Yelapa – Discovering the South of Vallarta
Just south of Puerto Vallarta are many small and hidden beaches. They are a far cry from the long wide beaches found in and above the hotel zone, and are only accessible by water taxi.
Yelapa is one of these beautiful places. To get to Yelapa you can take a water taxi, known locally as a Lancha, from the pier in the Romantic Zone. Or, you can do as we did, and take the beautiful drive down to Boca de Tomatlan and catch a Lancha from there. The fare from Boca de Tomatlan is 60 pesos per person each way, and the Lancha is safe for elderly people and young children.
The ride on the Lancha is probably the most impressive part of the trip. The Lancha is kind of like a bus on water, and you can see locals and tourists alike hopping on for the 20 minute ride down to this isolated, pretty area. From the boat the land looks impressive. Steep mountains covered in tropical foliage rise up from the edges of the sea, and tiny enclaves with sandy beaches appear between the rocks that reach out into the ocean. The ocean is a spectacular deep aqua color in this area. The surf is extremely calm, and you can see schools of fish next to the boat as you whiz by. In the distance the mountains are topped by clouds. Photos of this part of the trip are an absolute must.
When you arrive, you step off the boat into the shallow water at edge of the beach (bring sandals for sure!) and are greeted by the restaurant owners who offer beach chairs and umbrellas and provide refreshments during your time on the beach. The restaurants are completely optional, but for a very reasonable price you can enjoy the shade and sip delicious drinks for hours on end. The sun is extremely strong almost all day long in this area, so the respite from exposure alone makes these little restaurants worth it. Plus it is great to support the local economy.
Time can be spent relaxing in your lounge chair, walking up and down the beach, gazing into the beautiful hills, taking photos and swimming in the calm waters. The atmosphere is very quiet, laid back and friendly.
Depending on what time you would like to return to the real world, you can take a Lancha back after a few hours or stay longer. Just make sure you agree with the boat driver on what time you would like to go back.
The Yelapa experience will leave you refreshed and relaxed. If you are like me, you will be surprised that this quiet heavenly paradise exists so close to the hustle and bustle of Vallarta and will be planning to return as soon as possible. Enjoy!