Puerto Vallarta isn’t just home to beautiful white-sand beaches and classy resorts. It’s also a great place to hike alongside some of the world’s most gorgeous waterfalls. If your idea of the perfect hike is one with idyllic scenery and breathtaking natural wonders, you’ll want to make time for the incredible Puerto Vallarta waterfalls. 

Before we get started, a few quick tips: 

  • - Most of these waterfalls are located just south of Puerto Vallarta, along the beaches near the Banderas Bay. If you want to see all of these destinations, consider booking a Puerto Vallarta luxury villa on the south side of town, and set aside two to three days for your journey. 
  • - The ideal time to visit the Puerto Vallarta waterfalls is between May and October, the rainy season. The abundance of rain ensures maximum waterfall activity. If you visit during the dry season, you may get just a trickle from the most popular falls. 
  • - Make sure to bring sunscreen (preferably a bug-repellant sunscreen), comfortable clothing, a good pair of walking shoes, and a quality camera. If you plan on swimming, you’ll also need to bring swim trunks. If you’re traveling during the rainy season, be sure to bring an umbrella or poncho as well.
  • - Bring pesos wherever you go, as many of these secluded beaches are home to businesses that don’t accept credit or debit cards. 

While these aren’t the only waterfall hikes in Puerto Vallarta, the following are your best options in terms of size, hiking-friendliness, scenic beauty, and local accommodations.

Yelapa waterfall
Credit: @a.boho.life

1. Yelapa 

Yelapa is a small village town by the sea, populated by friendly locals and boasting one of the easiest Puerto Vallarta waterfall hikes. The secluded beach lies adjacent to a lush jungle terrain and leads to a glorious waterfall with a swimmable pond surrounded by natural rock formations. Exotic fauna like iguanas, land crabs, and wild parrots roam the beach and adjacent jungle. Without a doubt, Yelapa is one of Mexico’s best-kept secrets.

Difficulty level: Easy

Hike Distance: Approximately 2.5 miles 

Location: The town of Yelapa 

How to get there: Yelapa is only accessible by boat, so you’ll need to take a water taxi from Playa de Los Muertos or Boca de Tomatlan. When you reach Yelapa, head south along the beach until you find the path to the waterfall hike. The entire path is paved and noted by signs marked “Yelapa Waterfall Trail,” so you shouldn’t get lost. 

Best time to go: Early in the morning. There is limited shade along the path, and the mid-afternoon sun can make the hike much warmer and more challenging. If you do travel in the afternoon, bring a quality sun hat to shade you from the direct sunlight. 

Things to do nearby: While you’re in Yelapa, be sure to check out the few bars and restaurants along the beach, all of which are built into eclectic bamboo structures and locally owned and operated. Yelapa is known for its “pie ladies,” women who sell delicious pie right on the beach, so consider grabbing a slice. The beach is also great for sunbathing, snorkeling, and kayaking.

Waterfall in Quimixto
Credit: @claprix

2. The Falls at Quimixto

Quimixto is similar to Yelapa in a lot of ways: it’s a small, scenic village community on the beach, replete with bamboo huts and towering trees. Like Yelapa, it’s fairly secluded and best reached by water taxi. And like Yelapa, it’s home to a river that leads to a stunning waterfall. The waterfall in Quimixto is among the largest in the region, and it’s surrounded by towering rocks and trees that form a steep natural pool where you can swim, relax, and bask beneath the sunlight. Best of all, it’s swimmable year-round. Just watch out for the currents during the rainy season, as the waters can get a bit rough if you’re not a strong swimmer. 

Difficulty level: Moderate 

Hike Distance: Approximately 1 mile

Location: Quimixto, a small beach community located between Las Animas and Majahuitas in southern Puerto Vallarta. 

How to get there: Take a water taxi to Quimixto from Boca de Tomatlan or Las Animas. Once on the island, follow the La Puerta river inland for about a mile. If you’re not sure where the riverbed begins, head to the Los Cocos restaurant. You can follow the path from there. The hike should only take 20 to 30 minutes, but be cautious as the terrain can be rocky. If you get tired, you can take a donkey the rest of the way, as there are locals who offer donkey and horse rentals at several points along the path. 

Best time to go: When the weather is dry. The hike can get extremely muddy when it rains, and the currents make the water beneath the waterfall less swimmable. 

Things to do nearby: This place is the height of seclusion, so don’t count on a lot of amenities. The one essential stop is the Quimixto Waterfall Restaurant, which, yes, overlooks the waterfall. The place has shrimp quesadillas, an assortment of cervezas and tequilas, and some of the best guacamole in the region. It also has outdoor seating with breathtaking views of the fall.

waterfall at Colomitos
Credit: @be_arqx

3. The Falls at Playa Colomitos 

While the waterfall at Colomitos is fairly impressive, this destination is really about the hike. This is one of the most photogenic spots for Puerto Vallarta hiking if not the most photogenic spot for Puerto Vallarta hiking—complete with golden sands, dense tropical jungles, cobblestone paths, and rustic bridges that descend over a rushing river. The crystal blue waters are also immaculate. 

