Experiencing the bay from the water is a must; you can catch a water taxi south every morning at the Los Muertos Beach Pier at 10:00 am. You can also take the bus to Boca de Tomatlan, then take a water taxi from there.
There are many secluded and pristine beaches on the bay only accessible by boat. Some have small villages with beachfront palapa restaurants. There are 3 stops on the Water Taxi route from Boca: the jungle communities of Las Animas, Quimixto (where you can ride horseback up to a jungle waterfall) and Yelapa, a bohemian artist´s enclave, the last village on the south part of the bay.
The beach restaurants in Yelapa are famous for whole grilled fish with garlic and fresh water langostinos; be sure to try the potent agave liquor Raicilla, distilled in the mountains above the beach. Without a doubt, the best way to see Yelapa is at night. For a jungle getaway overnight, Yelapa has a great beachfront hotel, Lagunita Hotel, with a natural rock pool and romantic bungalows set against a lush tropical background for $75-100 usd/night.
For private excursions on the bay, we work with a very reliable captain that has a 23 foot launch with a 75 hp outboard motor, seats and canopy. Mismaloya Divers is owned by Chato and his brother Chipol; they will take you snorkeling, fishing or just to have lunch on the beach in Yelapa for about $200 usd for the day, tip not included, boat seats 6-8 persons comfortably, 2-4 max if you are fishing. Call your rental agent to make a reservation or call direct, 228-0020.
Other well known outfitters in town for diving and snorkeling are Chico’s Dive Shop, Pacific Scuba and Ocean Quest Dive Tours.
Sunset cruises or day trips on sail boats are another great way to see the bay. The Eleganz is a fabulous state of the art catamaran with an attentive professional crew that can arrange anything from box lunches to catered cocktail parties. Candace Shaw’s Fishing with Carolina is another excellent boat charter outfit for fishing, sailing or pleasure cruises.
The Bay of Banderas is teeming with wildlife. Humpback whales swim these protected waters with their young November through March; manta rays, spinner and bottle nose dolphin cruise the bay by the hundreds, putting on spectacular shows in the wild. Peak viewing times for Whale Watching are January and February, tours take place November through March.
Fishing is unsurpassed in this part of the Pacific, particularly in the warm weather months. There are many experienced sport fishing charters specializing in sail fish, marlin and tuna. They have sportfisher boats such as Bertram and Hatteras that go outside the bay, cost is anywhere from $400 to $1200 usd depending on the boat and amount of time spent on the water. There are several in town: Charter Dreams has been featured in Western Outdoor News . Their signature vessel is the Anticipation, a 38 ft Bertram with an American captain, salon with A/C and fly bridge that seats 8 persons. Master Baiters and Fish in Puerto Vallarta are other excellent local sport fishing outfitters.
Mahi Mahi/Dolphin (called Dorado in Mexico), smaller tuna, Bonita, Rooster Fish and Wahoo can be caught inside the bay. Every November, the Puerto Vallarta Club de Pesca hosts the International Sailfish and Marlin Tournament , a popular event with local and international sports fisherman for more than 50 years.
Vallarta Adventures is home of the “Swim with the Dolphins” program in Nuevo Vallarta. They also have many tours including “Rhythms of the Night” , a boat cruise to the jungle beach of Las Caletas, where dinner and a show await guests in this secluded paradise formerly owned by John Huston.
The north shore of Puerto Vallarta features the Hotel Zone and Marina Vallarta. The Marina is home to fabulous yachts and ocean faring ships from all over the world. Opequimar is a full service marine center and boat dealer with dry marina, travel lift, fuel station, repair shop, marine hardware store and bar/grill.
Marina Vallarta has a very North American feel; landscaped boulevards with condominium complexes, luxury hotels, upscale home decorative stores, a championship golf course and an array of highly acclaimed restaurants overlooking the docks including Porto Belo, La Terraza di Roma and El Faro, a lighthouse with a bar on top. The swanky Nikki Beach Club at the Westin Hotel has large bed sized lounges next to the water and features a fabulous Sunday brunch.
Paradise Village Marina is located in Nuevo Vallarta, about 10 minutes past the Marina. An area with residential and exclusive membership projects and a long stretch of white sandy beach with a great beachfront restaurant called Etc Beach Club . A new 350 berth marina and boardwalk is currently under construction in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle , approx 15 mins north of Nuevo Vallarta.
You might want to rent a car to take a trip even farther north to Sayulita or San Pancho, quaint surfing towns on the Pacifico coast outside the bay, the new area for real estate development very popular with North Americans.
One of our local magazines, Vallarta Lifestyles , is a great source of information on things to do in the area and includes an extensive review of our top restaurants. There will be several copies at your vacation home, along with maps and an information book. Your rental agent will provide you with extra information upon your arrival and be happy to set you up on any tours, fishing charters or dolphin adventures. Please call our office at 222-9780; also feel free to contact us to make restaurant reservations or call taxis for you.