A Day Hike From Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas Beach
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Hello fellow travelers, welcome this episode of the Puerto Vallarta Travel show. I am your host Barry Kessler and I am just so happy to be to introducing you to
my favorite vacation destination, and maybe even yours, Puerto That music you were just listing to is performed by Alberto Perez, the owner of the La Palapa Group of Restaurants. Those are La Palapa, The El Dorado Restaurant, and at night for dinner The El Dorado transforms into The Vista Grill. That’s the Vista Grill that used to be up on the hill overlooking the city? Well now it has a new vista and that is right on the beach where you get the same Vista Grill Menu, and the fantastic Vista Grill service and it’s right there on the beach with a dramatic view of the Los Muertos Pier all lit up at night in beautiful colors.
Of course at La Palapa you can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner, with your toes in the sand right at the water’s edge. ! It’s so romantic, it’s so Puerto Vallarta my friends!
Today we have a special show but first, what’s happening in Puerto Vallarta this week, the 15th of August, 2017.
It’s hot and Humid in paradise and if check out the show notes to this episode, you will find a video I got from Puerto Vallarta News and you can see what I’m talking about when I talk about the wild, blow your mind crazy thunder and lightning that accompany these tropical rainstorms in the summer in Vallarta. Check it out.
And if you have had a chance to check out the Cuates y Cuetes webcam, you’ll see some great lightning storms in the late afternoons. The Cuates y Cuetes cam is back in action and good to go. It has been unpredictable of late but they seem to have ironed out their issues. Gosh, I wish I could take up a collection from all you guys and buy these guys a super duper HD cam that would shoot in color and be all bitchen and cool and stuff. I mean, wouldn’t that be great. Set them up
with a great strong signal and we could just sit by our laptops and tablets phones, and get our Puerto Vallarta Fix until we return again in person that is. Now the webcam at Langostinos, the one that swivels around at all hours of the day and night takes approximately 1 and a half minutes to make the full rotation. Problem with that webcam is that it’s kinda herkey – jerkey. It sort of dances around and spends way too much time pointing into the restaurant than it used to. The old cam was fixed and shooting out towards the Los Muertos Pier, and it was the best for a sure
sunset. But that has changed. Oh well. Guess we ought to be grateful for what we do have. You can find over 12 different webcams stationed all around the Bajia de Banderas at puertovallartatravelshow.com, or pvtravelshow.com for short at the top of the site click the webcam ta and check out what’s going on, on the ground In Puerto Vallarta this summer. Let me tell you. There’s lot’s going on in Vallarta this summer.
A hike from Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas Beach.
A couple of you listeners have expressed your desire to hear more about day trips and excursions outside of Puerto Vallarta so I thought today we could talk about taking hike. A hike from Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas Beach.
This trip is going to take us south of Puerto Vallarta for a bus ride, a hike, a boat ride back from Las Animas to Boca, and then a bus ride home to Vallarta. You can do the whole thing and even more, or you can do just some of this trip and still have a great time so even if a vigorous hike isn’t in the cards for you, this episode still includes you too because I’m going to tell you how everyone here can have a good time doing all, or even part of this journey.
So, let’s get started.
What You Will Need
- Good Hiking Shoes
- Cotton Clothing
- A Broad Rimmed Hat
- Insect Repellant DEET
- A Towel
- Plenty of Bottled Water
- Bathing Suit Change of Underwear
- Money/Pesos for bus/boat/food
Video Of The Hike
So first of all, let’s talk about the hike itself. If walking up and down stairs isn’t your thing, you aren’t going to like this hike. Period. Don’t even attempt it. You will
need to be physically fit, not decathlon fit, but you should be someone who gets regular vigorous exercise, if that’s you then you can do this hike. The difficulty also is directly related to the weather conditions and the time of year you are in Vallarta. For example, I did this hike with my wife and twin brother and his wife last October, and well, it didn’t end well. The tropical heat and humidity was just too much for my hiking buddies, and the hike was even a challenge for me, well, maybe I’ll tell you that story in a little bit, but if I forget to get back to that tale, you can read all about it on my website just click the PV Stories tab and scroll down to the story I call “Mutiny on The Playa”. Maybe I’ll remember to get back to that but back to the hike. The hike, if you are in reasonably good shape will take you anywhere from an hour and a half with short stops for water and rest, up to 2 ½ – 3 hours at a leisurely pace.
