A top 10 selection of the best beaches is a bit more plausible than the Top 5 Beaches article, there's a bit more flexibility to include a wider variety of options from the many beaches the Bay area offers.
Still, as with the top 5 beaches version, people search for many different things in a beach, depending on your interests, if you're alone, as a couple or a family, if you are looking for a specific activity and so on. We're also including the "best beach for" list.
Colomitos is small hidden beach south of Puerto Vallarta, located on the next little bay to the west of Boca de Tomatlán, a must stop for all those looking for a place to relax. Don't miss one of the most beautiful places in Mexico.
Colomitos beach is just 100 feet long, it offers crystal clear waters and soft sand and a combination of beach and jungle.
To get to Playa Colomitos you can hike there by land from Boca through the jungle and along the edge of the sea, it'll take you about 40 minutes and is mostly recommended for people that enjoy hiking and want a challenge. The path there is well marked out with signs and even rest spots along the way. The other option, both fast and inexpensive is to take a water taxi (panga) from Boca and back for a few dollars each way.
You'll have to get to Boca de Tomatlan first, but that's easy, the cheapest way is on a public bus (orange and white) that starts off from the corner Basilio Badillo and Constitución in Old Vallarta, they have a sign that says Mismaloya / Boca, so there is no way to miss them. You can also get to Boca by taxi and Uber.
Another south zone beach, Mismaloya is located between Los Arcos (The Arches) and Boca de Tomatlan on the Federal Highway 200 that starts off in Old Vallarta and goes to Barra de Navidad.
Mismaloya is a small town that is 8 miles and 25 minutes from Puerto Vallarta's main square, it's found in a small curvy bay and has a beach that's 300 meters long (1000 ft), located at the mouth of the Mismaloya River. The beach offers golden sand, crystal clear emerald-blue waters and a backdrop of lush, green tropical vegetation.
The beach is great for a variety of watersports and activities, including scuba, snorkeling, sailing, water skiing, fishing and small outings like visiting Los Arcos (The Arches) Marine Park. Mismaloya is also known as the set of The Night of the Iguana directed by John Huston, starring Richard Burton and Ava Gardner in the golden years of Hollywood.
The beach at Las Animas is the first standard stop made by water taxis on their route to the southern part of Bay of Banderas. Playa las Ánimas is one of the three beaches south of Boca de Tomatlan (together with Quimixto and Yelapa) that are known as "Las Tres Perlas", the Three Pearls.
It's a great beach for sun-lovers and those that like to lie on the beach and just relax in the warmth. The beach also is an excellent location for snorkeling and scuba diving, the beach has clear soft sands, clean waters, gentle waves and amazing surrounding nature that serves as a spectacular backdrop.
Las Ánimas beach is a great place to get away from the bustle of the city and just chill out, but civilized enough so you don't have to think it all out before getting there. If you are hungry or thirsty, there are restaurants with fresh seafood and your favorite cocktail, you can get fresh oysters, a juicy mango or a fresh coconut. If you feel like some action there's parasailing, a banana boat ride, water skiing, horseback riding and more.
Las Animas beach is found south of Puerto Vallarta, in the Cabo Corrientes Municipality, it's the first big beach 2 miles to the west of Boca.
Las Animas Beach Map
Destiladeras Beach offers great swimming, boogie boarding and professional sailing and kayaking. Its waves can reach up to 7 feet and are loved by surfers, normally waves are smaller and the beach has very little slope, so you can walk a long way into the sea and still have your feet on the sand.
I'd say it's one of the best beaches for families with kids, the sands are sparkeling silver white and soft, the beach is wide and offers a unique opportunity to enjoy sand-castle building, making pools, and so on, with your kids.
Another plus is the easy access, great parking space and the amenities on the beach itself, which include a bar, a restaurant, showers, toilets and other options that make a trip to this beach easy and stress-free.
Destiladeras Beach Map
Los Muertos Beach (Playa de Los Muertos) is undoubtedly the flagship of Puerto Vallarta's beaches in the eyes of the world, centerpiece of the local tourist activity that has concentrated much of the town's history.
This important status has been recently bolstered by improvements in Old Town (Old Vallarta or Romantic Zone), the access roads and sidewalks and the Los Muertos Pier, a monumental architectural reference point that took the place of the previous rusty but functional pier.
There's lots to do and enjoy on this beach (calm and relaxation are not among them :-)), swimming, walking along the beach, visiting Las Pilitas and the original Seahorse statue there, banana boat rides, parasailing, water skiing, lots of bars and restaurants (La Palapa, El Arrayán, El Dorado, The Blue Shrimp), grilled shrimp, mangos, vendors, the list goes on.
