When talking Puerto Vallarta, you are talking of more than 40 miles of coastline along the Bay of Banderas. Some interesting beaches are just a few minutes away from the bay, like Sayulita in the North or Yelapa in the South.
So, the diversity is huge and each place has its charm, but taking all in consideration, there are still some beaches that are better than others and knowing that the traveler has limited time and is in need of some insight information, here it is our Top 10 of Puerto Vallarta’s Best Beaches:
As a “pure beach” Yelapa is definitely the best. Hidden in a remote little bay, to get to Yelapa you will have to take a “panga” (water taxi) at Los Muertos Pier, for a 45-minute journey by sea. There are no roads to this beautiful little village, keeping it away from the noise of civilization and tourists. Those who visit Yelapa simply fall in love with the “magic” of the place. No cars, very few telephones, just the beach between the ocean and the jungle, and a few scattered palapas along the sand to enjoy nature and feel alive…
Near the northern end of the Bay of Banderas and just a 40-minute drive from Puerto Vallarta’s Downtown, Destiladeras is a favorite of locals. It’s a big open beach, with nearly no restaurants or business at all, perfect for a picnic day in the sand, a game of soccer or for surfing its great waves. On Saturdays and Sundays there are a lot of people at Destiladeras, but that’s not a big problem as the beach is so large that you will only have to walk a while to find a lonely spot for you to have some privacy. Here, you will feel how vallartenses enjoy the beach.
3. Los Muertos
It’s the liveliest beach in Puerto Vallarta, right at the heart of Old Town Vallarta, just south of the river Cuale. Here is where you will find more restaurants and bars by the beach, with plenty of palapas where you can enjoy fresh seafood and a cold Margarita while resting your feet in the sand. It’s also the easiest to reach, which make for a nice combination of locals and tourists that you can’t find at any other beach.
A 50-minutes drive North of Puerto Vallarta’s Downtown, Sayulita is the beach of the good vibe and bohemian attitude. Surfers love this beach and its camping sites, which make for a vibrant nightlife at the bars and cafes of the little town. Here, you will get an idea of how was Puerto Vallarta some 40 years ago. There are restaurants along the beach and many stands for surf lessons and massages. Great for taking your dog with you, as nobody will complain here as it is the most laid back beach of the region.
The most famous beach of Puerto Vallarta, and the one that put it on the international spotlight. In 1964, John Huston chose it as the location for the filming of his movie “The Night of the Iguana” starring Richard Burton and Ava Gardner. Huston was just married to a young lady called Elizabeth Taylor who also made the trip. Nothing was ever the same for Puerto Vallarta and Mismaloya. After the filming, airlines opened up new routes to Puerto Vallarta and big hotel chains started the change that’s been taking place in Vallarta ever since. Nevertheless, Mismaloya still keeps that atmosphere that cautivated Huston, very Mexican, very cozy, with the jungle and palapas completing the picture. But if you want to have a better idea of how was Mismaloya when Huston picked it for his movie, you should visit our next beach…
Quimixto is another hidden beach south of Puerto Vallarta. With no more than 200 families living there, you will find no touristic ambience and you will be able to breathe the authentic Mexico. Accessible only by boat, which adds to the tropical experience, Quimixto has a lot to offer; just relaxing at the beach is a must, but afterwards, snorkeling or taking a horseback ride to a waterfall deep into the jungle are great options. If you want to go back in time and discover a place from some other age, this is your day trip.
7. El Anclote
Located at Punta Mita, the northern end of the Bay of Banderas, is a broad, sandy beach with a few great palapa restaurants. Is the only public beach left at Punta Mita, as the accesses to all the others have been closed by the big resorts and real estate developments. The Four Seasons is the reference when talking Punta Mita, so you can have an idea of the beauty of the beach. Is very frequented by locals and it counts with protected swimming areas and it is also the best place to take a water taxi to the Marietas Islands, which are a Biosphere Reserve protected by UNESCO, great for diving, snorkeling and watching the great humpback whales!
Another southern beach with access only by boat. It’s normally mentioned in the same talk than Yelapa and Quimixto, but each one has its own personality. To get to Colomitos, you first have to go to Boca de Tomatlan, 25 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta’s Downtown and from there, it starts an interesting hike of another half an hour through the jungle, that will take you to this beautiful little cove, undiscovered by most, and where peace and silence can be found all over the place.
Beautiful town just 25 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta’s Downtown with a broad beach and unpretentious attitude. In the winter season it gets plenty of expats from USA and Canada that have made it their winter home and the place gets very animated during the afternoons. The beach is very quiet and perfect for children and it’s a good idea for a beach day not very extenuating or long.
This one might be a reach, but is the one where I use to go with my girl and dog. It’s right in the middle of the hotel zone, so its best asset is that it’s very centric and that you don’t have to do much planning in advance to have a good time. It’s the beach of two of the most exclusive condo developments in town, Peninsula and Grand Venetian, so that by itself says a lot. It has the Pitillal river in the middle, which brings fresh water and sometimes it opens up a beach arm between the sea and the river, where your dog will get crazy running and playing. There is a little cozy restaurant by the river, with typical Mexican music and cold beers that make my Sundays perfect and I strongly recommend it to you.