When you visit Puerto Vallarta, besides taking a day or night tour on the Marigalante pirate ship you should be thinking about going off the beaten track. The road less traveled in this area of Mexico can lead to some truly amazing places. It’s not only about sun, sand, and chilled, frosted margaritas; it’s culture, history, art, music, fine dining, and natural beauty.
Here are some of the most amazing places just off the beaten track in Puerto Vallarta and Banderas Bay;
Tehuamixtle and Mayto
Found on the Costa Alegre corridor, the beaches of Tehuamixtle (also known as Tehua, pronounced Tewaah) and Mayto are just one hour and forty-five minutes from Puerto Vallarta and make for wonderful day trip destinations. The small cove of Tehuamixtle (also known as La playita de amor [Little beach of love]), in particular, is a must visit if you love fresh seafood and immersing yourself into the local area and atmosphere. In fact, if you’re lucky you might see some pelicans diving as you enjoy a bite to eat.
A few minutes further north you will find the beach of Mayto where there is open ocean, coral sands, and 2 or 3 small hotels which make it possible to enjoy a day or two in the area. Though this beach is stunning and the waters are clear and warm we would not recommend swimming here as there is a very strong undertow. Stick to the sand and enjoy the surf from afar when at Mayto beach.
Cajon de Peñas
Cajon de Peñas lake is a little farther afield at two and half hours southwards of Puerto Vallarta city, but this freshwater fishing haven is really worth the travel time! If you like to fish you will be enamoured with the abundance of bass tilapia and langostino in these waters; bird lovers will also have the chance to see a variety of native species, and there are even some modest guest houses where you could stay if you wished to spend more time in the area. The pace of life here is slow and gentle, and that’s just how the locals (and many tourists) like it!
San Sebastián del Oeste is one of Mexico’s “Pueblo Mágico” [Magical Town] and is within easy reach of Puerto Vallarta. The town was granted this status by the Mexican Tourism Board for many reasons, but we have no doubt that the rich history and natural beauty of the town and surrounding area have much to do with it. The mountain air is cooler than you will find down at the beaches, and the midday sun is less punishing; this is perhaps why it is such a favorite with locals and visitors alike.
El Tuito acts as a hub for the beaches of Mayto, Yelapa, and Tehuamixtle, and can be found just 45 minutes from the downtown area of Puerto Vallarta. A sleepy and charming town, El Tuito is full of culture and history; you shouldn’t be surprised if you see some children practicing Mexican Folkloric dances. In fact, despite being chilled out, El Tuito always has something fun going on. Why not go for a stroll around the town and enjoy some chilled fruit water (agua fresca) and chicken tostadas for an authentic Mexican lunch?
One of the really great things about these destinations is that they are accessible to people on all kinds of budgets. You can reach them via taxi, rental car, or bus, and so much of the joy they offer is freely available. Just remember to always open your hearts to the locals who so often say “Mi Casa es su Casa” [My home is your home].