As a resort town, Nuevo Vallarta is patrolled by tourist police and has almost no crime other than infrequent petty theft. You don’t need to take elaborate precautions against pickpockets; just use common sense. Don’t wander around with large sums of money, valuable jewelry, or electronics in plain view, and avoid walking on the beaches alone at night.  

All beaches in Mexico are considered public, but know that if you venture inland, you may be trespassing on someone’s private property. Remember also that there are not usually lifeguards on duty, in Nuevo Vallarta or anywhere in Mexico. If you go swimming in an unpopulated area, make sure you are aware of the strength of the waves and the currents, and tell someone where you are going and when you plan on coming back. Jellyfish are another hazard, but vinegar soothes most stings within minutes.

A very important safety note: don’t drink the water! Nuevo Vallarta’s water plants are clean and safe, but the pipes they travel through often aren’t. Make sure you only drink purified water or bottled water from a store, even just to brush your teeth. If you are at a restaurant and aren’t sure whether the water is clean, you can ask the waiter: Agua purificada?

Finally, (and this is going to sound obvious) look both ways before crossing the street. Traffic laws in Mexico are inconsistent, and in many areas, pedestrians don’t have the right of way. To ensure that a car stops for you, make eye contact with the driver and wait – don’t just trust stop signs!