Puerto Vallarta became one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico for one very good reason, the gorgeous beaches that ring the giant cove of Bahia de Banderas. There is a beach here for every personality, travel style, and mood. Even if you prefer less-touristy destinations, you can escape the city crowds in many of the tucked away beaches that are still within about 30 minutes of the city. Use this Puerto Vallarta beach guide to plan out your next trip to this vacation destination.
The Best Beaches in Puerto Vallarta
Playa el Salado
In the north of the city in the resort district or Marina Vallarta, you’ll find Playa el Salado, a Puerto Vallarta beach with plenty of activities. You can rent watersports equipment like kayaks, jet skis and more. You’ll also find the Marina Vallarta golf course nearby, and a turtle release program a few minutes down the beach. Playa el Salado is a great beach to keep yourself busy and find lots of restaurants and shopping.
Playa los Camarones
A little further south, in the hotel zone, Playa los Camarones is a beautiful long beach. Even though this beach is in a busy tourist district, it’s location is a bit tucked away and you’ll find a quiet place to relax. The calm water also makes it an ideal place for swimming.
Playa Olas Altas
Playa Olas Altas is the place to go for people watching, dining and nightlife. This beach straddles the Downtown and Romantic Zone regions, and has the famous malecon – a long and wide boardwalk to stroll. This is a great place to walk around sunset to take in the sights, enjoy the setting sun, and stop for a cocktail or cold beer.
Playa Los Muertos
Playa Los Muertos is the stretch of beach just south of Playa Olas Altas. Though this beach can get crowded, there are many restaurants and beach clubs to pull up a chair. The water here is also great for a swim with a view of the picturesque Playa Los Muertos Pier. This high energy beach is also great for dining and nightlife.
Playa Conchas Chinas
Playa Conchas Chinas is a gorgeous beach that you won’t believe is only a 5 minute drive from downtown Puerto Vallarta. It’s filled with large rock formations that create lots of nooks to explore and have time to yourself. The blue/turquoise water and the gleaming sand make this a very picturesque beach.
This beach is famous for being a filming spot for the movie “Night of the Iguana”, the 1960s film that made Puerto Vallarta world famous. Playa Mismaloya is actually a small village that is a calm port. This is an ideal place to make a snorkel or diving excursion by boat to the nearby Los Arcos, large rock formations with arch features that are teaming with wildlife.
Playa Colomitos is a tiny cove beach that looks like it’s straight out of a postcard. You can reach this beach by boat from Boca de Tomatlan, or by a short hike from the same village. The small cove is surrounded on all sides by tall cliffs, and the bright turquoise water laps on the small strip of sand. There are no services here, so you’ll want to be sure to bring your own water or snacks.
Playa las Animas is another remote beach that can be reached by boat, or by a longer hike from Boca de Tomatlan. This is a popular beach to visit to spend the day swimming, sunning and eating. There are a few restaurants here to have a meal or a drink so you can spend a whole day or afternoon. The fine sand and the clear water make this an ideal place to swim and relax.
Yelapa is a small town and beach that is so remote, it can only be reached by boat. You can take a boat here from the Playa los Muertos pier or from the town of Boca de Tomatlan. After a 30 minute boat ride from Los Muertos, you’ll find yourself in a hidden paradise. This deep cove beach is surrounded by dense jungle and rolling hills that climb up into mountains behind. A river divides the beach in half, and the small town with pedestrian streets climbs up the hill. This is truly a place to disconnect and enjoy nature. There is a beautiful waterfall within the town to visit, as well as one nearby that you can hike to. You can take a day trip here from Puerto Vallarta, or stay for a few days to get away from it all.
Punta Mita is a town about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta that is at the tip of a point, so you’ll be surrounded by water on three sides. This town is home to many luxurious resorts and golf courses. The beaches and water are immaculate and the views are sweeping.
Sayulita is also north of Puerto Vallarta, but is a town with a barefoot, laidback vibe. This beach destination became popular as a great surf spot, but since has attracted artists, creatives, and others looking for a relaxed experience. There is also a growing nightlife scene here, so you can relax by day and party by night.
These Puerto Vallarta beaches show that you can have completely different beach experiences depending on your mood or travel style. From lively city beaches to remote boat-access only beaches, surf destinations, luxury getaways and more!
We hope this Puerto Vallarta beach guide will help you find your favorite beach in the Bahia de Banderas. Let us know if you have any questions below!
For More Mexico Travel:
- 44 Things to Know About Living in Mexico as an Expat
- 40 Things to do in Mexico: My Mexico Bucket List
- Where to Stay in Mexico City: Trendy Areas Near Top Attractions
- 50 Unmissable Things to do in Merida, Mexico
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