Puerto Vallarta surfing offer is quite tempting, with many great surf spots spread along the Riviera Nayarit and the southern part of Bahia de Banderas.
No wonder the beautiful town of Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s most popular surf destinations on the Pacific Coast.
The great part is that most of these places are suitable for beginners as well as more experienced surfers, so no matter how good a surfer you are, you will find a spot suitable for you.
In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about surfing in this part of Mexico: which are the best surf spots, when to go, where to stay, and what else you can do in the area besides surfing.
Pluses and minuses when surfing around Puerto Vallarta
- Really nice surfing spots for beginners
- Plenty of places to practice all around the beautiful Bahia de Banderas
- The positive vibe of Puerto Vallarta city after a long day of surf
- You have to drive to get to these surfing spots near Puerto Vallarta
- The place might become really crowded during spring
- Some degree of pollution in some spots
Where is Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is located in the State of Jalisco right on the Pacific Ocean.
The state of Nayarit borders it, and many of the best surfing spots from the area are located along the Riviera Nayarit.
The waters are warm, perfect for surfing, as Puerto Vallarta is located at almost the same latitude as Hawaii.
Puerto Vallarta airport is the main gateway to the region, and the area around the airport is one of the best waves for surf.
Other good surfing spots are located along the bay at Punta de Mita and on the southern part of the bay at Quimixto.
How to get to Puerto Vallarta
The surf town of Puerto Vallarta is extremely accessible for Americans from all across the USA.
Flights to and from more than 30 destinations are spread all across the US, with non-stop flights.
Driving to this part of Mexico is slow as there are no finished toll roads, just some high-speed roads under construction.
The best way to explore the area and to travel from one beach to another is with a rented car.
Renting a car in Mexico is safe and easy, and the prices are more than decent.
Have a unique experience by exploring the area in your own rented car
Whether you prefer day trips from your hotel or a tour around the country, car rental is the best way for creating your own experience and live your dream vacation
You can also choose to go on guided tours, which are way more expensive than renting a car.
Surf lessons in Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is a fantastic destination for surfing, but don’t imagine you pop out from your hotel and jump on the surfing board.
Especially for beginners, the best way to learn how to surf is to hire an experienced guide who will take care of transportation and equipment.
In Puerto Vallarta, you can find excellent instructors who can make the surfing experience a fun, safe, and interesting adventure.
They know all the area’s surfing spots and which suits your skill levels.
We reserve two seats at Surfing on the north of the bay, a 2.5 hours experience that also includes a 30-minute beach lesson.
If you are a beginner, as we are, then you will receive a lesson to learn the surf techniques before riding the first wave.
If you are intermediate to expert, the instructor will pick some suitable surfing spots.
The surf locations change depending on season and weather conditions and you can surf everywhere in the turquoise waters, from Punta de Mita to Nuevo Nayarit.
If, after this short tour, you like surfing, you can consider heading to one of the many surfing schools in the area.
The most famous are Okala Surf School Puerto Vallarta, Vallarta Surf Lesson, and WildMex Surf Lessons.
All these schools have real professional instructors, and almost all of them offer transportation from the hotel to the beach and return.
Best Puerto Vallarta surf spots
If you are looking for the most popular surfing beach along the Riviera Nayarit, then head to Sayulita.
It is located just one hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta and is famous for its consistent waves.
The good news is that public buses go to this beach.
This beach town is absolutely beautiful, perfect for surfers of all ages and different levels of experience.
The waves here are suitable for all levels of surfers and can be ridden from morning till dusk.
If you are looking for a quieter beach or if you are a beginner, plenty of less popular beaches are in the area, especially for people like you.
There are also surf instructors in the area, and I think is a good idea to hire one to help you gain confidence and get familiar with the area.
Surfing equipment can be rented from the rental shops located right on the beach.
In addition to surfing, Sayulita is famous for its vibrant nightlife and is one of the best places to move if you are a digital nomad.
2. La Lancha
Playa La Lancha is another popular surf spot near Puerto Vallarta.
If you are a beginner, then this is the place where you should go.
What is unique about this beach is its entrance; you must cross a small river to get to the beach.
During the dry season, the river is dry, but during the rainy season, it might be some mud and even water.
The beach has crystal clear water, warm enough for surfing, and white sand where you can relax and enjoy the view.
The waves are consistent and long, and during low season when there are few people, you might even spot wildlife.
Pelicans and sea turtles are most commonly seen, especially during the winter season.
The beach is located less than one hour drive north of Puerto Vallarta.
Most people you will meet here are part of a surf school.
3. Punta Mita
Punta Mita is located on the very tip of the peninsula, packed with golf courses, condos, and hotels.
When you hear about Punta Mita think of the northern part of the Bahia de Banderas, from the Cruz de Huanacaxtle up to the tip of the peninsula.
