Enjoying a privileged location midpoint on the Banderas Bay coast, the Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit beaches are beach-goer nirvana, the bay itself offering 34 miles of coastline — and 26 of them beaches! As a rule of thumb, beaches to the north in Nayarit on the Costa Vallarta tend to be longer and wider, the foothills of the Sierra Madre just that little bit further back from the sea than in Jalisco, giving them a different character. South of Puerto Vallarta the mountains actually tumble into the sea in places, so there are lots of small coves and intimate sandy stretches. The water here is deeper and there are fewer people. Sundays are the busiest beach days, the one day of the week that most workers get off and spend with their families. While you might think they would eventually tire of Puerto Vallarta beach-going because they can do it any time they want, Sunday at the beach is a very strong local tradition.
The Ultimate Beach Guide
What’s your idea of the perfect beach? Maybe it’s a stretch of sand lined with trendy shops, restaurants and bars, exacting service and comfy reclining beach chairs under a shady palapa. Or perhaps the thought of a secluded beach with clear water, a picnic lunch and your trusty beach bag full of nautical necessities is your idea of perfection. Or you may love the organized activities, music and high-energy environment typical of beach club-style waterfront resorts. Or maybe you’d prefer some combination of the above. Here in Banderas Bay, you can find them all. And with our handy guide, planning your beach day is as easy as saying, “Surf’s up!”
Riviera Nayarit Beaches
San Pancho: Huge white sandy beach almost vacant even during the winter months. New public changing rooms and showers, with beachside eateries for your convenience. Beach aside, San Pancho is a getaway on its own. Turn to page 158 to discover this peaceful village. Sayulita: Very popular among surfers. Bars, restaurants and surfing schools along the shore. People watching at its finest. Los Muertos (Sayulita): A 10-minute walk south from downtown Sayulita, past the graveyard. Peaceful waters for scuba and kayak, but you must bring your own! Carricitos: This very private beach is a 15- to 20-minute hike from Sayulita, past Los Muertos beach along a dirt road, offering lush, verdant vistas along the way. Very quiet and secluded. Punta Negra (Punta de Mita): This private beach just north of Punta de Mita serves Casa de Mita, a proud member of Mexico Boutique Hotels, along with other residences located along the beach. Great for walking. El Anclote: Small stretch of beach with many traditional eateries makes this an ideal place to bury your feet in the sand and enjoy a relaxing meal. A number of providers offer surfing and kayaking equipment and instruction. Hotel des Artistes offers a day pass. Emiliano Zapata: Currently no restrooms, but new public showers and changing rooms are being built. A considerable walk from the highway, so best reached with your own vehicle. Destiladeras: Peaceful in the summer and popular in the winter, this is the perfect day-trip beach, with enough amenities to keep you comfortable and enough room to walk along the surf for long distances. Bring your book or iPod. La Manzanilla: Just north of La Cruz, this small but popular beach has numerous shops for beach paraphernalia and is home to popular beach seafood restaurant Siete Mares. Bucerías: Long stretch of beach, ideal for jogging, bathing or simply hanging out. Public access is available through downtown Bucerias, past the main plaza, where you will find a number of eateries. Farther south, there are a number of access roads along Lazaro Cardenas, which runs parallel to the ocean, but there are no eateries or services on this side of town. Flamingos: Serves the hotels and developments located in the Flamingos area of Nuevo Vallarta, such as Villa del Palmar Flamingos and Playa del Sol Grand. Nuevo Vallarta: This beach serves the hotels and developments in Nuevo Vallarta, including Paradise Village and Grand Velas, among others.
Puerto Vallarta Beaches
Boca de Tomates: Located about 1.8 km from the highway on a dirt road, this beach’s main attraction may not be the beach itself but, rather, the number of enramadas, or casual eateries that serve a local favorite: pescado sarandeado (page 100). The water is best for swimming from November to May. El Salado: The main beach at Marina Vallarta, its only point of public access is through Albatros St., turning on Bocanegra. It is very popular among Marina Vallarta residents, who flock to the beach for a morning jog or stroll. Walking to the southern point provides spectacular views of cruise ships arriving and departing from Puerto Vallarta’s Maritime Terminal. De Oro: Between the Pitillal River and the Maritime Terminal, this beach primarily serves the hotels along that stretch (Krystal, Buenaventura). Holi: So called because of its proximity to the Holiday Inn, this beach is really an extension of Las Glorias. Frequently used to hold outdoor concerts and beach sport tournaments. Los Tules: So called due to its proximity to Los Tules condo-resort, located between the airport and downtown. Las Glorias: This is the beach behind Plaza Las Glorias, serving area hotels, most of which have defined their property lines with rocks. Public access north of Mega. Camarones: The stretch of beach located behind Mega Commercial Mexicana (Fco. M. Ascencio location). Dorada: This is the beach in front of the downtown Malecón. Not commonly used for swimming, as the beach is narrow and rocky, it is an interesting walk during low tide and fronts Puerto Vallarta’s famous Malecón, making it an ideal spot for people watching right in the heart of town. Los Muertos (Puerto Vallarta): Without a doubt, the most popular beach in Vallarta and the place for fun! Water and beach sports, great swimming, as well as restaurants and bars in all price ranges make this the best option when you want a little bit of everything. Los Muertos is the only beach in town with its own dock, serving as an arrival and departure point for water taxis heading north or south, as well as day cruise providers picking up passengers along the way. Conchas Chinas: A series of small coves featuring interesting rock formations and tide pools, great for exploring and interesting for children. Away from the hustle and bustle of nearby beaches.
South Shore Beaches
Las Estacas: This beautiful beach is barely 100 meters long and has great swimming for children, but only accessible through the Dreams resort for guests or day pass holders. Los Venados: This beautiful beach accessible only through the Playa del Sol features an artificially made reef that holds back waves for fabulous swimming and snorkeling. Palmares: a beautiful beach just before Garza Blanca. Punta Negra (South of Vallarta) This beautiful beach frequented by fishermen gets busy on the weekend. Limited parking on main highway and a short hike down a paved road to the beach. Gemelas: Twin adjacent beaches, one in front of the Presidente Hotel and the other with public access. Services available for hotel guests or visitors enjoying a day pass. Mismaloya: Lovely beachside restaurants and pangas offering frequent water taxi service to other beaches. Access to the Night of the Iguana set, which used to be an interesting attraction, has been indefinitely blocked. Boca de Tomatlán: The last beach in the South Shore accessible by automobile or local bus. Water taxi service departs to all beaches beyond this point. For adventurous hikers and nature lovers, there is a scenic jungle hike through Colomitos continuing along the coast to Las Animas. Colomitos: A tiny and often deserted beach, barely 100 feet in length, accessible via a hiking trail or water taxi from Boca. Las Ánimas: Family favorite, accessible by water taxi and day cruises. Great for kids due to the gentle surf and long sandy beach. Dive from the dock if you dare! Many kids and adults do. Palapa-shaded beach restaurants and adventure park. Quimixto: Similar to Las Animas, it is a fun day for the entire family and accessed by water taxi and day tours. Las Caletas: This private beach is concessioned by Vallarta Adventures, who offer day-trip and evening options through their spectacular Rhythms of the Night. Majahuitas: Private beach concessioned by Majahuitas Hotel, a common stop offered by boat tours; however, its restaurant and restrooms are only available to hotel guests. Yelapa: Access by day tours or water taxi. You may like this beach so much that you’ll be tempted to spend the night!