This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking and making a purchase through the links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This allows me to keep the site up to date and expand on resources. Thanks for reading!
If you’re looking for a hike or way to spend an afternoon in Puerto Vallarta, look no further than the Boca to Las Animas hike.
This gorgeous coastal hike takes you from the small fishing village of Boca de Tomatlan to Playa Las Animas, passing by several secluded beaches and hidden gems that I’ll tell you about in this post.
How to get to the Boca to Las Animas Hike Trailhead
The Las Animas hike trailhead starts from Boca de Tomatlan, a small fishing village just outside of Puerto Vallarta that locals refer to just as ‘Boca.’ To get there, you have a few options:
- If you’re renting a car or lucky enough to know someone with wheels, you can drive there, which is the easiest way. Take Highway 200 from downtown Puerto Vallarta, which follows the coastline; it’s a beautiful drive. From Zona Romantica, it’s about 16km (10 miles) to Boca or about 25-minutes of driving in normal traffic.
- Take an Uber or InDriver (a local car-sharing app). The price will depend on where you’re coming from in the city and the demand, but it should cost you 200-300 pesos (10-15 USD).
- Take the local bus. It departs from Zona Romantica at Basilio Badillo & Constitution (next to the OXXO convenience store). The buses are white and should have labels written with the destinations of where they go on the front window. Just ask the driver ‘Boca?’ if you aren’t sure. The bus costs 10 pesos (50 cents). It can often be crowded in the afternoon and takes about half an hour to get to Boca. It stops at Conchas Chinas, Dreams Resort, Presidente Intercontinental, and Mismaloya along the way.
- Catch a boat from Los Muertos Pier to Boca on the Yelapa run. You can check the schedule here. If you want to arrange a private boat, this is also possible but usually costs anywhere from 1500-3000 pesos.
Boca de Tomatlan
Boca de Tomatlan is a quaint and lovely traditional fishing village, which many use as a starting point for trips to the south beaches of Puerto Vallarta.
The bus will drop you off at the top of Boca, but the town is only a few streets. You walk down the stairs to get there. A local woman is selling fresh fruit right outside the bus stop, which is a nice snack to pick for the Las Animas hike.
If you’re hungry beforehand, there are also traditional beachside restaurants you can stop at in Boca and some small convenience stores.
If you take the boat here from Puerto Vallarta, it will drop you off at the pier on the north side of the beach. To reach the trail, walk down the dirt road to the mouth of the river.
If you’re driving, there is a parking lot to park by the river.
Boca to Colomitos Hike
The first part of the trail is the Colomitos hike from Boca, about halfway to Las Animas, and the more challenging part of the hike. You can also join this hike as a guided tour.
From the bus stop, walk down the street into town until you reach the last road adjacent to the river (named Horcones river). This is also where the parking lot is.
You need to cross to the other side of the river to get to the trail. You can do this by either walking up the street to the left and walking across the bridge or walking/swimming across the beach and up some rocks.
The latter may be difficult depending on the tide, so I recommend taking the bridge.
Follow the edge to the right once you are on the other side.
The trail is marked with sporadic signs showing the way there, but it does pass by some locals’ houses, so be sure to stick to the right side and not wander into someone’s backyard.
The trail is one of the most popular hikes in Puerto Vallarta, so you’re likely to run into other tourists and locals to ask if you get confused about which way to go. Everyone is very friendly in Vallarta!
You’ll start the trail walking through the jungle, which is the most strenuous part of the hike as there are lots of ups and downs.
After about 40 minutes, you’ll reach the first beach in Colomitos Cove. The trail descends stairs, and you’ll see the shimmering emerald green water from the top.
It’s a stunning color and is a great place to cool off and swim. Granted, the first time I went here I had it all to myself and thought it was this amazing secluded spot.
However, the second time I did the Colomitos hike, it was packed with tourists, which I’ve learned is usually the case. You can get a water taxi here, and there is a cliffside restaurant called Ocean Love Grill which I believe you have to make a reservation for.
