All around PV, there are plenty of public access beaches. Here is my list of the best beaches and beach towns in the area.
- Playa Camarones (Shrimp Beach) – Col. 5 de Deciembre (vicinity of Av. Paragua – Hotel Buenaventura. This is the northernmost public beach in the City of Puerto Vallarta proper. It is named after the shrimp fisherman that once landed their launches on the beach to unload their catch.
- Playa Olas Altas (High Waves Beach) – Col. Emilio Zapata – the beach extends from the Cuale River South to the fishing pier. In spite of the name, the waves offshore are not particularly high, and the beach is a popular place to swim, especially for locals and national tourists. The beach is lined with outdoor restaurants.
- Playa Los Muertos (Beach of the Dead) – Col. Emilio Zapata – the city’s largest public beach. Legend has it the beach’s name (Dead Men’s Beach) stems from a battle between pirates and local miners after which bodies remained strewn on the beach, but it’s a legend, since there were never any miners in Vallarta The South Side of the beach is a popular gathering spot for gay and lesbian tourists. The North end is frequented mostly by locals, and national tourists. The city has recently tried to change the name of the beach to Playa del Sol.
- Playa Boca de Tomates (Mouth of Tomatoes) – a beach located near the mouth of the Ameca River. The beach is not very popular among international tourists due to the rocks that come ashore especially in the summertime. Also watch out for Crocodiles. Its proximity to the Ameca River which carries muddy rainwater in the summertime causes the water to lose its clarity making it appear dirty.
Beaches South of Puerto Vallarta
- Playa Gemelas – an undeveloped beach just North of the mouth of the Mismaloya river. The beach lies close to Los Arcos Marine Natural Area and can be used for access to the park from shore.
- Playa Mismaloya – at the mouth of the Mismaloya River. The beach was featured in several scenes from Night of the Iguana and the main set was located on hillside to the South of the beach. The beach is developed with a number of restaurants.
South Shores beaches
A number of beaches along the South shore of the bay are accessible only by boat (from Boca de Tomatlan or the Los Muertos Pier). The developed beaches include (east to west): Las Animas, Quimixto, Majahuitas and Yelapa. These and other smaller undeveloped beaches can be reached by launch from Boca de Tomatlán.
- Playa Las Animas – a narrow wide white sand beach developed with several restaurants.
- Playa Las Caletas – a secluded beach that was once the private retreat of film director John Huston. Today it is a wildlife preserve. There is a living natural reef close to shore which makes the beach a popular destination for snorkelers.
- Playa Quimixto – a somewhat rocky and secluded beach which is settled by a small village of a several hundred families. There are horse and guide hire concessions in the town which lead visitors through a small canyon behind the town to a series of waterfalls.
- Yelapa – once a small electricity free fishing village and a popular ‘hide away’ for Gringos, now it has electricity, telephones and the internet. Visited by tourist boats for about 3 hours a day, it reverts to its laid back ways when they leave.
Beaches north of Puerto Vallarta
The north shore of the bay is lined with beach towns that offer good wading beaches and the usual tourist amenities. These include (east to west): Bucerias, Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Sayulita, Playa la Manzanilla, Playa Destiladeras, Playa Pontoque, and Punta Mita, all in the State of Nayarit. All can be reached by bus (departing from Wal-Mart).