Discover Tranquility at Yelapa, Chimo & Hidden Beaches 2024

Exploring Yelapa

Nestled on the Pacific coast, Yelapa is a charming fishing village located approximately 20 miles (32 km) south of Vallarta. Its enchanting allure lies in its exclusivity, accessible solely by boat or a jungle hike – although we advise against attempting the latter. The village is celebrated for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a laid-back atmosphere that provides a stark contrast to the bustling energy of more urbanized destinations. The small town until just several short decades ago didn’t even have power or running water – so it’s come a long way since the turn of the millennium.

Yelapa’s natural beauty extends beyond its shores, as the lush jungle backdrop hosts a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, parrots, and toucans. The jungle setting has also attracted the attention of popular shows like Survivor and the film “Night of the Iguana,” which were filmed against the backdrop of Yelapa’s captivating scenery.

#1 Experience in Puerto Vallarta – Rent a Boat and Discover the Coastline’s Best Kept Secrets!
Snorkeling off the coast of Yelapa beach

For travelers seeking authenticity and an off-the-beaten-path experience in Mexico, Yelapa is a hidden gem. The village, with its humble population of around 1,500 people, exudes a genuine charm, and its roots stretch back centuries with an indigenous presence that adds to its cultural richness. Yelapa offers more than just sun-kissed beaches; there are enticing waterfall hikes that can be explored on foot or even by donkey, adding a touch of adventure to your visit. We recommend planning a full day to fully immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance of Yelapa without the constraints of time.

While the path to the falls is undeniably stunning, its popularity can lead to congestion, especially around the waterfall pools. Moreover, as the dry season progresses, the scenic appeal diminishes.

Yelapa Beach
Yelapa Beach

For enthusiastic hikers seeking alternatives, Yelapa Town offers several rewarding options:

Embark on the El Faro Hike For those yearning for breathtaking views of the cove and beyond, the El Faro Hike is an excellent choice. This 4-mile (6.5 kms) roundtrip trek, located behind Playa Yelapa, is considered moderate-strenuous due to steep sections and an elevation gain of 800 feet (244m) in the tropical climate.

Explore the Yelapa Tapa Hike If you’re up for the ultimate mirador hike in the vicinity, the Yelapa Tapa trail is your go-to. Spanning 8 miles (13 kms) roundtrip, this challenging hike, favored by mountain bikers, boasts a hefty 2,300 feet (700m) of elevation gain. Make sure to pack accordingly for this adventure!

Yelapa Village Waterfall Hike Hiking Puerto Vallarta 3
Yelapa village waterfall hike view

In the not-so-distant past, mules were the primary mode of transportation, weaving through the village and traversing the mountains. While four-wheelers have now taken over for practical purposes, Yelapa’s hardworking mules still grace the village. During your stay, encountering these furry locals is inevitable.

Mule rides remain a popular activity, offering a unique way to reach the waterfall or explore the jungle trails, all while immersing yourself in local history. To secure a mule and guide, venture up the path to the waterfall and be on the lookout for a guide with a mule. Alternatively, your hotel, guesthouse, or Airbnb host can readily organize this authentic outing for you.

Fun Facts:

  • The town’s name, “Yelapa,” is derived from the Nahuatl word meaning “where the river meets the sea.”
  • Yelapa was once a sought-after destination for pirates.
  • Cars are absent in Yelapa, only quads and horseback/mules are used to get around
Yelapa Tapa Hike
Yelapa from above

Secluded Beaches

1. Playa Isabel

Located just immediately south from the main Yelapa beach is this gem that not everyone who goes to Yelapa knows about. It’s definitely part of the Yelapa area and is a short walk over from the larger beach where the river meets the ocean. These crystal clear waters will blow you away, and are what traveling south of Vallarta is all about. Seriously, these are the types of beaches that people don’t realize exist in the Puerto Vallarta region. They’re magical.

Playa Isabel
Playa Isabel birds eye view

2. Playa Colimilla

This leads us into another incredible hidden paradise that no one talks about. Many people tend to have heard of Yelapa or Majahuitas, but on the way to Yelapa, you may have the opportunity to stop at Playa Colimilla, which is along the coast found just after you pass Majahuitas. This little remove beach is a fantastic quick stop for some snorkeling and secluded beach time.

The ability to explore these types of places at your own pace is truly what renting a private boat is all about. There’s no rush on our yacht charters, because you can stay in a certain location for as long as you’d like. Or

3. Pizota Beach & Manzanilla Beach

Playa Pizota offers tranquility like no other. All you have to do is look at that photo below to give you an idea of how incredible this location is. Secluded, but still within distance to civilization. In fact, you have the ability to stay at Villa Ndan if you desire warm lodging and a comfortable place to rest your head for the night.

Manzanilla beach is right next to Pizota, so if you find yourself at one of these beaches, you may as well explore the other! Both beautiful slices of untouched paradise (for the most part).

Yelapa and Chimo 2024
Pizota Beach.


Chimo is a small town in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. It is located in the Sierra Madre Mountains, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the city of Puerto Vallarta. Chimo is a quiet and rural town, with a population of just over 1,000 people. The town is surrounded by beautiful forests and mountains, and it is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Chimo is also home to a number of small farms and ranches, where you can experience the local agriculture and lifestyle. Chimo is known for its peaceful and scenic setting, and it is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Yelapa and Chimo 2024
Happy Hill, Chimo

Our personal recommendation is visiting Happy Hill – Treasure by the Sea Resort. Located about 500 meters from the beach just up the mountainside, Happy Hill provides comfortable accommodation with a coffee bar, freshly cooked meals by their wonderful chefs, a well equipped bar, and an outdoor swimming pool overlooking the ocean. A breathtaking view that in itself is worth making the trip for…seriously. 

With 5 suites with air conditioning and king sized beds, there’s space for a large group to be more than comfortable. 

The grounds and landscaping are meticulously manicured and well maintained, making the stay at Happy Hill that much more enjoyable. If you’re interested in booking here, let us know and we can help arrange your stay and potentially give you a discounted rate!

Yelapa and Chimo 2024
Poolside view from atop the hill

For all your boating needs and transportation to Chimo, Yelapa, and beyond, reach out to us at palmara.co anytime! While exploring Vallarta by car offers a glimpse, cruising Banderas Bay on a spacious boat provides an unparalleled way to immerse yourself in the surroundings and commune with nature. Traveling by boat to these destinations enhances the journey, creating a uniquely special and memorable experience for everyone on board.

If you want to know more about chartering the bay and why it’s so special/what you can see and where else you can go, I think you’ll enjoy this detailed article titled “#1 Experience in Puerto Vallarta – Rent a Boat and Discover the Coastline’s Best-Kept Secrets!” We’re excited to assist you in making your Vallarta trip one to be treasured forever!