The Best Beaches of Banderas Bay
When you travel around beautiful Banderas Bay in Mexico, from point to point and north to south and just outside the northern tip all the way around to the southern edge, you can find a wide variety of beaches, each one different and each one completely gorgeous in its own way.
Banderas Bay is connected on the north by Punta Mita and on the south by Cabo Corrientes and the resort city of Puerto Vallarta is right in the middle. Along the curvy highway of this Mexican coastline you will find some of the most unique and intimate beaches in Mexico, some small and some large, some quiet and some loud busy but you are certain to find to of mother nature’s best work.
There are family beaches, surfing beaches, gay beaches, nude beaches, a beach where you can buy fresh pie and shrimp on a stick – basically, beaches for every taste. With the town of Puerto Vallarta as your center, a true beach lover has the ability to choose a different stretch of sand each day and find a new slice of local Mexican life and meet new beautiful people each and every time.
With the dollar being so strong with the exchange rates, Mexico continues to be a real bargain and with the beautiful winters in the Bay area, it's the perfect time for a warm escape. Life is a beach. Check out just some of the hidden gems around the bay.
Los Muertos Beach, Sayulita
This is my favorite of two "Beaches of the Dead" and I like to think of this beach for artists & philosophers. It has a large beautiful quiet sandy space, protected from the larger waves and surrounded by a cemetery so there is no vehicle traffic either.
The sand stretches all the way up to the traditional Mexican graveyard which is worth a visit all by itself, you can really feel the energy here. It's the perfect place to put out some chairs and throw down a blanket and do some meditation and think about the meaning of life and death. Do not forget refreshments because there is nowhere to buy anything. This is one of my favorite beaches but really not in the bay, it is just outside the bay.
Punta Mita Beach
The beaches of Punta Mita are a string of beaches, some with comfortable sofas and cabanas, a cool beach shack serving drinks and burgers and a long polite smile and of course, this beach has some of the nicest fine white sand in the bay. Lots of beautiful views but the drawback here is that you can only use these beaches if you are a guest of the hotel. You can book a reservation for lunch or dinner in the surf-side Bahia Restaurant and enjoy the spectacular ocean views. Be prepared to go through some tight security, though. This beach is a bit expensive so be prepared to spend.
There is another beach on the public side of Punta Mita that has several beach side restaurants and beautiful calm waters to swim in. This is the destination for some of the Bays best restaurants including Café de Artist that sits right there on the beach.
Los Muertos Beach, Puerto Vallarta
If you like action and lots of people then this is the ultimate beach for you. There is nothing dead about this beach. It is the heartbeat of life in Puerto Vallarta and you can find everything here including locals enjoying some of the bars and restaurants along that stretch of beach.
The quieter section near the River Cuale is called Olas Altas, and there you will find the local oyster vendors and plenty of families playing in the calm waters of the river. Most days there are artists painting in the early mornings and plenty to do, water sports vendors with wave runners, beach-side cafes are numerous, mariachis and musicians will serenade you, vendors will sell you anything and you can even get a manicure, tattoo or a massage while you recline under your umbrella sipping your margarita. It's busy, family friendly and fun.
Blue Chairs Beach
Just past Los Muertos Beach is a resort and beach cafe called the Blue Chairs, that area of the beach & oceanfront is all considered the gay beach. Puerto Vallarta has long been a gay-friendly destination. It has recently been awarded as the sister city to San Francisco.
You will find plenty to see on this beach but not if your easily offended by gay activity, Speedos or transsexual drag queens because you will find plenty of this in the area. The Blue Chairs Resort even puts on a great drag show called the dirty bitches show which has become quite famous for that stretch of beach. The show is held rooftop with a view of the bay.
This is a great place to enjoy the "Golden Hour," that soft time of the day, when everyone comes down to the beach to watch the sun go down, enjoy a cool cerveza and wait for the green flash.
Conchas Chinas Beach
While traveling south past Puerto Vallarta, you will find a string of more rugged beaches, with tide pools and rocks and very quiet and beautiful. Many of these small beaches along Conchas Chinas are very secluded so you can find a spot just for yourselves to enjoy a picnic on the beach.
