The Licenciado Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport is located just six miles north of the center of Puerto Vallarta, near the Marina. It serves many destinations along Mexico’s Pacific coast, including smaller towns and coastal resort areas to the south such as Cabo Corrientes and Costa Alegre as well as sites to the north along the Riviera Nayarit such as Nuevo Vallarta, Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Punta de Mita, Sayulita, Lo De Marcos, San Pancho, and Bucerias. It’s a small airport and reasonably easy to navigate, but can become very crowded during the high tourist season. Read on to learn more about this airport so that your transit through it is smooth and hassle-free.
Puerto Vallarta Airport Code, Location, and Flight Information
Know Before You Go
The Puerto Vallarta airport has two terminals, A and B. They’re in the same building, connected by a long corridor. Generally, Terminal A is used for domestic flights, and Terminal B is reserved for international flights. Some of the airlines that service PVR include Aeroméxico, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Interjet, Sun Country Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, VivaAerobus, Virgin America, and Volaris.
Arriving at the Puerto Vallarta Airport
When you arrive at the Licenciado Gustavo Diaz Ordaz Airport, you may deplane via jet bridge directly into the terminal, or you may need to walk down a stairway onto the tarmac and take a shuttle to the airport. If you are arriving from an international destination, you will then go through immigration. You should have your immigration form (officially called an FMM, but informally referred to as a tourist card) filled out. You will probably receive it on the plane, but if not, you can get one and fill it out while waiting in line. The immigration official will give you one section of the tourist card that you should keep in your passport; you have to hand it in upon departure from Mexico. After passing through immigration, you’ll walk down a long hallway until you get to the luggage carrousels area. This can sometimes be quite a wait, but if you didn’t check luggage, keep going. In the customs area, you will be asked to press a button which will light up either a green or red traffic light. If you get the green light, you’re free to go through; if you get the red light, your bags will be checked.
After clearing customs, there are two more rooms that you must pass through before the exit. Frequent visitors to Puerto Vallarta often refer to these as the “shark tank” because they are full of pushy timeshare salespeople. They may offer free information or transportation from the airport, but it is with the stipulation that you attend a timeshare presentation, which is very rarely worthwhile. They may call out to you or do other things to get your attention. Your best bet is not to stop or engage with them in any way, keep walking through with eyes straight ahead until you’re outside. If you need Mexican pesos, there are ATMs and a currency exchange booth outside the arrivals gate.
Departing from the Puerto Vallarta Airport
For international departures, you should arrive two hours before your flight. Flight arrival gates and airline check-in counters are on the ground floor. Both international and national departure passengers must go to the upper level to pass through security and get to the departure gates. There's an escalator on the southwest side of the airport going up to the second floor, or you'll find elevators and stairs at various locations on the ground floor.
If you’ve made some purchases that amount to over 1,200 pesos at participating shops and would like to receive a tourist tax refund, head to the MONEYBACK booth with your receipts. Be prepared to present your passport and boarding pass and fill out some paperwork. The refund sometimes takes a few months to be processed but will eventually appear on your credit card statement.
On the second floor, there are a few shops and restaurants before security; these tend to have lower prices compared to what you’ll find past security. Once you get past security, there is a large waiting area with duty-free shops and a few bars, cafes, and restaurants. International flights depart from Terminal B, which is located at the end of a corridor from Terminal A. It has eight gates. There is a duty-free store there and a few restaurants and fast-food stands. Most domestic flights depart from gates located at a level below. Seating space is limited and often insufficient for the number of passengers, so waiting in the lounge upstairs can be a good option, just be sure to keep your eye on the clock and ear attuned to flight announcements.
