Traveling is a chance to both relax and explore the world. When you visit Puerto Vallarta, there are plenty of new experiences and places to see to keep you busy and enthralled on your Mexico vacations. For a unique day trip, head outside the city to the picturesque, tranquil Puerto Vallarta beaches on the southern shores of Banderas Bay. From the sweeping views of the jungle mountains to the endless stretches of golden sand, these Puerto Vallarta beaches offer relaxation and activities only found in paradise.
Mismaloya is one of the first major beaches you’ll encounter when heading south of Puerto Vallarta. It is iconic with its view of Los Arcos, a natural rock formation with arches and coves shaped by the flowing water. While Los Arcos is a protected natural area, there are several ways to explore the rock formations. On the beach, you can easily hire a small boat to take you out to tour around the arches and even snorkel among the tropical fish and coral. For a more unique experience, stand up paddle boards can be rented for a trip around Los Arcos. Jump in the water to cool off before heading back to the beach where you can enjoy fresh fish and tacos at the several Puerto Vallarta restaurants along the sea.
Boca de Tomatlan, a small, charming fishing village at the mouth of the Horcones River, is the last of the Puerto Vallarta beaches that public busses travel to. With gentle waters, this is an ideal location for swimming and relaxing. There are several Puerto Vallarta restaurants here where you can find freshly caught seafood. Boca de Tomatlan is also the starting point for getting to the beaches further south that can only be accessed by boat or by hiking. The popular Boca-Los Animas hike begins here when you pass over the river on a footbridge and follow the trail. Locals can help direct you to the path which will lead you past secluded beaches and through the lush jungle. The hike is by far one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta on your Mexico vacations.
Las Animas is the destination for those who choose to hike the two-hour trail from Boca de Tomatlan or for those who take a water taxi straight from Vallarta or Boca. Once here, travelers relax on the beach under the shade of palm trees and umbrellas where you’ll find plenty of delicious places to eat. Here, Mike’s Beach Club offers kayak and paddle board rentals as well as inflatable water trampolines and climbing towers to play on. At the north end of the beach, Maraika Beach Club has a more elegant setting for enjoying the ocean view, fresh food, and refreshing drinks. The beauty and activities at Las Animas Beach make it a popular day trip for locals and those who visit Puerto Vallarta.
Quimixto is another one of the secluded Puerto Vallarta beaches, and it’s only accessed by a water taxi or by those who wish to continue their hike past Las Animas. This sleepy village sits upon a quiet beach with clear water that’s popular with surfers and snorkelers. Along the beach, you’ll find seafood restaurants and Mexican eateries. Many travelers come to this area for one of the most unique things to do in Puerto Vallarta, which includes taking a hike a short ways from the beach to one of the famous waterfalls south of Puerto Vallarta. You can also wander into the village to see a simple way of life and charming stores and restaurants before heading back to the local pier to catch a water taxi back.
Yelapa is the furthest beach from Vallarta, and some refer to it as Mexico’s last authentic beach town because of its seclusion and the smaller number of tourists here. The stretch of beach and relatively quiet town gives beachgoers plenty of room to spread out and enjoy amazing seafood without the high prices of the city. Two local bakers will wander the beach selling famous coconut, chocolate, and other fresh slices of Yelapa pie, while some travelers hike inland to see gorgeous, cascading waterfalls. The first is a 10 minute walk along a cobblestone path from the small town. The other takes 60 to 90 minutes to reach, but you’ll feel like you’re the only one there swimming in the pool at the base of the falls.
To escape the crowds and the city, head south on a day trip to one of the stunning beaches of Puerto Vallarta. Whether you get there by bus, foot, or boat, there’s plenty to see and do on these beaches, which are surrounded by stunning views of the crystal blue sea and lush jungle mountains.