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Monkey Mountain, also called Cerro del Mono, is one of the most popular hikes in Puerto Vallarta because you can see for miles from the peak.
It’s also easy to do on a day trip from Puerto Vallarta, so if you’re looking for a picture-perfect view of Mexico’s coast from above, then climbing Monkey Mountain is for you!
I did nine hikes in Puerto Vallarta during my six-week stay and created step-by-step guides to make it easy for hikers like you to follow in my footsteps. I try to be as detailed as possible so your outing can be more focused on nature and adventure and less focused on checking your phone every two seconds because you’re lost or confused (like I often am).
So, this Monkey Mountain hiking guide includes:
- How to get to Monkey Mountain from Puerto Vallarta
- How to climb Monkey Mountain
- How to get back to Puerto Vallarta
- What to pack for the hike
- My budget breakdown for the day trip
- And lots of pics to inspire you to add it to your itinerary!
If Monkey Mountain is on your Puerto Vallarta bucket list, this is absolutely everything you need to know to go.
Panoramic view from the top of Cerro del Mono
Monkey Mountain Stats
I like to start all my hiking guides with the basic info and numbers you need to know, like the length of the hike, how much time it takes, and more.
Where is Monkey Mountain?
The trek starts in the small town of Higuera Blanca, about 1.5 hours from Puerto Vallarta by bus.
How far is the Monkey Mountain hike?
5.8 miles out and back.
How long does it take to climb Monkey Mountain?
About four hours from start to finish. We arrived in Higuera Blanca, the town at the base of the mountain, at 10 am, reached the peak at noon, and were back in town to catch the bus around 2 pm.
How hard is it to climb Monkey Mountain?
I’d give it a moderate rating because the path does go uphill most of the way, and there’s a bit of a rock scramble required to reach the peak.
The jungle looks straight out of Jurassic Park at times – so beautiful!
How to get to Monkey Mountain from Puerto Vallarta
Taking the bus from Puerto Vallarta to Monkey Mountain is easy and cheap.
The HSBC Bank bus stop is closer to downtown Puerto Vallarta, so if you’re staying in the Centro or Zona Romantica, call an Uber here to start your day. If you’re in the Hotel Zone, even better, because this stop is in walking distance of your accommodation!
The Walmart bus stop will be closer to you if you’re staying in the Marina or Nuevo Vallarta. If you’re catching the bus here, just be aware that the stop is on the side of the main road / highway, across the parking lot from the actual entrance to Walmart.
Whichever stop you get the bus at, a man with a clipboard will be there to help you get on the right bus. Tell him you’re going to Higuera Blanca, this small town is the starting point of the Monkey Mountain hike. The buses run all the time (both out and back) so you don’t have to be too concerned with showing up at a specific time. One will be leaving soon after you arrive.
Tickets cost 42 mxn / 2.20 usd each and the ride takes about an hour and a half. I think that the bus doesn’t always go this far because it’s not really a common stop.
If no one wants to go further I think it usually just goes to Punta Mitla, so make sure to tell the driver when you get on that you’re going to Higuera Blanca (and then kind of remind him again when it seems like most people are getting off and you’re the last one on the bus).
When he sees you still on the bus at Punta Mitla he’ll probably ask where you’re going, but if it seems like he might be turning around to head back to Puerto Vallarta without dropping you off, definitely say something!
If you don’t want to take the bus or go on your own, you can also book a guided hike up Monkey Mountain (with transport) on Airbnb.
Heading into Higuera Blanca from the bus stop where we were dropped off
Finding the Monkey Mountain Trailhead
Alright, you’ve successfully made it to Higuera Blanca and now you’re standing on the side of the road wondering where tf the Monkey Mountain trail starts.
The bus will drop you off on the side of the highway on the main road into town.
Follow it straight until it dead ends and then turn right on Emiliano Zapata St. Walk for a few blocks and then turn left on Juan Escutia St. Keep going straight until the paved road becomes a dirt road and then a trail – you’re officially on the trail up Monkey Mountain!
(You can also put Las Margaritas GPS point into your phone and follow that. On the map, you can see the street that goes straight past it dead ends into the mountains, thats the start of the trail.)
