Puerto Vallarta is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Mexico, and for good reason, the surrounding beaches are stunning. But very few people know of the hidden jungle and beach paradise of Yelapa, a boat-access town near the southwestern edge of Banderas Bay. Susan Ripley of Brooklyn Tropicali shares secret gems only locals know:
Yelapa: An Off-the-Beaten Path Paradise
If you are looking for a tropical beach to disconnect from reality, Yelapa is a perfect option. This tiny town is only 30 minutes by boat taxi from downtown Puerto Vallarta, but feels worlds away from everything.
Yelapa is nestled deep in a small cove with jungle covered hills that rise up into mountains. This keeps the turquoise water here generally calm.
The town of Yelapa is charming, empty of cars, full of colorful buildings, leafy greens, and winding dirt or cobblestone paths.
There are plenty of options to stay overnight, from simple guesthouses to beautiful boutique hotels, and a few yoga and wellness retreats.
What to Do in Yelapa
Swim and Relax
The best and most important thing to do in Yelapa is to relax and disconnect. The reason this place is so special is that it’s removed from the hustle and bustle, separate from noise and distractions.
Take a book or two, sit in a hammock or beach chair, and listen to the sound of the waves lapping.
Swim in the main town beach, or go in search of Playa Isabel for an even quieter experience.
Eat Ceviche, Indulge in Pie, and Try Raicilla
Mexico is famous for its delicious food, and Yelapa has a few local specialities to check out.
Ceviche is popular on all Mexican beaches, so be sure to pull up a chair at one of the beachside restaurants and order a fresh plate.
Yelapa is also famous for their “pie ladies” or the women who walk the beaches selling the fresh pies that they’ve baked that day. They really are delicious and a fun and unusual beach treat!
Finally, try some Raicilla, the local distilled liquor of choice. Raicilla, like popular mezcal, is made from agave, but has a distinct flavor. Try some at Micheladas Vicky in town.
Take the Short Hike to the Waterfall
There is a really beautiful waterfall only a 10 minute walk from town. Head up the hill to the south edge of town and follow the footpath and signs.
The water is very refreshing for a swim on a hot day!
There is also a second waterfall that you can hike to if you have more time. It’s a 2 hour hike from town.
How to Get to Yelapa
Getting to this remote beach is not as hard as you might think. You’ll want to make your way to the Muelle de Playa los Muertos, or the Playa los Muertos dock, in the Old Town/Romantic Zone of Puerto Vallarta. This is a direct 30 minute taxi to Yelapa beach. You can purchase your ticket in the office at the end of Los Muertos Pier.
Another option is to take a bus or taxi to the village of Boca de Tomatlan and take a boat taxi from there.
You can visit Yelapa as a day trip from Puerto Vallarta – just be sure to check the return schedule for the last boat of the day. Or consider staying for a few nights to truly disconnect and relax!