If you are sitting in a hot stuffy
office in the middle of Manhattan or Washington, D.C.,
and someone says, "Let's go to the beach," it's
just not that easy. The Hamptons are at least two hours
away, and Rehobeth, Del. and Ocean City, Maryland, are
more like three or four from the nation's capital. Getting
back is even worse. Folks have to get back to work on
Monday morning, so if you are making a weekend excursion,
the backup of traffic can be hours of agonizing sitting
Not so in Puerto Vallarta or around
the Bay of Banderas. A short ten minute drive from almost
anywhere can land you at the beach of your choice:
Playa Los Muertos on the south end near to the pier
has been a perrenial favorite of locals and tourists.
Fisherman fashion home made "poles" made out
of an empty soda bottle, a "fishing line" with
a hook and bait attached. Locals are always proud to show
off their catch, be it Sierra, Pargo or Torito. The beach
is lined with restaurants galore, from a more fancy Daiquiri
Dick's to an inexpensive fish on a stick or 12 oysters
on a plate. The beach is never dull, as vendors weave
their way hoping for that "first sale of the day."
Whereas you may tire of their unending explanation of
"almost free", one nevertheless can find bargains
not available in retail establishments. Los Muertos extends
for a mile south of the Rio Cuale, and many expensive
condos overlook the beach. Gentle waves make this beach
safe for wading and a swim beyond the breakers.
About a mile south of Playa Los Muertos is Playa Conchas
Chinas, a great place to spend the day exploring sandy
coves that are dotted with tide pools. Multicolored tropical
fish, crabs, mollusks, and oysters abound, and the water
is sufficiently clear for snorkeling. Be sure to bring
your own gear.
Further south there are beaches named El Gato, Los Venados,
Los Carrizos, Punta Negra, Garza Blanca, and Playa Gemelas.
All can be reached from an in-town bus marked "Boca"
The beach at Mismaloya resemble Los Muertos with its continual
activity, both from the native population and from people
that own condominiums. One reaches the beach by walking
down the dirt road adjacent to the Mismaloya River. There
are quaint restaurants lining the road. Once at the ocean,
looking to your left, you can get a glimpse of Vallarta's
history , because it is there that filming of " Night
of the Iguana," took place. Climbing a few stairs
will bring you to the John Huston Restaurant "El
Set de la Noche de la Iguana".
Boca de Tomatlan is a bit farther to the south. It is
a small colorful beach, known for its pangas, and excursions
to Las Animas, Quimixto, and Yelapa.
Off shore from Mismaloya is Los Arcos, a marine national
park comprised of two large rocky outcroups about 100
yards offshore. The coral attracts parrotfish, angelfish,
and triggerfish, which makes it a preferred spot for snorkeling.
All beaches are federally owned,
or belong to the public, however you want to look at it.
Every hotel has its own beach, and most have security
to protect their pools.
Yelapa is home to 100 local families and a group of
artists that find Vallarta "too busy". Since
it is only accessible by water, folks walk or ride horses.
A hiking tour of the village and surrounding jungle and
a waterfall is a favorite passtime.
One can get a feeling of the bustle of the city by spending
some time at the beach at Bay View Grand. On any Sunday
there are at least ten LearJets that take the priviledged
back to northern reality.
A quick 10 miles up the road to Bucerias, north of the
airport, finds one of the favorite "walking beaches."
Heading north on the road to Punta de Mita is the Destiladeras
Beach. The sand is white and comfortable, making it a
perfect spot to spend a day of relaxation and sunning.
Back to the main road and heading north you come to Sayulita,
3 kms from Ruta 200. The beach at Sayulita is a mecca
for surfers. Over the hill to the graveyard is another
"Los Muertos." The sandy cove is a perfect place
to take the mate of your dreams.
Whether you are looking for a secluded
stretch of sand or a day of palapa hopping, the Bay of
Banderas offers a complete smorgasboard. The most romantic
has to be the beaches at El Camino Real, Punta Negra,
and Sayulita. The best for walking is Bucerias, the best
for action is Los Muertos or Mismaloya, the best for sightseeing
is Yelapa, or Quimixto.
Whatever the selection, one need
not suffer the commute from New York or Washington, D.C.