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Las Animas Beach is a hidden stretch of sand surrounded by the lush, green jungles of Puerto Vallarta.
No roads lead in or out of Las Animas, so getting here is only for adventurous travelers willing to make their way on foot or by boat.
I love a good trek, so Dan and I tackled the hike to Las Animas Beach on our first weekend in Puerto Vallarta. Now, with this step-by-step guide, you can do it too!
This article covers:
- How to get to Boca de Tomatlan (the starting point of the Las Animas hike)
- How to hike to Las Animas Beach
- What to see (and where to stop) on the hike to Las Animas Beach
- How long is the hike from Boca to Las Animas Beach?
- What to do at Las Animals Beach
- How to get from Las Animas to Puerto Vallarta
- What to pack for the Las Animas hike
- How much does the Las Animas Beach hike cost?
- And so much more!
Let’s dive in.
P.S. Want more of the outdoors? Join our new Sustainable Hiking Collective on Facebook to connect with the international hiking community, discover new destinations, join virtual trail cleanups, and take part in monthly sustainability challenges.
How to Get to Boca de Tomatlan
The Las Animas hike begins in the small town of Boca de Tomatlan. You can get here with an Uber or by bus.
An Uber should cost around 200 to 250 mxn / 10 to 13 usd, depending on where in the city you need to be picked up, but Dan and I always take the bus because it’s easy and super cheap.
To catch the bus from Puerto Vallarta to Boca de Tomatlan, walk to the OXXO store on the corner of Calle Constitucion and Basilio Badillo in the Zona Romantica neighborhood. The bus is clearly labelled with a Boca de Tomatlan sign and you’ll probably see a line of people waiting to board.
Get in line, board the bus, pay your 10 mxn entrance fee to the driver, and then enjoy the ride! The road from Puerto Vallarta to Boca de Tomatlan winds along the coast and through the jungle so the views are fantastic the entire way.
The trip takes about an hour and your stop at Boca will be obvious because it’s the last one on the route.
If you don’t want to do it on your own, you can also book a guided hike to Animas Beach on Airbnb.
Bridge across the river in Boca de Tomatlan and the starting point of the Las Animas hike
How to hike to Las Animas Beach from Boca de Tomatlan
Now it’s time for the hike.
Walk down the hill from the bus stop and into town. Keep going until you reach the river and then turn left.
You’ll come to a foot bridge in a parking lot – cross over the river on the bridge and then turn right to continue along the coast. The path splits here, so make sure to keep following the one that runs to the right along the water.
Now you’re officially on the trail to Las Animas beach!
Casaita Maraika, a gorgeous boutique hotel (and for us, coffee stop) on the hike to Las Animas
What to See (and Where to Stop) on the Hike to Las Animas
After about thirty minutes on the trail you’ll come to a wooden lookout point with benches.
Take a quick rest and some photos here before continuing around the bend out of Boca and down the coast to Las Animas. During your trek, I recommend making a point to stop at:
- Playa Colomitos
- Casitas Maraika
- And Playa de Caballo
Playa Colomitos, a hidden cove in Puerto Vallarta and the first stop on the hike to Las Animas beach
After the lookout point, hike for another 30 or so minutes and you’ll come to Playa Colomitos beach.
This tiny beach is barely big enough for two and so freakin’ beautiful.
It’s a hidden cove just like all the romantic stories and shipwrecks you read about as a kid – but this one is real. Dan and I jumped in for a dip and were happy to discover that the water is cool and refreshing because it’s coming into the bay from a river on the mountain.
I recommend starting your hike to Las Animas as early as possible because this beach will start to get crowded in the late morning and early afternoon and the secluded magic we experienced will quickly dissipate.
Quick coffee stop at the Casitas Maraika resort cafe, the only stop for food and drinks on the hike
After a dip at Playa Colomitos, pack your bag and continue along the trail on the stairs that lead up the far side of the cove (there’s another set of stairs on the side you entered the cove on, but these lead to a small waterfall instead).
Walk along the coast for about an hour more and you’ll pass multiple secluded beaches where you can stop for another swim if you’d like.
I recommend you keep going until you reach Casitas Maraika resort.
