Introduction

It’s now no longer a secret that many of the nicest beaches and most interesting small towns are found south of Puerto Vallarta. Banderas Bay’s South Zone offers small beautiful beaches and island-like locations you can only access by boat. One of these hidden locations is picturesque Yelapa, a small town with beaches, waterfalls, beautiful homes, and villas on the edge of the warm Mexican Pacific Ocean.

  • Coordinates: 20°29′18″N | 105°26′43″W
  • Country: Mexico
  • State: Jalisco
  • Municipality: Cabo Corrientes
  • 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta in a water taxi
  • Elevation: 1.2 m (4 ft)
  • Population: 1,500
  • Time zone: UTC-7 (Central Time Zone)

If you feel a need to get away from the city’s noise, people, and frenzy this small secluded town might just be what you need. Yelapa is, as mentioned, a quiet, beautiful place, a small cove surrounded by nature and jungle and bathed by the waves of the bay.

Yelapa's main beach, East side facing Lagunita Yelapa Hotel
Yelapa Beach, East side facing Lagunita Yelapa Hotel, Cabo Corrientes, Jalisco, Mexico

This small town is 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.”

  • Panoramic view, Yelapa main beach, Jalisco, Mexico
  • Yelapa, Jalisco, Mexico
  • Panoramic view, Yelapa main beach, Jalisco, Mexico
  • Yelapa town, Cabo Corrientes, Jalisco, Mexico
  • View from the pier in Yelapa

Artists and writers live to find places like these, the tranquillity and privacy make it the perfect place for many of them and they flock from around the world to get here.

The village is quaint, life is simple, the surrounding beauty irresistible, so much that many have decided to make it their permanent residence, and enjoy the daily inspiration of the sea, the local culture, nature, and mountains.

Yelapa 1975Yelapa 2019

How to get to Yelapa

If you want to get from Puerto Vallarta to Yelapa the only way is by sea and it is also best that way, if it were an easy car ride, you can be sure it wouldn’t be the same experience anyway.

Beaches south of Puerto Vallarta

Beaches south of Puerto Vallarta, Mismaloya, Boca de Tomatlan, Colomitos, Las Caletas, Las Animas, Quimixto, Majahuitas & Yelapa

If you look it up on Google Maps, you’ll be shown a land route, the thing they forget to tell you is that it’s not a viable trip unless you own a Unimog

It’s a nice boat trip south from Puerto Vallarta, you skirt along the edges of the southern part of the Banderas Bay, passing and sometimes stopping at the small beaches along the way.

Isabel Beach by Yelapa town

Isabel Beach by Yelapa town, Cabo Corrientes, Jalisco, Mexico

How to get to Yelapa from Puerto Vallarta

Those that are sea hounds can rent a private boat trip or jump on one of the many water taxis that start off from Playa Los Muertos at the pier (but it’s quite a long trip). The trip by boat to beautiful Yelapa is around 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta and 20-25 minutes from Boca de Tomatlan. Check out the water taxi schedule.

If you’re like me, then you can follow these suggestions. I recommend you take a taxi, uber or one of the cheap and fun local buses to Boca de Tomatlan a small town just 3 miles south of Mismaloya. You can see the land route to Boca below, you can also see it’s 11 miles south of Puerto Vallarta’s Main Square.

Boca is the most popular place to embark on a water taxi (panga) trips that take you south to the isolated and beautiful beaches of the Banderas Bay, these include Las Ánimas, Quimixto, Las Caletas and Majahuitas, Pizota, Corrales and of course Yelapa.

You can catch a bus to Boca de Tomatlan in Puerto Vallarta on the corner of Basilio Badillo and Constitución streets in Old Vallarta (Romantic Zone), the same place and the same buses that go to Mismaloya beach in the south zone. The buses are orange and white and have a sign that says “Boca”, you can always check with the driver. The ticket should be around $0.60 dollars (one-way).
The bus ride to Boca doesn’t take that long from downtown Puerto Vallarta, it’s 11 miles (17km, a 15 to 20-minute car or taxi, 30 minutes in a bus). You’ll follow along the edge of the sea on the road between the jungle hills on your left and the emerald-blue ocean on your right. Local buses run to and from Boca and Mismaloya every day, starting off early around 6:30 AM – 7:00 AM and running at regular intervals until around 10 – 11 PM.

From the Malecon to Boca de Tomatlan

Bus to the south zone from Puerto Vallarta

What to do in Yelapa

Yelapa's Main Beach seen from the west, Jalisco, México

Yelapa’s Main Beach seen from the west, Jalisco, México

There are many great things to do and enjoy in Yelapa, this is a short, but certainly not an exhaustive list:

  • Yelapa Beach
  • Museum of History, Art and Culture of Yelapa
  • Waterfalls (in town and upriver)
  • Eat a Yelapa (Chacha) Pie
  • Parasailing
  • Paragliding
  • Explore the jungle
  • Horseback riding
  • Fishing charters
  • Snorkeling & scuba
  • Yoga
  • Spa

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.