The beaches get progressively more beautiful and quieter as you continue hiking, so keep walking if Colomitos is too packed for you.
The trail continues on the other side of the cove. Follow the cement staircase on the west side of the beach back into the jungle. Another path diverges into the jungle, but make sure to stay right along the coast.
You’ll pass through by a couple of more beaches that typically only have a few people on them.
The next one after Colomitos is Playa Escondida, which is just 0.5km (0.3 miles). Once you get past Playa Escondida, you are done with the hardest parts of the hike!
Shortly after, you’ll walk beside Playa Hacamiya, dotted with many huge rocks.
The next part of the hike is easier. It’s 1.2 (0.75 miles) to Casa Marikas, which you’ll start to hear music coming from as you get closer.
Casa Maraika is an amazing restaurant/boutique hotel. The vibe here is wonderful, and it’s a great place to grab a drink or snack and relax, so be sure to factor some time into your hike to spend here.
We actually ended up spending hours here last time, never making it to Las Animas and instead just getting a boat back from there with new friends.
Las Animas is only about a 20-minute walk from Casa Maraika across Playa del Caballo. It looks further on the map, but it’s really not.
Playa del Cabolla is a huge, secluded beach just a 5-minute walk from Playa Las Animas. So if you’re looking for some more peace and quiet, soak it up here because Las Animas is very busy.
Las Animas Beach Puerto Vallarta
From Las Animas, you can either hike back the same way or take a shared boat (called Panga) back to Boca. It takes about 20 minutes and should cost you between 100 and 200 pesos.
When you reach Las Animas, stop at any of the local beachfront restaurants for a cold beer and fresh seafood before taking a water taxi back. But make sure not to miss the last one!
Ask any of the boat drivers for the last boat time; it’s either at 5 pm or 6 pm, depending on the time of year. You can get boats back after this time, but they are considered private and much more expensive.
You can always hike back to Boca from Las Animas, but I recommend enjoying your time on the beaches/restaurants and getting the boat back to Puerto Vallarta instead.
The trail also continues to Quimixto, but this is quite a bit further, so you’ll make sure you have plenty of daylight left to do this. I haven’t hiked to Quimixto yet.
Find directions for the Boca to Las Animas hike on AllTrails here. Download the offline version as there isn’t great service for much of the trail.
How long is the hike from Boca to Las Animas?
The hike from Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas takes 2 hours if you don’t make any stops, but you’ll likely be making many because there are many beautiful beaches and fabulous restaurants to check out. Plan for 4-6 hours to not be in a rush and take your time swimming and enjoying the beautiful scenery of Mexico.
The trail from Boca to Las Animas is 4.5 miles (7.2 kilometers).
You can get to Las Animas Beach by hiking from Boca de Tomatlan, which this blog post describes, or taking a boat from Boca or Los Muertos Pier in Puerto Vallarta.
The beautiful part about the hike to Las Animas beach is that you can customize the day to your liking.
The first time I did this hike, we made the mistake of leaving late in the day around 3 pm, and having to rush through it because we were worried about making the last boat back.
The second time I did the hike was much more enjoyable because we got to stop and spend time swimming in the secluded beaches and enjoying the fantastic atmosphere of Casa Maraika.
What to bring on the Las Animas hike:
- It’s a rocky path along the coastline with some incline/decline (215m elevation gain), so wear comfortable shoes or sturdy sandals for this hike. I’ve done it in flip-flops before, but it’s not ideal.
- Water – There are restaurants in Boca/Las Animas you can buy some, but I recommend taking about 1L as it’s hot and sunny and you’ll want to stay hydrated.
- Swimsuit to enjoy the beautiful beaches.
- Sunscreen, sun hat, and sunglasses.
- Mosquito repellant
- Change of clothes for after swimming.
- Light snacks. Don’t worry about bringing a full meal; there are great restaurants along the hike and many places to eat in Boca and Playa Las Animas.
Get a complete Puerto Vallarta packing list here!
For more information about the hike, check out this video.
Planning a trip to Puerto Vallarta? Don’t miss these posts!