Exploring Safety in Jalisco, Mexico and Nayarit, Mexico

When it comes to traveling, safety is always a top concern, and rightfully so. Mexico, a country known for its vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and rich history, is no exception. Jalisco and Nayarit are two neighboring states that often capture the attention of travelers seeking an authentic Mexican experience. But the question remains: How do you know where it is safe for travel in Mexico? In this blog post, we’ll delve into the safety in Jalisco, Mexico and Nayarit, Mexico. We’ll discuss these two diverse states and provide practical tips to ensure your journey is as smooth and secure as possible. (This blog is being written by a female traveler who has personally traveled solo to all of these destinations. Note that everyone’s experience & comfort levels are different.) 

Here at TIY Travel, we always recommend researching a destination prior to planning a trip. Including government websites, blog posts from travellers, and by working with travel experts. We’ve all experience vacation planning burnout- where the research and planning can become overwhelming and take away from the relaxing part of the vacation. Reach out to a TIY Travel to learn more about the destination you are interested in and personal travel safety tips! We’ll get you the information you need without any guessing or time wasting. 

Tranquil Beach in Jalisco

Safety in Jalisco Mexico

Is Jalisco Mexico Safe?

Jalisco, the land of mariachi music, tequila, and stunning natural landscapes, is a destination that beckons travelers with its diverse offerings. From the bustling city of Guadalajara to the charming town of Tequila and the coastal gem Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco’s allure is undeniable. But what about safety in Jalisco Mexico?

In general, tourist destinations within Mexico are some of the safest places to visit. Since there are many international travelers in these regions, increased caution and security is placed around these destinations. However, you will find many of the large cities, depending on the state, can be as safe as major cities within North America. 

Officially the state of Jalisco has a “Reconsider Travel” travel advisory from the US Government; however, the advisory applies mainly to the eastern portion of the state along certain highways that cross into other states. Government employees have travel restrictions in these areas but are not restricted from visiting the tourist areas of Guadalajara Metropolitan Area, Puerto Vallarta (including neighboring Riviera Nayarit), Chapala, and Ajijic, as they are only advised to exercise increased caution.

Below we discuss the popular tourist destinations in Jalisco in detail and discuss safety in each city. 

Is Guadalajara Safe?

Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco, is a cultural hub renowned for its art, music, and gastronomy. The city maintains a moderate level of safety, with most tourist areas being well-policed. As in any urban environment, it’s wise to stay cautious and avoid displaying valuables openly.

Guadalajara is the second largest city in Mexico and is a densely populated city. Being a vibrant large city, the crime rates are naturally higher than smaller towns in Mexico. However, Guadalajara is comparatively as safe as certain large cities in the United States. While this fact may be surprising to most, see below the crime rates index of Guadalajara compared to two similarly sized US cities, Atlanta, Georgia and Houston, Texas. While the crime indicators vary between each, overall Guadalajara has a lower crime index and higher safety scale than both cities.

These statistics are not to tell you that zero danger exists in Guadalajara or that you will never have a negative experience. We cannot say that about anywhere in the world. However, it does provide the perspective that Guadalajara may be safer than you realized. As always, do your research and be cautious while traveling. 

Safest Neighborhoods in Guadalajara:

  1. Colonia Americana-  this neighborhood was ranked the Trendiest Neighborhood in the World (2022). It is full of vibrant shops, restaurants and bars. Feel free to walk and explore this neighborhood safely, taking extra precautions at night or when alone. 
  2. El Centro- this neighborhood is central, hence the name, and has all the top tourist attractions and museums. It is a great place to stay for your first visit to the city. As in any tourist area, stay aware of your belongings and take extra caution at night.
  3. Providencia- a more residential neighborhood, this area is one of the higher end areas of the city. It has several fine dining options and is centrally located to visit other neighborhoods in the city. This neighborhood is naturally more accessible by car, uber or taxi; however, walking around in the daytime is advisable to explore the neighborhood!
  4. Tlaquepaque- located 30 minutes from central Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque is technically its own city. Recognized as a Pueblo Magico, Magic Town, Tlaquepaque is full of rich history, art and traditional architecture. It is a fun and touristy area of town to stay in. In Tlaquepaque, you can walk around safely, but take a car to get into downtown Guadalajara.  

Is Puerto Vallarta Jalisco safe?

colorful flags and cobblestone streets in Zona Romantica

Puerto Vallarta, a popular beach destination, has a well-established tourism infrastructure. The resort areas generally experience low crime rates. However, it’s advisable to exercise the same caution you would in any tourist hotspot to prevent petty theft crimes.

Puerto Vallarta is a relatively newer Mexico beach destination, when compared to Cancun or Cabo San Lucas. While it has anything you could desire and more, it has seen far less development over the years than the Riviera Maya. With a smaller population and less development, Puerto Vallarta retains an authentic charm and has lower crime rates.

Numbers from Numbeo.com

Puerto Vallarta is also extremely welcoming to the LGTBQ+ community and is a very safe place for members of the community to vacation. The local police recently received 3 months of LGTBQ+ sensitivity training to promote inclusion and understanding of diversity. 

