Top Beaches in Puerto Vallarta

Playa Las Animas, Puerto Vallarta
Playa Las Animas – Image courtesy of

Puerto Vallarta Beach Guide

Discover a diverse choice of 26 beaches surrounding Puerto Vallarta and set along the 100km horseshoe-shaped coastline of Bahía de Banderas.

To the north, explore long wide beaches perfect for swimming and surfing, while to the south, discover secluded beaches and coves bisected by lush mountain ridges, generally accessible only by boat.

Playa Los Muertos, Puerto Vallarta

Playa Los Muertos
Bordered by lush jungle-covered mountains, Puerto Vallarta’s largest and liveliest beach sits on the edge of Viejo Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta's beautiful old town.

Often called Playa Olas Altas or Playa del Sol, the wide, almost 2km-long golden-sand beach shelves into the sparkling blue waters of the Bahía de Banderas (Bay of Flags) and is lined with hotels, bars and numerous thatched palapa restaurants where you can enjoy beachside service in the shade.

Sunbathe, swim, relax on the beach at sunset with a daiquiri or enjoy one of the numerous beachside activities, including beach volleyball, parasailing and jet-skiing.

Take a water taxi to explore south shore beaches or hook up a fishing charter at Los Muertos Pier and then, in the evening, listen to wandering mariachi who parade along the atmospheric beachside malecon.

Typically, families congregate at the northern end of the beach, while a gay-friendly area – easily recognisable by the blue chairs – lies at the southern end of the beach.

Nuevo Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta

Playa Nuevo Vallarta
This long and wide sandy beach stretches north of downtown Puerto Vallarta and boasts a string of beachside condominiums, sprawling resort hotels, three golf courses, a water park, yacht club and marina, restaurants and a large air-conditioned shopping mall.

Don't miss swimming with dolphins at the Dolphin Discovery Centre.

Marina Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta

Playa Marina Vallarta
Just north of downtown lies a stretch of wide beaches that front some of the town's largest hotels, including the Marriott, Mayan Palace and the Westin Regina Resort.

Hotel Zone, Puerto Vallarta

Playa Hotel Zone
This wide white-sand beach lined with resort hotels, beachfront bars and restaurants, stretches south from Marina Vallarta to El Centro.

The beach is usually accessed through one of the hotel lobbies and offers a variety of watersport activities as well as a vibrant nightlife in the adjacent streets. Don’t miss JB, a popular Latin dance club.

North Shore
Explore white-sand beaches that are perfect for swimming and surfing and easily reached by road from Puerto Vallarta.

Bucerías, Puerto Vallarta

Playa Bucerías
Discover a long golden-sand beach that shelves gently into calm and shallow waters. Relax with a cool drink and savour freshly shucked giant oysters in the shade of a thatched palapa restaurant, locally renowned for delicious seafood. Then wander into town and browse the colourful outdoor market by the main plaza.

Punta de Mita, Puerto Vallarta

Playa Punta de Mita
The peninsula of Punta de Mita offers two public white-sand beaches and an exclusive resort development reserved for paying guests.

One of the resorts is the ritzy Four Seasons Punta Mita, located on a pristine soft white-sand beach and fronting rocky islands – perfect for snorkelling.

At El Anclote waves break right in front of the beach, making it a good spot to learn to surf before heading to bigger waves along the coast.

Enjoy swimming, sailing catamarans, kayaking and snorkelling coral reefs just offshore or rent a boat to take you whale watching and to the nature reserve at Las Marietas Islands, which is perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving among sea lions, turtles, bottlenose dolphins and other protected marine life. Later enjoy fresh seafood at one of the many restaurants in El Anclote fishing village.

Nearby Destiladeras offers a wide, several kilometre-long white-sand beach good for sunbathing, strolling and surfing waves of up to 1.5m. Enjoy fresh seafood at one of the palapa-shaded restaurants or bring a picnic and enjoy a gorgeous sunset.

Punta de Mita is located just a 45-minute drive from Puerto Vallarta.

Marietas Islands, Mexico

Marietas Islands
These uninhabited islands lie off Punta Mita and offer great opportunities for beachcombing pristine deserted beaches, diving, snorkelling rocky headlands, bird-watching and spotting humpback whales during the winter months.

See blue-footed booby birds (found only here and in the Galapagos Islands), giant manta rays, sea lions, turtles and colourful tropical fish.

Explore secluded coves, hidden caves and stroll across the stunning Playa de Amor (Lover’s Beach), which can only be seen at low tide (photo).

San Pancho, Mexico

Playa San Pancho
(Pacific Coast) – Discover this gorgeous, windswept white-sand beach located just a few kilometres outside the bay.