Conchas Chinas has some ideal beaches for children who want to paddle in the shallow pools and look for sea creatures however you must be careful as there are sea urchins and sharp rocks so strict supervision is recommended for kids. There are probably about a dozen beach areas if not more along this southern stretch of highway just south of Vallarta.
Located just south of Conchas Chinas, this beach is incredible with a long and wide white-sand beach where you can walk for quite a long way and wade in very calm and shallow waters. The sand here is extremely soft and nice to walk on and play in. This sand is excellent for sand castles. This beach gets very busy by national families on the weekends and almost nobody during the week at least off season that is. This is a definite worthy beach to spend an afternoon at.
This small beach and fishing town became famous after John Huston with his filming of the movie, The Night of the Iguana. Not many remnants left from those days however It remains a very popular beach and tourist area especially for the locals and nationals.
This beach area and town is surrounded by jungle and the Sierra Madre Mountains which makes the views incredible. There are a several small restaurants on the beach and up the river toward the zoo if you feel ambitious, take the hike all the way up which is about 45 minutes to the zoo and a bit further if you want the Zip lines. This is a definite worthy stop on your beach search.
Boca de Tomatlan Beach
This quaint little town is the end of the road for the bus line to the beaches and worthy of a stop because from here the buses go up to the mountains. This area is beautiful and there are plenty of spots to hang out on the beach, along the river and of course some great local restaurants on the beach to enjoy some of the fresh seafood that this town has to offer, everything fresh from the sea.
This little fishing village is the last stop for buses so locals from Vallarta and beyond and work to the south come here by bus to take the water taxis to their home villages or jobs to one of the villages south. This is also a place for many tourists to catch the water taxis out to other villages and beaches. There is plenty of people watching here as the boats come in in out.
This tiny little jewel of the bay has a pristine beach and is pure pleasure to float around in. The beach is small and comfortable with not many people usually it is surrounded by cliffs, so it's quiet and private however many hikers will pass by as they hike in either direction either from Los Animas and Boca. This is a very popular hiking trail and a popular stop over for private yacht charters because of the beautiful cove and calm waters.
If you traveled by bus to Boca, just a five minutes water taxi, the beach is right beside one of the best restaurants in the area, the Ocean Grill. You have to reserve in advance to dine here but the food is excellent and the ocean views are magical. If you are adventurous and would rather get some exercise you can take the 40-minute and aggressive hike to this cove as well. Another must do hidden gem beach of the bay.
About another 30-minute boat ride from Colomitos cove is this isolated fishing village of Yelapa with a superb beach. You can hike into the mountains go to the waterfalls, go horseback riding on the beach, as well as enjoy the usual water sports. But the real attraction are the pie ladies and the iguana guys, the pie ladies sell fresh and delicious pies by the slice to hungry beach-goers. The iguana boys are getting pictures with their pet iguanas by the tourists stopping by. Yelapa is a fantastic stop over with plenty of nice beach. There are several restaurants along the beach serving fresh seafood and beverages for you to enjoy.
Hidden Beach • Marieta Islands
Finally, we have the La Playa Amor Hidden Beach, on the Marieta Islands out in the middle of Banderas Bay, this beach is ranked 10th on The Guardian's annual 50 Best Beaches in the World list. The islands are only reachable by excursion boats or pangas, and it is about 2 hours cruising time to reach the islands. They are a protected area, famous as a habitat for blue-footed boobies.
There are 2 sides to the island, the hidden beach side which is only open to certain companies to visit inside the hidden beach, you have to swim through a tunnel to visit hidden beach, but you emerge into a sun-filled pocket of blue water and white sand, totally surrounded by rock and invisible from the other side of the tunnel.
Visitors are only allowed to stay for a brief time but just seeing this secret treasure is a thrill and should be on your bucket list.
This are has some beautiful snorkeling as well. There are several tours that can take you to the hidden beach but beware only a few can take you inside. Contact us to direct you to the right tour operator that give you what they say.