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Your Guide to Yelapa, Mexico

Yelapa is tucked between lush, green mountains and next to the serene, azure waters of Mexico’s Pacific coast.

This quaint village, accessible only by boat, is for those seeking beauty unspoiled by the clamor of crowded resorts.

There’s a stunning beach, cool waterfalls, the freshest seafood tacos, and an infinite supply of margaritas… You might never want to leave!

I loved this adorable town, and if you’re thinking of checking it out, I have everything you need to know.

How to Get to Yelapa From Puerto Vallarta

I’ll keep this short and sweet since I already have a whole guide on how to get to Yelapa from Puerto Vallarta.

Your two best options are either:

  • Take a yacht tour: Grab a tour out here, it will be the easiest, and the prices are very reasonable. They will include a great time without you having to lift a finger in the planning process! You’ll get enough time to explore Yelapa, Yelapa Waterfall and chill on the beach. It’s a perfect day trip out here on a YACHT!!
  • Take a boat: You can head to Los Muertos Pier and buy a one-way or round-trip boat ride to Yelapa. This will be the cheapest, but you’ll be in a regular, slightly crowded boat where you might get wet. Nothing fancy or that comfortable here.
Water taxi carrying passengers amongst the mountains in Yelapa.
The nifty Yelapa water taxi.

The two main piers in Yelapa are the town’s pier and the hotel pier. During my visit, the town’s pier did not look like it was actually being used, so FYI on that. Your boat captain will tell you where to meet to get picked up so don’t worry.

Wandering Yelapa Town

Well, this has got to be one of the darn cutest towns in Mexico. And I lived in Sayulita for a bit. I didn’t think towns got much cuter.

Yelapa takes it to another level with charming streets, cool murals, and even a tiled staircase paired with roaming adorable dogs… Did I make it to heaven or…!?

Nina smiling while stroking a dog in the streets of Yelapa while posing in front of stairs with a heart shaped pattern.
One of said adorable dogs!

You’ll fall in love with the charm of Yelapa just wandering the streets, which won’t take long since this place is so small.

There’s one small road that runs through the town, but there are plenty of mini side streets to detour off of.

Nina with a waterproof bag wandering the bohemian looking backstreets of Yelapa.
Exploring one of the side streets.

Yelapa Beach

There’s really one main beach, Yelapa Beach. You’ll find tons of cute little bungalows flinging margaritas and food out to the visitors on the lounge chairs.

The beach is a beautiful yellow sand beach, and the ocean is a perfect temperature and blue as can be! As your backdrop? How do lush green hills sound?

A full view over Yelapa Beach the blue ocean water and a tree covered hill while boats come and go.
View over Yelapa Beach.

You can easily spend the day here; it’s a lovely beach!

While there are many places to beach bum, if you want a chair with an umbrella, you must order something from one of the restaurants.

Unfortunately, some of the restaurants don’t have the best reviews, but we found Sirena Morena Yelapa to be the better of the bunch. Of course, you’re welcome to pop down on your own towel anywhere for free.

A man swimming in the ocean at an empty Yelapa Beach with a view of hotels in the distance.
A morning swim at Yelapa Beach.

Other Beaches in Yelapa:

  • Main Town – There’s a patch of sand here but it’s not much of a beach; it’s not great, I wouldn’t recommend coming here.
  • Playa Isabel – This spot is a nice little cove that almost nobody goes to since you have to walk a bit to get here. You’ll find cute rocky outcrops with a small slice of sand to chill on.
A view over Playa Isabel with a donkey on the beach, forest to the side and a paraglider in the air in the distance.
Playa Isabel. Can you spot the donkey and paraglider?

Yelapa Waterfalls

You may have heard there’s a waterfall here in Yelapa, and it’s true, there are actually TWO!

Cascada de Yelapa

The one you’re likely thinking about is the one closest to town. You’ll pass a few cute shops along the pathway to get here, and you’ll maybe have to step over some horse poop too.

Yelapa Waterfall is less than a mile round trip from the center of town and is best visited in winter and spring because it can get quite dry afterward.

A long exposure of Yelapa Waterfall falling down over smooth black rocks to the plunge pool.
A great place for a swim!

It’s a stunning waterfall that tumbles from about 100 feet up off a rocky cliff’s edge and into a big pool. Here, you can take a dip, which is nice after roasting all day at the beach.

Yelapa Waterfall #2

The second waterfall in Yelapa is quite a ways longer. It’s about 5 miles round trip, and you’ll be hiking through a river at some points, with a last-minute rock scramble towards the end.

From July to September, you may not be able to reach these falls because the river’s water level will be too high due to the rain.

A long exposure of Yelapa Waterfall 2 in between rocks on a sunny day.
The lesser visited Yelapa Waterfall!

Restaurant Manguito’s is along the river at the start of the trail, so you might want to pop in for a quick drink and ask them for some advice so you don’t waste your time heading in only to have to turn around.

