Obviously it's a complicated undertaking to create a small list of the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta and even more to decide which one is better than another. I want to make it clear from the beginning that this list is subjective, they are beaches that I personally like and are based on what I consider the best, but this will vary a lot depending on your own taste. For example, a windsurfer or kitesurfing fan would say that the #1 beach is Bucerias, due to the strong constant winds and easy access. Someone who enjoys diving will say that the best is Pizota, someone who enjoys beach sports will say it's a different one and so on.
I realize that I have completely undermined the value of this article and, therefore, there will be a significant group of you that'll stop reading immediately and go to another part of the site or leave this site forever in protest ... I get it ;-) but I prefer the truth.
For those who have not left, I have visited all the beaches from Sayulita in the north to Yelapa in the south, there is a small group of difficult or restricted access beaches, which for obvious reasons I have not been able to visit and I can't comment on them, but I am concentrating on those you'll be able to visit easily. If you have suggestions for me, please, do not hesitate to let me know, I will be very grateful.
Let's go to the list of the Top 5 Beaches in Puerto Vallarta and its surroundings.
There are two main beaches in the downtown Puerto Vallarta, Playa Camarones (Camarones Beach) and Los Muertos Beach (or Playa de Los Muertos), the first edges along the northern part of the downtown area and the second one is in the so-called Romantic Zone or Old Vallarta, the downtown area south of the Cuale River.
Of the two, Los Muertos Beach wins the competition mainly because it offers a perfect mix of bars and restaurants, has a colorful and interesting pier (starting point for water taxis going north and south of the bay), a lot of activity, beach vendors with local delicacies such as shrimp and fish grilled on stick, mangoes and more, nice clean water to go swimming in, a wide and long beach to sunbathe on or go for a walk and also has a much more active and colorful area of the city a few steps away from the shoreline.
Walking along the beach to the south you arrive at Las Pilitas, where the original sculpture of The Boy on a Seahorse is, there is a larger replica on the Malecón, another city icon.
How do you get to Los Muertos Beach?
There really isn't much to explain, it is super easy because there is no way to get lost. Any of the streets south of the Cuale river to the west lead to the beach and, although there are those who distinguish a part called Playa Olas Altas, in essence, Los Muertos is the beach of this entire area. You can also walk from the historic center following the extension of the Puerto Vallarta Malecon, next to the Naval Museum, crossing the pedestrian bridge over the river Cuale and following the shore from there to the pier that can be seen in the distance.
This beach is in the northern part of the bay, in the neighboring state of Nayarit, but it is less than an hour from the Puerto Vallarta's main square and it is so beautiful that it had to be included in the list. Since the Nahui development opened its doors, access to the beach moved a little further west. Now there is a very good parking lot and is now much more comfortable and less rustic for the visitors. There are bathrooms, showers, food and beverage services, palapas and beach chairs, things that used to exist in one form or another but were very rustic. I consider these changes a significant improvement. The beach is still amazing, with clear sands, you can walk in quite a distance into the sea before it gets deep, the beach is very wide, the waves are normally calm, something that makes it an ideal family beach.
Where is Destiladeras Beach?
As already mentioned, it is located on the north shore of Banderas Bay, between La Cruz de Huanacaxtle and Punta Mita. Take the road to the north, you'll pass by Nuevo Vallarta and Bucerias and take the fork to Punta de Mita, you'll follow along the sea shore, the old road to Punta Mita and inevitably you will reach the parking lot. If you take the new road, you will be going inland a bit, but there are signs that tell you when to take the exit to the beach, 2.4 miles from the fork at the exit of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, there is an exit to the right that is the road that takes you to the beach.
Las Animas has always been a very popular beach and small town, initially home to several foreigners who built their idyllic houses in this beautiful spot with clear sand and transparent emerald blue waters. It now offers good basic restaurants known for the grilled fish, very tasty oysters, various options for drinks and beverages.
The waves there are usually gentle, the sands invite you to spend an relaxing and fun time with your kids building sand castles or pools along the edge. We recommend to see the colorful fish that live under the dock, but take care and don't scrape yourself on the barnacles. A very popular activity while on the beach is parasailing and there other water options, SUP, jet skis and a bananaboat in high season.
