Visitors to Puerto Vallarta can have it all

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico’s west coast beach resort capital, is a jewel of a historic city cradled between the Bay of Banderas and the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains. A combination of colonial Mexican charm and barefoot beach escape, Puerto Vallarta is one of the best destinations in Mexico for visitors to truly “have it all.”

In the Hotel Zone, visitors will find side-by-side beaches known for the stretch of all-inclusive hotels that back them — picture-perfect for sunbathing, an afternoon cocktail or evening sunset.

Puerto Vallarta is the only destination in Mexico where the historical colonial city center meets the sea. The history-rich Zona Romantica offers some of the most popular and beautiful beaches in the city. Playa Los Muertos is always happening, with beach clubs, bars and restaurants. By day, the beach is alive with activity, parties and boat trips departing from the iconic Los Muertos pier. By night, this is the section of town to really immerse yourself in the city’s eclectic gastronomic scene and high-energy, electric nightlife.

Moving south from Zona Romantica, travelers will discover Puerto Vallarta’s “hidden” beaches, frequented mainly by locals or travelers in the know. Playa Las Gemelas, which translates to The Twins Beach, is a pair of small beaches just a few miles from downtown. These quiet, off-the-radar strands are known for their turquoise waters, gentle waves and golden sand. Keep in mind there are no vendors on the beach, so visitors will have to bring supplies in with them. But the views are completely worth it.

Another picture-perfect beach on the south side of the city is Conchas Chinas, also celebrated for its turquoise waters and golden sand. Visitors love it for the rock formations that create fun pools of water. This is a very glamorous part of town, so be on the lookout for the gorgeous mansions up in the hills.

Farther outside of town lie beaches that are only accessible by boat. The most popular is Playa Las Animas, a remote beach that is one of the most famous in all of southern Puerto Vallarta — and entirely worth a day trip. It is packed with restaurants and bars to spend the day lounging underneath a palapa with a raicilla cocktail in hand. Visitors can rent paddle boards, take banana boat rides, snorkel or simply lounge on one of the many lounge chairs that line the shore.

Las Animas can be the starting point from which to explore some other hidden beaches, like Caballo Beach, a hidden oasis of calm, clear water and bleached sand with just a single bungalow-style hotel and beach restaurant/bar. The other is Colomitos, a small beach fringed in the greens of the jungle-covered mountains that back it and the turquoise rolling waves that gently lap against its sands.

One stop farther is the private paradise cove of Yelapa, offering not only a beach but hikes to a beautiful nearby waterfall through the jungle. This safe, scenic walk takes about 30 to 40 minutes and leads to a refreshing natural pool of water perfect for taking a dip in. Yelapa can make a wonderful day trip. Or, consider renting a room at one of the basic hotels along the beach.

No matter what the vibe, from peace and tranquility to maximum party and adrenaline, Puerto Vallarta has a gorgeous beach to match. There’s no time like the present to start discovering the beauty of what the beaches of Puerto Vallarta have to offer.

Puerto Vallarta is a perfect family-friendly destination providing a host of activities that will please children, teenagers, parents and grandparents alike. The city itself greatly reflects the best of what authentic Mexican family life has to offer.

From joining local families on a leisurely Sunday stroll or bike ride along Puerto Vallarta’s lively Malecón waterfront promenade — where they can enjoy arts-and-crafts markets and free outdoor entertainment, including concerts, theater, mimes and the “flying dancers” of Papantla — to riding zip lines across treetops, watching whales leap out of the ocean or swimming with dolphins in the wild, children and adults of all ages can share memorable moments in a fun-filled and educational vacation.

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