Mexico is one of the best beach destinations in North America. There are a lot of amazing beach towns with beautiful coastlines and many restaurants, shops, and bars.
When choosing a place to visit in Mexico, it can be hard to pick a place when there are so many great towns throughout the country.
Puerto Vallarta is great, but it is on the bigger side of beach towns in Mexico. However, there are many smaller beach towns nearby.
This article will explore Mexico’s Pacific coast near the Mexican states of Nayarit and Jalisco.
Below are the best beach towns near Puerto Vallarta. So if you are looking to fly into Puerto Vallarta, but don’t want to stay there, this article is for you.
I have spent a lot of time in the state of Nayarit, I love it, because it is much smaller than the Yucatan.
This is why I decided to make this list, of my favorite beach towns to vacation in, rather than Puerto Vallarta.
Quicklist Best Beach Towns near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico
Rincón de Guayabitos, Mexico
San Francisco (San Pancho), Mexico
Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
Punta Mita, Mexico
Lo de Marcos, Mexico
La Peñita de Jaltemba, Mexico
San Blas, Mexico
Mexcaltitán de Uribe, Mexico
About Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Puerto Vallarta is a popular resort town and one of the top tourist destinations not only on the Pacific Coast of Mexico but in all of Mexico.
It’s well known for its beautiful beaches, nightlife, and luscious mountains. There are plenty of bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, as well as shops along the beachside promenade.
There are many things to do in Puerto Vallarta, and if keeping busy and having lots of options is your cup of tea, then you’ll love it here.
However, there are also many other great beach towns near Puerto Vallarta. Keep reading to find out more about some of your other options when you’re staying in this area of Mexico.
Even if you choose to stay in Puerto Vallarta, the various beach towns on this list could make ideal day trips if you’d like to explore other beaches and towns in the area. Is Puerto Vallarta Safe?
Some of the places on the list would also make good overnight trips from Puerto Vallarta or are great vacation destinations themselves. So if you are looking for the best towns near puerto vallarta, look no further.
Top 12 Beach Towns Near Puerto Vallarta
Keep reading to learn more about the best beach towns near Puerto Vallarta to visit on a day trip, an overnight trip, or to stay for your vacation.
1. Sayulita, Mexico
Sayulita is a popular destination among the surfing crowd for its small and frequent waves. It’s the ultimate beach town about an hour from Puerto Vallarta.
It has cute cobblestone streets, lots of colorful buildings, pristine beaches, and of course, great surfing conditions.
Surfers love visiting Sayulita for the waves but also the vibe and atmosphere of this beach town. There is plenty to do here.
There are great surf schools in town if you’re new to the sport or looking to enhance your technique.
Whether you’re a surfer or not, you’ll love the quaint community of this beach town. It’s also enjoyable to watch the surfers as you’re hanging out on the beach and relaxing under the sun.
It’s a popular backpackers town with many budget travelers visiting. If you’re not looking for a luxury experience and instead want to meet new people with the same budget travel interests as you, you’ll love the community in Sayulita.
It also has a thriving nightlife scene which is another great way to meet new people. This is the perfect place to visit if you’re traveling alone or looking to make friends.
2. La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico
Located in Banderas Bay, about 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle is a great small town to check out.
Nicknamed La Cruz, it’s famous for its golden, fine sand, which is a beautiful contrast against the turquoise ocean.
It’s recently been undergoing changes and has become an important economic town in the area. La Cruz has excellent beaches for relaxing and swimming.
It’s not known for its surfing conditions, but if you’re hoping to swim without a bunch of waves hindering you, this is the perfect place to have a leisurely swim.
More of a relaxing Mexican town than a surf town.
3. Bucerías, Mexico
The quaint town of Bucerías might be small, but there is a ton to do. It has one of the longest beach strips in the bay. There is lots of room to settle down and get comfortable in the sand for the day.
The name Bucerías comes from the Spanish word buceo, which means scuba diving. Scuba diving is a popular sport and even a form of fishing in Bucerías.
Here you’ll be able to enjoy a traditional Mexican town with the tranquility of cobblestone streets, bright homes, and an authentic environment.
It’s a booming town with great restaurants, an art scene, and lots of entertainment.
4. Rincón de Guayabitos, Mexico
Rincón de Guayabitos is about an hour and a half from Puerto Vallarta. It’s a great place for those who enjoy water sports, including canoeing, rowing, water skiing, sailing, surfing, and scuba diving.
Kiss Beach and Turtle Beach are the two best beaches to check out in this town. You’ll also find Coral Island and Isla del Cangrejo just off the coast, which are tiny islands worth exploring.
Another fun activity you can do in this beach town is to go on a banana boat cruise, kayaking, and whale watching.
5. San Francisco (San Pancho), Mexico
San Francisco, Mexico, also known as San Pancho, is about an hour from Puerto Vallarta. It’s considered the cultural capital of the area.