It is a short drive from Sayulita and less crowded, the ideal place to enjoy the waves and perfect your skills.
The waves here are perfect for all levels of skills, as you can find all kinds of waves, from gentle rides to challenging sets.
On the beach, you will find surf instructors and rental shops, so it is a good place to learn the secrets of surfing.
Plenty of high-end resorts are in the area, so you can relax and enjoy fine dining after a day on the waves.
They host an annual surf competition, which is one of the top events in Punta Mita.
4. Punta Burros
Burros, or Punta Burros, or Punta del Burros is located further along the Punta Mita surf shoreline, quite close to the airport of Puerto Vallarta.
It is a great place recommended by locals, but getting to it is not that easy.
You will have to walk through the jungle to reach the beach.
The positive side is that the place is less crowded and no commercial shops and businesses are in the area.
So prepare for a remote spot where you can enjoy the waves.
Pack with you water, sunscreen, and food, as there are no shops around.
The area is not that popular among beginners due to the powerful waves, but surfers with a little experience love it.
5. San Pancho
The beautiful town of San Pancho is only 5 minutes away from Sayulita, so the waves and the beach are quite similar.
However, it is less crowded and has a more relaxed vibe.
The waves here are suitable for a short board most of the year.
In the area, there are local surf schools and daily surf trips to Punta Mita are organized daily because there the waves are better than here.
Waves from this beach are better for experienced surfers, while beginners might find it hard to catch a wave.
San Pancho town is perfect for chilling than partying and is famous for its strong sense of community.
For a complete guide about what you can do in San Pancho, where is, and how to get there, see our article San Pancho, Riviera Nayarit hidden gem.
If you fell in love with this area and want to spend at least one night here, we prepared for you a list of the 10 best hotels in San Pancho, with great scores on Booking and great price-quality ratio.
I bet you haven’t heard about Litibu until now.
The place is not so popular, although it is the main beach of Higuera Blanca.
It is located about 45 minutes drive from Puerto Vallarta airport.
The place remains pretty untouched, with very few bars and restaurants.
There are just a few villas along the shore, and is a great place to head to when Sayulita is packed with tourists.
La Bahia, or The Cove, is one of the best Puerto Vallarta surf spots you can find.
It is located in the Punta Mita area, and to get to this beach, you must get a panga or water taxi for about 40 minutes.
Or, you can walk over rocks from El Anclote, which is neither comfortable nor pleasant on a hot day in summer.
There are collective options that leave every few hours, but I personally did not use them.
At La Bahia, you can find the best waves in the region mainly because the beach is far from the peninsula’s tip.
This spot is absolutely perfect for intermediate surfers, while it can be difficult for beginners as the reef can be exposed during low tides.
High tide period is best for beginners interested in surfing here.
Palmitas is located on the west part of Punta de Mita.
It is one of the best beach breaks in the whole area, with fantastic waves.
Can get quite strong in the summer, but are perfect during the winter months.
It is an area popular especially among experienced riders.
9. El Anclote
El Anclote or Anchor is a fantastic beach with golden sands and unique sea views, the main break in the town of Punta de Mita.
The beach’s name comes from the nearby harbor, home to several small boats that take tourists on surf excursions and trips to Marietas Islands.
It is located right near Marietas Islands, and there are boats that will take you to these beautiful islands.
Consult our full guide about Marietas Islands and see what you can do and see inside this protected area.
El Anclote’s waves are calm, slow, and constant, making them the best option for surfing and swimming.
The area attracts a lot of surfers, especially intermediate surfers who want to improve their skills and have fun.
There are a few dining options in the surrounding area where you can eat delicious seafood.
10. Stinky’s beach
Located on the eastern side of the boat harbor, Stinky’s Beach is another popular beach break in Punta de Mita.
Its white sand is just perfect for beginners and little kids while the waves barely break.
This beach is perfect for beginners and for those who love stand-up paddling.
Il Faro, or the Lighthouse, is one of the least consistent surfing spots in Puerto Vallarta.
It is perfect for experienced surfers looking to ride the waves without many people around.
Here the waves are hard to get, and to get to the perfect spot, you need to take a boat or walk along the beach for quite a while.
But experienced surfers say that worth the effort to reach this beach as the waves are simply incredible.
It’s a right-hander point break with pretty nice rides that can be fast and slow, depending on the strength of the swell.
Quimixto is only accessible by boat from Boca de Tomatlan and is the right place for adventurous surfers.
This secluded spot offers a challenging, wild surf experience with breathtaking scenery and strong waves.
It is the right spot for experienced surfers, and surf lessons are unavailable here.
To get to this point, you need to take a boat from Puerto Vallarta, as there are no roads to Quimixto.
You can also take the shuttle boat from Los Muertos Pier and Boca de Tomatlan.
Winter months are the best time for surfing in the area when the North Pacific swells march down the coast.