READ MORE: Yelapa Waterfalls: There Are TWO!

Horse Back Riding and ATVs

Yelapa is a beautiful slice of serene Mexican paradise. You’ll see it as soon as you get here!

However, there will be a few moments of momentary disruption… Usually in the form of horses coming through and leaving poop and ATVs zipping by.

A group of tourists horse back riding down a road in Yelapa.
Horseback riding is popular in Yelapa.

No offense if this is your thing; it’s not mine, but I can’t help but mention it. Exploring Yelapa by ATV or horseback riding is popular.

You can grab this tour here, which takes you to Yelapa and includes a horseback riding trip.

Where to Eat in Yelapa:

  • Jay’s Cafe: We stopped here first to get some coffee to fuel up for the day (our first coffee didn’t count after that boat ride).
  • Tacos Los Abuelos: Eat all the seafood tacos here!
  • Restaurante Pollo Bollo: I don’t eat meat but a friend who ate here said the chicken was really good and ended up eating here a ton.
  • Cafe Eclipse: Fresh juice, some of the best guac I’ve ever had in Mexico, and some cute dogs. They are just a few steps from the mosaic-tiled staircase.
  • Yelapa Yacht Club: Sounds fancy but it’s not. Live music, views of the beach, good margaritas… Do you need anything else?!
Garrett smiling with a camera hanging off his shoulder holding out a cup of coffee besides the Jay's Cafe sign and menu.
A very happy Garrett at Jay’s Cafe.

How to Get Around Yelapa

By foot, baby! This is a small town, and there are few to no cars. As we mentioned, you could take an ATV tour or a horseback riding tour, but otherwise, you’ll be walking around.

An elderly tourist being driven around on an ATV in Yelapa.
ATV’s are a very quick way to get around.

Ensure you wear comfortable footwear and not just a pair of foam flip-flops.

Something worth noting, particularly because it’s likely you’ll be getting dropped off at the hotel pier, is that you have to walk a bit to get to the town.

If you’re just looking for a day at the beach, you’ll be golden; the boat will get you right there.

Lots of small boats anchored in a bay near Yelapa Beach with beach villas built into the forests on the mountain.
A view over the ocean while walking around Yelapa.

But if you want to go to town or the main Yelapa Waterfall, you’ll have to walk along the beach, past the beach cabanas, over the Yelapa Bridge, up a bit of a hill, and down into town.

If you peep a map, you’ll notice Yelapa Beach and the town are separated by a river. It’s about a 30-minute walk from the beach to the town. Depending on water levels you might be able to walk across the river.

I had to walk over the bridge when I visited in November.

A map of Yelapa town and things to do.
A map of Yelapa town and the things to do.

Do You Day Trip to Yelapa or Stay?

This is a tough one to answer; it will entirely depend on how much time you’re going to be in Mexico and what you’re looking for.

If you’re looking for a quiet getaway where you want to forget everything for a while, particularly after 3 pm when all the visitors who aren’t staying in Yelapa leave, then maybe shacking up for a couple of nights is a good idea!

Nina crossing a long, wooden suspension bridge over a brown river heading towards the forests of Yelapa.
It’s worth sticking around the explore!

If you’re low on time, are doing tons of other things to do in Puerto Vallarta, and just want to pop in and get a feel for Yelapa, then just come for the day. In reality, you can definitely see Yelapa in a day.

You won’t get to relax too much if you’re trying to see the waterfall, walk around, eat, etc… You won’t have too much time to “feel” Yelapa, but you will see Yelapa.

An antique looking payphone with a sign saying that it's the "first telephone in Yelapa"... and a parrot.
Yelapa is unique and deserves your time!

👉 Accommodation in Yelapa

Read more of my guides for around Puerto Vallarta:

Quick FAQ for Yelapa, Mexico:

Is Yelapa worth it?

Absolutely. It’s a great stop to escape the bustle, with a stunning beach and a waterfall.

Can you swim in Yelapa?

Yes, the beach and the waterfalls are both swimmable.

How long is the boat ride from Puerto Vallarta to Yelapa?

It’s a one-hour boat from the Low Muertos Pier in Puerto Vallarta to Yelapa. If you’re here on a tour, they might make a few other stops along the way.

Is there a road to Yelapa, Mexico?

Nope. You won’t find many cars here either. The only way to get to Yelapa is by boat. (Technically, there is a road to Yelapa, but you won’t be using it!)

How long is the hike to Yelapa Waterfall?

Yelapa Waterfall is less than a mile round trip walk from town. The further waterfall is a five-mile round-trip hike.

What’s the best way to visit Yelapa?

Come by boat for the day or take an epic yacht boat tour.

I hope this helped you plan your trip to Yelapa!

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  1. Visited Yelapa for a day in 1986 and would like to go back for a few days. Can you tell me abiut places to stay and prices, which is the be with best views, etc. What info do you have on Frida Hotel? Can you still ride burros to the waterfalls? Do you know Allison in Playa del Carmen?