Are you a beach hopper who loves to visit hidden coves, secluded idylls, and pristine sands? Then the south shore of Banderas Bay may just be mother nature’s gift to you! Below we have listed the very best beaches in the area, and even included how you can access them from Garza Blanca Preserve.
Puerto Vallarta’s South Shore
Puerto Vallarta’s south shore overlooks the shimmering waters of Banderas Bay, and is backed by some of the most stunning, palm covered mountains in the world. The beaches that are considered “south shore” beaches are those that fall between Los Muertos Beach and Cabo Corrientes, and they can be reached from the main highway that is known as Carretera de Barra de Navidad. These beaches can be accessed fairly easily by car, water taxi, bus (orange color), taxi or even on foot. Just follow signs for Barra de Navidad when leaving downtown Puerto Vallarta.
Garza Blanca Beach
The Garza Blanca Preserve is located in the heart of Puerto Vallarta’s south shore, offering access to a lovely fully-certified beach for members staying at Garza Blanca Resort & Spa and Hotel Mousai.
Conchas Chinas Beach
Conchas Chinas public beach is only 5 minutes from Garza Blanca Preserve (follow the signs for Puerto Vallarta), and 7 minutes from downtown Puerto Vallarta (follow the signs for Barra de Navidad). To reach Conchas Chinas beach is easy, you turn off the main highway onto Easy Street (no, really), and follow the cobblestone road downwards. The beach has access to various white sand coves, but no restaurants or cafes nearby as it is in a residential area. Pack a lunch and prepare to be delighted! You can also walk to this beach from Los Muertos Beach in downtown Puerto Vallarta.
Punta Negra is amazingly close to Conchas Chinas, and is only a 10 minute or so drive from the center of downtown Puerto Vallarta. This is a glorious stretch of sand which is close to a couple of condominium developments, and it is well-known for its ever changing beach formation. One day you will find it covered with rocks, and the next it is nothing but soft sand! This is a real wonder of nature. The waters here are perfect for fishing, but do bring your own lunch as Punta Negra lacks amenities.
Playas Gemelas is a true hidden gem, and it’s hiding in plain sight! Very close to Garza Blanca Preserve, Playas Gemelas is still only 12 minutes from downtown Puerto Vallarta and can be reached from the highway via a steep set of stairs. Bring an air mattress for luxurious sunbathing!
Mismaloya beach is one of those places that helped to make Puerto Vallarta what it is today; when the Night of the Iguana movie was being filmed here, Puerto Vallarta was still just a sleepy fishing village. The love of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, and the film itself, however, put the city firmly on the map. Today you can still see the set of Night of the Iguana at Mismaloya beach. This is a busy beach which has access to plenty of great restaurants and bars. Set aside at least a full day for this beach. Head south following signs for Barra de Navidad from Garza Blanca Preserve.
Boca de Tomatlan
Boca de Tomatlan is a gateway to many of the more secluded beaches of the south shore, but has much to offer as well. This fishing village is warm, welcoming, and has a bustling water taxi industry which ferries visitors and locals alike from beach to beach. Don’t be afraid to kick back and enjoy the authentic Mexican experience with some barbecued fresh fish and a frosty drink before you head off to Yelapa, Las Animas, or Quimixto.
Las Animas can be reached easily from Boca de Tomatlan when you take a boat, but many of the people who visit Las Animas regularly love the 1.5 hour hike through the natural landscape between Boca de Tomatlan and Las Anima. This beach is a real crowd pleaser which offers great food and beverages as well as stunning scenes and great weather. There is a small zipline experience here, too.
Quimixto is one of the most unique places on this list and it can only be reached by boat, which you can get at Boca de Tomatlan. This is a quaint and beautiful town which draws people in because of its proximity to a stunning jungle waterfall (reachable on horseback or foot in around 25 minutes!). Once you’ve seen that, however, you should spend some time on the beach (which is a real favourite of local surfers).
Yelapa is one of the most stunning and heavenly places on the south coast, and it provides enough opportunity for amusement to fill a whole day. You can reach Yelapa from Boca de Tomatlan or Los Muertos Beach via water taxi, but if you’re staying at Garza Blanca Preserve it is easiest to leave from Boca de Tomatlan. While you are there, you should wander the hiking trails and pathways that circle and crisscross the town. When all is said and done, however, nothing beats lounging on the beach with a cool drink while the sun lays low over the gentle waters. Just kick back, have something to eat, and watch the paragliders at play.
Just one final word of advice when visiting the public beaches; Sunday is the busiest day of the week, so if you plan on beach hopping and you like to be left alone, then other days of the week may be better for you.