Yelapa is a hidden paradise easily accessible by boat from Puerto Vallarta. It is a place to turn back time, soak in the sun, and relax.
Located in the state of Jalisco in Mexico, this small fishing village has been a laid-back, peaceful retreat for artists as well as the rich and famous, including Bob Dylan, Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, and Dennis Hopper.
The village’s charm was more than enough to keep us happy.
Relax at Yelapa Beach
While most visitors here have come to relax, the more active can be found snorkelling, diving, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, or swimming in the sea.
And for those who prefer to be outdoors but not directly in the sun, there is a cafe/restaurant option just along the beach and plenty of private deck space offering the relaxed lifestyle visitors and residents seek.
Where to stay …
If you are wondering where to stay, there is no shortage of outstanding choices. In fact, on the day I wrote this page, of the nine accommodations on booking.com, two were rated at 10/10, and five more were superb with ratings above 9 out of 10 (two more were new to the site without any ratings, which left only one sitting at fabulous)
Hike to Cola de Caballo waterfall and swimming hole
While it wasn’t the biggest or most impressive waterfall we have seen, the Cola de Caballo waterfalls are the non-beach-related highlight of Yelapa.
To be honest, we have never been sure if we ended up at the right waterfall, although we did follow a local guide.
Over and over, we heard of the spectacular waterfall and swimming hole just a short walk away. While many called it the Cola de Caballo waterfalls, others simply referred to it as the Yelapa waterfall.
Either way, the 20-minute jungle hike is fairly easy and filled with surprises, including several homes.
A cold water swimming hole in front of the waterfall is the reward for not that much effort to get there. On the hot day that we were there, the waterfall itself was barely a trickle.
Things to know about Yelapa
- One must try – get a pie from the “pie lady” on the beach. She sells to tourists and residents, as well as the local restaurants – that is until she runs out for the day. Flavours range from coconut to chocolate and from sweet cheese to banana.
- There are no cars in Yelapa. In fact, no roads either, just burro paths. Donkeys often provide transit.
- Similarly, there are no street lights, so if you are staying overnight, be sure to bring a torch (flashlight), if your phone doesn’t have one.
- We recommend using insect repellent if you are going to do any hiking.
- There is at least one internet cafe, and I have read that wifi internet is now available, although often spotty.
- If you have them, bring water shoes, especially for the river.
Getting to Yelapa
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Found on the southern coast of beautiful Banderas Bay (the world’s 7th largest bay), Yelapa is best accessed via the sea.
Water taxi from Puerto Vallarta
Undisputed, the easiest way to get to Yelapa is by boat. Water taxis and charter boats are available from the Puerto Vallarta marina or Los Muertos beach. The trip takes about 45 minutes.
Once on shore, visitors are on foot, but with no cars in the town, this is the case anyway.
Take a Tour to Yelapa
If we are ever lucky enough to visit this piece of paradise again, we will go on this Yelapa and Majahuitas Beach Adventure. This seven-hour tour sails from Puerto Vallarta to both Yelapa and Majahuitas, offering snorkelling, kayaking, swimming, and the waterfall hike above. It includes continental breakfast, lunch, and an open bar on the sail back to Puerto Vallarta.
Can I arrive via car?
There is now a road that leads to the outskirts of Yelapa, but it is used for commercial purposes. Even the village’s official site recommends avoiding the road and taking a boat. Nothing more needs to be said about it.
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