The Ultimate Guide To Puerto Vallarta Surfing - Green Iguana Surf Camp

The Ultimate Guide To Puerto Vallarta Surfing

You might have heard about the amazing surfing in the area around Puerto Vallarta and of course the great vibe of the city itself. Overall, we are sure you have heard only good things about this beautiful Mexican city and the activities in the area. 

If you have been considering Puerto Vallarta for your next surfing vacation trip, you may want to know what you can expect, where you can stay, where the best spots are, and general information about the area.

Well, it sounds like you need a guide to Puerto Vallarta surfing and as a vacation spot. You are in luck, we have gathered all the information you might need before you head off to this stunning Mexican city and catch some waves.

So, without further ado, let us begin learning everything about Puerto Vallarta and the surfing conditions there. 

A Bit About the Wonderful City Of Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta, is a fantastic location for a vacation, all types of people are sure to find something remarkable about this wonderful slice of Mexico. Of course, one of the biggest pulls of this spot is the breaks of the Riviera Nayarit as well as the southern part of Bahia de Banderas.

Once you have had your fill of surfing at all the incredible spots in and around Puerto Vallarta, you can return to your hotel, which happens to be in one of Mexico’s most prominent party towns. 

There are assuredly good and bad things about vacationing here. For example, some great things about this area are that the surf spots are stunning, especially around Bahia de Banderas. There are plenty of breaks that are ideal for beginners to learn with.

The city of Puerto Vallarta is a charming and energetic place that is great to return to after a long day of catching waves. 

On the negative side, Puerto Vallarta is a bit of a drive from the best surf spots, you may have to invest an hour per trip. There are likely to be large crowds, especially when it is peak season, and of course, by extension, there is likely to be quite a bit of pollution and litter around some of the more popular surf spots. 

Puerto Vallarta itself is in the center of Bahia de Banderas and is surrounded by some beautiful beaches and quaint fishing villages.

While Puerto Vallarta is not technically a surf town, it is ideally located on the Pacific Coast, where there are loads of great breaks in the area. There is such a wide range of waves in the surrounding area, heavy wedges, beach breaks and so much more at the breaks around Puerto Vallarta. 

On top of the great surfing environment, the city of Puerto Vallarta is party central, it is energetic, lively and everyone enjoys letting loose. So, you can head back to base after a day at the beach and enjoy an exciting evening in the town. 

The main downside to vacationing here is the distance from decent breaks, the best and the nearest spot is about an hour away. So you will need to have a car organized or rely on public transport to get to a good location. 

But regardless of the distance, we think that this location is one of the best you can ask for. It really balances everything you could want on a surfing holiday. Great breaks, lively city, and of course the vibrant and friendly Mexican people. 

Puerto Vallarta Location

Puerto Vallarta is a city located in the middle of Banderas Bay on the far west coast of Mexico. This area is rife with marine wildlife, so, if you are interested in whale or dolphin watching, this part of the country is a great place to start. Let’s not forget the wonderful landscape surrounding this fantastic place.

The city of Puerto Vallarta is on the foothills of a place known as the Sierra Madre which is near the Ameca River. In addition to that, the Mexican Federal Highway 200 runs right through Puerto Vallarta. This highway actually connects all the Pacific seaboards of Mexico, so you should be really well-connected with this location for your vacation spot. 

How Do I Get There? 

If you have been considering Puerto Vallarta as your up-and-coming surfing destination, you might want to know how to get there. There are many routes to get to Puerto Vallarta, it is a pretty big city in Mexico, after all.

If you are looking for a direct connection to Puerto Vallarta from places like the United States or Canada, there is an international airport where there are direct domestic flights that will be arriving every day. 

While you can easily drive to Mexico from Canada or the US, it is a large country, and it is a good idea to at least consider flying to save yourself some time.

But if you have been staying in Guadalajara, there are buses that you can consider getting to Puerto Vallarta that will suit you perfectly. This option of travel can be a fairly inexpensive way of travelling in Mexico.

If you want to save money while you are travelling from place to place in Mexico, it might be a good idea to get a bus due to the fact that they are generally inexpensive and more comfortable than you would think. 

The Surfing Seasons 

Surfing can be better or worse depending on the season you pick to visit. While the summer months are better in general, the beaches will likely be busier and as such may hinder your ability to enjoy your stay at the beach.

But, in Puerto Vallarta, there is barely a month that goes by when you cannot enjoy surfing. The main thing that will differ when you pick your time of year to surf will be the size of the waves. But, when is the best time to go surfing in this corner of the world? 

