16 Best Puerto Vallarta Beaches: Our Ultimate Beach Guide
Planning to visit the Mexican coastal town and looking for the best Puerto Vallarta beaches? Keep reading to find our pick of the best sandy spots.
As one of the finest beach resorts in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta certainly has its fair share of beaches. With their jungle backdrop, there are so many top-quality spots to put down your towel- both in and around Puerto Vallarta. You could easily spend your entire trip to Puerto Vallarta, solely discovering its various beaches.
One of the best things about the Puerto Vallarta beaches is that they are so varied. For those that want a lively beach just a short walk away from downtown, there’s Los Muertos. Those wanting an isolated, uncrowded beach surrounded by natural beauty, there’s Playa Los Caballos and more.
For over two months while living in Puerto Vallarta, I went out to discover the best Puerto Vallarta beaches so you don’t have to. Here are the top beaches in Puerto Vallarta (and around), which you absolutely must visit.
*This ‘best Puerto Vallarta beaches Mexico’ post contains affiliate links meaning I might make a small profit if you choose to book at no extra cost to you. This helps me to keep providing you with top quality content for free.
READ MORE: When is the Best Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta Mexico?
Best Puerto Vallarta Beaches
Best Beaches in Puerto Vallarta
For those that don’t want to go far to find a sandy spot, Puerto Vallarta’s beaches provide a great space to relax for the day.
As they are in the middle of the city, many of the beaches are backed by resorts and their beach clubs, hotels, apartment blocks, or shops and they tend to be quite crowded. But they are a great spot to be if you’re looking for a lively, action-packed beach to relax on for a few hours in the afternoon or just to catch the sunset.
Playa Los Muertos
Playa Los Muertos is one of the best and probably the most popular beaches in downtown Puerto Vallarta. It’s located in the Zona Romatica just to the south of Los Muertos Pier- a lovely sail-shaped pier that makes a great sunset spot.
Playa De Los Muertos is not small or large and it’s mainly backed by restaurants, hotels, and a few small resorts. On the beach, you’ll also find some umbrellas and lounge chairs for rental during the day but there is plenty of space to just lay down a towel.
Los Muertos beach is a really busy and lively beach. During the day you’ll find people strolling up and down the beach, others relaxing on the sand, others partying above in the resorts and local sellers making their rounds amongst the people. It’s a nice strip of sand but definitely not for those looking for some peace and quiet. The quietest spots can be found on the southern edge of the beach, near the large rocks.
Los Muertos beach is the perfect place for a walk, coffee in hand in the morning before it fills up or in the evening at sunset time. It’s a very popular sunset spot and a lovely place for an oceanside meal afterward. We dined at El Dorado at sunset and it was a beautiful experience.
For those interested in water sports, you’ll be able to enquire here about jet skiing, kayaking, paddle boarding, banana boat rides, and more.
READ MORE: 14 Best Hotels in Puerto Vallarta in 2023: Our Top Picks
Playa Las Amapas
Just over the rocks from Playa Los Muertos, you’ll find Las Amapas beach. This is a very small sandy inlet that’s quiet and isolated, yet right next to Los Muertos. The beach is a little rocky but there are some sandy parts to lie down on. It’s a great spot for swimming too.
There aren’t any kind of services on this tiny beach but then you are right next to Los Muertos. Passing the rocks, between the two beaches can be a little difficult, especially at high tide so it’s best to head out as the tide is going out. You’ll also want to keep an eye on the tide to make sure you can get back out without any issues.
Playa Los Tules
Los Tules beach is one of the best Puerto Vallarta beaches, especially in the northern part of town or the Zona Hotelera. It’s a sprawling beach with plenty of space for a walk or to lay down on for the day. While it definitely is near many of the resorts and hotels in the area, it is, in my opinion, the best strip of sand in Puerto Vallarta itself.
It’s a great sandy spot to relax on and go for a swim but there aren’t many eating options available unless you want to dine inside the nearby resorts. For this reason, I’d recommend bringing a beach picnic if you plan to spend the day here and you’ll see many other local families do the same.
Further north, in the Hotel Zone neighborhood, you’ll find Playa Flamingos, another lovely beach in the north of Puerto Vallarta. You’ll find Flamingos beach on the most protruding part of the city. Due to its position, you’ll find a huge section of sand that’s perfect for lounging on.
Much like Los Tules, there aren’t many restaurants or shops here but instead, it’s worth bringing a beach picnic with you.
