You can’t visit Puerto Vallarta and not spend significant time on the beach. So after a morning riding ATVs in the mountains, we headed to the beach near Los Muertos Pier to soak in the sun.
I’ve always loved beaches because they’re so full of life, and that was definitely true in PV, where the sights included jet skiing, parasailing, volleyball, dog walking, musicians, and local vendors roaming the beach trying to make a sale.
Beaches are one of the best cheap activities in Puerto Vallarta. If you choose to sit in the fancy chairs near the bars and restaurants, you’ll be expected to buy a drink or two. Or you can sit closer to the shore and soak in the sun, totally free!
Vendors at Puerto Vallarta Beaches
It was telling that I only saw one beggar on the entire visit to Mexico. Everybody else who wanted money was busting their butt, whether by cooking food or playing music or selling clothing or beach essentials.
The musicians ranged from mariachis on the boardwalk to individual guys banging bongo drums to ragtag groups of kids creating tropical beach music with percussion instruments.
The interesting thing is that the amount of tips that people gave them seemed to directly correlate with the amount of time and effort they had put in. The lone guy with the bongo? Not so many tips. The group of kids who had bongos, maracas, and vocals and played full songs they had clearly rehearsed? They made out fairly well.
Beach justice and the free market system playing out in front of us.
Also on display was the endless parade of men and women walking the beach trying to make a few bucks. They sold everything from sunglasses to flip flops to hats to giant purses. I can’t begin to imagine how hard it must be to walk around in 90-plus temperatures carrying several pounds worth of gear on your back. I’d never be able to do that.
Look at this handbag vendor – he walked around like this all day!
We relaxed under the umbrellas at the green chairs restaurant. Visiting in early June, we were past peak tourist season, so the beaches had just the right amount of people – they weren’t packed, but there were plenty of tourists and locals.
We got to kick back and enjoy a tropical drink in a picturesque setting. That’s the typical dream vacation image, right?
Here’s a guide to PV beaches from the local tourism board. The city has many public beaches, plus some that are mainly for guests at resorts along the coast. There are also some really secluded beaches that can be reached by water taxi.
You’ll find water taxis around the Los Muertos Pier if you want to negotiate a rate and head to one of those hidden beaches.
Even though we were in the shade most of the day, I still managed to score a nasty sunburn from the tropical rays. And in a “getting too comfortable” moment, we left our stuff unguarded while swimming in the ocean. Upon returning, I realized that someone had stolen… not my wallet, or camera, or cell phone, but my $5 flip flops. How bizarre!
It’s only in a setting like this that I could be totally unbothered by such a development. I replaced them with a (much more comfortable) set of $5 flip flops from a local store, thus contributing to the Mexican economy. And I still have nothing but good memories from the beaches of Puerto Vallarta.
For more, check out our huge photo essay of Puerto Vallarta photos depicting everyday life in the city.
And if you’re really into Mexican beaches, check out the beaches in Zipolite! That part of Mexico is really fun. Although the waves there are large and somewhat dangerous, the laid-back vibe makes it a great place to hang out.