Yelapa, Mexico: This lovely limited access town is located an easy 45 minute water taxi ride from Puerto Vallarta, and is well known in the Vallarta area as a great day or overnight trip. To find out more about it my wife, two boys and I spent the weekend there checking it out.
Getting To Transportation: The trip started out with the easy drive from Sayulita to the outskirts of Puerto Vallarta, but came to a grueling stop and go stand still as we skirted the main through way known as the Malecon, while the local security officials closed it off for a parade of Mariachi’s on horse back. Since we weren’t even sure when the “ferry” left, and were early, we decided that we stop and take a look, and as usual, we weren’t disappointed by the elaborate costumes donned by both male and female participants in the parade.
The transportation for Yelapa leaves from Playa de Los Muertos, which is a popular beach in right down town Puerto Vallarta. The sites and sounds of the beach scene are an explosion to the senses, so if you have an extra few hours to kill and find yourself in the area, it’s recommended, if nothing more than for the quality of the people watching.
Parking: Parking is difficult in the downtown area of Puerto Vallarta, in fact, I’d liken it to trying to find parking in Manhattan around mid town on New Year’s eve, so if it can be avoided, do so. We had to park in a garage near the Marino hotel, below a plaza. Parking for 30 hours, was $MXN300, so it’s pricey.
Water Taxi: Finding transportation to Yelapa is easy, in fact, we were approached by a water taximan on our way to the beach, and before hand we knew that the price should be around $MXN120, or $10 each way. We purchased round trip tickets from Jack’s Water Taxi, and were given the tickets and told a time to meet the boat. While we waited, we had some marlins on a stick, highly recommended for something tasty, and no doubt caught fresh from the numerous fishing boats that go out in that area.
The Ride: The boat left the beach after a fairly easy load up which requires the passenger to remove their shoes as it’s a dash through the breaking waves to get into the boat, but easy enough. The ride is about 45 minutes along the breath taking Bahia de Banderas coast line. South of the area known as Mismaloya, there are hardly any buildings, and the landscape looks very similar as it must have seemed through the eyes of the early European settlers, or Pirates that used to pass through the bay two centuries ago.
Yelapa, Mexico: Once you arrive into the smaller bay which shelters the Yelapa beaches or diminishes the strength of the mighty Pacific it’s easy to understand why this “day tour” is such a popular one for visitors from Vallarta that have the time to make the trip. Our hotel was called the Oasis, located on the river about mid way across the bay.
As my family and I walked along the trails to get the hotel, and during our first afternoon, we asked about the various things to do about town. More than one local used the term, which I presume to be a common one in the area, “Vale la pena”, meaning, it’s worth the effort or pain. From that time on, I began to roll the expression around in my mind, and realised it’s really fitting to apply this saying to almost anything that’s reviewed so I’ll use it as my qualifier to rate the amentities and features we found during our stay.
Cafe Bahia – This delightful cafe found on the southern side of the town was a real gem. Located right on the waterfront, complete with an organic garden grown in the middle of the gravel patio had the best food we found in Yelapa, and in terms of “veggie Gringo food”some of the best I’ve seen in Mexico. The chef/owner’s name is Susan, and as I overheard and later found out by speaking with her after, is a born and raised New Yorker, Brooklyn, did an 18 month internship in Paris (a professed Francophile), and 4 years in California, presumably at a top gourmet restaurant. The food and ingredients speak for themselves, and I don’t think I could let anyone down by emphatically saying – Vale la Pena!
Angelina’s Restaurant: We ate breakfast at Angelina’s Restaurant – this was another US style restaurant right on the beach, it’s under a large pelapa about closer to the north side of the town. It claimed to have Internet, which is why I stopped, but in fact did not. I figured, if I’m so uptight that I need to find a gripe about this fact, I’ve got much bigger problems than they do, so we continued through the breakfast, and was in fact, very good. Vale la pena? si.
Waterfalls: There are two waterfalls, or cascadas in Spanish. If you follow the path on the southern side of town, just behind Cafe Bahia and along the cafe Pollo Bollo, you may need to ask directions from a local for the cascada which has the name “cola de caballo”> Horse’s Tail, about 15 minutes along the path you’ll come to a stunning waterfall. We found the jungle to be quite lush, even for mid February the middle of the dry season, but were somewhat disappointed to find a restaurant and gazebo at the base of the falls. Vale la pena? Yes, because it’s so close.
The second waterfall is about an hour’s walk, and make sure you keep your eyes open for a wood door in the fence (you can’t imagine how difficult it was for me to grasp this description in my rudimentary Spanish – what? a door without a house?), with a small green arrow (flecha in Spanish) showing the direction to the falls. This is definitely off the beaten path, so make sure you follow the upper trail as there are a few forks in this trail. The cascada, called catedral > Cathedral, is smaller, but has a nice clear pool to swim in. After the walk, you’ll be glad to jump in the pool for a cool wash. Vale la Pena? Si!
If you felt this review was Vale la Pena, please follow us on Twitter or one of our other social media channels below.