For those that wander south of Puerto Vallarta, you'll find small beautiful beaches and island-like locations you can only get to by boat, one of these hidden locations is beckoning you, especially those that need to get away from the city's noise, people and frenzy.
Yelapa is a quiet, beautiful place, a small cove surrounded by nature and jungle and bathed by the beautiful Mexican Pacific Ocean.
This perfect spot that we are talking about is none other than Yelapa, a small town just 40 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta (by boat), at the foot of the majestic mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental.
The word Yelapa is of Purepecha origin and means "the place where waters become a pond or come together."
Artists and writers live for places like these, the tranquility and privacy make it the perfect place for many of them from around the world.
The village is quaint, the life is simple, the surrounding beauty irresistible, many have decided to make it their permanent residence, and enjoy the daily inspiration of the sea, nature, and mountains.
If you look it up on Google Maps, you'll be shown a route by land, the only thing they don't tell you is that it's not a viable trip unless you own a Unimog...
It’s a nice trip, you skirt along the edges of the southern part of the Banderas Bay, passing and sometimes stopping at the small beaches along the way, Las Ánimas, Quimixto, Las Caletas and Majahuitas.
Some water taxis leave from Playa Los Muertos at the pier (but it's a very long trip by sea), I would recommend you take a taxi or a bus to Boca de Tomatlan, which is just south of Mismaloya. Check out the water taxi schedule.
From the Malecon to Boca de Tomatlan
The trip to beautiful Yelapa is around 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta and 30 minutes from Boca de Tomatlan.
View of Yelapa when you arrive in the water taxi
This place has so many things to enjoy that one day is not enough, especially if you want to really enjoy the beach and really relax, the thick and beautiful jungle is the home to all kinds of creatures, parrots, land crabs, frogs, scorpions, iguanas, many different birds, the El Tuito river and two impressive waterfalls.
There are many available activities to enjoy while in Yelapa if you start getting the itch to do something. You can fish, venture out on a kayak, the waters are great for snorkeling, many scuba operators bring their students to dive here too, swim in the warm calm waters.
Another great option is paragliding for that adrenaline hit, there are a number of experienced operators in Yelapa.
For a shorter and less complicated gliding option, you could do some parasailing, in a parachute behind a motorboat. Horseback riding is also popular. You can also stroll over to the village and buy local Mexican crafts and more.
If you prefer even more adventure, Yelapa is great for camping, explore the jungle and hike in the hills.
If you prefer, there are rustic restaurants by the beach where you can enjoy the local fish dishes and seafood.
A local "secret", are the Yelapa Pies, just delicious, so don't miss the pie lady that comes down the beach selling them in various flavors. There's a story behind their existence and were copying it here from the now-closed Puerto Vallarta Forum:
In Hotel Río next to the Cuale River, - you know, the one that also appears in "The Night of the Iguana" - there was a very popular restaurant run by Nacho Vega, Manuelito Azurmendis and his wife Socorro (nicknamed Chacha) and it was Socorro who made some exquisite pies. At some point in time, she's the person who passed the recipes over to the housewives in Yelapa so that they could bake them and sell them on the beach and help improve their income.
Up to this day, these Chacha Pies or Yelapa Pies are marketed in an artisanal way on the beach, they are widely recognized and one of the attractions at this South Zone beach and can even be found in other parts of the bay.
During the afternoon and night stay put in the same restaurants, but in a more romantic setting, Yelapa doesn't have much electricity, so candles are the favorite mood makers, plus the moon in the bay will create the perfect and most unforgettable night.
Don’t forget to order a delicious smoky raicilla shot, specially made in Yelapa.
For those that want to take relaxation to a whole new level, there are also options for massages and treatments, one that we can recommend is called Day Spa Verana.
For those who love nature, Yelapa has so much to offer, it is at night where you really notice the abundance and diversity of the local wildlife.
You’ll see a lot of insects, including the flashes of the firefly’s romantic calls, you will see bats flying around eating of the abundant insect population, crabs that come out of their underground caves to find food by the streams and on the beach, birds, crickets, cicadas, toads and frogs that chant incessantly, the sound of the jungle is varied, constant and fascinating.
Spending a night in Yelapa is a prize and an opportunity not to be missed if nature is your thing. Here's a warning, if you are expecting an insect-free trip, if you want a natural wasteland free from nature and life, if you are scared of ants, if bugs bug you, Yelapa will not be for you.
Yelapa is very romantic at sundown and night time, lighting is normally by candlelight, the waves lapping on the beach, the calm and relaxed lifestyle... you can fill in the dots.
If you are considering staying the night, there are some small rustic hotels like the Hotel Lagunita Yelapa, where you can have a pleasant and romantic stay, under palapa roofs, mosquito-netted beds, rustic bathrooms, and candlelight.
So now you know, if you want a different experience, to be in contact with nature, a place where even cellphones won’t spoil the show, Yelapa is the ideal place. There are trips that include meals and in some cases even diving equipment that starts off from Vallarta, so there is really no reason to miss the opportunity to visit this little piece of hidden Mexican Pacific paradise.