Getting to Los Muertos is really easy, you will find it south of the Malecon and the Cuale River Island, you can follow the edge of the sea from the main square and you'll get there walking. Venustiano Carranza street to the south is where Los Muertos beach starts, all streets off of Olas Altas street end on the beach.
Los Muertos Beach Map
Yelapa is your right choice if what you want is to rest in a tropical Mexican paradise.
The magic and bohemian spirit are part of this town, it makes those that visit the town and beach want to come back and maybe even stay for some years.
Yelapa is a refuge chosen by artists, painters, sculptors, writers and filmmakers who have found in it a simple, quiet life, far from the vicissitudes of big cities and that allows them to enjoy starry nights and direct contact with nature.
About 30 minutes from Boca de Tomatlan in water taxi, it's only accessible by sea, there is a road, but it stops some miles away from the cove and is not a viable access route (yet).
Yelapa Beach is a must for those who seek to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the city, disconnect and enjoy the beach in harmony with nature that includes land crabs, a large variety of birds and seabirds, colorful insects, bats and more.
Bucerías, which some say means "Land of Divers", is a small town north of Puerto Vallarta, it offers 5 miles of calm wave and fine sand beaches, the beach and bay area is very famous for the beautiful sunsets.
Bucerias beach is a favorite for all those that love the wind. Popular sports here include kitesurfing, windsurfing, and sailboats. There are sand sculpture competitions and the town itself offers lots to do and enjoy.
In January the patron saint festivities of the "Virgen de la Paz" are celebrated with seafaring pilgrimages and a very healthy Mexican party atmosphere.
Playa de Oro (Gold Beach) in Puerto Vallarta's northern hotel zone is a beach where water sports and healthy environment coexist. This is the reason it has obtained a Blue Flag certification, awarded to this beach in 2016.
It is mostly a beach resort located north of downtown Puerto Vallarta in the so-called Hotel Zone, several hotels and resorts have direct access to this beach, but it's not locked out and free public access to it exists either through the harbor area or side streets.
It is a beach has soft yellow-beige sand, making it an excellent option for those who enjoy a walk along the shore, followed by a dip in the crystal clear waters.
Various activities are available at Playa de Oro beach, thanks to its great location, surrounded by hotels, clubs and resorts. Swimming, kayaking, windsurfing, water skiing, jet skiing, fishing, whale watching and parasailing, are just some of the many activities that are offered on Playa de Oro, besides being an ideal spot for sand sports.
An ideal place to spend a day with family or friends, although the beach during the weekends can be quite busy, so if you are looking for a quiet and relaxing spot, you might have to consider other options.
Playa de Oro Map
A cute and traditional little fisherman town south of Puerto Vallarta, is one of the standard stops for visitors going south.
Boca de Tomatlan, or as locals know it, Boca, is 10 or 11 miles south of Puerto Vallarta, on the road to the Botanical Gardens, a few miles past Mismaloya. Its calm waters offer an ideal harbor for water taxis that take you to the isolated and remote beaches in the south part of the Banderas Bay, that's why thousands of visitors go through this town every year.
These calm waters, make Boca de Tomatlán an ideal place for swimming, snorkeling, and skin diving, fishing and kayaking.
Getting to this bay is very simple and there are several options, the first is a water taxi you can take from Marina Vallarta or from the pier at Playa Los Muertos. Another option is the local public transport that goes to Boca from Puerto Vallarta, on the corner of Basilio Badillo and Constitución in Old Vallarta, the same place and the same buses that go to Mismaloya.
One of the most popular trips from Boca de Tomatlan is a visit to Colomitos Beach and a dinner or lunch at Ocean Grill Restaurant.
Boca Location Map
Las Gemelas Beach (Twin Beach / Playa Las Gemelas), as the name implies, are a pair of small beaches (one is 140 yards and the other 200 yards long) located 6 miles (about 20-25 minutes) south of downtown Puerto Vallarta's main square and half a mile south of Garza Blanca.
Its blue-green waves and clear, soft sand create a pleasant location for you day trip to get away from it all.
The northern beach is easily accessible to the public, there is a gate and stairs down from the highway, the southern beach requires walking and climbing over a complicated stretch on the rocks or swimming around it, which complicates things, but it is not impossible.
To avoid the crowds, you can visit during the week during high season and get there in the morning to grab a good spot in the sand with some shade. You also need to pack your supplies: drinks, snacks, sunblock and towels, as there are no vendors or shops on or near the beach itself.
The published access time at the gate is from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM and there is no fee.
Las Gemelas Beach Map
I hope you liked our list of the Top 10 / Best Beaches of Puerto Vallarta and surroundings, if you have comments and improvements, send them to our email or send them through our social media profiles.