Marieta Islands | El Morro | La Corbeteña | Sayulita | Punta de Mita | Punta de Burros | Destiladeras Beach | La Cruz de Huanacaxtle | Bucerías

A collection of small towns surround Banderas Bay, each with its own unique way of transporting you to another place and time and another way of life.

To the North of Banderas Bay, you will find the Marieta Islands, diver’s paradise and Punta de Mita for the surfers and golfers, there are typical fishing villages of San Francisco, Sayulita, and La Cruz de Huanacaxtle – for a look at what P. Vallarta was like years ago – as well as charming Bucerías, with its wide soft-sand beaches, and locally famous fresh oysters.

Marieta Islands

The Marieta Islands, a place you must include on your to-do list while in Vallarta. A small group of uninhabited islands a few miles off the North Coast of the Bay, with two main volcanic islets dating from 60,000 years ago.

Home to several endangered bird species such as the Blue- Footed Boobie which can only be found on the Islands of the Sea of Cortez and the Galapagos Islands.

The Marieta Islands are important nesting, refuge, reproduction and migration area for at least 92 species of aquatic and sub-aquatic birds, native and migratory.

More photos and videos on the Marieta Islands.

Coral reef fish, Marietas and Los Arcos

La Corbeteña

Surrounded by the blue waters of the Pacific this barnacle-covered rock attracts all manner of sea life. A profusion of manta rays, turtles, sharks, and dolphins are native to these waters, and huge schools of Jack tuna circle this tiny island in search of food. This is a great dive site with caves, arches and steep walls to explore.

La Corbeteña Island, Nayarit, Mexico

La Corbeteña Island, Nayarit, Mexico

A very popular and famous scuba diving site, La Corbeteña Island is located about 40 miles from the mainland, in the Pacific Ocean. Only recommended for divers with more than 200 logged dives. The locals call it La Piedra (The Rock).

Best to dive there during the summer months (June-August) and visibility is up to 120 feet. During the summer and autumn, you’ll find many mantas in the area. Common sea life in the area: sea turtles, jack tuna, bath rays, reef sharks, whale sharks, mantas, dolphins, wahoo, marlin, and sailfish.

More on Vallarta scuba diving sites.

El Morro

El Morro is on the way to La Corbeteña, six miles west of the Marietas Islands, on the very edge of the Banderas Bay. It’s a great place for both fishing and diving. Over the water it’s a series of rock pinnacles, underwater you’ll find incredible rock formations, caverns, and swim-throughs.

Scuba diving at El Morro Nayarit

Scuba diving at El Morro Nayarit

A world-class dive site that combines drop-offs, caves and arches, a great place for advanced divers.

Scuba at El Morro Nayarit

Scuba at El Morro Nayarit

The clear waters offer an impressive variety of sea life, including reef sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, octopus, and even sea horses. In the reefs themselves, you’ll find morays, giant mantas, yellowtails, Moorish idols, goldeneye grunts and much more.

More on Vallarta scuba diving sites.


This rustic palm-shaded fishing village about 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta offers secluded beaches, it’s just around the bend from Punta de Mita.

Sayulita is a popular town and beach for surfers

It’s off the beaten path, offers cobblestone streets and a real Mexican rural ambiance, sort of what you imagine Vallarta was like 40 or 50 years ago.

Sayulita Beach Panorama, Nayarit, Mexico

Sayulita Beach Panorama, Nayarit, Mexico

Surfing is good here, the surfers love Sayulita for the high-quality point surf and reef breakers, plus the very affordable accommodations.

Read an article on Sayulita

Punta de Mita

An impressive and beautiful peninsula, 25 miles north of Vallarta’s International Airport, offers fabulous beaches and an impressive view of the Banderas Bay.

El Anclote Beach, Punta de Mita, Nayarit

El Anclote Beach, Punta de Mita, Nayarit

Many locals from Vallarta come here on the weekends. There is a Jack Nicklaus designed golf course at the Four Seasons Resort.

