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.

Jeep Safari And Tequila Farm Tour

Victor and I decided to book an excursion for a day and add some adventure to our trip. Since Victor is a huge Jeep fan he thought a 4×4 adventure would be pretty neat. I did some searching and found that Puerto Vallarta Tours, a good reputable booking agency here in town, had a Jeep Safari listed on their website.

Booking the excusion was easy, just requiring me to use my visa and within 24 hours a representative would email me a confirmation ticket with instructions on where to meet. I did call them with a question as well and they were extremely helpful. I would use them again for sure. Plus it appeared we had a very good rate already negotiated compared to other websites.

The Jeep and driver met us a few blocks away from our condo. The reason we went with this excursion was that it allowed the guests to drive the Jeep themselves, rather than be driven. We all got in, buckled up and heading out to the country side.

Passing by a restaurant overlooking a peaceful river.

Passing by a restaurant overlooking a peaceful river.

Now this wasn’t a 4×4’ing trip like we had thought, but rather a drive in the country to a few villages, a tequila farm and a crocodile and alligator reservation area. Still, it was nice to do something different and Victor did get to do a little off roading with our driver’s consent.

Victor taking the wheel, showing how its done.

Victor taking the wheel, showing how its done.

A gorgeous old parrota tree.

A gorgeous old parrota tree.

An erroded side of the hill has an interesting shape.

An erroded side of the hill has an interesting shape.

A hat maker studio in one of the villages.

A hat maker studio in one of the villages.

Our driver, by the way, was excellent. His name was Pepe and was a funny, laid back and very knowledgeable tour guide. He even let us stop off at Home Depot to look for a plant for our planter!

Big crocs at the reservation. These guys were at least 10 feet long!

Big crocs at the reservation. These guys were at least 10 feet long!

The entire trip took about 4 hours. We are seasoned excursion people and had already did most of the sights on other trips, so we did not spend a lot of time in the villages or Tequila Farm. But, if you have never been out of Puerto Vallarta and looking for an excursion, I would recommend booking a Jeep Safari.

Us in front of our jeep at the Tequila farm.

Us in front of our jeep at the Tequila farm.

Release the Kraken!!!

Or in our case, release the baby turtles!

When my family came to visit me in Puerto Vallarta, I started planning excursions that we could all enjoy. Releasing newly hatched baby turtles into the ocean seemed like a wonderful family activity. Tripadvisor ranked Superior Tours Vallarta as a top tour guide in Puerto Vallarta and that’s who I booked with.

On a side note, Superior Tours Vallarta has airport pick up service which I booked for the family and we were totally happy with their friendly service. Astrid is an owner of Superior Tours Vallarta and also was our driver. She made my family feel very welcome, handed out nice cold bottle water and told us points of interest on the way to our condo. After our friendly and professional airport pick up, I knew we were in good hands for our turtle release excursion later that week.

The turtle release tours are evening excursions because less predators are about to snatch up the babies as they scramble across the beach and into the ocean. On the night of our booked tour, I made the family dinner and then made our way to Superior Tours office situated in Old Town just a few blocks from our condo.

Astrid was our driver and a marine biologist was our guide. Unfortunately I cannot remember her name, but she was wonderful and very knowledgeable. Thankfully, as it was November and still very hot and humid, the van had air conditioning and Astrid again handed out cold waters for everyone. After a 30 minute or so drive up to Nuevo Vallarta to the turtle sanctuary, everyone got out and made our way to the beach.

The turtle sanctuary in Nuevo.

The turtle sanctuary in Nuevo.

Information sign about the turtles.

Information sign about the turtles.

Our guide first gave us information about the turtles and their different species. We had a blue bin filled with little babies that had hatched that day, ready and eager to start their life in the ocean.

Baby turtles ready to be released into the ocean.

Baby turtles ready to be released into the ocean.

We picked them up, after cleaning our hands of course, and set them down in the sand. The waves came up, caught them and off they went. It was very cute and quite a beautiful experience. The entire family enjoyed this moment and will be a treasured moment for all.

Family releasing baby turtles into the wild.

Family releasing baby turtles into the wild.

After all the babies were released, we walked the beach to look for mother turtles coming up to lay their eggs. Unfortunately there were none so we hopped in the van and made our way back to Old Town for a late night snack of tacos…a perfect ending to a wonderful day.