Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is known for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and delicious food. And one of the things I love most about Puerto Vallarta is all the hidden gems. One of my favorite hidden gems is a beach named Playa Caballo.
Read more: 5 of the Best Beaches in Puerto Vallarta
Playa Caballo is a small, secluded beach located south of Puerto Vallarta. It’s only accessible by boat or by hiking, which makes it a great place to escape the crowds. The beach is surrounded by lush jungle and has gorgeous turquoise-blue water. It’s the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun. It felt like we were on an island all by ourselves and it was AMAZING.
It’s crazy that neither myself nor my husband knew about this beach, even after living in Puerto Vallarta (me for 2 years and him for 15 years)! The day we came across Playa Caballo we were planning to go to Las Animas. While looking on Google Maps, I stumbled across Playa Caballo and decided to go there instead. One thing about me is that I’ve been known to change plans at the last minute. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.
This time, it was the BEST. DECISION. EVER.
Let me share how to get to Playa Caballo from Puerto Vallarta and what to expect!
When to visit Playa Caballo
The best time to visit Playa Caballo is from November to April when the weather is dry and not too hot. The summer season in the Puerto Vallarta area is extremely hot, humid, and rainy, and not the best time to visit Playa Caballo, especially if hiking. Some restaurants and services may be closed during the summer season, so check ahead before you go.
What to bring to Playa Caballo
If you’re hiking, bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and good hiking shoes or sandals. You may also want to consider bug spray for the hike. For your time on the beach, bring towels, snacks, and drinks, unless you want to eat and drink at a restaurant.
What to do at Playa Caballo
Pretend you’re stranded on an island for the day and enjoy every bit of it!
It’s a beach, so obviously you can swim, snorkel, or sunbathe. My favorite thing to do at Playa Caballo is to hang out at Casitas Maraika, which also has a restaurant named Ritual. They have just a few lounge chairs directly on the beach and a server to bring your drinks and food right to you. You can also hang out at the restaurant and enjoy the views from above.
How to get to Playa Caballo
There are several ways to get to Playa Caballo, and most people take a water taxi from Puerto Vallarta or Boca de Tomatlan. You can also hike there from Boca if you’re extra adventurous.
Option #1: Boat from Puerto Vallarta to Las Animas
The easiest way to get to Playa Caballo is to take a water taxi directly from Playa Los Muertos near Downtown Puerto Vallarta to Las Animas. This route will be a longer boat ride (a little less than one hour) with several stops along the way, but it saves you from driving or taking the bus and you’ll enjoy nice scenery along the way.
How to catch a water taxi from Puerto Vallarta to Las Animas: Catching a water taxi from Playa Los Muertos is easy. Get there early (like 8 or 9 am) to maximize your time in Playa Caballo. Approach the pier from the street Francisca Rodriguez and locate the people selling tickets for water taxis (they usually approach you!). Expect to pay around $40 per person round trip. Make sure you understand when the last boat leaves Las Animas so you don’t miss it.
Option #2: Boat from Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas
If you want to shorten your boat ride, you can leave from Boca de Tomatlan instead. Boca de Tomatlan is the last beach stop along Highway 200. To get to Boca, you can take an Uber, taxi, or bus from Puerto Vallarta. You can also drive yourself if you have a car.
Taxi/Uber: Set your destination as Boca de Tomatlan. The town of Boca is very small, so as long as you’re dropped off somewhere in town, you can walk to the water taxis. Prices vary but expect to pay around $20 to Boca.
Bus: Grab the orange bus from the corner of Basilio Badillo and Constitucion, right outside Oxxo. Buses come and go frequently so don’t worry about getting there at a certain time. The earlier the better so you have more time at Playa Caballo. Boca de Tomatlan is the very last stop on the orange bus route. Expect to pay around $1 each way for the bus.
Once in Boca de Tomatlan, find the town’s pier and ask for a water taxi to Las Animas. Expect the boat ride to be around 25 minutes and prices to be around $20 per person roundtrip.
Option #3: Hike from Boca de Tomatlan to Playa Caballo
This route is the most strenuous, but if you’re feeling adventurous, go for it! I wouldn’t recommend this route if you’re visiting in the middle of summer.
This hike will not be the easiest to navigate since there is very limited signage along the way. Just know that you need to follow the coastline and try to avoid entering private property. Make sure you bring extra water, sunscreen, and good hiking shoes or sandals.
Follow the instructions from option 2 to get to Boca de Tomatlan. You’ll start your hike from Boca and head south. You may have to ask someone where the start of the hike is. Expect to spend at least two hours hiking, but longer if you want to hang out at some of the beaches along the way. I recommend spending a little time at Playa Colomitos, a really small but gorgeous little beach cove!
How to get from Las Animas to Playa Caballo
Once you arrive in Las Animas, follow the path north until you reach Playa Caballo. There are a few sections of the path that are a little confusing, so set your GPS to Hotelito Mio, which is right at the start of Playa Caballo. Don’t be afraid to ask the locals how to get there if you get lost. There are some private properties that you’ll need to steer clear of.
As you can see, Playa Caballo is a special place that you won’t forget. I loved escaping the crowds and truly relaxing on a gorgeous beach with nobody to bother me but the server bringing my drinks. If you’re looking for a hidden gem in Puerto Vallarta, Playa Caballo is the place for you.
Please make sure that you respect the environment and keep Playa Caballo and all other beaches as beautiful as you found them.