5 of the best unknown beaches in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

February, 2024

Spring break is just around the corner and when it comes to spring break travel, nowhere is quite like Mexico, and Puerto Vallarta is often the first place that springs to mind for sun-seeking travelers. The bustling Pacific Coast beach city is known for the enormous Bay of Banderas, surrounded by dozens of beaches that create that idyllic beachy backdrop. But when it comes to the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta, where do you even begin?

You may be surprised to learn that most of Puerto Vallarta’s top beaches aren’t even in Puerto Vallarta itself. Since Puerto Vallarta is a full-fledged beach city, some people find that the beaches in PV proper can be crowded and expensive. So if this spring break you want to chase those postcard-perfect slices of sand, you’ll have to know exactly where to look. Here’s what you need to know about where to find the very best beaches in Puerto Vallarta and how to enjoy them to the fullest.

Playa Las Gemelas
Just outside of Puerto Vallarta, about 15 minutes south of the world-famous Zona Romántica, lies Playa Las Gemelas. The aptly named “Twin Beach” is split in half by Condominios Girasol Sur, making it two beaches in one. The trip out of town is what helps to keep the crowds at bay. On weekdays, you’ll find the shoreline to be relatively empty, so you’ll be able to claim a sugary soft patch of sand to call your own. The water here is also a beautiful gradient, running from a gentle turquoise to a glorious deep blue. This beach has no facilities, so you’ll have to bring what you need for the day, but its undeveloped, rugged beauty is what makes this one of the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta.

Playa Conchas Chinas
It’s hard to believe that such a beautiful beach sits mere steps away from one of the most overcrowded beaches in the Puerto Vallarta area – sandwiched between the mountains and the sea, this beach is known for its spectacular natural beauty, crystal clear water, and its proximity to downtown. If you like exploring tidal pools, this is the beach to visit.

Surrounding the beach is the upscale Conchas Chinas community, with its grand hillside villas and terraces with panoramic views of the bay. South of Playa Conchas Chinas is Playa Lindomar, which has a casual little restaurant called La Playita that is well worth the visit. Directly to the north of Conchas Chinas is the Zona Romántica and all the tourist-friendly facilities you’ll need.

Playa Caballo
Most travelers headed to this part of town are in pursuit of Playa Las Animas, a beach accessible only by boat and known for its string of beach restaurants and bars. Playa Caballo, directly adjacent to Playa Las Animas, has a completely different vibe. This undeveloped beach is straight out of a fantasy novel, with soft, powdery sand and a color palette of extreme jungle greens set against sparkling turquoise.

The only way to access Playa Caballo is to either take a water taxi to Las Animas and go on foot or to hike along the Cabo Corrientes trail that begins in Boca de Tomatlán and runs along the coastline to Playa Las Animas. You won’t find any services on Playa Caballo — it’s truly a pristine beach — however, there is a beach club nearby at Casitas Maraika, plus all the restaurants and facilities over on Playa Las Animas.

Playa Las Glorias
Located between the Hotel Zone and Cinco de Diciembre neighborhoods, this predominantly locals-only beach has remained quite quiet thanks to its position in front of a construction site, where work has been at a standstill for years. It’s a rare underdeveloped bubble smack dab between two of Puerto Vallarta’s most bustling neighborhoods.

The best way to get to this beach is to head to the Costa Club Punta Arena and walk past the construction site, which overlooks the beach. A few companies have their jet ski rental operations here, and a very small wooden shack is run by a young couple, selling snacks, fresh coconuts, water, and beer.

Playa Camarones
Heading away from Playa Las Glorias towards downtown and the Malecón, you will cross over Playa Camarones, the principal beach for the Cinco de Diciembre neighborhood. This beach has a lot more action than Playa Las Glorias, but its clientele is made up of mostly locals and expats. It has a much different laid-back energy compared to beaches closest to Zona Romántica.

A great place to spend the day at Playa Camarones is at El Solar, a toes-in-the-sand beach club and restaurant that always blasts a great playlist and serves a deliciously fresh menu focusing on seafood.