It has a beautiful beach, restaurant, and cafe on the water where you can order coffee, snacks, or an early lunch. Casitas Maraika serves breakfast for around 100 mxn / 5 usd a plate and lunch dishes like burgers, tacos, and seafood for around 200 to 300 mxn / 10 to 15 usd.
Dan and I stopped here to refuel with some caffeine and rest our feet before making the final push to Las Animas.
Playa de Caballo, which (I think) is usually way more deserted, there just happened to be a Couch Surfing reunion event on the beach when we arrived.
Playa de Caballo
From Casitas Maraika it’s only a five minute walk to Playa de Caballo, the last beach before Las Animas. If you don’t like vendors and want to hang on a much quieter beach without bars and restaurants, I recommend settling down here.
If you’re looking for more of a party, walk ten more minutes along the trail – up through the beautiful Hotelito Mio resort – and you’ve made it to Las Animas beach!
The trail is super shaded and runs through the jungle for about half of the trek
How long is the hike from Boca to Las Animas Beach?
In total, with many stops, photos, and a few swims, our slow hike from Boca to Las Animas took about four hours and covered about 4.5 miles.
It’s a pretty easy hike so if you’re not hungover like I was and don’t stop for coffee or to swim at Playa Colomitos, you could probably cut that time in half.
But, what’s the rush?
The hike to Las Animas is the main draw here and much better than Las Animas beach itself.
The other half of the trek is along the beaches and coastline between Boca and Las Animas
What to do at Las Animas Beach
Once you arrive, you’ll have to navigate some hefty crowds at Las Animas, but it’s still a pretty spot to swim for a few hours. All the bars and restaurants are pretty similar, we sat down at the Coral Beach Bar and paid 50 pesos for a bed and access to a shower.
You can order food, drinks, and beer here, and expect to spot some vendors selling pie and souvenirs as well.
In total, we chilled for about two hours at Las Animas beach before heading back to Boca in a water taxi.
Las Animas Beach, Puerto Vallarta
How to get from Las Animas Beach to Puerto Vallarta
Getting from Las Animas to Boca de Tomatlan and Puerto Vallarta is super easy.
Just walk down the dock and ask for the next boat back to Boca – they leave almost constantly and cost 50 mxn / 2.50 usd each. The ride takes about 15 minutes.
You can also take a boat from Las Animas Beach directly to Puerto Vallarta but they leave much less often – once every couple of hours – and cost about 150 to 200 mxn / 7 to 10 usd per person.
I recommend taking the boat to Boca instead and saving your money.
From Boca, simply walk back up the hill to the bus stop and jump on the next one to come by. They come every 15 minutes or so, so you won’t have to wait long.
The return trip again takes about an hour and will drop you off right back where you started in the Zona Romantica!
Water taxis from Las Animas to Boca
What to Pack for the Las Animas Hike
I brought along the only daypack I’ll ever use and packed:
- Bug spray (I almost never get bit by bugs and mosquitos but I was getting eaten up on this hike, so I strongly recommend packing some.)
- Water (two liters per person, Puerto Vallarta is HOT)
- Food (so you don’t have to buy it at the overpriced restaurants on Las Animas beach)
- Swimsuit (actually, I recommend just wearing it under your clothes)
- And cash for buses and vendors
I recommend doing this hike in sandals – I finally invested in this pair with actual foot support and am loving them so far – just because you’ll be wet, and in sand, and boots will be a pain to wear.
The trek isn’t ever very difficult so it was fine in sandals for me.
How much does it cost to hike to Las Animas Beach?
I’ll round out this Las Animas hiking guide with a budget breakdown of what we spent for the outing, just to give you an idea of what it’ll cost you.
- 20 pesos for the bus to Boca de Tomatlan for two
- 90 pesos for two iced coffees at Mairika
- 100 pesos for two chairs at the Coral Beach Bar
- ~100 pesos for two drinks at the Coral Beach Bar
- 100 pesos for the water taxi from Las Animas to Boca for two
- 20 pesos for the bus from Boca to Puerto Vallarta for two
In total, our entire day trip to Las Animas beach and back cost 430 mxn / 22 usd for two people. If you need to buy lunch and snacks along the way, I’d add another 15 or 20 usd to the budget to cover it.
Ready to go?
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