One of the main attractions for visitors planning a vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is the beaches. The promise of sunshine, warm waters and a margarita or beer in hand. You’ll most likely find this at your resort or at least a short walk from your accommodation, but what if I told you there was something better? Something more secluded and quiet away from the crowded beaches and persistent beach vendors. Take your vacation to another level with a day trip to one of the 3 best hidden beaches in Puerto Vallarta.
What makes these beaches so special is that they are only accessibly by boat. There aren’t any roads leading to these beaches from Puerto Vallarta so because of this, there are less tourists and everything is locally run. You’re bound to get the most authentic Mexican beach town experience!
I recently wrote a post about what it’s like traveling to Puerto Vallarta during the COVID-19 pandemic where I go over the current safety precautions being taken at the airport, resorts, restaurants and downtown Puerto Vallarta. I also wrote a similar post about my experience traveling to Cabo San Lucas during the same time so you can compare the two. Check it out!
How to Get There
The best way to get to all three of these beaches is by water taxi from Boca de Tomatlan. Boca de Tomatlan is a pretty quick taxi ride from Puerto Vallarta. The taxis start departing for Yelapa, the beach furthest away, as early as 8am making stops along the way at the other beaches. The boats usually depart in 30 minute increments from Boca de Tomatlan. The current schedule is easily found after a quick google search as it changes time to time especially during COVID.
There’s no need for piers here as the taxis take you right up to the beach and help you off. Want to leave and head to another beach or back to Puerto Vallarta? Just wave down a taxi and they’ll take you wherever you need to go.
Pricing for water taxis from Boca de Tomatlan start at 220 pesos per person one-way and 380 pesos per person round-trip. Make sure to take note of their last taxi leaving Yelapa because if you miss it, you’re stuck on the beach for the night. Don’t worry, there are small hotels in town if that nightmare of a situation happens to you.
The first and most popular of the hidden beaches in Puerto Vallarta is the small fishing village of Yelapa. Located about 30-40 minutes south of PV by boat, Yelapa is situated in a small cove surrounded by the lush green jungle of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The long strip of beach has a few locally owned restaurants where you’ll find freshly caught seafood and ice-cold drinks. Each restaurant has beach chairs set up where you can still get service while relaxing in the sunshine. We stopped in at Fanny’s for a couple of drinks and a break from the sun before heading off to the next beach!
What to do in Yelapa
If you’re spending the day at Yelapa and are looking for more to do, you can take a short walk into town. Yelapa has only about 1,500 residents and boasts a picturesque quaint village that you can walk through and shop for authentic handmade items. If you want to stay on the beach there are kayaks for rent, snorkeling, swimming and parasailing. There’s even horseback riding. Well, they’re actually donkeys but it looks like a pretty popular activity.
And for the best part, if you’re up for about a 20-minute hike, there’s a hidden waterfall called The Cola de Caballo! Although I did hear it can get pretty crowded on the weekends so it would probably be best to get there in the morning to avoid crowds as the swimming hole is quite small.
Oh, and keep an eye out for the “Pie Ladies.” Some of the women in town are well known for their homemade pies ranging from coconut to cheesecake. They walk around the beach offering slices for sale in order to help their families earn more income. I’ve heard the pies are delicious but it kind of freaked me out that they weren’t refrigerated or at least kept in a cooler while they walked around. We politely declined.
2. Majahuitas Beach (My favorite of the 3 hidden beaches in Puerto Vallarta)
Out of the three beaches I visited while in Puerto Vallarta, Majahuitas Beach was my personal favorite. We had originally planned on just visiting Yelapa and Las Animas but the boat captain recommended a stop here for a swim. I’m so glad we took his advice. We didn’t make it on the beach for sake of time but we anchored a little way off for a swim and to ride the jetski for a bit as this cove isn’t as crowded as the other two.
As soon as I jumped in the water and took in the scenery around me, I found myself in awe profusely thanking the crew for taking us to this beach. The contrast between the lush green jungle and the crystal-clear blue ocean is incredible and needs to be seen in person to fully grasp its beauty.
I honestly felt like I was on a deserted tropical island. It’s the smallest of the three beaches and looked to be the emptiest. Like Yelapa, this beach is perfect for swimming and kayaking. There’s also a reef in this cove so the snorkeling is quite good! Next time I’m in Puerto Vallarta, I’m definitely coming back to spend a full day here. It truly is that beautiful.
A new beach club called Majahuitas Beach Club actually just opened at the end of last year that looks amazing! Besides having reservations at this beach club, I don’t think there’s another way to get food on this beach. So if you’re hanging out and get hungry, I would recommend flagging down a water taxi and head to Yelapa or Las Animas for a delicious seafood meal.
3. Las Animas
This beach is the closest to Boca de Tomatlan and is usually the first stop the water taxis make on their way to Yelapa. It’s only about a 5-10 minute boat ride so this makes it a pretty popular hangout spot. This was our final stop on our beach tour and unfortunately, I might have had one too many margaritas at Yelapa because I completely forgot to take photos of our arrival. I just seem to have some terrible quality videos haha. But what I did get was some photos of our very delicious lunch at Los Conos Restaurant Bar which had a nice upper deck that overlooked the ocean. Like Yelapa, the fresh seafood here is amazing! It literally came off the fishing boat earlier that day so no matter what you order, you know it’s going to be fresh and really dang good.
Since we arrived later in the day, people were starting to pack up to catch the last of the water taxis back to Puerto Vallarta. You could definitely tell a good time was had by all by the looks of empty drink glasses, sun kissed faces and big smiles. It was definitely the liveliest of the three beaches. As for activities, they’re similar to the other beaches. There’s swimming, kayaking, snorkeling and even banana boats! Those things honestly terrify me.
If you’re more of the adventure type, you can actually hike to Las Animas from Boca de Tomatlan. I’ve heard the route is pretty safe and well labeled by locals. I’m sure the views from the hike of the ocean are stunning. However, I’m not entirely that adventurous (unless we had a guide) so I’ll stick with the quick boat ride to get to this beach.
Puerto Vallarta Hidden Beach Tours
If you don’t feel comfortable tackling these beaches and water taxis alone, there’s a tour company called Vallarta Adventures that does a Yelapa and Majahuitas Tour. They offer snorkeling, paddle boarding and kayaking in Majahuitas Cove and Yelapa. They also allow you to hike to the Cola de Caballo waterfalls in Yelapa. There’s also a deli-style lunch prepared and an open bar on board. Check out their website for their current rates!
We decided to use a private charter for our trip to these beaches as we wanted a more tailored experience and didn’t want to be crammed on a big tour boat. We used PV by Sea Tours for our private charter. While it is pretty pricey, it was worth it to have our own boat and explore the beaches at our own pace. Memo and the boat crew with PV by Sea Tours were awesome and were very accommodating. I highly recommend them!
Welp, there you have it, my top three hidden beaches in Puerto Vallarta! Like I mentioned above, Majahuitas Beach was my personal favorite with Yelapa coming in close second in terms of seclusion. As for food, Memo and crew all agreed Los Conos Restaurant at Las Animas has the best seafood.
I hope this post was helpful and gave you a good idea of what to expect from these beaches. Have you been to Puerto Vallarta before and made it to one of these hidden beaches? Which one did you go to and which one is your favorite?