Afternoon of Paradise at Playa Las Gemalas South of Puerto Vallarta

Play Las Gemalas, a small beach located 15 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta by bus, is a slice of heaven. With soft light-colored sand and silky clear water, this public beach is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.

I found this beach by accident when google searching snorkelling in Mismaloya. I followed a few threads on trip advisor with then led me to Playa Las Gemalas, describing how beautiful it was and that it was about number 17 on the top list of things to do in Puerto Vallarta.

Getting there is easy with a few options. You can take a taxi or catch a bus like we did, for 8 pesos per person. The bus stop in Old Town is located on the corner of Basillo Badillo and Constitution street, right next to the OXXO. The bus is orange and white and will say Mismaloya on the windshield. This bus passes the beach as it heads to Mismaloya. Tell the bus driver you are going to Playa Las Gemalas and he will drop you off at the Best Western Plus. It’s about a 15 minute bus ride.

Busses going south, Mismaloya and Boca de Tomatlan, start from the South Terminal at Constitución and Basilio Badillo. For 80 pesos, you can't beat it.

Busses going south, Mismaloya and Boca de Tomatlan, start from the South Terminal at Constitución and Basilio Badillo. For 80 pesos, you can’t beat it.

I recommend picking up some snacks and water before your trip as the beach has very few vendors. Also, pack some towels, sunscreen and maybe a book if you like.

What you will need for an afternoon at Playa Las Gemalas: towels, sunscreen, book or iPod, sunglasses, snacks, water, cerveza and food if you are staying a long time as there are no vendors.

After the bus drops you off at Best Western Plus, walk back to Condominiums Playa Gemala and you will see a hidden staircase to the beach. The staircase is long and uneven so be careful. We counted, there are 110 steps but the prize at the end is worth it.

The bus drops you off at Best Western. Walk back to this condo complex.

The bus drops you off at Best Western. Walk back to this condo complex.


The sign to the entrance of the staircase to Playa Las Gemalas.

The sign to the entrance of the staircase to Playa Las Gemalas.


Staircase to heaven

Staircase to heaven


110 uneven steps to the Playa.

110 uneven steps to the Playa.

Once you get to the beach, find a shade spot under the tree to lay your towel down and head to the water.

Grab a spot under the tree for shade.

Grab a spot under the tree for shade.


Soft clean sand and silky clear water

Soft clean sand and silky clear water

Finding this beach was a wonderful surprise for us. I have never been to the Caribbean but I was told it was almost the same. We swam out quite far and were diving down, eyes open, and touching the bottom. The water is crystal clear and we could see nothing but light sand, even some sea shells. We also just floated on our backs, legs and arms spread like a starfish, letting the sun warm our face.

Cross the road to catch the bus back to Puerto Vallarta. It comes frequently.

Cross the road to catch the bus back to Puerto Vallarta. It comes frequently.

Venture outside of the tourist zone and head to Playa Las Gemalas. This little beach really is a great surprise and quite different from Los Muertos or other beaches right in Puerto Vallarta.

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