Now if you are staying in town, you should have no problem finding the bus stop. If you’re coming from Nuevo or the Hotel Zone, take a cab into town or a bus if you are savvy enough to get yourself to the corner of Constitution and Basillio Badillo. The bus stop is on the South East side of the street you will see a couple of orange and white buses lined up that say Mismaloya, Boca de Tomatlan on them, and you will see people lining
up to get on these buses. These buses leave in approximately 15 minute intervals. Now a warning to you all, if you go early in the morning, you are likely to be
competing with many a Mexican on his or her way to work out of the city. My suggestion would be to go after 9 in the morning, but if you are an early riser, you can try out the local flavor. You pick. The bus ride is going to set you back 8 pesos so be ready for that. Remember, the driver will give you change; just don’t give him a 5oo peso note, or a 200 peso note for that matter either. The best advice I can give is to find a seat on the right side of the bus. That way, you will have a wonderful view of the coastline as you make your way south towards Boca de Tomatlan. The bus will be stopping all along the route. Keep in mind buses will stop, if they can, almost anywhere along the road, and by the way if you find yourself out along the road and need to have a bus stop for you, make sure you’re standing where the bus can stop safely, and point to the ground in front of you, while looking at the driver. According to JR, the bus will stop. Anyway, these buses fill up pretty fast as they make their way along the coast to Mismaloya. They are picking folks up from the hotels, and condos and resorts along highway 200 south, the
Carraterra a Barra de Navidad. They stop at Mismaloya, about 30 minutes from PV, in front of the Barcelo Resort, then they move on down the
road another 10 minutes to Boca de Tomatlan where the bus will park and let everyone off. When you are coming back, it’s right here that you will find that bus when you head back up north to town. Now once you gather all your belongings, you follow the road down a fairly steep street, all the way down to the new Malecon built along the mouth of the river, the Boca. You’re going to encounter launcha guys, whanting to know if you want a ride to one of the beaches. These guys are there to whisk riders south of here to Las Animas, Yelapa and other coves and beaches along the coast.
So let’s say you aren’t in the mood to hike or you can’t physically handle the hike, you can just have a meal at one of the beachside establishments in Boca, or you can negotiate a price to have the boat take you to Las Animas or Yelapa a little further south or any numberof covesand beaches along the coast beyond and before Las Animas. So you can just hop on a Panga and skip the walk, or you can have a bite to eat, then take that panga ride or you can just head back up the hill, find that Mismaloya bus and take her back to Vallarta, having actually been somewhere other than your hotel. See, I have something here for everyone like I promised.
But hey, you are a brave and sturdy soul, you’re going to take that hike with me right? So let’s go ahead with the trek. By the way, if you just want to go on the hike with me from your barkalounger, I recorded the whole length of the walk, the entire hour and a half plus of the walk and you can find it in the shownotes to this episode of the show, or you can find it by clicking on the Video tab at the top of my website. First things first, whip out your bug repellant and apply it liberally so you don’t get eaten by mosquitos or black flies. You should consider stopping in one of the new bathrooms they built on the new Malecon there in Boca de Tomatlan. Take care of business because, there’s not really any place along the trail where you will get that chance to go potty again till you get to Las Animas, and believe me, that new bathroom on the new malecon in Boca
is nice and clean. You have to pay a nice person at the door I think 5 or 6 pesos to get entrance, complete with a few sheets of toilet paper, but you get a sparkling clean toilet and bathroom to use. Not so much in Las Animas, So take care of business, make sure you have your water and you walk up the river a short distance until you see a bridge crossing the river. Along the way, to your left you will see where they are doing lots of building. They are building shops and what they hope to become a nice shopping area along the Malecon there. There is a sign post at the bridge with a number of colorful signs pointing across the bridge to Las Animas and Colomitos. There are usually some horses tied up near the bridge. You follow the signs across the bridge and you take a right, and start walking. The trail