The place is simply stunning, so a lot of tourists take a boat trip just to enjoy the view and relax, not necessarily to surf.
Los Veneros is located about 10 km on the road to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle and is perfect for beginners.
To get to the beach, you need to follow a short hiking trail from Rancho Banderas or to go through the public beach of Destiladeras.
The waves break in different directions, so there will be a lot of fun.
Depending on the weather, you can face different types of waves.
Overall, the beach is accessible mostly for beginners.
The best time for surfing here is the during morning, to catch the glassy part of the day.
Best season for surfing near Puerto Vallarta
One of the best things about surfing in Puerto Vallarta is that it’s an offer all year round.
Thanks to the wide mix of surfing spots, you can practice this sport all year round, as shown below.
Surfing in summer, from May to October
The Mexican summer comes with powerful storms far out in the Pacific.
So, the waves in regions like Oaxaca are too powerful to be ridden.
But there is a different story with the beaches from Riviera Nayarit.
As the Puerto Vallarta surfing area is more protected from powerful storms, places like Sayulita are perfect for surfing during these months.
Punta de Mita, on the other hand, has quite big waves, so surfing here is not for everybody.
As for the temperatures, Puerto Vallarta is hot from May to October.
June is the rainiest month, with short and heavy rains during the midday and cooler nights.
During these months we recommend going surfing during the morning, to avoid rain and strong and unpredictable winds.
Surfing in winter, from November to April
Winter months are extremely popular in Mexico, no matter what part of the country you choose to visit.
There is almost no rain, and the temperatures are around 80 degrees F (30 degrees C).
So, if you are looking for a place to escape the harsh winter, then Mexico is the right destination.
Regarding the waves and the currents, these months are perfect for surfing.
Thanks to the unique shape of Riviera Nayarit and the beach facing north of the Bahia de Banderas (Banderas Bay), there are plenty of waves to ride.
The area around Sayulita and the little coast town of San Pancho have perfect waves for surfing.
The main downside I see here is the crowds.
But if you wake up early in the morning, when everybody is still sleeping, you can only have the waves for yourself.
Best Puerto Vallarta hotels for surfers
The area has plenty of hotels and guesthouses, suitable for each budget.
I carefully handpicked for you the ones with the best price-quality ratio.
Casa Pavlova is a modest but clean lodging in Puerto Vallarta’s heart. It comes with comfortable beds and private bathrooms.
Hotel Meson de Mita is a 3-star hotel with thatched cabanas, a nice outdoor pool, and colorful interiors with a Mexican touch.
The location of the hotel is absolutely fantastic, as the surf spots are just a walk away.
For those who want to really enjoy the trip
Hotel Mousai is an adults-only hotel located not very close to the main surf spots but offers fantastic amenities. It is a luxurious hotel with an infinity pool that offers fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean.
All the suits come with balconies and sumptuous interiors.
Surf shops in Puerto Vallarta
As you might expect, surfing is so popular in the area that you will find shops selling surf equipment and accessories.
I want to mention the Coral Surf Shop and Surf Mexico among the most popular shops.
Coral Surf Shop
This is located on the backstreet of the lovely Zona Romantica area.
You will find longboards, decks, and boardshorts here, plus a beautiful and trendy collection of surf equipment to catch all the eyes of the beach.
Surf Mexico sits right on the highway just before you turn off to the famous La Lancha and Burros.
If you are heading to the surf spots of Punta Mita and Riviera Nayarit, you simply cannot miss it.
There is also a surf school in the same building, not just the store.
Here you will find everything you need for a day on the sea, riding the biggest waves.
Things to do when you are not surfing in Puerto Vallarta
1.Hike the Sierra Madre
Puerto Vallarta is located at the bottom of Siera Madre mountains. Here you can find among the best hiking trails from the Mexican Pacific.
The mountains are perfect for a day hike with lush vegetation and stunning waterfalls, especially if you want to run from heat.
Local guides now offer organized treks to well-known summits in the area.
2. Party on the Malecon
The Malecon links the whole city of Puerto Vallarta, and it is located on the edge of the Pacific.
It is the most popular place for sunset walks and night parties.
The place is packed with bars and restaurants, and it is the hottest point in the area where tourists meet, have fun, and drink tequila.
Here you will find a vibrant atmosphere, fantastic bars and delicious food.
3. Perfect your tan on any beach from Bahia de Banderas
There are plenty of beaches in the area, so you have a lot of options when choosing the right spot to perfect your tan.
Most of these beaches are linked by a wonderful hiking path through the jungle so you can do some exercise and then rest on any of these beautiful beaches.
Logistical tips and tricks for your trip
Book your accommodation
We always use Booking.com as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.
You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.
Don't forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected events and cost like illness, COVID, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.
We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.
Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.
We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.
Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.
We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.
Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.
Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.