Puerto Vallarta Beaches (sand)
Last year (2012) I visited Puerto Vallarta for what I call a photo tour, visiting different parts of the Bay, the beaches, the attractions and sightseeing at the same time. It was a hectic four days, but it worked out quite well, despite the sore feet, blisters and hot weather.
Las Ánimas Beach, south of Puerto Vallarta
I decided to visit as many of the beaches in and around the Bay as possible, so I started off very early, prepared with sunblock lotion, the camera batteries well loaded and the SD memories empty.
In Mexico, all beaches are Federal Property, so supposedly all people are able to visit them and enjoy them. Hotels and other businesses sometimes try to make it hard to access them and this trip showed me in some cases just how far they go to make them their own “private” property.
La Manzanilla Beach at La Cruz de Huanacaxtle
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle and La Manzanilla Beach
The adventure started off early in the morning before dawn, I drove north until I started to see the sunrise, this was close to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, so I turned off the road, took some sunrise photos and turned in to La Cruz, the town is nice, they were renovating parts of the town, so it looked a bit messy.
Went to the Plaza, took some photos and went into the Marina, I found they were holding an open sea swimming event, so the place was quite active.
The Marina is nice and the beach, La Manzanilla, though relatively small is a nice quiet beach which obviously is great for families. Access is easy either via the Marina or a side street of the plaza that follows the edges of the local church and takes you to the beach
See on the map.
Punta de Mita and El Anclote Beach
El Anclote Beach, Punta de Mita, Nayarit, Mexico
I then continued along the edge of the Banderas Bay, trying to figure out where Punta Burro (Burros Beach) and Destiladeras Beach were, didn’t see them or any sign informing of their presence, so I ended up in Punta de Mita (or Punta Mita – used indistinctly) on Playa El Anclote in the north zone. This is Punta Mita’s best and most popular beach, the locals told me that going east you’d arrive at the beach called Los Ranchos, and that was where the jet-set enjoys their condos, beach, and surf (including Lady Caca). Obviously, I didn’t go there (who cares!).
El Anclote beach is a short stretch flanked by a lot of hotels, palapas and restaurants and two stone piers, though I understood the beach continued westward all the way until the golf club starts and from there on the beach, there has another name, the beach west of the pier is alright for some 50 meters, but becomes quite rocky and is more a beach you’d stroll along looking for treasures the sea washed up. I found a stretch of the beach filled with broken white coral that was quite interesting… where are they coming from?… [I know now, the Marietas have coral reefs and there are places around the bay that have reefs too].
So access to the beach in Punta Mita is easy and there is quite a bit of parking space along the street behind the stores, restaurants, and hotels. I said to myself, this trip to the beaches is going to be a breeze.
Sayulita (and Litibú)
Sayulita Beach Panorama, Nayarit, Mexico
I then decided to go northwards, just outside Punta de Mita going towards Bucerías, there is a crossroad where you can start driving north towards Litubu, Sayulita and further north to other beaches like San Pancho (San Francisco), Lo De Marcos, Rincon de Guayabitos and the rest of the Riviera Nayarit (was just about to write Maya…), so I decided to go to Sayulita and Lo De Marcos, which seemed to be quite nice and interesting (left San Pancho for another trip).
The drive takes you by Litibú that looks more like a private condo-timeshare development, with controlled access, took a photo and moved on, the drive to Sayulita is quite nice, even in the dry season, jungles cover both sides to the two-lane road which is in quite a good shape too. It took me 20 minutes to get there. There are a few false “entries” to Sayulita, but the real one is quite obvious, so don’t get distracted along the way.
Litibú, the entrance at least…
You drive into town and it looks quite nice, I parked before the bridge that takes you into “downtown” Sayulita and walked the rest of the way, was a good idea as the town is small and picturesque, better to see it on foot. Sayulita is strange in a good way, it breathes an air of 70’s hippy mixed in happy communion with traditional Mexico, half the people on the street look like gringos, with the typical flip-flops /sneakers, the knee-length khaki shorts, and t-shirts, the other half look very small town Mexican. So it’s quite a contrast, but people seem very relaxed and don’t seem surprised to find a California-style arts and crafts store beside a small old fashion “abarrote” store. I found it quite indicative when I actually went into a small store and found Tillamook Cheddar cheese alongside panela cheese packages… a brand you only find in COSTCO in Guadalajara.
A local artist works by the bridge in Sayulita
Anyway, I visited the small plaza, took some photos and went to the beach. You immediately notice that the town mostly revolves around the beach, surfers, bars, palapas, sunbathers, artisans selling their crafts on the access streets, lots of people, much more than I found on any of the other beaches in the bay. Sayulita is a beach town, that’s for sure and there are lots to enjoy here. I’d call it the “in” beach of the area, especially if you are between 20 and 40. The beach itself is nice, wide, long, with good waves that roll along for the surfers and arrive gently on the edge for kids and swimmers. Nice place to visit, very recommendable, but plan to overnight, though I didn’t stay the night, you can see it’s a fun place to stay.
Lo De Marcos
Lo De Marcos Beach
Lo De Marcos is a great beach, the town is cute, there’s a small plaza on the way to the beach, stores, bars and small restaurants, a more traditional Mexican small town. The beach is wide, clean, clean and has nice beige small grain sand. The slope is a bit steeper than most beaches I visited and the waves are stronger, so swimming and kids alone by the edge could be an issue. There are some small bars/restaurants by the edge and there is a small lagoon going north by the beach, which could be fun to visit and enjoy (I didn’t have the time to visit it).
In 1975 Man Friday, starring Peter O’Toole was filmed here, you can see the north area in this video on Youtube.
Burros Beach and Punta de Burros
Surf Beach (Burros Beach), Punta de Burros, Nayarit
I returned the same way I took to Sayulita and searched for Playa Burros between Punta de Mita and Destiladeras in the north zone, now with the indications I got from the guys at El Anclote Beach. I was to look for a resort called Grand Palladium and take the road to the resort, and just before arriving at the gates, take a dirt road on the left. So I did, and parked at a prudent distance from the resort (you don’t need to, there are parking spaces along the dirt road) and walked most of the way.