Puerto Vallarta beaches have attracted pirates, movie stars, and honeymooners for centuries. Throughout the Bay of Banderas, golden sands line the water’s edge, where the mountains slope down to the sea, and visiting the different beaches is one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta to experience the city’s diversity. With this Puerto Vallarta travel guide, you can explore the beaches from the southernmost tip of the bay to the north.
At the southernmost tip of the bay is Yelapa, a quiet town that serves delicious food and scenic views at local restaurants where you can pass the day surrounded by warm Mexican hospitality and away from the crowds. It’s one of the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta with a waterfall just a short hike inland. To reach Yelapa, you’ll have to take a water taxi from the Vallarta pier or Boca de Tomatlan.
Las Animas is another one of the Puerto Vallarta beaches only accessible by boat, but it’s also a popular hiking destination. From Boca de Tomatlan, head south of the city on the path along the shore. For about two hours, you’ll hike through the lush jungle and along hidden beaches. When you reach Las Animas, stop for fresh fish tacos and a cold drink at one of the beach restaurants before grabbing a water taxi back.
Mismaloya is one of the many swimmable beaches in Puerto Vallarta, and it’s also a popular spot for paddleboarding and snorkeling, two of the most adventurous things to do in Puerto Vallarta. As you look out from shore, the craggy Los Arcos rock formations tower above the water. To explore the caverns of Los Arcos, rent a paddleboard or hop on a local boat to snorkel among intricate corals on the rocks as tropical fish drift in the current. After a day of water adventures, pull up a chair to refuel at a local restaurant on the shore of one of the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta.
In the heart of downtown, Los Muertos is one of the most popular Puerto Vallarta beaches. It’s within walking distance of many local restaurants, shops, and breweries, and all day long, you can find locals and foreigners enjoying the bustle of restaurants, vendors, and fishing boats along the beach. The energy is vibrant here, making travelers fall in love with Puerto Vallarta.
One of the most swimmable beaches in Puerto Vallarta is Playa Camarones. This long stretch of shore is lined by popular resorts, but its seclusion from downtown makes it a tranquil spot to spend the day. With plenty of space to spread out, you’ll see families playing in the sand and passing volleyballs and frisbees back and forth. If you’re looking for a relaxing spot to spend the day within the city, this is one of the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta.
Some of the most spacious beaches in Puerto Vallarta are in the northern half of the bay. In Nuevo Vallarta, the city is lined by seemingly endless miles of shoreline. However, there are few restaurants along the shore, so you’ll want to bring your own food and umbrella with you.
While you might not read about it in a Vallarta travel guide, La Lancha is one of the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta for surfing. Part of this is due to its seclusion. As you drive along the highway, it’s easy to pass the access point for the shore, but surfers love having a place to escape the crowds. To see what makes La Lancha a magical spot and join the surfers in the water, contact WildMex for an incredible adventure.
A day trip to the surfing village of Sayulita is one of the top things to do in Puerto Vallarta. Along the cobblestone streets, taco stands and boutique shops invite you to slow down and take in all the charm of Sayulita. The local art and brightly painted homes make this a photographer’s paradise. The beach is an ideal spot for dining, swimming, or even surfing.
While this Vallarta travel guide can point you in the right direction for swimmable beaches in Puerto Vallarta, the best way to experience the diversity of the city is to explore each of the beaches during your next vacation.