Puerto Vallarta beaches are consistently ranked as some of the best in Mexico. Nestled between the Sierra Madre mountain range and the stunning Bandera Bay, Puerto Vallarta is a small and charming alternative to other popular beach resorts in the country.
The best beaches in Puerto Vallarta range from sandy stretches dotted with hammocks and palm trees to private beach clubs, where the only stressful decision you have to make is deciding whether to have your fish tacos fried or blackened. Outdoor adventure is also a major draw here, as you can spend days kayaking and snorkeling, and evenings enjoying catamaran cruises and award-winning restaurants.
If you’re planning a trip to Mexico soon, here are some of the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta to consider visiting.
Playa de Los Muertos
Don’t let this beach’s name, which translates to “Dead Man’s Beach,” scare you away. Playa de Los Muertos is one of the liveliest and most well-known beaches in Puerto Vallarta. It’s conveniently located within walking distance of popular attractions, like the Romantic Zone and the shops and restaurants of the Malecón Boardwalk.
Despite Playa de Los Muertos’ close proximity to the city, it’s usually easy to find space to stretch out, as it’s over a mile long and wide enough to host an abundance of beach towels and umbrellas.
On its festive shores, you’ll see several souvenir vendors, windsurfers, and snorkelers. Don’t leave without ordering a drink called “La Tuba,” which is a refreshing mix of coconut juice and apple vinegar.
Once you’ve relaxed for a while under the sun, visit one of the beachfront restaurants that features toes-in-the-sand dining.
Conchas Chinas Beach
Conchas China Beach is a small beach tucked in a natural cove at the southern end of Playa de Los Muertos. The beach is soft and sandy with large, easy-to-view rock formations that create small pools throughout the shore, where tiny sea creatures like to dwell.
The beach’s calm water offers 50 feet of visibility or more, even on cloudy days, making it easy to spot fish and other underwater species during a snorkeling session around the reef.
Aside from hotel resorts, the beach doesn’t have many amenities and only the occasional vendor selling drinks or renting snorkel gear. Therefore, if you’re planning on visiting Conchas Chinas Beach, make sure to bring everything you need for the day. Also, since the beach is relatively small it can get crowded quickly, so consider visiting during the midweek to ensure you can find a good spot to comfortably spread out.
Playa Boca de Tomates
Playa Boca de Tomates is a popular beach among locals that is situated about 20 minutes outside of downtown Puerto Vallarta. Located near the Bay of Banderas and the Ameca River’s confluence, Boca de Tomates gets its name (which means “Tomato’s Mouth”) from a well-loved seafood restaurant just past the beach. This secluded and no-frills beach is the perfect spot to visit if you want to feel like you’re on your own private island.
Playa Boca de Tomates is a great beach for swimming, but keep in mind that it is also home to a saltwater crocodile reserve. Don’t worry though, fences keep the reptiles within a restricted area, so that visitors can safely enjoy the rest of the beach. If you do want to get more up close and personal with the crocs, head to the El Cora Crocodile Sanctuary, which is about 10 minutes to the north.
Otherwise, spend your days at Boca de Tomates relaxing on the sand, where you can enjoy fresh seafood from one of the vendors who set up their grills and coolers in the sand, or stop by one of the few nearby beach bars. Boca de Tomates is also one of the best Puerto Vallarta beaches for birdwatching.
If the beaches near Puerto Vallarta are the region’s lively and colorful main draw, Playa Mismaloya is its slower-paced little brother. While you’ll still have access to casual restaurants and bars, the experience here is more calm and collected. Gentle shores invite you to take leisurely dips in the water, while the rocky landscapes of the surrounding Los Arcos Marine Preserve are a sight to behold.
Playa Mismaloya is less crowded than other Puerto Vallarta beaches, but still features plenty of fun activities to partake in, including snorkeling, diving, and fishing.
The easiest way to reach Playa Mismaloya is by taxi, which is about a 35-minute ride from downtown, or by water taxi from the harbor building, which takes closer to 35 minutes.
You’ll often hear phrases like “hidden gem” and “best-kept secret” when someone is talking about Colomitos Beach. This lovely, horseshoe-shaped beach is tucked away in a remote cove that is surrounded by lush tropical greenery, where there’s even a waterfall to enhance the feeling that you’ve stumbled upon a secluded jungle escape.
While it’s a bit of a trek, Colomitos Beach is well worth the effort. Located south of Puerto Vallarta, Colomitos can be reached in two ways: via a water taxi cruise along the coastline, or on a taxi ride to Boca Beach, which then requires a ten-minute walk through the jungle to reach the cove. If you choose the latter, be sure to stock up on snacks at Boca Beach before heading out on the walk.
Near Colomitos Beach, you’ll also find an inland waterfall after taking a well-trodden and easy-to-find trail. If you’re hungry, you can also stop by the over-the-water Ocean Grill beach bar for a refreshing cocktail and seafood snacks.
Playa de Oro
If you’re keen to enjoy a day at the beach that blends both lounging in the sand and playing in the water, consider heading to Playa de Oro, one of the best Puerto Vallarta beaches just north of the city. Like Playa de Los Muertos, Playa de Oro was once a magnet for Hollywood’s most glamorous celebrities, who frequently flocked to the beach in the 1950s and ‘60s.
Situated near the Hotel Zone and Puerto Vallarta marina, Playa de Oro has a deep stretch of soft sand with plenty of room to relax and an immaculate shoreline. In fact, it’s one of the few beaches in Mexico that boasts a “Blue Flag” sustainability certification from the Foundation for Environmental Education.
Around the beach and the marina, you’ll find plenty of water sports, like paddleboards and jet skis. You can also sign up for catamaran cruises, snorkeling tours, or arrange a private windsurfing lesson.
Majahuitas Cove is one of the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta for snorkeling. The cove is only accessible by boat, which helps keep the numbers of visitors fairly low. Majahuitas is ideal for travelers who want a more natural beach experience, as there are some basic amenities on the beach, such as beach loungers, umbrellas, picnic areas, and a small snack bar, but no major developments around the area.
Majahuitas Cove has the same turquoise blue water that blesses all of Puerto Vallarta’s southern coves and inlets. If you’re planning to snorkel, dive in from one of the far sides of the beach since most ocean creatures prefer the safety offered by the nooks and crannies of the rocky shore.
Between November and April, you may be lucky enough to spot migrating beaches right from the beach. Year-round, there’s also a good chance of seeing dolphins and sea turtles just off the shore and colorful parrots circling the treelines.
Playa Palmares Beach
Only three miles south of downtown PV, you’ll find Playa Palmares, a sun-soaked haven with clear water and a gentle, shallow shore that is ideal for tranquil swimming. With on-duty lifeguards and powdery white sand, Playa Palmares is an ideal place for families traveling with kids or grandkids. While you won’t find as many vendors as you would at beaches closer to town, there are more than enough beach gear rental shops for those who want to squeeze in some water sports during their day at Palmares.
Whether you want a glamorous day at the beach where you don’t have to lift a finger or prefer to sit in the sand with just a beach towel and a palm tree for shade, you’re sure to find it in Puerto Vallarta.
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