Punta de Mita, Riviera Nayarit

Punta de Mita, Riviera Nayarit

For a day off, visit El Anclote Beach and eat at some of the great little restaurants that have appeared since Punta de Mita started to attract jet setters and golfers from around the world.

El Anclote Beach Punta de Mita, Nayarit

El Anclote Beach Punta de Mita, Nayarit

Even though El Anclote has always been a fisherman town, now it’s a little more “sophisticated”. You can also enjoy the beach, surf and the view of the Marieta Islands, just off the coast.

El Anclote Street side Panorama

Take a sightseeing trip on the local boats, you can also rent a kayak or hire a local guide for a whale watching trip in a panga, during the season that goes from December to March.

More on Punta de Mita, Nayarit

Punta de Burros

It’s a long beach framed by rock outcroppings 30 minutes NW of Puerto Vallarta. It offers huge and thunderous waves that allow the practicing of surfing all year-round.

Punta de Burros surf

The strong waves make it a popular surfer beach at any time of the year and the beach itself is a small gold sand beach between the rocks.

Punta Burros beach

Punta de Burro and its beach are a quiet location, with a great view of the bay and the surrounding nature.

Punta de Burros Sea

The delightful Marietas Islands can clearly be seen from this location. Found between Cruz de Huanacaxtle and Punta Mita and you’ll access this beach by following Roadway 200 going in towards Grand Palladium and turning off on the dirt street that leads to the jungle path, you can only get to the beach hiking through the jungle.

Punta de Burros Beach

A video from Punta de Burros

More on Puerto Vallarta Beaches.

Destiladeras Beach

Heading west on the road to Punta de Mita is the Destiladeras Beach, look for the signs sending you to Destiladeras Beach, it is now easier and faster to take the new highway to Punta Mita, there’s a closed parking lot, they do not charge for parking, you just pay a tip, you now just walk down a few steps and you are on the beach, much easier than when it was close to the Nahui development.

Playa Destiladeras, Nayarit, Mexico

Playa Destiladeras, Nayarit, México

The sand is white, soft, the waves break at a good distance, the beach’s slope is soft and you can walk into the sea for quite a distance before the water gets over your hip. It’s a perfect place to spend a day of relaxation and sunbathing.

Panorama Destiladeras Beach

It’s a good place for boogie boards and such. Destiladeras is great for families and the waves are mostly small. A very popular beach for a good reason.

Read more the full Destiladeras Beach article.

More on Puerto Vallarta Beaches.

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, a quaint fishing village, has a cooler beach climate all year round. A great place to relax, and a popular destination for boaters from around the world thanks to the top-notch Marina Riviera Nayarit that’s been installed there.

The many US and Canadian citizens have made La Cruz their home too. You can find a Huichol Indian Art Gallery, cafés, a gourmet German restaurant, bars and other smaller local restaurants.

Panorama La Cruz Marina

The beach, which is called “La Manzanilla” is beautiful with calm waters and great food offered at the beach palapa restaurants and you are very close to other nice beaches such as Destiladeras and Punta de Mita.

More on Puerto Vallarta Beaches.

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

Read more on La Cruz de Huanacaxtle


Bucerias is a quiet, coastal town located on the edge of Banderas Bay. This quaint town runs parallel along the beachfront for some miles north and south of the town’s center spot.

The ocean’s warm waters and lapping surf are only a few blocks away at any point within this small town.


Bucerias has one of the most private, prettiest, soft sand beaches in the area. The beach runs along the cobblestone and bougainvillea-lined streets and is perfect for a day of relaxing or napping in the sun.

The town features several fine restaurants that offer a wide array of excellent menus. Bucerias is a ten-minute drive from Puerto Vallarta’s airport, and twenty minutes from downtown Vallarta. However, you may never want to leave this charming town with its warm hospitality and soothing, beachside atmosphere.

Some people mention that it’s like Puerto Vallarta was before it became a tourist attraction. So visiting it may be like a trip back in time.

Full article on Bucerías, Nayarit