A Quick Peek at Puerto Vallarta’s Beaches: North, South and Midland
For many, the finest reward of vacation is time spent on the beach. Puerto Vallarta’s beaches cover a whole lot of territory, not all within the confines of the city limits. Choose between bringing your own blanket, beverages and food or getting table service from one of the various restaurants that grace the shoreline. Dine in style; munch nachos; or buy shrimp and fruit off the vendors who wander in and out of the crowds. On several beaches, there are divers who will bring you fresh oysters straight from the sea and provide garnishes.
Along Playa Los Muertos, the main beach of Zona Romantica, there is something for everyone. Loved by tourists and locals alike, the waves are generally calm enough for those lacking in Olympic swimming skills. The south end of the beach hosts beach bars and cafes that cater to the LBGT crowd, but not exclusively, and you are bound to find good music from one end to the other. The pier, the pride of Puerto Vallarta, which was completed and opened in January 2013, is the terminal for smaller boats and water taxis. It’s the perfect place for a romantic stroll at sunset.
From the Los Muertos Pier, day trippers can head south of Puerto Vallarta to beaches at Yelapa, the furthest; Las Animas; and Quimixto, along the way. Stand at the street end of the pier for more than a minute and someone is guaranteed to ask you if you are looking for a water taxi. These are highly recommended trips and during the winter season you are almost certain of seeing whale, dolphin and flying manta ray, en route. Some of these venues offer horse trips and day hikes to their famous waterfalls, and it’s a good place for parasailing, kayaking, jet skiing.
Sayulita, north of Puerto Vallarta in the state of Nayarit, is an hour long road trip over the mountain with loads of surfing schools and surf boards to rent. Once a well kept secret, it’s grown exponentially and can be crowded on weekends. There are other beautiful spots along the coast where you’ll find less boards in the water and fewer bodies lolling in the sand. Las Lanchas, Punta de Burros, El Anclote and Los Veranos, in and around Punta de Mita are best known for their coral reefs for great breaks and waves.
Mismaloya put Puerto Vallarta on the map; famous for “The Night of the Iguana,” the film that caused uproar in Hollywood at the time. This coastline was once the destination for campers and RV’ers, when the backdrop was nothing but a cliff and jungle. South of the river that runs down from the mountains are a string of palapas, in complete juxtaposition of the hotel to the north on this charming beach. Mismaloya is a good place to catch a panga to one of the southern destinations but it’s also one of the oldest settlements in the area, rich with history and colorful characters. Though the actual beach has receded over the years, now lapping the steps of the huge hotel, the locals have stoically shifted their palapas and equipment on to more stable ground. Close to Los Arcos, it’s a perfect day trip from Puerto Vallarta for beach play, snorkeling, fishing, hiking.
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