The airport’s large parking lot is located beside Terminal A, and there is also a drop-off, pick-up area located directly outside the terminal entrance. The lot offers both short and long-term parking. There are hundreds of spaces available. Charges for short-term spaces are levied hourly up to a daily maximum, while daily and weekly rates are available for those who need to park for more extended periods. For long term parking, you may find lower prices at one of the nearby parking lots, located on the other side of the highway,
Public Transportation and Taxis
There are a few different ways to get to your hotel from the airport. These are the main options, listed from easiest and most expensive to most difficult and least expensive:
Pre-Arranged Transportation: It is a great feeling when arriving at a new destination to find someone standing outside the arrivals gate, holding a sign with your name on it. If you prefer this option, arrange for transportation in advance with your hotel or a transportation company such as Vallarta Transfers,
Authorized Taxi: After running the gauntlet of timeshare salespeople, near the airport exit, you will see a marked stand that says “Taxi Autorizado” where you can purchase your ticket for an authorized taxi. The rates are listed according to region. You pay there, and they will give you a ticket. Then walk outside where the taxis are lined up, and the person in charge will assign a taxi to you.
Uber or City Taxi: Authorized taxis are more expensive than city taxis and Ubers, which are not allowed to enter the airport area. If you would like a cheaper option and don’t mind walking a little farther, walk past the line-up of authorized taxis, go to the end of the building and turn left. You will see a pedestrian bridge with a ramp to get to the other side of the highway. There you can meet your Uber or get a cab for about half the price of the authorized taxis.
City Bus: If you’re traveling light, not in a hurry, and don’t mind being jostled a bit, you can take a city bus to get to the center of town. Follow the directions above to go over the pedestrian overpass across the highway and catch a bus on the other side. The area they go to is marked on the front—look for one that says "Zona Romantica" or "Centro."
Where to Eat and Drink
There is a variety of restaurants, including a few sit-down spots and many fast food outlets as well as a few cafes and bars in the airport. A few spots to check out include:
- Wings, a sit-down restaurant and bar serves soup, sandwiches, steaks, etc. It's located in Terminal A, before security.
- Carl Jr's burgers is a favorite for burgers and milkshakes, located on the second floor at the top of the escalator before security.
- New York Deli is in Terminal B, to the right as you reach the gates.
- There are two Subways, both located after security.
Where to Shop
If you have some time before boarding to do some shopping, pick up some last-minute souvenirs and gifts at these airport shops:
- Pineda Covalin, Terminal 1, after security, domestic departures area
- Mexican Souvenirs & Gifts, Terminal 1, before security
- Macame Jewellery, Terminal 1, after security
- Dufry offers Duty Free shopping at each of the terminals
How to Spend Your Layover
If you have a layover in Puerto Vallarta, you’ll want to make the most of your time. For a short layover, you can walk across the pedestrian bridge over the highway and have a meal at a burrito place located on the other side. Tacon de Marlín specializes in seafood burritos, and it’s a memorable and satisfying meal that’s a real, local experience, unlike the restaurants you’ll find inside the airport.
If you have four hours or more, you’d be safe to head out and see some sights. The Marina is close to the airport, and it is a beautiful area of the city, so that’s a good option if you only have a few hours: there are many shops and restaurants to explore. If you have several hours, you can take a taxi to the Malecon for a stroll and enjoy the sculptures and views along the city’s popular seaside promenade. If you’re looking for a hotel near the airport to spend the night, any hotels in the marina area are a good choice, and these are particularly close:
Hotels Near the Puerto Vallarta Airport:
There are three airport lounges that offer comfortable seating space in an air-conditioned area, newspapers, and magazines, telephones, Wi-Fi, TV, snacks, and beverages. Access is available to Priority Pass, Lounge Club, and Diners Club members, or you can purchase passes online or pay a fee at the door.
- Terminal 1, after security filters, in the national departures area. Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Terminal 1, airside, in Hall A, after the food court and before the connecting hallway to the International Departure Area.
- Terminal 2, after security checkpoints, international departures area, between gates 8 and 10.
Wi-Fi and Charging Stations
There is free wi-fi available throughout the airport, although signal strength varies in different areas. The network name is "GAP," an acronym for Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico (the company that operates the airport).