One of Puerto Vallarta’s biggest draw for most travellers is its abundant beaches surrounded by unspoiled nature. While some resorts have laid claim to their own exclusive, private, oceanfront paradises, there are plenty of other hidden coves with pristine beaches tucked away from the main roads. If you look hard enough, you’ll easily come across your favourite beach when staying by the coast.
From iconic downtown beaches to off the beaten path tropical havens, here are the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta:
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Located in one of the two coves near Banderas Bay, Yelapa is a secluded beach with an old-timey fishing village feel. Surrounded by tropical greenery and cut off from main roads, Yelapa is untouched by mass tourism and considered one of the most authentic Puerto Vallarta beaches. Only accessible by boat, the trip to this picturesque bay is well worth the trouble. Here, the hideaway atmosphere is perfect for fishing, kayaking, snorkelling, and whale watching. There are also a handful of candlelit restaurants nearby and the legendary “pie lady” at the end of the beach, selling her notorious Chelly Pies.
What to expect: Quiet beaches without resorts, limited electricity, romantic and laidback atmosphere, rustic restaurants serving fresh seafood.
What’s close: Majahuitas Cove, another hideaway beach that’s only accessible by boat, Cola de Caballo waterfalls just beyond Yelapa’s fishing village.
Another a remote beach that can only be reached by boats, water taxis, or pangas departing from the fishing village Boca de Tomatlan or from Los Muertos Pier. Enclosed by forest-covered cliffs, Las Animas was supposedly named after a pirate, who hid his loot somewhere along the shore.
Here, the clean white beach is lapped by warm, gentle waves, ideal for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving or for lounging under a palapa. The beach’s rocky backdrop also provides several scenic hiking trails linked to other hidden beaches along the bay and Boca de Tomatlan. Nearby, there are several seafood restaurants serving catch of the day platters filled with lobsters, octopus, oysters, and mussels with a side of tall margaritas. While here, don’t forget to try the local raicilla moonshine for a beachside pick-me-up. As always, please enjoy responsibly.
What to expect: Hideaway beach surrounded by scenic hiking trails, indigenous birds and wildlife, quiet beach with gentle waves, and undiscovered pirate’s booty.
What’s close: Boca de Tomatlan, Vallarta Botanical Gardens, Garza Blanca Preserve, Las Animas Adventure Park.
A Blue Flag Certified public beach right in the middle of Puerto Vallarta’s Hotel Zone, Camarones is filled with spots for parasailing, jet-skiing, and other water activities. Despite being close to the town, the beach is never too busy and has many quiet stretches for families to spend the day.
Along the waterfront, there are activity crews offering excursions, tours, and outdoor adventures. You’ll also find paddle boards and banana boat rentals near oceanfront restaurants and beach clubs serving up fresh tropical cocktails. A favourite hangout even among the locals, Camarones is farther away from downtown traffic than other Puerto Vallarta beaches but isn’t too far from the boardwalks and all the popular city attractions.
What to expect: Peaceful and clean city beach close to downtown attractions. Great for water activities and sports fishing.
What’s close: Boardwalks, and plenty of restaurants, dining venues, and bars. Activity crews offering tours and excursions.
Although having a macabre name and origin, Los Muertos is perhaps the most iconic and popular beaches in Puerto Vallarta. Known as the “Deadman’s Beach”, Los Muertos was made famous by Hollywood couples Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor when they moved near this idyllic waterfront in the 1960s.
Since then, the beach blossomed into a bustling tourism hotspot. With boardwalks lined with hotels, restaurants, bars and vendors selling fish and shrimp on a stick, Los Muertos is always lively. As for its ominous name, the beach got it from archaeological digs during the 1920s when human bones and ceramic pots were uncovered that suggest it was once a sacred burial site for the indigenous people. Highly accessible from downtown Puerto Vallarta, the beach is recognizable by its newly renovated winding pier.
What to expect: Popular and lively cityside beach filled with dining venues, bars, and cafes. An iconic destination in Puerto Vallarta with a blend of the old and the new.
What’s close: The Romantic Zone (Old Vallarta) neighbourhood, Los Muertos Per, café street, and Old Town Farmer’s Market.
White sand, crystal-clear water, and dramatic rock formations make this pristine beach a highly sought-after wedding location. Speckled with clusters of luxury villas and beach mansions, Concha China, named after the Chinese Shells that can only be found on this beach, is likened to the Beverly Hills of Puerto Vallarta.
The unique rock formation near the beach creates many coves with hidden pools, making them romantic hideouts for afternoon picnics or sunbathing. Quieter and less busy than the nearby Los Muertos, Concha China is further away from restaurants, shops, and facilities, and requires a bit of preparation when spending the day here.
What to expect: Romantic and photogenic beach with dramatic rock formations, small coves with hidden pools, and best picnic spots in Puerto Vallarta.
What’s close: Gated communities, luxury mansions owned by politicians and celebrities, resorts, spas, and hotels.
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Once owned by the Hollywood director and producer John Houston, Las Caletas remain an exclusive beach where only 150 people are allowing access it at any given time. Currently operated by Vallarta Adventures, Las Caletas is only accessible by the company run catamarans, which depart from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Once there, the quiet beach is perfect for lounging around in a hammock, swimming, snorkelling, and exploring the nearby jungles on hiking trails. With 800-m of white sand rimmed by turquoise waters, Las Caletas is also a scenic spot for water sports. Nearby, there is an adventure park and a zoo for family-oriented activities.
What to expect: Exclusive quiet beach accessible by Vallarta Adventure’s catamarans that include food, drink, and water sports equipment.
What’s close: An adventure park and the beach’s private zoo, jungles, hiking trails, and restaurants.
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An emerald jewel tucked between jungles and rocky slopes, Colomitos is a dab of white sand touched by azure waters and tropical wildlife. Surrounded by green forests of Sierra Madre mountains, Colomitos can only be reached by water taxis, pangas, or boats. Alternatively, for those up for a long hike, it can be accessed from nearby hiking trail starting from Boca de Tomatln and descending down river creeks and slopes.
Once here, you’ll find a small hideaway beach enclosed by rugged cliffs and steeped in total tranquillity. For those looking for outdoor adventures, Colomitos is off the beaten path with broad swaths of unspoiled nature, marine life ecosystems, and calm waters for sunbathing, snorkelling, swimming, and kayaking.
What to expect: A hidden cove surrounded by nature, jungles, river creeks, and indigenous wildlife.
What’s close: A recently opened seafood restaurant, hiking trails that lead to Boca de Tomatlan and other secluded beaches.