Safest Neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta: 

  1. Zona Romantica- The Romantic Zone is known as a historical neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta and is filled with traditional architecture and low rise buildings. Because of this, there are more boutique hotels and Airbnbs versus large resorts. This is also known as the LGBTQ+ neighborhood of the city. It is extremely safe for all!
  2. Centro- The centro neighborhood in Guadalajara is next door to Zona Romantica and is home to the Malecon. This neighborhood has similar vibes to Zona Romantica but has less bars and more restaurants. 
  3. Marina Vallarta- Marina Vallarta is close to the, you guessed it- the Marina! It offers home rentals and large resorts for travelers. While it is less of a walk around neighborhood, it offers travelers a chance to be close to the action on the water. Check out nearby Nuevo Vallarta for more homes along the channel!
  4. Hotel Zone- The hotel zone is where most of the major resorts are located and has some of the best beaches in the city. The area is a short distance from the airport and is home to the larger restaurants and malls in the city. 

Is Tequila Jalisco Safe?

An agave field for Tequila production

The town of Tequila, the birthplace of the famous liquor, exudes a more relaxed vibe. While it’s a safe small town, general safety measures still apply. Remember to be aware of your surroundings and travel companions, especially when consuming the famous liquor! 

Tequila is recognized as a Pueblo Magico, Magic Town, by the Mexico Government Secretary of Tourism. This designation is only given to towns that have certain magical qualities, such as traditional architecture, natural beauty, or significant history. The Pueblo Magico designation is meant to promote tourism to the town, which in itself is a significant sign that a town is safe to visit. Tequila is very walkable and offers an authentic and safe getaway. 

Safest Neighborhoods in Tequila Jalisco 

While Tequila is so small it is virtually one neighborhood, you do have the option to stay in town, the agave fields outside of the town center, or make it a day trip from Guadalajara. 

  1. Town Center- Staying in the center of town will offer a unique stay and the chance to visit all the town has to offer. Town center offers ease of walking, but stay cautious in the evenings after some tequila. 
  2. Hotel Near Town- There are many beautiful boutique hotels and mini resorts near town but they are located closer to the rolling agave fields. While this is a quieter option, it offers a relaxing, beautiful and super safe getaway. 
  3. Day Trip from Guadalajara- For safety when visiting via a day trip, please arrange transportation and do not plan on self driving. Tours and pre-arranged transportation are the most convenient and safe options, especially when consuming tequila. 

Safety in Riviera Nayarit Mexico?

Is Nayarit Safe 2023?

Nayarit Travel, with its idyllic beaches, lush jungles, and charming villages, is a beautiful and lesser known Mexican state. The southern portion of the state along on the Pacific Coast is known as Riviera Nayarit. Let’s take a closer look at some of its prominent spots.

All of the destinations that are popular for tourism and in our recommendations are within 2 hours of Puerto Vallarta. They are located in the portion of the state known as Riviera Nayarit. Officially the US government has an Exercise Increased Caution travel advisory for Nayarit. This is primarily for the northern portion of the state that borders Sinaloa. We do recommend exercising increased caution in the capital Tepic or the northern part of the state that borders Sinaloa. 

Is Sayulita Safe?

Sayulita’s bohemian atmosphere draws visitors seeking surf, sun, and relaxation. This town maintains a generally safe and friendly environment. With any tourist area, it’s advised to keep a general awareness.

Sayulita, also recognized as a Pueblo Magico or Magic Town, is a very popular destination for solo travelers, families, and girls getaways. Sayulita, a small Mexico beach town, attracts travelers looking for a more authentic and off the beaten path experience. 

Safest Neighborhoods in Sayulita, Nayarit

  1. Town Center- Sayulita town is expanding daily, as more travelers are discovering this hidden gem. The definition of “town” is growing, but the center is located near the town plaza and main beach. This area is a bustling area and is safe to walk around and explore at any time. 
  2. Homes Surrounding Sayulita- There are several large hills surrounding Sayulita filled with private homes and villas. Groups really enjoying stay in the private homes 
  3. Resorts Out of Town- While there are no standard “resorts” in Sayulita, there are a few boutique resorts nestled on the beaches to the north and south of town. A popular resort is Hotel Playa Escondida, made famous from the Bachelor in Paradise

Is Punta de Mita Nayarit Safe?

Punta Mita golf course and beaches

Punta de Mita offers luxury and tranquility along its stunning coastline. The area boasts high-end resorts and private villas, contributing to its safety. However, practicing common sense and adhering to resort guidelines is still advised.

One of Mexico’s previous Presidents had a home within Punta Mita, and with him came increased safety measures for the entire area. More than a decade later, this region is benefitting from these safety measures and is touted as one of the safest regions in Mexico. 