Difficulty level: Moderate

Hike distance: About 2 miles 

Location: Playa Colomitos 

How to get there: Once again, the beach is fairly secluded, so you can’t get there by car. It’s located just a mile southwest of Boca Tomatlan, so you can walk along the nature path to reach it. You can also catch a panga or water taxi from Boca Tomatlan. Once you reach Colomitos, head to the western edge of the beach and follow the nature path leading to Las Animas. The beach is only about 100 yards in length, so the path won’t be hard to find if you just head west. There are several signs and maps posted at the entrance and along the way. Just be warned that this Puerto Vallarta waterfall is located in the hills, so be prepared for some hilly terrain. 

Best time to go: If you want to top off the hike with a visit to the famous Ocean Grill, strive for a morning or early afternoon hike, as the restaurant closes at 5:00. 

Things to do nearby: There aren’t many accommodations aside from the Ocean Grill, but this famous eatery is well worth the visit. It’s built high above the water on the east side of the cove and is noted for its signature dishes like fresh ceviche and smoked marlin tostadas. Non-seafood items like barbecue ribs are also available. Just be sure to make a reservation in advance and note that the restaurant is only open to guests 14 years of age and older.

Palo Maria waterfall
Credit: @pinitapaz

4. Palo Maria 

This is the one hike on our list that’s actually located near central Puerto Vallarta, so it’s perfect if you’re staying in the Hotel Zone or Zona Romantica and are just looking for a convenient hike. Palo Maria is amazing because it’s actually home to seven waterfalls, though most are difficult to access for casual hikers. The main waterfall is easy enough for most hikers to reach, but subsequent waterfalls are increasingly difficult to reach and require some rock climbing. Though it’s not for everybody, this is the ideal hike for intrepid adventurers and experienced climbers. 

Difficulty level: Moderately difficult 

Hike distance: It’s about one-and-a-half miles to the first waterfall. Additional waterfalls are closeby, but at much higher elevations that require climbing.

Location: Central Puerto Vallarta, near Playa los Muertos.

How to get there: Hop on one of the orange buses that depart from Basilio Badillo in Zona Romantica. Exit at the Palo Maria stop and follow the path up the mountain. It runs directly adjacent to the river. You should reach the first waterfall and swimming hole within 30 to 45 minutes. If you’re a comfortable climber, climb the rocks for about 50 feet to reach the second waterfall, which has a larger swimming hole. Additional climbs will take you to the subsequent Puerto Vallarta waterfalls.

Best time to go: Monday through Friday. The hike can get crowded with tourists on weekends due to the area’s close proximity to downtown PV. 

Things to do nearby: There’s nothing to do in Palo Maria aside from the hike. However, because it’s so close to the Hotel Zone, you’re just a short distance away from the city’s hottest resorts, restaurants, bars, and beaches. Spend the morning hiking, and spend the afternoon and evening reveling in all the excitement of downtown Puerto Vallarta.

EdenVa waterfall
Credit: @ahmedhinojosa

5. EdenVa 

If you’re looking to enjoy some breathtaking Puerto Vallarta hiking in a beautifully maintained natural park, you’ll want to visit EdenVa. Located just 12 miles south of Puerto Vallarta in the historic town of Mismaloya, EdenVa is an eco-tourism park rife with flowing waterfalls, tropical jungles, natural lagoons, and spacious campgrounds. The entrance fee is just 50 pesos (around $2.50) per person, and there are more than enough Puerto Vallarta hiking opportunities and activities for a full day of fun. 

Difficulty level: Easy to moderate, depending on how far you travel into the preserve. 

Hike distance: When you enter the park, you can take a guided tour or explore these Puerto Vallarta hiking trails on your own. Bus tours are also available, which will take you deeper into the preserve and reveal more of the park. If you decide to hike, you’ll see waterfalls within the first 2 miles of the main path. The further you walk, the more waterfalls you’ll see. 

Location: Mismaloya, just north of Boca de Tomatlan. 

How to get there: If you’re driving south on Highway 200, take the Mismaloya exit via Camini al Eden and head east. Stay on Camini al Eden, past the Puerto Vallarta Zoo. It’s about 3 miles from the highway exit to the eco-park. The drive can get a bit rocky with many bumps and potholes. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended.

Best time to go: The park is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Get there early to enjoy a full day of Puerto Vallarta hiking and activities.

Things to do nearby: While at the park, you can zipline across the jungle for just 500 pesos. There are also rope swings, ATV rentals, and cliff-diving opportunities. When you’re ready to eat, there’s an open-air restaurant overlooking one of the waterfalls. Fun fact: This was a filming location for the movie Predator starring Arnold Schwarzeneggar. If you take a guided tour, your guide will show you the original Predator set while also taking you past some of the best Puerto Vallarta waterfalls. 

Other Notable Puerto Vallarta Waterfalls

If you’re looking for even more waterfalls in Puerto Vallarta, there are plenty to choose from. The town of El Nogalito, just south of Conchas Chinas, has its own eco-park with multiple waterfalls. 

The Garza Blanca Preserve is also home to several Puerto Vallarta waterfalls, and guided tours are available from central Puerto Vallarta. 

Up in the Sierra Madre, near Agua Azul, you’ll find El Salto, a gorgeous canopied waterfall nestled near the center of town. The terrain is steep, so you should only attempt this one if you enjoy rigorous hikes on uneven ground. 

Whichever Puerto Vallarta hiking destinations you choose, just remember to bring your sunscreen and stay on the path. The tropical jungles of Jalisco can be arduous, but as long as you’re prepared for the journey, you’re guaranteed to see some of the most stunning sights you’ve ever observed. Happy trails.