Puerto Vallarta is located in almost the center of the beaches that make up the Bay of Banderas. The bay is about 62 miles of horseshoe shaped coastline, that is shared or divided almost equally between the state of Jalasico and the state of Nayarit. The bay itself is the largest bay in Mexico, and one of the deepest, over 3000 feet deep in some areas. This allows the Super big ships to sail in and dock at the edge of town.
From the airport, which is very close to where the big ships dock, heading south, you will come to Playa Camarones, Las Glorias, Los Tules and de Ore. There you will find a string of four and five star hotels lining the beaches.
A coupe of miles south is the Melecon, which is a mile or more walkway along the beach that is known as the Romantic zone. This is a walk to do in the evening when the street vendors and artists are all displaying their wears along the walkway. Cross the street from the beach and there are a string of night clubs, should you want to enjoy a cocktail. There is even a Starbucks, if coffee is more to you taste. I personally buy a cup of “Mexican” coffee from one of the street vendors. It is made with a stick of vanilla and has a different taste than what you get when you brew it at home.
About a mile south is Playas Conchas Chinas, which is not one beach but a series of small sandy coves dotted by rocky outcroppings. For these beaches, sandals are recommended. Some of the beaches have a lot of larger pebbles on them.
Following the curve of the beach, a couple more miles you will come to Mismaloya. This is the area where Director John Huston filmed “The Night of the Iguana”. Hotel Mismaloya takes over a lot of the area and is a fenced, guarded hotel, but just follow the dirt road that is just past the hotel. You will find a little curve of sand and lagoon that you are sure to enjoy. From there, you can walk along the beach to the ruins of the movie set.
You can also go by boat to the beaches father south, on a pleasant day trip. They are available at the piers where the big ships dock. They will take you to a beach where you can go by horseback to where the first “Predator” was filmed. They stop for some swimming and snorkeling along the way. Along the beach, there are a couple of outdoor restaurants where you can enjoy a bite before the trip back. Once on board the boat, it is party time until you dock back in Vallarta. They will get you back in time for dinner. I have taken it a couple of times. it is fun.
If on the other hand, if you travel north from the airport, you will be in the State of Nayarit. Local time, one hour earlier that Jalasico. In Nayarit, you will find the town of Bucerias, which means “the place of the Scuba Diver” It’s beach, covered with clean sand, stretches as far as the eye can see. The water is shallow a long way out which allows young and old alike to get “in the water”. There is a saying that once you have gotten sand on your toes in Mexico, you will always come back.
A little more to the North, what was once a sleepy, fishing village is La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, simply called La Cruz. It is now a state of the art marina and boardwalk. During the season, you will find it filled with yachts of all sizes. The boaters will no doubt be enjoying meals at one of the many fine restaurants that dot the area. I personally recommend a visit to Arriba restaurant and Bar. Owned by John and Carol Innes, the food is wonderful, they have a very good wine list, and the Margaritas are delightful.
Further North, at the tip of the peninsula is Punta de Mita. This is a great place to have lunch and perhaps a Margarita with friends. If you are lucky you can do some whale watching at the same time. There are a lot of nice restaurants and they all have tables and chairs set up on the beach for this purpose.
The beaches in Mexico
are public beaches, up to the high-tide line, so you should have no
problem enjoying yourself. There are so many to choose from, you can
visit a different one every day if you wish.
Please take note of the lack of Life Guards at most beaches. You are pretty much on your own, so remain aware of where you and your children are, at all times. Guard your valuables the same as you would anywhere else and your sure to have a wonderful time.
Note: If you are going to have a drink at the beach, travel by bus. Driving in Mexico is not easy, along the coast line it can be very dangerous. It is wiser to let someone that knows the roads to do the driving.
William Chaney is an Executive Chef and and Natural Health Practitioner. William has traveled the World and collected recipes and healthy lifestyle information which he shares with you.