Perfectly positioned between the scenic Banderas Bay and the rugged Sierra Madre mountain range, Puerto Vallarta combines everything you could want in a beach destination: panoramic views, colonial charm, fabulous sunsets, amazing food, a vibrant arts and culture scene, a variety of watersports and adventure activities, and of course, gorgeous beaches. Visitors to Puerto Vallarta have their pick of a multitude of beaches along the golden sands of the lovely horseshoe shaped Banderas Bay and while all are lovely, some stand out from the rest.
Los Muertos Beach
Walk along the Malecón, Puerto Vallarta's seaside promenade, cross the bridge over the Río Cuale, and you'll be at Los Muertos beach, with its iconic Los Muertos pier. You can grab a water taxi to a quieter beach, or enjoy the action here. This beach is lined with bars and restaurants, and there are a few beach clubs as well, including Mantamar and Sapphire Ocean Club. By day there are vendors selling their wares, children swimming and enjoying the waves, and plenty of people relaxing and enjoying the sights. It’s a wonderful spot to watch the sunset, and at night, it’s a hub for experiencing Puerto Vallarta’s famous gastronomic scene and high-energy nightlife.
A few miles south of Los Muertos, you'll find Conchas Chinas beach. This is still within the city, but it's somewhat sheltered and hidden, and you may feel like you've found a secret spot. There are rock formations along the beach that create natural tide pools you can wade in and observe the crabs, mollusks, and anemones that linger there. If you do decide to swim, do so with caution because the waves can be strong. There are a few restaurants along the beach and if you purchase from them, they'll let you use their facilities.
Las Gemelas Beach
A pair of small beaches located 5.5 miles (9 kilometers) south of the city center, Las Gemelas ("the twins") are known for their turquoise water, gentle waves, and white sand (a rarity among Puerto Vallarta's golden beaches), These beaches offer excellent swimming and snorkeling conditions, but there are few vendors and facilities, so bring water and snacks with you to enjoy under the shade of a tree.
The beach that was featured in the movie "The Night of the Iguana" and brought Puerto Vallarta to the world spotlight in the 1960s, Mismaloya is a former fishing village with an iconic beach in a picturesque cove fringed by jungle. There are several palapa-style restaurants where you can enjoy grilled fish and a cold beer or cocktail after swimming in the clear water.
Las Animas Beach
It is said that pirate graves were found along this golden sand beach many years ago, so locals named it Las Animas which means "the souls." It’s a stretch of sand lined with seafood restaurants, perfect for spending a beach day lounging or enjoying water sports. Rent a paddle board, take a ride on a banana boat, discover the world under the sea by snorkeling, or simply relax in the shade of a palapa with a frosty drink. This beach is popular with local families on the weekends and holidays, but the rest of the time, it's tranquil and uncrowded.
Las Caletas Beach
Once Mismaloya became famous, director John Huston sought out a spot farther down the coast where he could have privacy to enjoy the delights of his own private beach. He leased Las Caletas from the Chacala indigenous community which owns the land, and made it his hideaway. After his death, Vallarta Adventures tour company leased the property and they now run excursions daily to this beautiful cove as part of their “Beach Adventure” outing during the day and the "Rhythms of the Night" experience at night. You can pass the day swimming, snorkeling, paddle boarding, or kayaking, while children frolic in the water and build sandcastles. Those who prefer to stay on dry land can do a nature walk, take a cooking class, or just find a spot to laze.
Take a taxi boat from Los Muertos pier and in 45 minutes you’ll be on this lovely beach in a small cove surrounded by jungle which is home to a variety of creatures, including parrots, frogs, iguanas, and many colorful birds. Take a walk through the jungle to a stunning nearby waterfall where you can take a refreshing dip. If you want a bit more time with the jungle and the beach, you can spend the night at one of the beachfront hotels.