As much fun as it is to be a part of the hustle and bustle of Puerto Vallarta, with its fancy bistros and art galleries and winding cobblestone streets, eventually, you might—like me—need a break from the crowds.
The perfect escape is a small fishing village in a picturesque cove just 45 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta by sea.
Benefits of Water Taxis
There technically is a road to Yelapa, but it’s several hours and a rough ride—requiring a four-by-four vehicle.
But there is a smoother journey—hop in a water taxi and skim across the azure waters of Banderas Bay.
Water taxis depart throughout the day from Puerto Vallarta’s Los Muertos Pier (located off of Los Muertos Beach) and drop guests off on Yelapa’s sandy beach, with returns leaving throughout the day up to 4:30 p.m.
The other benefit to travelling by sea is the potential for dolphin spotting, which our group was lucky enough to experience during the return voyage against the backdrop of a stunning sunset.
Village of Yelapa
The village of Yelapa rises up into the surrounding jungle via an uphill network of cobblestone footpaths. Artisans and vendors line the most popular routes, displaying textiles, trinkets and craftworks.
One vendor you have to visit is local institution Don Javier, creator of functional woodcarvings such as vases, jewelry boxes and the like—though buyers should beware that they will be required to seal the deal with a generous swig of the proprietor’s potent raicilla, a local spirit similar to tequila.
The uphill climb through the village can be a bit of a slog in the heat of the day, but the payoff is worth it. At the top of the climb you’ll find a picturesque 150-foot waterfall spilling off the rock cliffs into a natural pool. Anyone wanting to beat the heat can take a refreshing dip before heading back down to sea level.
Lunch on the Beach
For a lazy lunch on the beach, settle into a lounge chair or grab a seat at a table under a shady palapa at the Hotel Lagunita restaurant bar on the north side of the cove.
Here, they serve up plump portions of fish tacos and chile relleno, which are big enough to share while gazing out at the sparkling water dotted with fishing boats.
As far as dessert goes, leave that to legendary “Pie Lady” Chelly Pay, who has been making and vending her creamy confections on the beach for over 20 years (her coconut cream pie is a religious experience for sweet-tooths).
As the shadows lengthen across the beach the thought may occur to simply bed down for the night in one of the Hotel’s deluxe thatched-roof bungalows. In Yelapa, after all, things seem to move a little slower.
Photos by Derrick Mealiffe.
Mexico’s Magic Towns
There are 111 pueblos mágicos in Mexico, each one designated as such for its enchanting beauty, architecture and centuries-old culture. Here are five magic towns—Sayulita, Todos Santos, Tulum, Isla Mujeres and San Sebastián del Oeste—that are easily accessible from major cities and resorts.
Five Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta
Cobblestone streets, a roaring culinary scene and lush surroundings have attracted tourists to Puerto Vallarta since the 1950s. Visit the Vallarta Botanical Garden, escape to Hidden Beach on the Marieta Islands, sign up for a food tour and ride up to rivers and waterfalls on horseback.