Paralleling the Romantic Zone, Playa los Muertos is PV's most popular beach, where restaurants and bars have music, vendors sell barbecued fish on a stick, and people cruise the boardwalk. Immediately north of Los Muertos is contiguous Olas Altas Beach. The beaches in the Hotel Zone and Marina Vallarta can be lively during holidays and high season but have less to recommend them the rest of the year; beach erosion is a problem here, and some of the MV hotels' beaches have little or no sand at high tide. At the south end of Banderas Bay are beautiful mountain-backed playas accessible only by boat.
One wide, flat, sandy beach stretches from the mouth of the Ameca River north for miles, past the Nuevo Vallarta hotels (including the new developments at the north end, called Flamingos) and into the town of Bucerías. The generally calm water is good for swimming and, when conditions are right, bodysurfing or boogie boarding. Activities are geared to all-inclusive-hotel guests north of Paradise Village marina. Guys on the beach rent water-sports equipment, as do most of the hotels.
From Nuevo Vallarta north into Nayarit State, rocky headlands sandwich stretches of sand. From Bucerías to Chacala and beyond to San Blas, beaches attract boogie boarders, beachcombers, and those who make their own fun. Although there are fewer services than in PV, the state government is investing heavily to develop the area. Surfing is big at Sayulita and Punta Mita (also called Punta de Mita), where some of the best spots are accessible only by boat. Guayabitos, with its nearby island, is a vacation mecca for Mexican families and a refuge for snowbirds from Canada and the northern United States. Off the main highway, long, sandy roads lead to more isolated beaches such as Destiladeras; however, many of these are unfortunately now being developed and as such are inaccessible to the public.
South of PV the beaches constitute the domain of the independent traveler and the well-heeled recluse. High-end hotels on picturesque, rock-framed beaches arrange fishing and other pastimes. Other long, sandy beaches—many on large, semi-protected bays—are frequented by fishermen and local people relaxing at seafood shanties and allow shelling, snorkeling, fishing, and trips to nearby islands. Having a car is helpful for exploring multiple beaches, although local bus service is available.