Banderas Bay, with its deep canyons, towering mountains, dense jungle, and meandering rivers, was a secluded corner of the Mexican nation for a long time. However, this natural beauty also presented a challenge to adventurers trying to reach its shores or escape from them. For decades, the bay was a stage of conflicts, not only with the imposing nature but also between its locals and unwanted visitors, including wealth-hungry pirates.
El Real del Cuale and the Rise of Piracy in Puerto Vallarta
Near the bay lay “El Real del Cuale,” a mining town that held unexplored treasures. As word of these mines spread, greed attracted plundering pirates eager to exploit these natural riches, which the locals believed were rightfully theirs.
The raiders transported their loot along the Cuale River, following its course through the Caloso division until reaching the shores of Banderas Bay, where pirates made their landings.
The Rebellion of the Locals
Fed up with seeing their resources and wealth plundered time and time again, the people of Puerto Vallarta decided to take matters into their own hands, even if it meant risking their lives.
According to writer Ventura García Castillo, it was a fateful day on May 3, 1862, when tensions reached a breaking point. A ship anchored near the mouth of the Cuale River, and the locals interpreted this as another act of exploitation.
The ensuing confrontation was a whirlwind of violence: arrows and bullets filled the air, claiming lives on both sides.
The determination of the locals to rid themselves of the pirates was fierce; they were willing to fight to the last resource, using even stones, sticks, and knives when ammunition ran low. The beach became a bloody battlefield, with the sand stained red from the intense struggle.
Pirate Battle at Playa los Muertos
When the fight against the pirates finally ended, the survivors took the loot and withdrew from the area. The legacy of this epic battle persists in the form of “Playa los Muertos,” a name that evokes a history of piracy in Puerto Vallarta. Although many are unaware of the origin of this name, the place has evolved significantly over time.
Today, Playa los Muertos is located in the Emiliano Zapata neighborhood, one of the safest and most peaceful areas of Puerto Vallarta.
It is a welcoming place for the LGBTQ+ community and has been named the best “gay-friendly” beachfront neighborhood in Mexico. Far from its history of conflicts, this beach has transformed into a destination of tolerance and diversity, where life in all its forms is celebrated.
The bay and Playa los Muertos have a history that spans centuries, marked by conflicts, greed, and bravery. The legend of the pirates who once terrorized these waters is a testament to the resilience of the locals and how history can influence the evolution of a place over time.
Today, Playa los Muertos is a symbol of inclusion and diversity in Puerto Vallarta, evidence that even in places where history has been violent, love and acceptance can prevail.