Conchas Chinas Beach
So there might be a little uncertainty as to whether Conchas Chinas is part of Puerto Vallarta, but nevertheless, you’ll find this stunning beach just on the outskirts of the city to the south. This is one of the best beaches to visit if you want to get away from Puerto Vallarta’s crowds yet you don’t want to go too far. Conchas Chinas beach is just a 15-minute walk from the Romantic Zone.
At Conchas Chinas beach you’ll find many small beaches separated by rocky outcrops. The sand here is more white than yellow and the water is a gorgeous mix of light blue and turquoise. There are a few small hotels and private villas flanking the beach but there aren’t, at least for now, any huge resorts or tall buildings.
Playa Conchas Chinas is probably the best beach in Puerto Vallarta as it’s quite relaxed, not very crowded and it has some beautiful scenery and sandy spots. The water here is also much clearer and cleaner than the beaches immediately in Puerto Vallarta. For a day at the beach in Puerto Vallarta, I highly recommend making the short trip to Conchas Chinas.
Looking for more things to do in Puerto Vallarta? Read: 33 Wonderful Places to Visit in Puerto Vallarta Mexico
Best Beaches Near Puerto Vallarta
There’s no doubt in my mind that the best Puerto Vallarta beaches are actually located outside the resort town. By making the effort to get out of town, you’ll be rewarded by isolated, crowd-free yellow sand beaches backed by lush-jungle vegetation. A world away from the beaches found in Puerto Vallarta itself.
If you’re someone who prefers natural, untouched beaches then you’ll need to get out of town to find them but it’s 100% worth it.
Garza Blanca Beach
The road between Conchas Chinas beach and Boca de Tomatlan is full of little coves and beaches as well as large hotels and resorts. One of the best Puerto Vallarta beaches, just south of Puerto Vallarta is Garza Blanca.
This small cove, similar to Conchas Chinas has a lovely sandy strip and rocky areas to relax on. From the beach, you can also see the Arcos de Mismaloyas, a few free-standing rock islands whose waters are perfect for snorkeling and sighting marine life.
While Garza Blanca is a nice enough stretch of sand, around it you’ll find tall apartment and condo blocks. The beach is also popular with Mexican families, especially at the weekends when it can get crowded. For those looking for something remote and private, this probably isn’t the spot and you’ll need to go further south than Boca de Tomatlan.
Playa las Gemelas
Just over a rocky outcrop, south of Garza Blanca you’ll find Playa Las Gemelas or Twins beaches, two lovely short stretches of sand separated by another rocky outcrop. Much like Garza Blanca, it’s a very popular public beach, most probably for its white sand and turquoise waters.
There’s plenty of space here to lay down a towel and a few places to grab a drink or bite to eat nearby.
Just past the Arcos de Mismaloya is the small village of Misamaloya. It’s a lovely small bay and beach and an ideal place to enjoy as part of a day trip. On this beach, you’ll find various palapa-roofed local beach restaurants and bars, as well as a couple of larger hotels. It’s also possible to go for a walk around the bay, along the rustic path.
Playa Mismaloya has a very relaxed atmosphere, clear water, and small fishing boats bobbing up and down in the bay. It’s one of the best Puerto Vallarta beaches for a mix of jungle scenery, a relaxed atmosphere, and services.
Boca de Tomatlan
Boca de Tomatlan is a small, rustic village just south of Puerto Vallarta. It’s the hub of boat taxi transportation southwards to places that cannot be reached by land. Having said that it’s still a sleepy, fisherman’s cove with just a few streets, buildings, and restaurants.
Boca Beach however is a really nice strip of sand to relax on if you want to visit for the day. Here you’ll find a really nice sandy cove with clear blue-green water with palapa roofs offering some shade. There are also some good restaurants to eat at too. Kayaks are also available and a great way to discover some other nearby coves and beaches.
If you choose to stay at Villa Lala Boutique Hotel nearby- one of the best places to stay in this area, you’ll most probably spend some time on this lovely little beach.
Playa Colomitos might just be Mexico’s smallest beach. This tiny cove can only be reached on foot or by boat and really makes you feel like you’ve just washed up in paradise. There’s nothing here except for one property, a restaurant, and a small kiosk so it’s best to bring in drinks and snacks.
There’s not much to do in Playa Colomitos but relax and swim in the calm waters. Make sure to come earlier in the day as throughout the day many boats pull up to Playa Colomitos for a while for groups to enjoy. Given the size of the small beach, it can get crowded quickly but they do tend to move on quickly.
A little further south from Playa Colomitos, following the rural coastal path you’ll get to Playa Caballo, a large, palm-fringed, golden-sand beach. It’s a fantastic, little-developed beach that’s perfect for spending the day on.
