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.

Vinyasa Flow at Kupuri Yoga in Old Town Puerto Vallarta

Yoga has really helped alleviate my back pain which, before yoga, had me laying on the floor after a work day in pain. As a teenager, I remember sitting on the bus with stabbing pain in my mid back along the left side of my spine. All my life this pain has come and gone but as I grew older, the pain became worse. Being an active person, it usually worsened after tennis, a workout at the gym or even walking home from work. Then one day I saw an advertisement for Yoga for Summer Sports, so I signed up hoping it would be good for my back and game of tennis. This class changed my life. I was 30 yrs old and for the first time in my life, I had no back pain and was sitting perfectly straight at my desk without the use of the back of the chair.

First, I started with Iyengar style yoga which was great for proper alignment of my spine,  learning the various postures and most importantly, using your breath to deepen into the poses. Now I practice Ashtanga yoga twice a week, which is a set of postures performed consecutively along with the in and out breath. I find Ashtanga improves flexibility while stretching my spine, allows me to meditate as I flow in and out of the poses, and is a great full body workout too. Ashtanga is sometimes called Power Yoga.

I captured this side street on my walk to 9am yoga class.

I captured this side street on my walk to 9am yoga class.

I felt I was ready to take some yoga classes in Vallarta rather than just working out at the gym so google searched what was out there. I found Kupuri Yoga, which was close to our condo and offered Vinyasa flow, which is a flow of poses combined with the in and out breath and a great middle ground between Iyengar and Ashtanga.

Sign for Kupuri Yoga.

Street sign for Kupuri Yoga.

Street view of Kupuri Yoga

Street view of Kupuri Yoga

Kupuri Yoga is a simple yet zen like studio located on Francisco L. Madero #239, in Emiliano Zapata (Zona Romantica) area.  They have yoga mats and props that are free to use and also offer 90 minute classes for a great price. Compared to other yoga studios in the area, I felt this was the best offer.

I have been going to the morning Vinyasa Flow yoga and thoroughly enjoyed every class. Paul, the instructor, is gentle yet encourages students to challenge themselves. Yesterday we did inversions and I was ready to stop after two, but Paul encouraged me to try more hand stands and head stands than I would have on my own.

The studio is large and zen like, with ceiling fans to cool the room and mirrors along the wall to check your alignment.

The studio is large and zen like, with ceiling fans to cool the room and mirrors along the wall to check your alignment.

Kupuri Yoga has mats and blocks for students to use for free.

Kupuri Yoga has mats and blocks for students to use for free.

Yoga is very therapeutic so drop in to Kupuri Yoga for a class to decrease stress, improve your flexibility and posture while also getting a non impact workout. Your body will love you for it.

Traditional Mexican Sweet Shop in El Centro

The sign hangs above the street, enticing people to satisfy their sweet tooth.

The sign hangs above the street, enticing people to satisfy their sweet tooth.

I have a MAJOR sweet tooth that I constantly struggle against. Back home, my weakness is cookies. But here in Puerto Vallarta, its candied nuts and shredded coconut honey stacks. I also like the chili powder, sugar covered mango slices from the candyman peddler on Los Muertos, but I think they are just mango flavored jujubes and not actual mango pieces. So after a bag or two of the mango candies I am ok. But the candied nuts….those I could have those everyday.

There is a candy shop called Con Orgullo Azteca which I frequent when I am in El Centro or walking down the malecon. From the malecon, it is directly behind the italian restaurant La Posta and that is how I know where to find it. But if you are familiar with the street names, the sweet shop is on the corner of Calle Juarez (first bridge out of Old Town) and Calle Mina.

So much candy and nuts, so little time.

So much candy and nuts, so little time.

The reason I love this shop, other than for the products, is you can see most of the candy being made right at the back of the store. I have watched candied nuts, fudge and the shredded coconut stacks being made right in front of me. Plus the owners walk around handing out samples of everything too.

Lots of traditional mexican candy to choose from.

Lots of traditional mexican candy to choose from.

Shredded coconut honey stacks. Baked to a golden brown color.

Shredded coconut honey stacks. Baked to a golden brown color.

The store has mostly traditional mexican sweets and is the perfect place to pick up treats for friends and family back home. Another item I usually buy is the granola bars made of nuts, seeds and honey. These are great little energy snacks for the walk home.