Each week we bring you one of the best beaches in the world as our Beach of the Week and this week’s best beach is one of Mexico’s most beautiful beaches.
BEACH: Yelapa, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
WHERE: Along Puerto Vallarta’s South Shore, tucked away into the southernmost cove of Banderas Bay. This beach backs on to a nature-loving fishing village that couldn’t be more “one with the sea” (no seriously, they just introduced electricity and telephone services).
WHY: Many celebrities, from the likes of Hilary Swank to Bob Dylan (that’s how you know it’s good) could tell you why they retreat to Yelapa, but the sheer fact that they frequent this shoreline should be pretty self-explanatory. Beyond exclusive, this beach practically melts away your thoughts and worries with each ray of sunshine that beams down across the vast stretch of buttery beige sands. Several rustic palm covered restaurants dot the beach, luring hungry visitors with tasty Mexican cuisine, while a nearby gushing waterfall calls to adventurers for a romp in the refreshing waters.
HOW: It’s as easy as hopping on one of the water taxis and indulging in a quick coastal ride. Taxis depart on a regular basis from Los Muertos Pier, Boca de Tomatlán and Mismalova. Or if you’re in a rush and only plan on making a brief stop off here (which wouldn’t we completely advise- it’s just too lovely not to spend longer), various local day cruises make a stop at Yelapa along the way.
H2O TONE: Midnight Blue
SAND TONE: Graham Cracker Crust
STAY: Verana. Perched on a hillside overlooking the ocean, this luxury boutique resort and spa offers a panoramic view of breath taking mountain landscape and relatively untouched Mexican jungle. From indulgent spa treatments to rejuvenating yoga retreats, Verana makes it impossible not to completely regenerate. And the best part is that the hotel provides ideal transportation from the remote Yelapa beach to their even more remote location…via mule. Ándele!
Exploring Mexico’s Pacific and Caribbean coasts
When people think Mexico, many see golden sand, blue water and green palms. Hundreds of beaches fit this bill: some near-empty with a few palm-thatched eateries and cabañas; others busy urban beaches. Most of the best are on the Pacific or the Caribbean coasts.
Right, got your bathers and a towel?
The hippest town on the Yucatán Peninsula. Playa’s sands aren’t quite as powder-perfect as at some other Mexican Caribbean spots, and the waters aren’t quite so azure, but the beaches are jammed with the bronzed, blond and beautiful (and often – unusually for Mexico – topless). If crowds aren’t your thing, go north of Calle 38, where a few scrawny palms serve as shade. If it’s underwater thrills you’re seeking, there are some spectacular dive sites around Playa too.
The Mexican Pipeline’s surf, a string of gentler beaches, coastal wildlife and Puerto’s traditional incarnations as fishing port and market town add up to a place that suits just about everyone. Playa Zicatella is a magnet for experienced surfers keen for a challenge, while the tranquil beaches of Bahía Principal and Bahía Puerto Angelito are tailor-made for sun worshippers and families. The accommodations and food here are getting even better, too.
This beach at Todos Santos has some of Baja California’s nicest surfing swells – powerful but great for beginners too. Or you can just hang out at sunset and watch the sun dip into the Pacific. Sea turtles lay here as well, and eagle rays glide through the water beneath the surfers; it’s an exquisitely mellow vibe. Go soon before development changes things too much.
One of several Mexican beaches with the same name (Beach of the Dead, but don’t let that deter you), this Puerto Vallarta beach is a quintessential people-watching spot. Mariachis stroll about looking for business, kids catch a free ride on the river as it enters the sea and drummer circles coalesce in the sweaty heat of the afternoon; this is one buzzing stretch of sand. Settle down with a coca fría and scan the horizon for whales.
A 2km strip of pale sand crashing Pacific breakers, Zipo is a legendary travelers’ hideout with a cosmic vibe, very little organized activity, and a great selection of places to stay and eat. Caution: the riptides and undertow are deadly. Head to nearby (and equally laidback) San Agustinillo for body-boarding and safer swimming conditions.
Get away from it all on Isla Mujeres, where the beaches range from the blissful (Playa Norte) to the lively (Playa Lancheros), and offshore snorkeling and diving opportunities abound. Dive sites with evocative names like Barracuda, La Bandera, Manchones and El Jigueo will thrill you with their coral and marine critters.