Playa Camarones (Shrimp Beach)
Col. 5 de Diciembre (vicinity of Av. Paragua - Hotel Buenaventura). Shrimp fishermen who once used this sandy stretch to unload their catch inspired the name for Playa Camarones, the northernmost public beach in Puerto Vallarta, just north of the Malecon. There are no public restrooms here but the beach is uncluttered and ideal for escaping the bustle and crowds of the big resorts.
Playa Olas Altas (High Waves Beach)
Col. Emiliano Zapata - the beach extends from the Cuale River South to the fishing pier. Despite its name, Playa Olas Altas is a popular swimming beach for local Mexican families and other national Mexican tourists. It also features a number of outdoor beachfront restaurants.
Playa Los Muertos (Beach of the Dead)
Col. Emiliano Zapata. Local folklore says a bloody battle between pirates and Indians, after which bodies were strewn on the sand, prompted the name for the city’s largest public beach. The south side of the beach is popular for gay and lesbian travelers while locals and domestic Mexican visitors prefer the north end with snack stands, bars, water sports concessions, and restaurants. Not the best beach for swimming, waves are often six feet overhead. The city recently tried to change the name of the beach to Playa del Sol, but the old name has stuck.
Playa Boca de Tomates (Mouth of Tomatoes)
Due to rocks that come ashore in the summertime, this beach found near the mouth of the Ameca River is not popular with foreign tourists. Rainwater muddied by the Ameca River also causes the water to appear dirty. And there are often crocodiles.
This relatively undeveloped beach near Los Arcos Marine Natural Area lies just north of the Mismaloya River mouth and can be used for access to the park from shore.
Made famous in several scenes from “The Night of the Iguana”, this beach is great for swimming and watersports as it is found at the mouth of the Mismaloya River and offers a number of thatched roof palapa restaurants. The movie’s main set was located on hillside to the south of the beach.
Sandy shores to the south of Banderas Bay
Several beaches with rustic infrastructure exist along the south shore of Banderas Bay – including Las Animas, Quimixto, Majahuitas and Yelapa – and are boat accessible only from either Boca de Tomatlan or the Los Muertos Pier. These and other smaller undeveloped beaches can be reached by launch from Boca de Tomatlán.
Playa Las Animas
A pristine white sand beach developed with several restaurants.
Playa Las Caletas
This very secluded beach that was once the private retreat of film director John Huston, however, today it is a wildlife preserve. Snorkelers will want to peek at the underwater life out on the natural living reef close to shore.
A small pueblito of several hundred families live on this somewhat rocky and secluded beach. Visitors can explore a series of cascades found in a small canyon behind the village, either walking or on horseback tour.
This former rustic fishing village 25 miles south of Puerto Vallarta was considered an escape by “gringos” seeking a completely unplugged beach experience. Now it boasts electricity, telephones and even the internet, along with a collection of bed and breakfasts, and a few boutique hotels. The golden sand beaches are visited daily by boat-loads of tourists for three hour tours but otherwise remains relatively laidback.
Bustling beach towns
Full of bohemian folk and also big time spenders – extend into Nayarit state on the northern fringes of Banderas Bay, offering beautiful beaches and excellent tourism infrastructure. These include (east to west): Bucerias, Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Playa la Manzanilla, Playa Destiladeras, Playa Pontoque, and Punta Mita. All can be reached by bus (departing from Wal-Mart).