Also known as San Francisco Beach, this pristine beach offers a range of activities including surfing, kayaking, sport fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking.

Don’t miss exploring the beachside town, with its traditional Mexican atmosphere. Located just a 55-minute drive from Puerto Vallarta.

Sayulita, Mexico

Playa Sayulita
(Pacific Coast) – Fronting the picturesque fishing village of Sayulita, this region north of Banderas Bay offers numerous secluded coves and noted surf beaches. Sunbathe, swim, ride the waves, take a surf lesson or relax in one of the many beachfront palapa restaurants.

Explore the village with its traditional Mexican atmosphere (much how Puerto Vallarta was a few decades ago), and grab a shady bench in the village plaza and watch village life go by, especially in the evenings.

Sayulita is less than an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta.

South Shore
The South Shore offers a region where the lush jungle-covered Sierra Madre Mountains meet the beaches and rocky coastline of Banderas Bay.

Discover tiny palm-fringed coves and secluded bays lined with crescents of gorgeous white sand that are often accessible only by boat from the small fishing village of Boca de Tomatlan or Los Muertos Pier in Puerto Vallarta.

Garza Blanca, Mexico

Playa Garza Blanca
Pack a picnic and snorkel mask and enjoy this quiet, palm -fringed, white-sand beach located off the Barra Navidad road on the way to Mismaloya. Or stay longer at the beachfront Playa Garza Blanca Resort.

Playa Mismaloya, Puerto Vallarta

Playa Mismaloya
This crescent of golden sand is fringed by palm trees and stretches between two rocky headlands, then shelves dramatically into the deep blue waters of the Pacific.

Mismaloya was the setting for the movie Night of the Iguana, filmed in 1963 and firmly establishing Puerto Vallarta on the international tourist scene. Check out the remains of the old movie set, go swimming and snorkelling, relax on the beach or in the shade of a palapa restaurant with a cool drink and fresh seafood.

Located just a 25-minute drive from Puerto Vallarta.

Playa Boca de Tomatlan, Puerto Vallarta

Playa Boca de Tomatlan
Discover a gorgeous and quiet cove with a small, palm-fringed white-sand beach at the mouth (boca) of the Tomatlan River.

Go swimming, sunbathe and savour freshly caught fish and Mexican fare at any of the palapa restaurants.

The beach is an easy boat ride or 25-minute taxi ride from Puerto Vallarta.

Playa Las Caletas, Puerto Vallarta

Playa Las Caletas
This pretty, secluded cove features three small golden-sand beaches and was formerly the private retreat of movie director John Huston.

Go swimming, kayaking, snorkelling or scuba diving the reef. A groomed path offers a coastal hike with dramatic views. Allow about an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta.

Playa Las Animas, Puerto Vallarta

Playa Las Animas
Nestled between towering jungle-covered ridges, this pretty white-sand beach shelves into crystal clear shallow waters perfect for swimming, kayaking, snorkelling and parasailing.

The 1.5km-long beach features a small jetty and several thatched palapa restaurants where you can relax on the white sand in a colourful beach chair with a cool drink and a meal of fresh seafood.

The beach is only accessible by boat, with water taxis or pangas available from Los Muertos Pier in Puerto Vallarta taking around 30 minutes.

Playa Quimixto, Puerto Vallarta

Playa Quimixto
Nestled in front of a small fishing village and beneath lush mountains, this pretty, palm-fringed white-sand beach is a 30-minute boat ride south of Puerto Vallarta.

Surf the only break on the south side of the bay, swim or snorkel the rocky headland or relax with a cool drink in the shade of one of several thatched palapa restaurants. Away from the beach, explore on foot or by horseback scenic waterfalls at the end of a nearby canyon.

Playa Majahuitas, Puerto Vallarta

Playa Majahuitas
Nestling in a jungle-covered cove between two rocky headlands and accessible only by boat, this semi-private golden-sand beach is home to the luxurious Majahuitas Resort.

Relax on the gorgeous beach and swim, snorkel or dive the crystal clear waters in idyllic surroundings with every imaginable creature comfort just a short stroll away.

Playa Yelapa, Puerto Vallarta

Playa Yelapa
Nestled at the end of a sheltered inlet, this golden-sand beach is divided by a rocky vegetation-covered headland and offers thatched-roof palapa restaurants and a quiet ambience only interrupted by visiting tourist boats.

With few roads leading in, the beach is best visited by boat from Puerto Vallarta.

Latest update Best Beaches in Puerto Vallarta: 14 October, 2019
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