  • Between May and October: In the summer months, the swells in Mexico come from the south and usually come from storms that have happened in the Pacific Ocean far away. In addition to the storms at this time of year, the way that the Southern Ocean moves greatly affects the waves that you will see in the summer.

    While some beaches see great beach breaks because of this combination, in the Riviera Nayarit there are other facts that dampen the potential for great waves. The area surrounding Puerto Vallarta is protected from the southerly swells and many of the surfing spots like Sayulita for example are quite flat during times like this.

    But other locations such as Punta de Mita is likely to have larger waves as it is more exposed to these southern swells. Banderas bay also gets pretty good waves because of this phenomenon.

    The weather during the summer months is usually quite hot, even when the rainy season hits in June you are likely to get only quick bursts of rain throughout the day.

    Because of the weather at this time of year, it is recommended that you start surfing early in the morning so that you avoid the crowds and of course the unpredictable wind that can flare-up. 
  • November to April: Wintertime is a very popular time of year for Puerto Vallarta, there is not a lot of rain and the temperatures go up to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. At the end of this season, you will get spring breaks, and this is when the PV will be at its hedonistic best.

    During the winter, you will find that the waves are pretty great. With the riviera Nayarit’s unique shape and the north-facing beach breaks at the end of Bahia de Banderas, you will find some amazing waves to ride.

    In addition to that, Sayulita and San Pancho will get fantastic direct N-NW swells and this will mean that these areas will get great glassy walls that you can enjoy.

    The only issue with going to Puerto Vallarta in the winter is that there are likely to be quite large crowds. Because of this, it will be a good idea to go surfing really early or during the golden hour. This way you are more likely to have a more relaxing time while surfing without the crowds. 

The Best Places To Surf In Puerto Vallarta 

Now that we know a bit about why Puerto Vallarta is such a great holiday destination for surfers, it is finally time to check out some of the best beach breaks in the area. So, in this article, we are going to look at several of these wonderful locations and what makes them so special. 

Sayulita

The surfing at Sayulita is pretty famous and arguably one of the best in Mexico. There are loads of shops and surf camps here, so even if you are a beginner, there are classes you can take to get you started.

These beaches can get really busy, so if you want to head over to Sayulita as part of your surfing trip, it is advised to get an early start so that you miss the crowds.

In Sayulita, there are three main breaks you can head over to. The Sandbar, Sayulita Right, and Sayulita Left, all of these breaks are alright for intermediates or beginners. So you can have a good day catching waves no matter what your level is. 

  • Level: This beach is ideal for beginners and for intermediates.
  • Busy: This fishing village is really busy when it is surfing season and because of this you will need to make allowances for this fact. It is recommended that you get an early start so that you miss the crowds and catch the best waves. 

Bahia

This beach break is located at the northern end of Bahia de Banderas and is one of the breaks you will see when you enter Punta Mita. It is about an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta, so you can grab a bus, taxi, or drive over yourself.

This area is well known for fancy hotels and resorts. In addition to that, this beach has some of the best surfing around Puerto Vallarta. If you would like to check out this amazing beach, it would be a good idea to visit when it is high tide, as there are rocks that are exposed when the tide is low. 

  • Distance: This beach is a 1-hour drive from Puerto Vallarta 

Palmitas

This is one of the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta. Palmitas is just to the west of Punta de Mita and is a beach with heavy breaks. The wedges go both left and right at this surf spot. In the summer, the S-SW swells can mean that the waves will get quite strong.

When the waves are at shoulder height or overhead, you will get great rippable peaks that will be a great challenge for more experienced surfers. 

  • Level: Intermediate or experienced surfers will have a better time at this surf spot due to the more challenging waves that can arise. 

Veneros

This beach is a great spot for shortboards, it is arguably one of the best spots around Puerto Vallarta for this kind of surfing. There are a lot of quick take-offs, rippable right, and left-handers that come off fantastic wedges.

If you want to check out Veneros for surfing, you will need to make sure you pick a time with the best conditions.

A strong southerly swell for example will surely be a key ingredient for great waves. These swells are more common in the summer months. It would be best to check this beach out early so that you avoid the crowds and catch the glassy part of the day. 

  • Early Start: The best time of day to enjoy the waves here will be early when the waves are glassy and there are not a lot of people at the beach yet.
  • Summer: During the summer months will be when the southerly swells will be most frequent. 

San Pancho

This relaxed surf town really is a stunning spot to spend the day surfing. San Pancho is about an hour’s drive north of Puerto Vallarta. You could drive that distance easily, or if you are unable to drive for any reason, there are plenty of local buses that will take you the distance.

