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When it comes to day trips in Jalisco, it doesn’t get better than Yelepa from Puerto Vallarta.
If you’re looking for an escape from the city, Yelapa is the perfect place to go. It’s got beautiful hiking trails that lead to secluded waterfalls, unique accommodation options that immerse you in nature, and a gorgeous beachfront to soak in the Pacific Coast sunsets.
The overall vibe in Yelapa is wonderful, and some say it’s Mexico’s last authentic beach town.
This guide has everything you need to know about getting to Yelapa from Puerto Vallarta, places to stay, and the best things to do in Yelapa once you’re there.
Don’t have time to read this guide? This all-inclusive mega yacht tour is the most fun way to visit Yelapa from Puerto Vallarta.
How to get to Yelapa from Puerto Vallarta
Yelapa is commonly mistaken as an island, but it’s actually connected to the mainland.
There aren’t any roads to Yelapa, so the only way to get here is by tour, water taxi, (long) hike, or dirt bike (my friend rode his). But, most people opt for a tour or water taxi!
Yelapa Tours from Puerto Vallarta
The easiest way to visit is a Yelapa tour from Puerto Vallarta.
A great way to visit Yelapa is on this all-inclusive mega yacht. It’s one of the best catamaran tours in Puerto Vallarta!
You’ll go sailing through the Bay of Banderas, stopping at Playa Las Animas and Yelapa, where you’ll get the chance to go swimming in the Yelapa waterfalls and snorkeling in the turquoise water. While cruising, you’ll enjoy drinks from a premium open bar!
Another option is this tour that takes you to both Majahuitas and Yelapa. The first stop is at Yelapa where you’ll have time to hike to the waterfall or relax on the beach. In the afternoon, you’ll relax at Majahuitas Beah Club, where you’ll enjoy lunch and unlimited non-alcoholic beverages.
This all-day tour meets in a small fishing village, where you’ll take a 25-minute water taxi to Yelapa.
Your day starts with a horseback ride to a hidden waterfall, a visit to a Mexican ranchero beach town, lunch, and free time to explore the town or relax on the beach. Use code EXPLOREWITHLORA when booking to get 10% on this tour!
Yelapa Water Taxi
If you want to visit Yelapa on your own, there are public water taxis.
Water taxis depart from Los Muertos Pier and Boca Del Tomatlan; you can see the schedule here. The water taxis run more regularly from Boca Del Tomatlan, and the ride is shorter than from Los Muertos.
Bocas Del Tomatlan is a small town outside Puerto Vallarta, which you can reach by bus from Zona Romantica or a taxi/Uber. The water taxi from Boca takes about 30 minutes and costs 200 pesos roundtrip.
There are some water taxis that leave from Los Muertos Pier, but they run less frequently and are longer and more expensive (380 pesos round trip).
If you’re only visiting Yelapa for a day, make sure you get the last public boat which usually leaves around 5 (confirm with the water taxis when you get off). Otherwise, you will have to pay for a private water taxi which is much more expensive.
We had to hire a private boat to take us back from Yelapa to Los Muertos Pier as we missed the last public water taxi, which we paid 220 USD for. A costly mistake, but it was an amazing ride having a private boat while the sun set over the city!
It’s a nice boat ride, going along the edges of the southern part of Banderas Bay. It passes small beaches along the way, sometimes stopping to pick up other passengers.
Yelapa hotels and accommodations
You won’t find any 5-star resorts or big brand names in Yelapa, which is all part of the charm.
This one-bedroom holiday home is one of the more luxurious options, with gorgeous floor to ceiling windows overlooking the sea, a flat-screen TV, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, and an outdoor patio.
Casa Visit Magica offers beautiful ocean view apartments with hammocks to enjoy the breeze, comfortable bed rooms, and fantastic reviews.
We stayed at this Los Naranjos, which was an experience in itself. It’s about a 15-minute uphill walk from the beach, or you can take ATVs up there.
It’s set in a beautiful jungle setting, but the accommodation is very rustic. The rooms don’t have walls, so it truly felt like we were living in the jungle. However, they do provide mosquito nets, and there are clean bathrooms with running water.
Find more accommodation options in Yelapa
Things to do in Yelapa
Yelapa is home to some of the best waterfalls near Puerto Vallarta.
There are a couple of Yelapa waterfalls that you can hike to. One is just 20 minutes away from the pier, and you can easily walk to it yourself by following the signs from Yelapa town.
If you get confused, just ask any of the locals in town “cascada” which means waterfall, and they will point you in the right direction.
I visited this waterfall at the end of May during dry season and it was pretty underwhelming as there wasn’t really any water, but I still enjoyed walking through the town and checking out the gorgeous street art.
There is a larger waterfall that takes about an hour to reach, which I haven’t visited yet. I’ve been told there is a trail you can take from town, or you can hire a guide/horse to take you.
On my first trip to Yelapa, our group decided to go to an even further waterfall which was quite the adventure. It took us about 4 hours to get there with over nine river crossings, so I wouldn’t do this without a guide (we hired one from Los Naranjos).
While the hike was long, the falls were so wonderful to swim in once we got there. There was no one else around, and we were surrounded by a pristine jungle with macaws flying above.
We climbed up even further to the top of the waterfall, where there were beautiful small pools to swim in.
It took us even longer to get back due to a few wrong turns, so this ended up being a 12-hour adventure!
Yelapa feels like a secluded island, so one of the best things to do here is simply enjoy Yelapa beach and unforgettable sunsets over the ocean.
There’s also a man who walks around with a giant iguana you can take photos with.
Massages are also available on the beach, which is the perfect way to relax.
During the whale watching season (December to March), you can go whale watching from Yelapa, with great chances of spotting magnificent humpback whales.
The ocean is right there, so it’s a great place to go for a swim or kayak/paddleboard.
If you’re feeling like more adventure, you can also go paragliding in Yelapa for a birds-eye view over the ocean.
With such beautiful water around the beach, Yelapa is also one of the best places to go snorkeling around Puerto Vallarta.
Eat fresh seafood
There are a few restaurants on the beach where you can order food to enjoy. One unique thing about Yelapa is that the only businesses in town are locally run – you won’t find any chain restaurants here!
The seafood quality is fantastic as the restaurants buy it directly from the fisherman.
We ate at Yelapa Yacht club after our hike, and the food was terrific. They also had some great live music.
Yelapa is famous for its beach pies, which local vendors sell along the beach for just a couple of dollars in the afternoon.
Wander Around Town
Yelapa is home to charming winding streets decorated with colorful flags and graffiti.
Take some time to wander around, petting the friendly dogs, talking to the locals, and supporting the economy.
There’s a cultural museum in Yelapa you can visit for only 50 pesos to learn more about the history of this town.
While you can visit Yelapa in one day from Puerto Vallarta, I recommend spending the weekend.
This secluded beach town is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the pristine nature the Mexico has to offer.
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