Aerial view of Boca de Tomates Beach, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
Boca de Tomates Beach from the Turtle Release camp, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
An important explanation: Do not confuse Boca de Tomatlán with Boca de Tomates. Boca de Tomatlán is the Puerto Vallarta beach farthest south accessible by land and Boca de Tomates is the northernmost beach in Puerto Vallarta and Jalisco, which you can get to in a car.
Just south of the mouth of the Ameca River is the political division of the State of Nayarit to the north and the State of Jalisco, to the south. In this area, you can find the northernmost beach of Jalisco, Boca de Tomates. It is a beige sand beach about 3100 ft (950 m) long.
It is an area known for its ramadas (palapa-like eateries) that offer fresh food from the sea. The place is also known as a crocodile habitat and is also a popular bird-watching location. The beach is nice, but it is not known for being very attractive, furthermore, due to the crocodiles, I would not recommend swimming in the sea, much less in the river. On the far southern end of the beach, you can find the Campamento Tortuguero de Boca de Tomates (Saving Sea Turtles in Puerto Vallarta).
What to do in Boca de Tomates
Boca de Tomates Beach looking west, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
This beach is certainly popular with local families, they’ll gather here and get fresh seafood and celebrate festivities on the weekends, often in large groups of family and friends. This is not your usual tourist trap, so it’s a great way to experience the authentic local spirit and what Mexico is really about.
If the tide is low, you can walk all the way from the Marina Vallarta hotels, but you can just take a taxi or rideshare and get there more easily. You can agree with your driver on a pickup time, maybe two or three hours later (it’ll be around $20-30 US dollars there and back to the Marina Vallarta area).
There is some construction along the way as this area will in the near future have a Vidanta resort and even a Cirque du Soleil theme park called VidantaWorld if plans are not changed along the way.
Once you get to the end of the road, there is a mangrove area and river, here you’ll find crocodiles roaming freely in their natural habitat. Lining the parking area by the beach are a number of ramadas (wooden restaurants, some have been there for 70 years!), they are makeshift restaurants that offer fresh traditional seafood with fish grilled on an open wood fire (sarandeado), fried fish, crabs, lobster, octopus, ceviches, and other delicacies extracted from the bountiful Banderas Bay.
Ramadas Boca de Tomates Beach
If you want to be among the crowd, go after 3 PM on Saturday afternoon and in the afternoon on Sundays. There is no electricity and no running water. The fish is grilled on old wood-burning fire grills. They offer deep-fried foods, and good french fries (papas).
The facilities are rustic, laid-back, and friendly, and the food is great. There’ll be a local banda, Mariachis, or similar live music playing from ramada to ramada for a tip. Some dishes are grilled whole red snapper platter, shrimp or tacos, and shrimp a la diabla, breaded, al coco. All will offer great dishes at very reasonable prices, the service will be friendly and like if you were family.
- Ramada El Chavo
- Ramada Pachuco
- Ramada Tomás
- Ramada Leo
- Ramada Chabela
- Ramada Jorge’s
- Ramada de Sabino Ron
- Ramada Pirrus
Ramadas Boca de Tomates Beach
If you are thinking of getting in touch with locals Boca de Tomates is a good place to visit. If you are concerned about hygiene it might not be a place for you. All restaurants in Vallarta must hold up to hygiene standards, and these ones do too, but for stomachs not use to this type of cooking eating here may come at a price. If you would like to see how the locals have fun and what Puerto Vallarta restaurants looked like 60 or 70 years ago, Boca de Tomates is your place.
There are crocodiles behind a fence for you to watch at a safe distance. Do not jump into the river or the ocean while you are here, this is a crocodile habitat and though it’s not normal, you may have problems, so take that into account.
If you are lucky and go at the right time of the year you’ll be able to see baby turtles being released (June through October) and humpback whales (December to March) playing in the waters of the bay.
The beach cannot be used for bathing or having activities on it, because due to its proximity to the Ameca River and the Boca Negra Estuary, the presence of crocodiles is a constant. There’s a steady ocean breeze that is great for windsurfers and kitesurfers too, maybe they can escape the crocs, but, once again, it’s up to you.
The waves are intense and constantly bring trees and waste from nature itself because the Ameca River empties here.
How to get to Boca de Tomates
Boca de Tomates Beach looking west toward the Ameca River
There is no direct local bus going to Boca de Tomates, the access road is rough and we do not recommend walking there from the highway.
If you are staying in the Marina Vallarta area, you can walk from the access point in Paseo Boca Negra along the beach to the west (when the tide is low).
The easiest and most reliable way to get there is to take a taxi or an Uber (rideshare). Do agree upon a pick-up time with your driver, just in case it’s hard to request a cab/uber when you are there.
Where is Boca de Tomates
Between the Ameca River to the west and the land that extends from the area and runways of the Puerto Vallarta Airport to the east. From the beach, you can see the entire Puerto Vallarta Hotel Zone.
Boca de Tomates Beach location map