Even though it is not an island, but Yelapa is only accessible by boat. The coastal Highway 200 goes inland at Boca de Tomatlan, only halfway to Yelapa and the only roads through the jungle take a long and complicated route to the outskirts of the area. The village’s remote location has helped shelter it from the mass tourism and modern life that have changed Puerto Vallarta’s cultural and economic landscape.
With roots dating back to the 1500s, Yelapa is a protected indigenous community. In the 1960s, there was an flow of expatriates into the area. Today the village retains a distinctly laid-back “peace” vibe, with its small cafés, restaurants and visitor accommodations. Outsiders (non-indigenous residents) can lease the land in Yelapa, but ownership is legally protected for the indigenous communities.
In the carless village, donkeys still serve as cargo trucks and sunshine and roosters are the only alarm clocks. The stress of the day is whether to take a nap or go snorkeling. Some people say Yelapa, is what coastal Mexico used to be before it was discovered by the tourists.
On land people get around on foot, horseback or ATV while dozens of pangas (small boats) are anchored in the bay. Visitors tend to spend the day swimming or sunbathing on the sand of Yelapa's expansive beach. While in Yelapa, take a hike (or go by horseback) through town to the Cola de Caballo waterfalls and go for a swim in its refreshing waters that vary in flow throughout the year.
Make sure to visit Yelapa while visiting the Puerto Vallarta area, you'll be struck by the idyllic beauty of this tropical paradise.
How to get to Yelapa from Puerto Vallarta
Pangas (water taxis) run several times daily from Marina Vallarta (near where the cruise ships dock), and Los Muertos beach in downtown PV. Make sure you ask whether your ticket includes return. If so, keep your stub and get back on the same boat at the end of the day (note the name painted on the hull.) If you buy a one-way ticket, you have more flexibility on when to return, and can take any boat back.
Bus and Water Taxi
Catch a public bus to Boca de Tomatlan from downtown Puerto Vallarta at the corner of Constitucion and Basilio Badillo. Then catch a water taxi from the beach of Boca de Tomatlan. This route takes a little longer but gives you the chance to see more of the surroundings.
Several local tour companies offer day-trips, including transportation (and usually meals, drinks and snorkel equipment), from Puerto Vallarta to Yelapa. Take a walk down the Malécon and ask any of the vendors. We recommend the Chica Locca’s all-inclusive tour to Yelapa which leaves from the La Cruz Marina. This is very convenient for those of you staying at one of the many lovely vacation properties in La Cruz.