It is a really popular stop in the Riviera Nayarit, and who can blame us, the gold sandy beaches and the beautiful villas on the pacific front are absolutely breathtaking. While this location does not have the best waves in the area, the breaks are consistent.

  • Distance: About an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta.
  • Level: This is a spot that will be more ideal for people that are at least an intermediate level or over. There are strong rips and the waves can be unpredictable. 

Litibu

This beach break is not as popular as others and can get a little messy. Despite that, it is ideal for intermediate and beginners alike. From Puerto Vallarta, it will take around 45 minutes to reach Litibu beach.

One thing you need to be aware of if you decide to head over to this surf spot is that there are not a lot of bars or restaurants, so packing your own food and drinks might be a good idea if you want to venture here.

If Sayulita is overly crowded, this is a good second best, as it is a beach that offers great waves for both beginners and intermediates. 

  • Distance: This beach break is a 45 minutes drive from the Puerto Vallarta airport. So you can grab a bus and drive down quite quickly.
  • Level: This beach is ideal for beginners and intermediates alike.
  • Not Busy: This beach is not as busy as Sayulita and can allow you a less crowded experience if your first choice is overrun with tourists. 

Faro

This beach break is not very consistent with its waves, especially in comparison to the plethora of surfing spots around Puerto Vallarta. But, when the right N swells happen in the winter and there are also N-NE offshore winds, the waves here can be pretty gnarly.

The waves can be both fast and slow here, but this all depends on how strong the swell is. It is a great surf spot for intermediates or beginners looking to improve their skills. 

  • Waves: Can be pretty inconsistent and depends on the winds, swells, and time of year. 
  • Level: This is a great spot for those looking to improve themselves, so beginners that feel ready to try something new and even intermediate surfers will have a good time at the Faro break. 

Quimixto

Quimixto

This well-known break is to the south of Puerto Vallarta. It is wonderfully nestled between a lush jungle and white sandy beaches. Quimixto is known as one of the most beautiful beaches on Bahia de Banderas.

The waves at this break are classic breach breaks. The water gets its power from the N-NW winter swells, which is when this beach is at its best for surfers.

So, if you want to check this beach out, you should head over between December and January for the best conditions. When the waves are big, it is better suited to more experienced surfers who can deal with barrels and hollows. 

  • Level: This beach can be ideal for any level of surfer. For beginners, it is recommended that you ask if the conditions are ideal for surfing lessons in this area. 

La Lancha

This surf spot is much loved by locals and surfers from around the world. There are two breaks on the beach. If that was not enough, the beach at La Lancha is gorgeous, the white sand and beautiful palm trees lining the beach are really quite beautiful.

This beach is not even an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta.

Most holidaymakers that head over to this beach are there for the surf schools, but if you are an intermediate, you will also have a good time. There are challenging left wedge breaks, which means there will be a hefty paddle out.

But the quick waves and good drop-ins make this a solid palace to enjoy your day surfing.

  • Distance: Under an Hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta. 
  • Any Level: There are many surf schools that use this beach, and there are also plenty of more challenging waves for more skilled surfers to enjoy. 

El Anclote And Stinky’s 

This location is at its best in the summer, when the S-SW swells get everything going. But, even when the conditions are at their best, this beach tends to have waves that are mellow. Which is ideal for longboarders and beginners.

The big selling point for El Anclote is the long rides. These long rides are at their best when it is mid-tide.

So, keep an eye out for those northerlies, and you will be well on your way to riding some mellow long waves. Stinky’s is next to El Anclote and tends to be more consistent.

If you are wondering where this beach gets its name, it is because of the salt and fish-smelling boats that meet up by the cove. The waves at Stinky’s are chilled and yet glassy breaks over rocks and sand.

It is a great beach for beginners and even intermediates. You will have a better time when the waves are at least at chest height. 

  • Tide: The best time to head to either of these places is when it is mid-tide. This is so that you can catch those great long waves.
  • Level: These beaches are great for beginners or even longboarders. The waves are often mellow and long waves. 

Burros

Burros or Punta Burros can be found along the Punta Mita shoreline to the east. It is fairly close to the Puerto Vallarta airport, so you should not have to travel too far to get some great breaks.

The waves at this surf point are glassy right-handers that break over a rock reef. The waves frequently get to about 10 feet on a heavy summer’s day.

But normally the waves at Burros are chest to shoulder height. It is a great place for both improvers and beginners. You can get to this break by walking about 5 minutes from the main road in Puerto Vallarta, from there you will need to paddle out 100 m to get to the break itself. 

  • Distance: A short walk from Puerto Vallarta.
  • Level: This is an ideal break for beginners and those looking to improve their skills. 

