Travel Guide: Yelapa, Mexico

Looking for the perfect getaway? Yelapa may be just the ticket…

For our latest FP Escape, powered by Yogascapes, we journeyed to the charming fishing village of Yelapa, Mexico. Nestled in a cove between the Sierra Madres and the Pacific Ocean, this sleepy seaside town lies about 15 miles southwest of Puerto Vallarta. With no cars, no ATMs and limited wifi, life in Yelapa seems to exist in a parallel universe, and offers all of the things a retreat should — seclusion, adventure and an opportunity to reconnect with yourself.

Yelapa’s name comes from an indigenous saying, meaning “where two rivers meet the sea.” One of the richest bioregions in the world, the area boasts incredible varieties of tropical plants and wildlife. The town is protected by a land grant that is held by the community as a whole. Yelapa was transformed by legendary hipster celebs like Bob Dylan, Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper who took refuge in the tiny pueblo during the 60s. Their presence inspired the chilled-out, up beat, wayfaring vibe that remains today.

Your options in reaching Yelapa are limited, but very cool — via bus, boat, mule or ATV. After taking a quick stop for street tacos, we recommend taking the voyage by panga (water taxi) from one of the daily scheduled departures that leave from various locations around Puerto Vallarta. The 45-minute passage takes you on a breathtakingly beautiful journey across glittering Banderas Bay. So kick back, breathe in the salty sea air and let your gaze settle upon the jungle shores. Dolphins may just escort your cruiser towards the tiny oasis.

After landing at the playita pier, make your way to the end of the dock for tasty refreshments at Café Bahia. Behind the cafe is a steep labyrinth of colorful casitas hemmed with bougainvillea and hibiscus blossoms. There are no street names or maps, but the friendly locals will always point you in the right direction. As you navigate the cobblestone streets, follow the conjunto rhythms and make your way to the top of the village towards the impressive waterfall. After reaching the top, relax at Cascada y Bosque Restaurant and enjoy some light refreshments as you watch the 150 ft falls cascade into the lagoon below.

For adventure-seekers eager to explore, Yelapa hosts a brilliant variety of outdoor pursuits including paragliding, surfing, hiking, snorkeling and yoga. Explore the surrounding area with one of the countless boat excursions to secluded beaches or a horseback ride through the local hillsides. The best time for surfing is in the winter. For good breaks and sandy beaches, head north the tiny village of Quimixto (about 20 min by water taxi).

Authentic Mexican charm seems to be woven into every corner of the town. Living in harmony with the environment, the local culture continues to lure a growing community of wanderlusters that are drawn to the ever-present balance found in this humble seaside paradise.

Where to stay:
Xinalani: Eco-chic yoga paradise with open-aired palaps overlooking the ocean

Casa de los Sueños :Formally Bob Dylan’s hang out, this open-aired palapa-style estate is great for groups, families and events.

Where to eat:
Café Bahia: Loads of charm offering healthy fare with fresh local ingredients (vegetarian and vegan options available!). Layered yogi bowls, jugo verde, fresh fruit smoothies and homemade ice cream — YUM!

Pie Lady: Make sure to sample a slice of homemade lemon meringue or coconut cream from the Pie Ladies, who can be found weaving through the seaside sunbathers and cobblestoned back roads.

Where to shop:
***There’s no ATM in Yelapa so be sure to bring plenty of cash***

Estrella de Mar Boutique: A tiny gem with artisan crafts including hand-blown glass, ceramics and textiles.

Javier’s Rosewood Shop: Hand carved salad bowls, vases, rolling pins and other beautiful pieces made from locally grown rosewood.

What to do:
Marietas Islands: Fantastic day trip — completely uninhabited…snorkel through colorful reefs, swim with tropical fishes and explore Hidden Beach!

Temazcal: Ritual Shaman-led sweat lodge to purify the mind, body and soul.

Quimixto: half-day hike to beautiful waterfalls where you can enjoy a refreshing swim and play on natural waterslides!

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5 years ago

Sounds like such a fun travel destination!

5 years ago

Sounds like a great getaway from all those hectic life! Totally an inspiration for travelling more <3

5 years ago

So dreamy- I’ll definitely keep this in mind for my next travel.

5 years ago

What a magical place, it looks so romantic!

5 years ago

First off, ughhh…PUUUUULEASE!! My dad is from Yelapa and this beautiful village has had a chill vibe looooong before the 60s. Please give credit to the people who actually live there for creating this heaven on earth. Their (Bob Dylan, Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper) presence DID NOT inspire the village vibe you speak of. Rather, it was THEM who were inspired by the preexisting, up-beat vibe of the village!

Secondly, Quimixto is breathtaking! Please visit when you go, it’ll change your life!