Yelapa seem from the west (Cabo Corrientes, Jalisco, Mexico)

Paragliding you’ll catch views like this one

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.

Yelapa offers many small restaurants

Small restaurants and cafés sprinkled around Yelapa

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.

Yelapa (Town, Beaches, Waterfall & more) Photo Gallery

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 nighttime, lighting is normally by candlelight, the waves lapping on the beach, the calm and relaxed lifestyle… you can fill in the dots.

Yelapa Waterfall, how to get there

A nice and easy activity to enjoy with your family is to visit the Yelapa waterfall close to the town.

Access is easy, there is a paved trail that takes you there, it’s not too steep and most children will be able to walk it the whole way. If they can’t you can just help them along the way.

The trip will vary a bit depending on where you disembark in Yelapa.

Yelapa waterfall, how to get there

Yelapa waterfall, how to get there

If you arrive at the main beach or the north pier, you’ll need to walk along the red route A and take the blue route B if you don’t want to walk over the river mouth by the beach. I normally take the red route and wade over the river by the mouth, this may not be an option during the rainy months, so walk over the bridge. In case you go over the river, there are some stairs up from the beach to the town’s sidewalks, shown in orange. If you disembark at the pier in town, the route is C (in green) and then you walk uphill to the waterfall.

Yelapa waterfall in the dry season

Yelapa waterfall in the dry season, a short walk from the town

Museum of History, Art and Culture of Yelapa

Museum of History, Art and Culture of Yelapa

General view of Yelapa’s Museum of History, Art and Culture

The inhabitants of Yelapa, this cute coastal town south of Puerto Vallarta, created a space to rescue and maintain the local memories. It is the first museum in Cabo Corrientes, the Museum of History, Art and Culture of Yelapa, inaugurated on March 8, 2019.

The goal is to share the knowledge of the history, art, and culture of Yelapa and its surrounding areas to those who visit this paradisiacal site in the Bay of Banderas.

They can admire pieces of pre-Hispanic stone and clay and ancient Mexico, these were left by communities that settled in the area. Some of these were found in excavations when building residential homes on the coast of Jalisco, Nayarit, and even Colima.

Other objects on display are some dating from the Porfiriato era, photographs, garments, and tools for working the land, as well as pieces and utensils from contemporary daily life.

There is also a permanent photo exhibition of Yelapa through time, showing how Yelapa has changed through the years, donated by photographer Lisa Law.

The museum also has an audiovisual room, an area for workshops, and temporary exhibitions.

The museum project was promoted by the photographer Lisa Law, Tatiana Rodríguez Anderson, and Fernando García, who were in contact with the municipal government of Cabo Corrientes.

Yelapa’s Museum of History, Art and Culture location map

Where to eat

There are quite a few places in Yelapa to eat, all rather colourful and unique, here’s a short list of options to start off on.

Pollo Bollo

They offer excellent food, great attention, it is a very pleasant and familiar place with a very good view. The food has a delicious seasoning, the portions are very well served and the prices are very reasonable. It is highly recommended for a local experience in Yelapa. The barbeque ribs, the grilled fish and the chicken stand out. One of the only restaurants in Yelapa that is open on Sundays.

Café Bahía

Café Bahía, Yelapa, Mexico

Café Bahía, Yelapa, Mexico

Great service provided by a friendly staff, large portions, and delicious food. The restaurant is right on the water by the westside pier in the town of Yelapa with a wonderful view. Some say they offer the best breakfasts in Yelapa, very well prepared, with coffee, omelets, passion fruit juice, and marmalade. The food is fresh and very well prepared and everyone is nice. There’s a great atmosphere, the wifi is fast and there is lots of action around the wharf. Some ideas are the fresh seafood options, cheese, and spinach quesadillas, homemade bread and bakery products, black bean soup, poached shrimp salad, and cocktails like the Tamarindo Margarita.

Restaurant Manguito’s

This place is well known for the great, friendly, and charming service provided by the owner Luis and the family with a beautiful view overlooking the El Tuito River. All the food is homemade and fresh. Delicious tortilla soup, great margaritas (maybe with Raicilla… or with Passion Fruit!), chicken enchiladas, shrimp burgers or tortillas, breakfasts are recommended. If you are planning a hike to the big waterfall that is upriver (90 minutes to 2-hour hike there), this restaurant is on the way. Do take into account they only accept cash.

Café Eclipse

Café Eclipse, Yelapa

Café Eclipse, Yelapa, Mexico

One of the best places in town for breakfasts. The coffee is very recommended. You’ll enjoy the good food and friendly service too. You should try the breakfast burrito (machaca), the shrimp omelet, chilaquiles, french toast, fresh fruit salads, and juices. They are open to 2 PM. You’ll also like the fast WIFI:

Where to stay

Hotel Lagunita Yelapa (Cabo Corrientes, Jalisco, Mexico)

Hotel Lagunita Yelapa

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.

