So many visitors come to the Bay of Banderas to escape the cold north winters but many do not realize that we have a spectacular summer season that offers a magical experience offering some great weather. You can always return to your air-conditioned suite at Hacienda San Angel if you get overheated! But you won’t because rainwater is refreshing!
From the end of June through October you will experience heat but then you are blessed with the rolling in of the clouds from the south, and when it rains it pours magic! Worried about getting a suntan? Most days are sunny so you are sure to get a gorgeous glow at one of our pools or beaches that you explore. If you love sunsets, some of the best sunsets are enjoyed during the summer season. The clouds offer a spectacular colorful show once the sun sets and most sunsets are exquisite.
If you truly believe that the best things in life are free, waterfalls in the Bay of Banderas are one of them. So many waterfalls to explore! Here are a few of the favorites some including swimming holes. If you don´t want to do the hikes solo, there are many tour operators who offer guided tours.
South Shore Highway-Driving South on the highway to Barra de Navidad you will find waterfalls along the base of the road. Passing Boca de Tomatlan travelling south keep your eye open for waterfalls on your left-hand side and you can park your car, cross the road (carefully), and cool off in some of the finest water leaving your skin and hair soft and silky.
Mismaloya-Just a 20-minute ride from downtown Puerto Vallarta Vallarta the Mismaloya river flows year round and you can enjoy small swimming areas as you hike upwards inland. A favorite play area for kids and those wanting to cool off is at the base where Mismaloya River meets the beach offering people and pelican watching unlike any spot in the Bay of Banderas. For those more adventurous, follow a footpath upward to find tiny waterfalls small dwellings, and plenty of donkeys.
Boca de Tomatlan-Just a 35-minute drive from downtown Vallarta, the Boca de Tomatlan River flows year round and the beach where the mouth of the river is located offers charming rustic restaurants to enjoy fresh fish and margaritas. For those daring to explore, take a path on the South Side of the Boca de Tomatlan River traveling inland passing small populations, and finding swimming holes as you travel inland. Get ready to see many dogs, horses donkeys, and happy barefoot children.
Palo Maria River at Punta Negra – Just a 15-minute ride from Downtown Vallarta, the Palo Maria River flows year round and for those liking a good hike, this is paradise. Park your car or get off the bus at Punta Negra Beach and just a few meters south, you will encounter a bridge. You can hike down and trek upwards to find a couple of very spectacular waterfalls and swimming holes. Note swimming holes diminish during the non-rainy season.
Las Animas-Las Animas beach cannot be accessed by vehicle so one must take a water taxi from Los Muertos, Mismaloya, or Boca de Tomatlan for a small fee. Las Animas is located 20 minutes along the coast South of Boca de Tomatlan. Upon arrival at Las Animas, choose from a dozen beachfront restaurants and walk along the beach traveling south and at the far end, you will encounter a horse path leading inland. The hike takes approximately 20 minutes and you will encounter a lovely jewel of a small waterfall and a refreshing swimming hole.
Yelapa-Yelapa Beach is located by boat or water taxi from Los Muertos, Boca de Tomatlan, or Mismaloya Beach on the south coast. Once you arrive at Yelapa the adventure begins and there is so much to see! Once you arrive at the beach ask one of the restaurant owners where the path begins. The sites to be seen along the river are quite spectacular. You can find the waterfall hiking 1.5 hours inland along the El Tuito River.
Nogalito-The Neighborhood of Nogalito is a forgotten jewel located just 12 minutes from downtown Vallarta. The bus will leave you on the highway and the waterfalls are quite a jaunt inland so it is best for those who have their own vehicle or rent a car. During the rainy season, this riverside destination is a site to be seen with endless bird and iguana watching. The waterfall is located approximately 3 kilometers (2 miles) inland from the town of El Nogalito.
Quimixto-Quimixto beach is located by taking a water taxi (or boat) from Los Muertos, Mismaloya, or Boca de Tomatlan on the South Coast. Upon arrival at this sleepy beach that is most popular for the hikes inland to its waterfalls, you can hire a horse or hike to the beautiful waterfall and swimming hole that is located 20 to 30 minutes inland.
Rio Cuale-Paso Ancho El Rio Cuale flows into the Pacific on the South end of Puerto Vallarta´s bustling boardwalk. At the mouth of the river in the brackish water you can see kids playing, pelicans diving, men fishing, surfers catching small waves, and vendors selling oysters. You can stroll up on the Isla Rio Cuale (Rio Cuale Island) and enjoy a cultural center, and shopping, and those who are in good condition can follow the river upward walking for hours. If you have a vehicle, you can skip a section of the Rio Cuale by traveling inland to the Paso Ancho neighborhood and following a dirt road up the side of the river finding numerous swimming holes. On a Sunday Paso Ancho-Rio Cuale inland is a hot spot for families on a picnic and be ready to see Chesterfields and living room furniture set up riverside.
The Bay of Banderas has so many hidden surprises. Order a box lunch from our concierge and jump on the bus, rent a car, and explore the South Shore. Be sure to bring your bathing suit, bird guide, insect repellent, binoculars, and plenty of water and a snack.
*Note for all of the waterfalls mentioned above, water levels increase drastically during the rainy season (June through October) so be careful with the currents if this is when you visit.