Hotels In Puerto Vallarta

If we have not piqued your interest to check out the wondrous Puerto Vallarta, do not worry, there is still time. But if you are looking into heading down here for your next holiday, you may want to know which hotels are the best in the area.

That is why we have gathered three of the best ones in and around Puerto Vallarta. So, let us take a look.

The Meson de Mita Hotel

This hotel is a great mid-range place to stay while you are in Puerto Vallarta. It has thatched cabins, fantastic interiors, and a pool. So, if you are looking for a place that really captures that Mexican character, this is a great spot for you.

The Meson de Mita Hotel is a little north of Puerto Vallarta. But, the best thing about this hotel is the fact that there are surf spots just a short walk away. If you want to check out Punta Mita’s great beaches and experience the surfing there, this will be the best bet for you. 

The Casa Pavlova 

This hotel is simple and affordable, but that just means you will have more budget to experience the surrounding wonders. It is located in the center of Puerto Vallarta and is a great choice for those of you that are budget conscious.

Overall this hotel is a great choice especially if you need a place located within Puerto Vallarta. The only downside is that you will need transport to and from beaches. 

The Mousai Hotel 

This hotel is aimed at people that do not have children, so if you are taking your family down to Puerto Vallarta, this is not the best hotel for you. But for those of you that meet these child-free requirements, this is a fantastic spot to set up base.

The Mousai hotel is a little way from surf spots around Puerto Vallarta, but the luxury behind this hotel’s doors is surely worth the trek.

This hotel has an infinity pool, stunning ocean views, balconies, and gorgeous modern suits that are sure to impress. The best part is that you will be located in Bahia, which is south of the city, so you will have easy access to the best beaches in the area. 

The Best Surf Shops In Puerto Vallarta

If you do not already know, surfing is a pretty big deal in Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding area and if you are heading over there to take on some great waves you will undoubtedly need to visit a surf shop.

But, which ones are the best in the area? We are going to look at some of the best surf shops in Puerto Vallarta, but if you do not see something that suits you here, do not worry. There are plenty of shops in the surrounding town and one is bound to have what you need. 

The Surf Mexico Shop

Surf Mexico is located on the highway before you hit the turn-off to the La Lancha and Burros surf spots. So even if you forget something, you can visit this perfectly placed little shop to buy any last-minute items. Vests, leashes, boards, and many other important pieces of gear you are sure to need are sold here. 

The Coral Surf Shop

You can find this shop tucked away down the backstreet of the Zona Romántica. This shop sells all manner of things from surf equipment to skating equipment, so depending on what you prefer, you can easily find what you require here.

The Coral shop sells many surfboards from longboards to board shorts and many other things you are sure to need for your surfing holiday.

On top of the gear, there are also clothing items that you may need or fashionable items of clothing that you can purchase 

Other Fun Things To Do In The Area

If you want to surf in the morning and do something else in the afternoon, we have you covered. We are going to show you some fun things you can do in Puerto Vallarta. 

Malecon Party

Puerto Vallarta links many of the towns and cities along the Pacific coast and is now known as a spot where many can enjoy drinking and parties. This is especially between February and April when the spring breakers are allowed to run free.

But even at other times of the year, Puerto Vallarta maintains its party atmosphere, and you are more than welcome to join in. Eat, drink and make merry after a long day at the beach. 

A Sierra Madre Hike

If you love the outdoors and want to experience the beauty of Mexico’s natural landscapes, you will almost certainly enjoy hiking the Sierra Madre. The area is full of lush jungles, waterfalls, and of course great lookout points where you can admire the view of the Pacific Ocean.

There are many guides that offer to lead treks through well-known areas or up to summits, so you can enjoy a fantastic view of everything around you. 

Bahia De Banderas Beaches

If you want to relax on the beaches after surfing and just relax, you will enjoy checking out the village of Boca Tomatlan. The beaches are beautiful and sandy here and the water is so blue it just takes your breath away.

In addition to just enjoying the warmth of the sun or enjoying a refreshing dip in the ocean, there are a ton of great hikes in the area where you can see beautiful coves and much more. 

Final Thoughts 

Puerto Vallarta is a breathtaking spot to spend your vacation for so many reasons. Not only are there amazing spots where you can learn to surf or catch some more challenging waves. The culture and atmosphere will be something you are sure to remember fondly.

We hope that we have been able to guide you through some great options when you head over to Puerto Vallarta. If you have not quite found something that suits your fancy, do not worry, there are plenty of other hotels or options out there. You will find something that suits your tastes. 

But, that is all for this article, we hope you have a great day. 

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