Mismaloya Beach is hardly a beach any more.
Visitors from years past will be saddened to see the damage wrought
by the passing of Hurrican Kena in 2001, which took most of the
sand with it as it moved north. The long row of palapa restaurants
along the south side of the bay has been reduced to just a few
survivors, and if the sand keeps moving, they might be gone before
long too. The beautiful Hotel La Jolla Mismaloya has recently
been purchased by the Barcelo hotel group, and we can only hope
they will institute a beach re-building program.
Playa Gemelas, Playa Garza Blanca, and Playa Punta Negra:
Between Mismaloya and Puerto Vallarta are these three beaches
(in order from south to north). These can be difficult to access
due to condos or steep cliffs, but keep a sharp eye out as you
drive the road, look for turn-outs or wide shoulders on which
to park, and you’ll find beautiful beaches that are fairly
secluded or scarcely used. The waves can be dangerous here, so
swim with caution. There are some great rock outcroppings for
snorkeling if the waves are slack.
Los Muertos is by far the most popular beach in Puerto
Vallarta, south of the Cuale River (Rio Cuale). This mostly sandy
beach is long and wide, with typically small waves, perfect for
swimming. The beach is lined by dozens of restaurants and bars,
and despite it’s popularity there’s usually plenty
of room to spread out a towel to soak up rays between dips in
the water. It’s a bustling place full of craft and food
vendors and large extended families with their laughing children.
The pier is a popular place for fishermen…no fancy rods
and reels here…watch them fish with their traditional rigs
of line wrapped around an old Coke bottle, or by casting an intricately-weaved
weighted net. This is a great place to take a ride on the parasail
and get a birds-eye view of the city. The beach has the added
attraction of being on the edge of Viejo Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta’s
beautiful ‘Old Town’.
Playa Camarones (‘Shrimp Beach’)
stretches from the Rio Cuale north along the Malecon (the downtown
sea-front promenade), past the north end of Downtown (‘El
Centro’) to the south end of the ‘hotel zone’.
Usually a wide sandy stretch of beach, but there are some rocky
parts and often the sea-bed drops away sharply, so keep your head
about you when swimming.
Playa Pelicanos is the next named stretch of
beach, from about the Sheraton to Playa Las Glorias. Fairly vacant,
this is a good place to get away from the usual beach crowds while
remaining in the heart of the city.
Las Glorias is the generic name for the stretch of beach
from Playa Pelicanos all the way to the cruise ship terminal and
Marina Vallarta. If you’re staying in any of the hotels
north of the Sheraton or Club del Sol, this is the beach you will
find out your ‘back door’. Beautiful golden sand,
generally great for swimming, and close to the services of the
various hotels which border the beach.
Playa El Saldo is the proper name for the beach
which is more generally known as the ‘Marina Vallarta Beach’,
and backs the row of hotels there. There is a public access to
the beach you can use without going through any of the hotels
between the Mayan Palace Marina hotel and the Melia Hotel.
Playa Nuevo Vallarta is of course the beach
at Nuevo Vallarta, north of the city of Puerto Vallarta. Generally
wider and with fewer rock outcroppings than elsewhere in the bay.
Playa Bucerias is at the town of Bucerias…a
nice stretch of clean sandy beach north-west of Nuevo Vallarta.
Some nice little restaurants line the beach, and the waves are
generally calm…an excellent swimming beach.
Playa La Cruz is not much of a beach, at the
town of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (Just say ‘La Cruz’
and you’ll be understood and won’t have to strain
your tongue on ‘Huanacaxtle’). However it’s
a cute little fishing town, and becoming more and more of a sailor’s
town as plans are underway to build a large marina here.
Destiladeres is one of several beaches between La Cruz
and Punta Mita. Playa Destiladeres is a popular beach with a couple
of rustic restaurants for food and refreshments, especially popular
with Mexican families (where you’ll be more than welcome
too). Nice waves for boogie-boarding and learning to surf. There
are several other difficult-reach-beaches along here, popular
among surfers for the good wave action…check in at the Coral
Reef surfer’s shop in Bucerias for details on how to find
Punta Mita (also known as Playa Anclote) is
renowned for its friendly row of beach restaurants and gentle
slope, making it perfect for all ages. Hurricane Kena sucked a
bit of the sand out of this beach in 2001 as well, but it’s
coming back fairly quickly due to the efforts of the town. For
a long walk on a secluded stretch of beach, head east from town
and enjoy a beautiful stretch of sand several miles long complete
with several secluded coves. Don’t just look at the ocean…the
homes of princes, sheiks, and movie stars set back along this
stretch are a great view too. Punta Mita is also renowned as being
an excellent place to learn to surf, due to consistent low and
long rolling waves…there are a couple of surf schools here.
Of special note is Posada Paraiso, a charming bed-and-breakfast
in town just a couple blocks from the beach.