There’s little infrastructure here apart from Casitas Maraika, one of the best hotels/rustic resorts in the area, on one end of the beach. This means you’ll need to bring in your own water, and snacks or walk a little further on to Playa Las Animas.
There’s plenty of space to throw down a towel, relax in the shade of some palm trees and swim in the clear blue waters of the Pacific. This is easily one of my favorite beaches in Puerto Vallarta.
Playa Las Animas
Playa Las Animas is a beautiful beach located about halfway between Puerto Vallarta and Yelapa, just south of Boca de Tomatlan. It’s a stunning crescent-shaped beach with a pier in the center. It’s easily one of my favorite Puerto Vallarta beaches.
Playa Las Animas offers clear blue water, powdery, yellow sand, and a beautiful backdrop of wild jungle. There are no resorts or hotels here but you will find a few palapa-roofed restaurants and bars which are perfect for lunch or refreshments.
From the pier, you can relax and watch all the different species of fish below. If you have your own snorkeling gear it’s a great place for a snorkel- just be very careful of the boats that use the pier a lot. For extra peace and quiet, head out to the southern end of the beach.
Playa Las Animas has a really relaxing and easygoing vibe and it’s one of the best spots to have a beach day. Given it’s just a short boat ride from Puerto Vallarta or Boca de Tomatlan, you can easily head out here for the day.
No need to bring food or refreshments- it’s all here to buy.
Boca de Tomatlan to Playa Las Animas Secret Beach Hike
For those that want to get the best of Puerto Vallarta’s beaches and discover some hidden and isolated coves, this secret beach hike is one of the best ways you can spend the day.
Start your day early and take the bus from here in Puerto Vallarta to Boca de Tomatlan. You can also take an Uber. When you arrive in Boca de Tomatlan make your way around the bay and take this trail moving southwards. The trail will follow the coastline from one beach to another until you reach Playa las Animas.
The first beach you’ll come to is the stunning Playa Colomitos- the smallest beach in Mexico. It’s just magical. Then keep following the coastal path and you’ll pass many other under-rated secret beaches like Playa Escondida, and Playa Caballo until you get to Playa las Animas.
From here you can relax and then take a water taxi from the pier back to Puerto Vallarta or Boca de Tomatlan or continue south to discover more beaches. It’s one of the best days out from Puerto Vallarta to discover new pockets of paradise, a world away from the bustle of Puerto Vallarta.
Another stunning, secluded beach near Puerto Vallarta is Playa Quimixto. This paradisical beach is the perfect escape for those looking for a few days of rest and relaxation or just a day trip on an isolated slice of heaven. With just a few palapa-roofed buildings, and quite a bit of jungle, this palm-backed beach offers golden sand and crystal clear, blue waters to take a dip in.
There are also a couple of local restaurants and snack kiosks to dine at so you won’t need to bring much with you. Just next to Playa Quimixto, you’ll find Xinalani Boutique Hotel, one of the best boutique hotels and yoga retreat spaces outside Puerto Vallarta. If you’re looking for pure relaxation in paradise, staying here for a few nights and making the most of Playa Quimixto isn’t a bad idea.
One of my personal favorite places in the Puerto Vallarta area, Yelapa is located south of Puerto Vallarta along the coast. It’s an isolated little town that clings to the bay and is only reachable by boat.
Yelapa will reward those who take the time to come and explore its stunning beaches and town. Yelapa has quite a history which you can learn about at the town’s fascinating museum before going for a walk through its winding maze of streets. Make sure to connect with the locals who are super welcoming and friendly before heading down to the beach.
Yelapa’s beach is a beautiful, powdery, yellow-sanded bay with clear blue water and lush palms just about everywhere. Fisherman’s boats bob up and down in the gentle waves. Palm leaves sway in the refreshing breeze. There’s nothing left to do but put down a towel, grab a cold beer in one of the chilled beachside restaurants/bars, and take it easy for the day.
A day trip to Yelapa is pure paradise and I highly recommend coming here. To get to Yelapa you can take a direct taxi boat from Los Muertos Pier in Puerto Vallarta or take a local bus or Uber to Boca de Tomatlán and from the pier there, take a boat to Yelapa.
For our full guide read: Best Things to Do in Yelapa Mexico
For those more interested in heading north rather than south, Punta Mita and Sayulita also have some really gorgeous beaches that are also near Puerto Vallarta and easily reachable from town.
So which Puerto Vallarta beaches do you plan on visiting? Let me know all your questions and comments below.
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