Los Muertos Beach— or Playa de los Muertos—means Beach of the Dead. This is ironic considering it is probably the most popular and lively of all the city beaches. It is located in the downtown area, just to the north of Camarones Beach and the Malecon, the popular mile-long oceanfront promenade with its wonderful shopping and many famous public sculptures. To the north of Los Muertos Puerto Vallarta is Las Glorias Beach.
Numerous hotels near Los Muertos Beach are available because, fittingly enough, this section of the city’s beaches is called the Hotel Zone. This is also the center of Puerto Vallarta’s celebrated nightlife, and there are many restaurants and bars where people enjoy dinner and sunset cocktails before heading out to the nightclubs that don’t begin to come alive until close to midnight. There are vendors where you can rent umbrellas and sun beds, and some of the Los Muertos Beach restaurants and beach bars have palapas (small thatched huts) that you can use as long as you’re dining, drinking, and otherwise patronizing their establishments.
Playa de los Muertos even has shopping available, and often you don’t even have to get off your sun bed to buy souvenirs. Strolling peddlers roam the sand, selling everything from silver jewelry to suntan lotion. Do be careful of buying silver here, because it is probably not pure silver. It’s fine if you’re only looking for a trinket, but if you’re in the market for fine silver jewelry, you’re better off shopping at the shops on the Malecon or in Old Town. Los Muertos Beach is also a popular place to watch the beautiful sunsets, and in the evening there are strolling musicians and mariachis who will stop to play for you, charging by the song. You can even try your hand at a little surf fishing if you like. The locals come here to fish, and they tie a line with baited hook to their “pole,” which is often made from an soda bottle.
The hotels near Los Muertos Beach provide a wide variety to choose from—everything from the Crown Paradise Club, one of the area’s many all inclusive resorts, to the modest three star Hotel Rio, located a block inland from the beach. It’s called the Hotel Rio because it is located at the head of the Cuale River, and when it was first built it used the river water to fill its swimming pool (the first swimming pool in the city). You can also find a number of condos and apartments available as vacation rentals. Most of these, especially the more deluxe ones, are located at the southern end of the mile long beach.
The Hotel Rio is part of the city’s history. It was one of the first Puerto Vallarta hotels (built in 1958) and is where American film director John Huston and his Night of the Iguana stars stayed during the making of the 1963 Oscar winning film. Though modest, it is clean, comfortable, and provides an authentic Mexican atmosphere. For even more John Huston and Hollywood history, you will find that Playa de los Muertos is next to the pier where boats depart for the little fishing village of Yelapa and for Las Caletas, where John Huston lived for many years after the film was made.