then proceeds to follow the bank of the river, working it’s way up as you walk up steps built into the path, actually you walk right past the front doors of houses built along the Boca. I kinda feel a little funny walking past the houses here because you get the feeling that you are just walking through their front yards and their front porches. It just feels a little weird, but to them, they are used to it. The path is marked pretty well but it’s a good idea to pay close attention as to where you’re going. It’s not hard to make a wrong turn, I mean, eventually, if you do make a wrong turn you will figure it out pretty quickly. Just backtrack and you will be just fine. This part of the hike along the mouth of the river really takes some time. Eventually you will reach a platform built for hikers to take in the sights of the boca and the beach you left behind. You can watch the pangas coming and going in and out of the Boca from this vantage point. It’s not a bad place to sit down and have a sandwich if you brought one. Have a drink, take some pictures, then head back up the trail. As you get closer to the mouth of the Boca, that sounds stupid. Boca means mouth in Spanish. Okay so as you head up to the mouth of the mouth, never mind, you take the trail up inland cutting through the jungle, hiking up and down steps and stairs, the steepest parts even have built-in handrails to help us hikers climb those steep stairs
easier. Actually, it’s a pretty nice trail. Now the paths, which for the most part, depending on the time of year are pretty well marked, sometimes seem to disappear and you might need to stop and make sure you didn’t make the wrong turn. But just in case you do happen to slip up, every now and then you will encounter a rock or signpost marked Los Animas or Colomitos to help keep you on track. The Trail finally descends pretty steeply down to the first beach, Colomitos beach, home to the famous Ocean Grill Restaurant.
This beach is beautiful. It’s not too big though and if you happen to hit this place on a busy hiking day, it may feel even a little tight. Over to your right as you descend to the beach, you’re going to see the Ocean Grill built into the cliffs. There’s also a raft, disguised as an island bobbing around out in front of the restaurant. It’s not for you. It’s for the folks eating in the restaurant so if you’re going to go for a swim, stay off. And just a warning to those of you Aquatians out there who can’t pass up a dip in the ocean; if you plan on continuing with your hike from here, do yourself a favor and change out of your wet bathing attire and dry off and put on dry clothes, before proceeding on your hike. You will get chaffed something awful if you don’t. Just a little warning to you from ma Kessler here. Bring a bathing suit if you plan on getting in the surf boys and girls.
Now I need to tell you about the Ocean Grill. For starters, if you’re thinking hey I hiked in here, I think I’ll just have a bite to eat at the restaurant. Well gotta warn ya now, it aint happening. They won’t feed or water you here folks unless you have a reservation No reservation, sa cha! Sorry Charlie. By the way, in case you are wondering, it’s pretty difficult to get a same day reservation at the Ocean Grill. Sometimes you need to plan an entire week out f you’re coming in high season. Check out their website if you don’t believe me. In fact; All reservations are made on line where they require a deposit. When you get on-line you get a choice of three seating times. You have the option of taking one of their private Pangas from Boca de Tomatlan to the Ocean Grille, or you can take that strenuous walk that I just described to you. If you do take the hike, make sure you have plenty of time to make that walk before serving time. Just saying! Maybe a 40-45 minute hike to Colomitos Beach. Anyway, a couple of items about the Ocean Grill, the owner has a Great Dane named Wilson. Wilson spends his days on the beach with the guests, and I have to say, that I never have had a chance to meet the grand Dane of the Ocean Grill, but I’m sure the 2 foot high dump I sidestepped on the beach undoubtedly belonged to Mr. Wilson. What a dog!
The food at the Ocean Grill is excellent as are the tropical drinks they serve. So a trip to The Ocean Grill is an adventure all to itself and when I get a chance, I intend on doing a podcast from the Ocean Grill this winter.
So, you could make that reservation a few days before the hike and walk in to the Ocean Grill, Eat and continue on, or just take their boat back to Boca after a swim in the cove and a bob on the artificial island.
Again, you have choices and chances to cut the hike short, or continue along the trail. Food for thought.
Once you have had enough of Colomitos beach, you look for the path leading up the other side of the playa, you cross the little stream and climb up the rocks to some stairs carved into the side of the cliff, and its back into the jungle for you. This part of the walk is pretty strenuous. Lots of steps and stairs leading up from the beach, then some dirt paths alternating with stone steps and stairs, and funny looking wooden slat bridges that look kind of suspicious, but they are sturdy. I’ve taken them several times with the same result. I lived to tell the tale. Just watch your footing that’s all.
Anyway the trail works it’s way down to another beach, this one bigger and broader.