How to get to Las Animas Beach?
Las Ánimas is to the south of Puerto Vallarta, in the Cabo Corrientes municipality, but it is easily accessible by sea and is a popular destination among cruise ships that entertain tourists in the bay.
Although there are two ways to get to the beach, by land and by sea, almost all arrive in a panga (water taxi) from Boca de Tomatlan or from Puerto Vallarta's Los Muertos pier. A little known option and only for the brave is to go by land. There are no roads for vehicles, only a path that goes along the sea edge and sometimes passes through the jungle between Boca de Tomatlan and Las Animas. You first goes by Colomitos Beach and then by several mini-beaches, Caballo Beach and finally, you arrive at Las Ánimas. Although it'll be very entertaining for those that are in shape and carry enough water, it can be unpleasant and even dangerous to go if you are not prepared. It also makes the trip much longer, therefore, I can only recommended it for the fit and brave among you :-).
Mismaloya is a town south of Puerto Vallarta, there you'll find the Vallarta Zoo, El Eden, Edenva and the set of the famous movie "The Night of the Iguana", although the latter is no longer open to the public. Its beach is medium in size and has clear sands, but a little thick, at times it feels like gravel. Mismaloya's water are beautiful and transparent, usually with very gentle waves due to the shape of the small bay that protects it. The place offers many amenities, restaurants, stalls selling drinks and beverages, massage service, SUP rentals (stand-up paddle), jet skis, tours to Los Arcos, snorkeling equipment and more. A very nice beach, well located, with many nearby options to enjoy a family day without any possibility of getting bored.
Where is Mismaloya beach and how to get there?
There is public transport, taxis, Uber and you can get there in your own car too. The road is the Federal Highway 200 in direction of Barra de Navidad, 8 miles from the Puerto Vallarta's Main Square, that is, about 20 minutes by car. Take advantage of the trip and stop by the Los Arcos lookout, where you can watch and admire what was previously known as "Las Peñas", some small islands that gave the original name to Puerto Vallarta. Arriving at the Barceló hotel (formerly known as La Jolla de Mismaloya) you will take a right between the Mismaloya river and the south wall of the resort, where there is a cobblestone road that takes you directly to the beach.
Until a few years ago, it was one of the best kept secrets, but as the people of the area are not petty, they have shared it with the visitors and its reputation has grown. Another reason for its considerable increase in visitors was the Ocean Grill Vallarta restaurant, known as one of the best in the whole bay. It closed for a while and now it has reopened under a new name and administration. This helps a little to increase the services available on the beach, because it may be possible to use their toilet, something that is not available on the beach itself. Also, food and drink will be available at the same place. I do not have the name yet for the new restaurant, but I will add it to this article as soon as I have it.
Colomitos Beach (Playa Colomitos) is tiny, but what it does not have in size it has in beauty. Its clear and soft sands, the crystal clear water with its bright color, is, to say the least, impressive. When it is not the dry season, there is a small stream that emerges from the jungle and creates small waterfalls and a flow of fresh water that reaches the beach or the sea itself.
Swimming in the water is comforting, there are gentle waves, it's very relaxing, especially after the hike through the jungle. You can also snorkel there and enjoy the sea life among on the rocks that line the bay. Apart from this and sunbathing, there is not much else to do, but it does not detract from the experience of visiting this little treasure.
Do not forget to take all your things, especially any trash. The place is so small that it takes only one inconsiderate being to spoil it for all others.
Where is Colomitos Beach and how to get there?
We already mentioned a way to get there, which is to arrive along the path that goes from Boca de Tomatlan to Las Ánimas, we have a video that shows the complete route, it's about 30 minutes at a constant pace, only recommended for those that are in shape and enjoy the hiking.
The other way, easy and simple is to take a panga (taxi boat) from Boca de Tomatlan that in about 5 minutes away, they leave you on the beach, don't forget to talk with your panga captain about him picking you up a few hours later.
I hope you liked our list of the 5 Best Beaches of Puerto Vallarta and surroundings, if you have comments, send them to our email or send them through our social media profiles.