Safest Neighborhoods in Punta Mita Nayarit

  1. Inside the gates of Punta Mita- the Four Seasons, St. Regis and private villas are available accommodation within the Punta Mita gates. Before you reach anywhere, you will pass through 2-3 security gates. The security here is slightly more than what is needed, but it does make it one of the safest communities in Mexico. If it is your first visit to Mexico or you are slightly uncomfortable, staying within the community is a great option. 
  2. In El Anclote- El Anclote is a small town directly outside of Punta Mita’s gates and on the beach. Due to its location, it has many high end shops and restaurants and is a very safe destination. We’d recommend a boutique hotel near the beach for your stay here. This is a great spot for surfers looking to stay near the best surf breaks without breaking the bank. 
  3. Jungles Near Litibu- Near the town of Litibu the lush jungles begin. You can stay near the beach or higher up in the mountains for an incredible view. There are a few boutique hotels and many private homes in this area. While Litibu is a safe small beach town, compared to the uber safe and secure Punta Mita, you should exercise a slight increase in caution. 

Is San Pancho Mexico Safe?

drone shot of San Pancho Nayarit

San Pancho, also known as San Francisco, presents a quieter atmosphere. San Pancho Mexico crime rates are relatively low,. As always, we recommend taking personal safety precautions and respecting the local culture.

This authentic Mexican beach town is regarded as a wonderful destination for families or romantic getaways. It offers a sense of peace and tranquility that lures travelers to back year after year. Unlike Sayulita, San Pancho has limited nightlife options and is referred to as a more sleepy town. If peaceful sleep and vibrant beach days appeal to you- San Pancho is your town.

Safest Neighborhoods in San Pancho Nayarit

  1. Town Center- San Pancho is an even smaller beach town than Sayulita or Punta Mita and offers a tranquil experience even in the town center. The town of San Pancho is very community driven and everyone looks out for each other and the town. You will feel extremely safe in San Pancho and can feel free to roam the town at any time of day. There are several boutique hotels worth checking out and so many authentic Airbnbs. 
  2. Costa Azul Neighborhood- Costa Azul neighborhood is a 15 minute walk away from town on the beach or you will need a car or golf cart to reach it. While it is close, the road to get here loops around a golf course and it’s not very walkable. This neighborhood is full of many of the larger private homes and villas. It is also home to the Tierra Tropical Beach Club. It is a quiet neighborhood with limited lighting. For this reason, we wouldn’t recommend walking alone at night. Otherwise, it is a family friendly and safe area to stay in. 
  3. Sayulita- Since San Pancho is a small town, it is also a great option to stay in the nearby town of Sayulita. It is only 10 minutes away, so if you are interested in a more vibrant energy and active nightlife, we’d recommend staying in Sayulita and taking a taxi over to San Pancho for day trips. 

Practical Safety Tips for Nayarit & Jalisco Mexico

safe group in mexico

Whether you’re exploring Jalisco, Nayarit or another Mexican state, these practical safety tips are universal:

·   Stay Informed: Research your destination before traveling. Learn of the local customs, emergency numbers, and any recent travel updates and safety advisories. Understanding your destination before arrival is key, as it gives you the confidence to navigate your destination safely. 

·   Neighborhoods Are Important: For travel to all destinations, especially big cities, we recommend looking into the neighborhood you are staying in. All cities have areas that you should avoid, so know where those are and try to avoid them. Picking accommodation solely on price could lead to staying in an unsafe area of town. Research location and then accommodation! 

·   Stay Aware of Your Belongings: One of the most common crimes tourists experience is petty theft, i.e. loss of wallet or cell phone. Many times this occurs when people are in busy areas, are distracted or are not watching their belongings. It is important to keep a close on your belongings and stay extra aware in busy tourist areas. Leave your expensive items at home – it is never worth bringing them!

·   Use Reputable Transportation: With the availability of rideshare and official Taxis, taking reputable transport is much easier these days. Most airports in Mexico do not allow rideshares to pick up directly at the airport, so we advise to research where to meet them ahead of time or take an official taxi. 

·   Be Respectful to Your Host Destination: One of the top tips for staying safe while traveling is to have respect for the destination you are in. Have respect for the people, the natural environment, the culture and yourself! Overindulging in alcohol can be a way travelers show lack of respect for their surroundings and can end up in unsafe situations. Have fun but remember you are traveling and staying aware and cautious!

·   Work with a Mexico Travel Expert- Travel Agents and Travel Advisors have a depth of experience and knowledge when it comes to travel and specific destinations. Working with an advisor can offer you peace of mind, knowing that they have done the research and have visited these destinations first hand and deem them safe for their travelers. They can talk through your preferences and concerns and provide you with a worry free vacation. Additionally, travel advisors receive special offers from resorts to offer travelers and they are up-to-date on exclusive resort news!

Where is the Safest Place to Travel in Nayarit and Jalisco?

When it comes to singling out the safest place to travel in Nayarit and Jalisco, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Safety can vary within cities and towns, and personal experiences differ. Generally, tourist areas with well-established infrastructures tend to offer a more secure environment. However, the key lies in your preparedness and vigilance. By staying informed, following safety tips, and respecting the local culture, you can create a safer and more enjoyable travel experience, whether you’re sipping tequila in Tequila or basking in the sun in Sayulita.

Make your dreamy and safe Mexico vacation dreams come true! Reach out to TIY to receive your free personalized safety recommendations and a custom itinerary for your Mexico vacation!