While Puerto Vallarta resides in the State of Jalisco, just a very short 5 minute drive north brings you to the state of Nayarit. Due to it’s proximity to Puerto Vallarta in the mid ‘90s the State of Jalisco has attempted to capitalize on PVs booming tourism industry and has produced a planned residential and resort community called Nuevo Vallarta. The town sits on over three miles of creamy sandy beaches.
To get there it’s just a quick 10 minute drive north of the airport. There’s really only one road north so it couldn’t be more simple. Approximately a mile north of the Rio Ameca Bridge you will see Club de Playa, pass the parking lot (entrance fee $15 per car) and you’ll find a public pool, snack bar and a wonderful long beach. The sand is nearly level with the ocean and provides good surfing, fishing, swimming, bodysurfing and boogie boarding. Surfers may want to continue to Playa Anclote, a bit north in Punta Mita.
Beware that once crossing the Rio Ameca Bridge you are crossing into another timezone in which you will gain one hour.
The second town north of Puerto Vallarta is Bucerias (Place of Divers) located 12 miles north of the Puerto Vallarta airport and features the longest, palest beach on Banderas Bay. Bucerias is an old sleepy fishing village which is becoming a favorite for people looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Puerto Vallarta but still want the amenities of a Resort town. Although a small town of 5,000 there are plenty of activities for visitors such as a vibrant art scene, good dining, nightlife and shopping opportunities.
Restaurants are located on Calle Lazaro Cardenas, parallel to the beach, just south of the town center. Bucerias is also known for its good food at the roadside stands serving fresh seafood and extremely reasonable prices.
Punta Mita is the furthermost town at the Northern tip of Banderas Bay and about 25 miles (a 45min drive) from Puerto Vallarta proper. The town is home to some of the areas finest resorts most notably The Four Seasons Resort and its first class Pacifico Golf Course which was named the number one golf course in the world by Conde Nast Traveler in 2008.
Punta Mita is also home to the beautiful coral sand beach of Playa Anclote (Anchor Beach). A half mile stretch of finely grained light sand more reminiscent of the Mediterranean than those in other parts of The Bay. The water depths are gradual and extend for a long distance out, the waves are gentle and long breaking making it an ideal place to learn how to surf. Board rentals and lessons are readily available, along with Palapas and beach side restaurants. To get there, you will need to take the one fork in the road to the West on the Punta Mita highway, then pass through the private gates of The Four Seasons for a few minutes and you are there (note: this may now be closed to the public).
Punta Mita is the closest village to Islas Marietas an archipelago of four islands with an underwater preserve, which is an hour boat ride off the coast. there are birds, sea turtles, dolphins and whales (in season, December through March). Land tours are prohibited as there is a Federal penitentiary there.
Continuing north on the Pacific coast from Punta Mita (there is only one road along the coast) you will find Sayulita, a small fishing village with a population of approximately 4,000. The two mile beach is incredibly beautiful, sits on its own small cove and produces perfect waves for surfing. The excellent surfing has turned Sayulita into a mecca for young, hip bohemian visitors and expats. That said, Sayulita still retains its authentic Mexican town feel with cobblestone and sand streets.
The south end of the beach is popular with tourists and during the high season it can get a bit crowed, but for a little slice of peace you just need to walk a short distance to the north end, which is much more laid back and secluded.
San Francisco aka San Pancho
The last substantial village north of Puerto Vallarta and south of San Blas is the little former mango processing village of San Francisco (or as the locals refer to it, San Pancho). The town is small with a population of 1,000 full time residents. San Francisco sits in the middle of a mile long beach which produces big open ocean waves that often carry with it very strong undertows – so ocean activities should be undertaken with a great deal of caution.
The next city north of Puerto Vallarta is San Blas, another hot spot for surfing. The activities here are vast therefore will be addressed in another show.
View trip to San Blas from PV in a larger map