Puerto Vallarta is such a perfect getaway, you may never want to leave the city center. But you’d be missing out if you didn’t do some exploring. There are many charming beaches and small towns on the surrounding coast. Here’s a few of my favorite day trips from Puerto Vallarta.
Puerto Vallarta has always been a popular area for Mexicans. But it was the famous movie, Night of the Iguana in the 1960’s, that put the Mexican pacific coast and Vallarta in the spotlight for Americans.
What To Do in Mismaloya
The set is long gone but you can still visit the golden beaches featured in the movie. Mismaloya is located on the prettiest little cove, surrounded by jungle and mountains this area is known for. It’s the perfect place to actually get in the water and it not be too rough. It’s also perfect for kayaking and stand up paddling.
Los Arcos National Marine Park is right off the coast of Mismaloya. In fact you can see the rocks that make up Los Arcos easily from the beach. There are caves and a reef for snorkeling or scuba. A boat or panga can be hired to take you out right from the beach.
If those water activities don’t interest you, then just pick a chair and take it easy for the day. Eat lunch, have someone serenade you, or get a massage. The only thing you’ll have to worry about all day, is moving your chair when the tide comes in.
Getting to Mismaloya
Mismaloya is 8 miles south of Vallarta. If you don’t have a car, take the orange and white bus at the corner of Basilio Badillo y Constitucion in the Romatic Zone. The fare is less than $.50 (8 pesos) one way. Get off at the Mismaloya Beach stop. There will be a cobblestone street that leads to the beach. You could also go by taxi or Uber. By car, take Hwy 200 south of of downtown to Mismaloya.
Boca De Tomatlan
Further south down the coast from Puerto Vallarta, is Boca de Tomatlan or Boca. It’s exactly what you think about when you picture a small Mexican fishing village in your mind. It’s also where tourists and locals can catch a water taxi to the beaches further south that aren’t accessible by road.
What to do in Boca
Because of it’s convenient location, Boca is the best starting point for day trips from Puerto Vallarta heading south. Or if you wanted, you could spend a laid back day there fishing and boating. There are plenty of pangas (boats) and people to take you out.
Boca has several cute restaurants, with tables right on the sand. They each have their own colored umbrellas and are eager to serve up the fresh catch of the day.
One of the restaurants (not on the beach) that I keep reading about is Ocean Grill. I haven’t had a chance to go but from what I’ve read, it’s only accessible by boat. After making reservations to dine there, the owners pick you up in their boat and take you to the restaurant.
I’m on a quest to find out more about it next time I’m in Vallarta. Report back later.
Getting to Boca
Boca is located 15 miles south of Vallarta. If you don’t have a car, take the orange and white bus at the corner of Basilio Badillo y Constitucion in the Romatic Zone. The fare is less than $.50 (8 pesos) one way. Get off at the Boca de Tomatlan stop and walk the short distance to the beach. You could also get there by taxi or Uber. By car, take Hwy 200 south of of downtown to Boca.
If you really want to get off the beaten path for the day, or longer, take one of the water taxis from Boca and go further south down the coast to Yelapa. The fact that it’s only accessible by boat adds to it’s charm.
What To Do in Yelapa
Yelapa is the loveliest little town right on a beautiful crescent shaped beach. It looks like a postcard come to life. Because it’s divided by a river that flows out of the jungle, in addition to all the usual fun water activities, you can follow that river inland to a beautiful swimming hole and waterfall.
Besides it’s beauty, Yelapa is probably most famous for the pie or “pay” made there. Yes, I said pie. For almost thirty years, the pie lady of Yelapa has been making pies and selling them on the beach. You can try one or try them all. There’s chocolate, coconut or cheese and I’ve read, there’s a lime flavor. I’m dying to try that one.
If you are just there to chill for the day, there are plenty of beachside restaurants to choose from. They will set you up with a chair and umbrella plus, serve you all day. I picked a place at the end of the beach called Juanitos. They not only serve seafood but also have Mexican favorites like queso and fajitas. I ended up having my favorite when on the Pacific coast, mahi mahi. Of course I had to order Pacifico beer because it wouldn’t be a day at the beach in Mexico without one.
Getting to Yelapa
Yelapa is located about 30 minutes by water taxi from Boca. From Puerto Vallarta you can take the orange and white bus at the corner of Basilio Badillo y Constitucion in the Romatic Zone. The fare is less than $.50 (8 pesos) one way. Get off in Boca de Tomatlan stop and once you walk into town just ask someone about a water taxi to Yelapa. The taxis leave Boca every hour. Roundtrip fare is $180 pesos or about $10 USD. If you don’t want to travel to Boca by bus to catch the water tazi, you can take a water taxi from the pier at Los Muertos beach in Vallarta. There are plenty of stands along the beach and the malecon offering tours.
Sayulita is a cool little beach town located to the north of Puerto Vallarta in the neighboring state of Nayarit. It’s an easy day trip from Puerto Vallarta but I would recommend staying at least a couple of days. I went for two days and that was perfect. Although I could have stayed longer.
Sayulita is a little bit bigger town than the other towns I’ve already mention here but still has a very low key, chill atmosphere which is why you are at the beach to begin with.
What To Do in Sayulita
You can do as much or as little as you want in Sayulita. It’s protected waters and the shape of the coast makes it the perfect place to learn to surf if that’s something you’re into. There’s also plenty of shopping, art, yoga and even spas for the less active.
For such a small place, there’s a ridiculous number of places to eat. I had the hardest time deciding when I was there. The food was some of the best I’ve had on the Pacific coast.
Sayulita also has a thriving nightlife too. It’s a great escape from the bigger more crowded Puerto Vallarta.
Getting to Sayulita
Sayulita is located about 25 miles north of Puerto Vallarta and takes about an hour to get there. You can go by Uber, taxi or bus. If you choose to go by bus, catch the green and white Compostela bus from the airport or from the bus stop in front of Walmart. Look for a bus that has Sayulita written on the windshield. The fare one way is 35 pesos or about $2 USD. A Uber should cost about $30 USD one way.
The next time you are in Puerto Vallarta, do yourself a favor and take a couple of days to day trip and explore the smaller, less crowded beaches of of Jalisco. Getting there is half the fun and it gives visitors a chance to discover a different side of Mexico.