Yelapa Mexico is about 30 miles south of Puerto Vallarta. It’s a sleepy little town set in a cove at the foot of mountains that tumble down into the sea and at the end of a bone-rattling road followed by a bit of a hike through Chacala (Huichol) Indian land. This means the town is really only accessible by boat, and virtually all visitors still travel to Yelapa via that method—whether they are coming for extended Yelapa vacations or just aboard day cruises from Puerto Vallarta.
The atmosphere in Yelapa Mexico is very laid back, which is what drew bohemians, artists, and hippies here in the 1960s and 1970s, just as the laid back atmosphere of Phuket Island in Thailand did. Things to do in Yelapa that attract these types of visitors who still come here today include hiking in the mountains behind the village. Here, those who really want to get away from it all can find sparkling waterfalls with serene pools amid the lush jungle. One of the Yelapa hotels, the luxurious Verana and Spa, offer guided hikes that end at one of their private beaches for a romantic picnic.
Your Yelapa vacations experience begins as soon as you step off the boat onto the playita (pier) in the southernmost cove in Banderas Bay. If you’re staying at the Verana, staff with burros to carry your bags will guide you up the hill. If you’re staying elsewhere, or have just come for the day, it might seem as though the entire village has come to meet you. There will be eager young people vying to be the lucky one to carry your bags. Others will be happy to take a souvenir photograph of you with an iguana—for a small fee, of course. The village’s famous Pie Ladies will also be there selling their trademark wares one slice at a time. But don’t let this scare you off. These are not the kind of sometimes pushy street peddlers you find in larger cities of Mexico.
There are plenty of things to do in Yelapa right here at the playita, with beaches stretching in both directions and numerous beach bars and excellent dining spots. All sorts of cuisine is available, but typical eateries offer traditional Mexican dishes as well as the fresh local seafood for which the area is famous. This area is also where you will find outlets offering all kinds of things to do in Yelapa in and on the water. There are kayaks and snorkeling gear available to rent, and you can book parasailing tours that have you leap off the mountains and land at a secluded beach. A short walk or horseback ride away is the village itself with some great shopping. Look especially for hand-carved bowls, vases, and other items made of locally grown rosewood.
If you’re planning on Yelapa vacations for more than a day or so, be aware that this is not one of the sophisticated resorts like you will find to the north in Puerto Vallarta. This is very much a place to get away from it all, and only a few lodging choices have televisions, telephones, and similar conveniences. This is true even of the luxury hotels like the Verana and Lagunita. Water taxis to Yelapa Mexico come from various points in Puerto Vallarta, with the most frequent schedule from Los Muertos Beach. The boat trip takes about 45 minutes. From November to May, which coincides with the best whale watching time, make hotels reservations as far in advance as possible. There are not that many lodging choices available, and this is the most popular time to go.