaster.
We have found several articles that offer a balanced view and do a good job of explaining the relative safety of Mexico and Puerto Vallarta compared to other areas:
What do other travellers think? - If the increase in tourism in Mexico is any indication, many people feel Mexico is an ideal place to vacation. From May 2010 to May 2011, air arrivals from the USA and Canada were up 15.8 percent. In the first quarter of 2011 North American air carriers saw noteable increases in the number of passengers to Mexico: Delta (79.4%), United (51.5%), Sunwing (98.7%), West Jet (43%), Air Canada (17.5%), Air Transat (15.3%).
Next to the USA, Canada is the most important tourism market for Mexico. Canadian tourists and snowbirds have been flocking to Mexico for decades. In 2011 more than 1.5 million Canadians visited Mexico... that`s an increase of 7% over 2010. Overall, tourism to Mexico increased by 2% in 2011 to 22.7 million visitors. That`s up from the previous high of 22.6 million in 2008.
While we are very concerned about any acts of agression toward fellow Mexicans and tourists, the reality is that Puerto Vallarta remains as one of the safest places in North America for tourists.
Personal Safety in Puerto Vallarta
December 6, 2010 Journey Mexico.com Puerto Vallarta Safety by Linda Ellerbee
Iím a journalist who lives in New York City, but has spent considerable time in Mexico, specifically Puerto Vallarta, for the last four years. Iím in Vallarta now. And despite what Iím getting from the U.S. media, the 24-hour news networks in particular, I feel as safe here as I do at home in New York, possibly safer.
I walk the streets of my Vallarta neighborhood alone day or night. And I donít live in a gated community, or any other All-Gringo neighborhood. I live in Mexico. Among Mexicans. I go where I want and take no more precautions than I would at home in New York; which is to say I donít wave money around, I donít act the Ugly American, I do keep my eyes open, Iím aware of my surroundings, and I try not to behave like a fool.
Iíve not always been successful at that last one. One evening a friend left the house I was renting in Vallarta at that time, and, unbeknownst to me, did not slam the automatically-locking door on her way out. Sure enough, less than an hour later a stranger did come into my house. A burglar? Robber? Kidnapper? Killer? Drug lord?
No, it was a local police officer, the ďbeat copĒ for our neighborhood, who, on seeing my unlatched door, entered to make sure everything (including me) was okay. He insisted on walking with me around the house, opening closets, looking behind doors and, yes, even under beds, to be certain no one else had wandered in, and that nothing was missing. He was polite, smart and kind, but before he left, he lectured me on having not checked to see that my friend had locked the door behind her. In other words, he told me to use my common sense.
Do bad things happen here? Of course they do. Bad things happen everywhere, but the murder rate here is much lower than, say, New Orleans, and if there are bars on many of the ground floor windows of houses here, well, the same is true where I live, in Greenwich Village, which is considered a swell neighborhood ó house prices start at about $4 million (including the bars on the ground floor windows.)
There are good reasons thousands of people from the United States are moving to Mexico every month, and itís not just the lower cost of living, a hefty tax break and less snow to shovel. Mexico is a beautiful country, a special place.
The climate varies, but is plentifully mild, the culture is ancient and revered, the young are loved unconditionally, the old are respected, and I have yet to hear anyone mention Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, or Madonnaís attempt to adopt a second African child, even though, with such a late start, she cannot possibly begin to keep up with Angelina Jolie.
And then there are the people. Generalization is risky, butó in general ó Mexicans are warm, friendly, generous and welcoming. If you smile at them, they smile back. If you greet a passing stranger on the street, they greet you back. If you try to speak even a little Spanish, they tend to treat you as though you were fluent. Or at least not an idiot.
I have had taxi drivers track me down after leaving my wallet or cell phone in their cab. I have had someone run out of a store to catch me because I have overpaid by twenty cents. I have been introduced to and come to love a people who celebrate a day dedicated to the dead as a recognition of the cycles of birth and death and birth ó and the 15th birthday of a girl, an important rite in becoming a woman ó with the same joy.