There are some other great lodging options in town, these include the following and more: Miramar YelapaCasa Ana Rosa, Casa Papaya, Casa Bahia Bonita,
Casas Garcia, Casa Berita and Verana.

Yelapa Location Map

Yelapa is located in the Cabo Corrientes municipality in the State of Jalisco, Mexico. The village sits in the southernmost cove of the 7th largest bay in the world, Bahía de Banderas (Bay of Flags).

You’ll find it between Majahuitas Beach to the east and Pizota to the west.

Yelapa’s climate is typical tropical wet and dry with its dry season in the winter months (December to March). Has sudden monsoon-like rains in the months of July through September, as is normal in the zone, these occur a few hours in the evening.

This map includes some of the main attractions in Yelapa.

Conclusion

Yelapa's main beach seen from the east end (Cabo Corrientes, Jalisco, Mexico)

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.

Yelapa on Wikipedia

FAQs

There are a few ways to get to Yelapa, some of them are not really practical for most people, we’ll start off naming them all:

1- Take a water taxi to Yelapa directly from Puerto Vallarta
2- Ride a local bus to Boca de Tomatlán and then take a water taxi from Boca de Tomatlán
3- Drive to Chacala (2-hour drive – 77 km / 48 miles to a small town in the mountains) and then hike or mountain bike down to Yelapa
4- Take a day cruise tour to Yelapa.

The best and most reasonable way to get to Yelapa is to grab a local bus (camión) on the corner of Basilio Badillo and Constitución, it costs 10 pesos (2021), once you get to Boca de Tomaltan, walk down Pelícanos street to the Malecón or Pier and pay for a ticket on one of the many water taxis going to the south beaches, the 2021 rate for a one-way ticket is $120 pesos (approx. $6 USA dollars). There are water taxis that take off from the Playa Los Muertos pier, they are a bit more expensive and the trip by sea is a bit longer, only recommended for those that are good at sea.

You may be asking yourself if Yelapa is worth visiting?
When you are in Puerto Vallarta and you want to spice up your day and have a good time, then by all means plan a trip to Yelapa. It’s a great and relaxing adventure, take the bus to Boca de Tomatlán and then one of the many water taxis (pangas) to Yelapa. You can hike to the waterfall, eat in one of the cute restaurants in the village, find some raicilla, stroll around the small alleys in the village or just enjoy some Margaritas on the main Yelapa beach while sunbathing or swimming in the calm waters of Yelapa bay.

Yelapa is certainly a safe place to visit, not only is it safer than Puerto Vallarta, Yelapa is, without doubt, one of the safest places to visit in all of Mexico.

Yelapa is a small quiet and relaxed town, plus it’s quite secluded (the only practical way to get there is by sea) and the villagers all know each other, and most are long-time residents.
So you can really just relax, there is nothing to be worried about there!
Yelapa Water Taxi Office, Puerto Vallarta

There’s a Water Taxi Office in Puerto Vallarta very close to the Los Muertos Pier, across the street from Dee’s Coffee, on Francisca Rodriguez 114. You’ll be able to book your water taxi to Yelapa there. Water taxis start off from the Playa Los Muertos Pier, right where Francisca Rodriguez ends with the pier.

Water taxis (called pangas) go to Yelapa, Las Animas, and Quimixto and depart multiple times a day. They begin at 10 AM and end around 6 PM.

The Los Muertos Pier is located where Francisca Rodríguez street intersects with the beach, between Hotel Marsol (to the north) and Hotel San Marino (to the south)

A round-trip in a water taxi to Yelapa (the farthest and southernmost destination takes about 45 min. each way) costs approx $450 pesos, prices vary depending on the season and exchange rate.

The last panga that returns from Yelapa normally takes off at 4:45 PM, do check with the water taxi captain to make sure you agree upon the pickup time.

Water Taxi Office information:

Address: Francisca Rodriguez 114, Puerto Vallarta
Phone: + 52 (322) 217-7049
Office hours: Every day of the week 8:30 AM to 8:30 PM

Contact
Sergio Martinez
[email protected]
+52 (322) 688-7490 & +52 (322) 111-2486

Yelapa, Jalisco, México

We recommend going to Boca de Tomatlán by land, a public bus charges some $0.60 dollars from Puerto Vallarta there, and from Boca, jump on a water taxi (panga) to Yelapa.

It’s $120 pesos one way from Boca de Tomatlán to Yelapa (2021 exchange rates = USD$ 6.00 dollars)

You’ll arrive at the eastern side pier in Yelapa (main Yelapa beach)

or at the town pier if you want to go straight to the waterfall.

Last updated on November 13, 2021 8:42

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