It celebrates and promotes Mexican culture, making it a great place to visit if you want a more authentic experience.
For one thing, there are amazing beaches, but there are also cultural centers, galleries, and restaurants serving traditional food.
It also, isn’t overrun with tourists, which makes for a nice escape. San Pancho is also known for its fiery red sunsets that you just can’t get anywhere else to the same extent.
You’ll truly be looking forward to the sunset every day after you’ve gotten a taste of it in San Pancho.
6. Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
Literally translating to the new Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta is located about 30 minutes from Puerto Vallarta.
It’s known for being very ritzy and charming. If you like chic and fabulous, this is your place.
This clean, upscale city has long lines of beaches, high-end marinas, and a thriving ex-pat community.
It has the second-highest number of hotels and resorts in the country, just after Cancun. Some of the restaurants are very exclusive, so be sure to book well in advance if you want to experience them.
Nuevo Vallarta is also home to condominiums and features a thriving population of expats, retirees, and frequent vacation-goers.
7. Punta Mita, Mexico
Punta Mita is a 1,500-acre private peninsula.
It has some of the most luxurious and private hotels and resorts in the world, including the Four Seasons Punta Mita, St. Regis, and the Imanta Resort, where the Kardashians have apparently stayed.
Here you’ll also find several golf courses to keep you busy, as well as some of the best restaurants in the country and some fantastic boutique shopping.
There is, however, still a much smaller and local part of town if luxury travel isn’t your cup of tea. In town, you’ll find much smaller but still amazing restaurants, shops, and cafes worth your while.
All of this is about an hour for Puerto Vallarta.
8. Lo de Marcos, Mexico
An hour and a half from Puerto Vallarta, Lo de Marcos is a very unassuming town at first glance.
It doesn’t receive many foreign visitors compared to other beach towns in the area, but it’s well worth the visit.
If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, this is your place. It has some of the most picturesque and uncrowded beaches in the area, making it the perfect place to swim and enjoy the tranquility.
The water is so clear and calm that you can even see fish while swimming in the ocean. The Days and time move slowly when you’re in Lo de Marcos.
Once you visit it’s a place you’ll be thinking about for years to come.
9. Chacala, Mexico
Chacala is a small fishing village two hours from Puerto Vallarta. It has traditional Mexican villas and is a great town to immerse yourself in a more authentic experience.
If you’re into hiking, this is the ideal place to be. It’s known for its volcano and waterfall hiking opportunities.
This is also a great place to get fresh seafood, especially shrimp. The name Chacala comes from the Uto-Aztecan language of the Nahuatl and means “where there are shrimp.”
This is truly the place for nature lovers. Hike to El Capomo waterfall or an extinct volcano, search for petroglyphs in the forest, and enjoy the rich and inviting outdoors.
10. La Peñita de Jaltemba, Mexico
Located an hour and a half from Puerto Vallarta, La Peñita de Jaltemba is another underrated beach town.
La Peñita is a fishing village with palm tree-lined squares and a plaza with a typical Mexican church.
This is a great place to stay if you want to experience local day-to-day life.
You won’t find foreign tourists here because it’s mainly off the beaten path, so if you’re looking for an authentic experience, this is the place to be.
You can enjoy traditional restaurants where you won’t find a chain in sight, which is very refreshing and appealing to many travelers.
The uninterrupted beaches are great for swimming, body surfing, skimboarding, and snorkeling.
11. San Blas, Mexico
This is a bit further from Puerto Vallarta and would be a better overnight trip than a day trip because it’s a three-and-a-half-hour drive.
It’s most known for its biodiversity, with pristine beaches, islands, mangroves, marshes, rainforests, lagoons, and lots of wildlife.
It’s also a great place for surfing and enjoying the outdoors. If you love the natural beauty of the outdoors, San Blas is well worth the trip.
As for architecture, you’ll find Spanish colonial architecture and ruins from the San Basilio Fort.
12. Mexcaltitán de Uribe, Mexico
Furthest away on this list at just under five hours from Puerto Vallarta, it’s not really a nearby town, but still earns a place on our list.
Mexcaltitán de Uribe is one of the most unique places in the area. It’s a man-made island city that has been nicknamed the Venice of Mexico.
It’s located on a lagoon, and during the rainy season, if the streets flood, locals will get around by boat where they once walked.
To access this mini lagoon island, you must take a boat. There are no cars on the island, but the boat ride is only 15 minutes long.
Mexcaltitán de Uribe will capture your heart and is well worth the visit. It’s a quaint island city that you won’t forget.
There are so many marvelous beach towns near Puerto Vallarta, with Puerto Vallarta being a great beach town itself.
Hopefully, you found a beach town on this list that has sparked your interest for the next time you visit the Puerto Vallarta area.
Many of these beaches would make great day trips from Puerto Vallarta or vacation destinations themselves.
Hopefully, some of these beach towns were new to you because many are small, underrated, and unassuming beautiful beach towns on the water.