The paved road is the first landmark you need to lookout for on the Monkey Mountain hike. Turn right when the trail dead ends into it.
How to Climb Monkey Mountain
Once you’re on the trail climbing Monkey Mountain is pretty easy, but there are still a few diverging paths where we got confused. These are the four trail markers / main landmarks you need to look out for: the paved road, the cow sign, the monkey statue, and the peak.
1. The Paved Road
Once you start the trail, it’ll take you on a mostly flat and straight route through the woods for about 15 to 20 minutes before it dead ends into a paved road. Turn right on the paved road!
Keep closed for cows
2. The Cows
Walk along the paved road for about five minutes until you see a gate on your right side with a sign that says ‘Favor de Cerrar Porque Hay Vacas’ which means ‘Please keep closed because there are cows.’
Go through the gate here (there’s an opening on the left side) and follow the trail into the jungle. This is where it’ll start to go uphill and actually climb the mountain. We had to pass by some massive cows grazing on the trail, but they were pretty indifferent to us.
When I say the monkey statue is hard to see, I mean it – you can barely even spot it in this photo.
3. The Monkey Statue
I have no idea how Cerro del Mono got its name, but maybe this is it. The last landmark you need to look out for is a small black monkey statue in a tree.
From the cow sign, climb the mountain for about 20 minutes and it’ll start to get steep and rocky. The main trail keeps going up, but there’s a small side trail you need to branch off on. It’s on the right and marked by a black monkey statue in a tree that’s hard to see, so make sure you keep an eye out and don’t miss it!
Not the greatest picture, but you can see how the trail basically turns into a pile of boulders at the top, which you’ll need to use your hands to climb at times.
4. The Peak
Once you turn at the monkey market, it’ll be about 45 more minutes to the peak. You’ll have to scramble up some large rocks at the end (the path seems to split / end here, we followed the rocks up the left side to the top).
At the top, there’s a small clearing and then a final few extra steps will take you to the large boulder with a panoramic view.
Happy (and super sweaty) at the top of Monkey Mountain
How to get back to Puerto Vallarta
Returning to Puerto Vallarta from Monkey Mountain is super easy. Just retrace your steps back into town to the side of the highway where you were dropped off.
Get on the bus when it comes by (can’t hurt to wave at it and make yourself seen), pay 42 mxn / 2.20 usd to the driver, and you’ll be back on your way home. The ride will again take about an hour and a half and drop you off either at Walmart or closer to the Centro at the HSBC Bank stop.
Our first views of Monkey Mountain at the start of our hike
What to Pack for Monkey Mountain
The climb up Cerro del Mono is only about four hours but I’m a firm believer that you should always, always go into Mother Nature’s domain prepared. You never know what that crazy b*tch might throw your way.
For our hike up Monkey Mountain I packed my fav day pack with:
- Two water bottles per person (Puerto Vallarta is so hot and humid you NEED to stay hydrated)
- Snacks / packed lunch
- Cash for buses, taxis, snacks
- Sturdy shoes / sandals / hiking boots (I did the climb in these super-supportive sandals and it was great)
How much does it cost to climb Monkey Mountain?
Not a lot. This is a super budget-friendly day trip from Puerto Vallarta. For our hike up Monkey Mountain, our budget broke down like this:
84 mxn on two bus tickets to Higuera Blanca
100 mxn on snacks and extra water bottles in town
84 mxn for two bus tickets back to Puerto Vallarta
120 mxn on round trip Uber rides from our apartment (in the 5 de Diciembre neighborhood) to the HSBC Bank bus stop and back
In total, Dan and I spent 384 mxn / 20 usd to climb Monkey Mountain from Puerto Vallarta. Almost all of that was on transport too, so if you have a car and pack a lunch you can do it completely free.
The guided Monkey Mountain hike will cost about 5x that for a couple but is also quicker and more convenient, so it just depends on what you prefer!
Ready to go?
Explore unique stays on Airbnb – like this open-air earth house with a private pool or this 66 ft. yacht – and the top-rated hotels on Booking.com to plan the perfect night, weekend, or long-term stay in Puerto Vallarta.
This article is part of the Puerto Vallarta Hiking Guide. Read the rest below:
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