I guess I can tell you that story, the one about the hike with my wife twin and his wife now. Last October, I invited my bro and his wife Jill to Puerto Vallarta. Neither had ever been so I insisted they come along with us and we would treat. So I suggested we take this hike and they all seemed to be in.
Remember, it was October and it is HOT and HUMID. 91 degrees and it feels like 105, and the humidity, the worst! By the time we hit the Ocean Grille at Playa Colomitos, there are grumblings from my fellow travelers who begin to ask…are we there yet?
Oh no! Now I’m really beginning to feel really bad about this. We are supposed to be out for a good time and I am beginning to believe that they think that we are on the Bataan Death March.
“Can’t we just eat here?” asks my wife, gesturing to the Ocean Grille with its cute raft like island bobbing out front. “No, you have to make a reservation in advance to get in.” I explain. “The idea was to hike to Las Animas.”
According to my recollection, the hardest part of the walk was still ahead of us and I had to break to news to them that we still had a long way to go. We begin to hike up the stairs from down on the beach, and continued into the jungle, then as I described earlier, down to next beach where we found the Catamaran Bora Bora, anchored with all of her partygoers and snorkelers ‘a partyin and snorkelin and lounging around the “secluded” beach. It is there where the mutiny took place. Gary took the initiative. He spotted the guy in charge of the landing party of the Bora Bora, and made a bee-line to him. “How far to Las Animas from here?”
“About a 45 minute walk or so.” he is told. “How can we get a boat ride out of here? How much will it cost?” Gary asks. “That depends on the captain. Not sure, maybe 60 pesos each? Maybe 500 pesos total? I will keep an eye out and flag one down for you.” My brother asks, what’s your name? ” “My name is Mr. Panda!” he proclaims.
“Okay Mr. Panda, Gracias!”
You can’t imagine how terribly I felt then. I really wanted to finish the hike. I knew that we were already past the hardest part of the trip but I knew I could never convince these hearty travelers that they could make it. Alas, it was no use, they were spent and I could tell that they were going no further. I resigned to make the best of the bad situation and we cooled off in the ocean and waited for Mr. Panda to do his magic and whistle in a panga to pick up the tired gringos and deliver them to a palapa on a beach with an umbrella drink or cervesa, a bowl of chips and guacamole and a cavalcade of beach vendor selling everything from pies to plaster-of-Paris busts of Montezuma and lion’s heads and stuff and junk.
And within 10 minutes as a result of a whistle and a wave from Mr. Panda, we had a boat slide up on the sand, parting the partiers just a bit while I negotiated the extraction. I asked the boatman if he could take us the rest of the way to Las Animas, and then wait for us for an hour and a half, then deliver us back to Boca for 500 pesos. He agreed and we all scrambled onto his launch and off we went, warm breeze blowing in our faces. Things were looking up for our party of four.
He took us to Las Animas where we ate at a nice place where we were seated under umbrellas at a comfortable table. By then the mutineers were beginning to get the color back in their cheeks and they were slightly forgiving of moi, their evil taskmaster. I apologized and promised to never make them go on a hike again.
So that was in the heat of the off season, but this time of year, in mid-May, the weather was perfect. The humidity was way down and the weather was in the low to mid 80’s. It was considerably dryer in May than it was in October with all the rain. That was the most suprising part of the hike. How dry the vegetation was this time of year. Let’s face it, by May, Vallarta has been mostly dry since the end of October, so that’s dry.
So there, a lesson to you and another chance to change up your itinerary should the hike prove to be too much for you. You can always stand on a beach, and summon a panga to extract you. Just don’t stand on some rocks and summon the poor fella, find a nice, soft sandy beach for him to slide up on.
Anyway, the rest of the trail flows alternatively into the jungle and along the sandy beaches. There are a few resorts and private homes you will walk past. Beautiful white sandy beaches and blue, blue ocean. You will climb up the path past a really, nice bar, the Hotelito Mio where you can stop, take a table and sit and sip a cold one before moving along a few hundred more yards south to Las Animas Beach. All along this long beach there are different beachfront establishments with lounge chairs set up, tables under palapas.
Great places to sit, eat relax, play in the water, stroll down the beach. Lounge in a hammock.
This place, depending on the season and the day of the week can be pretty crowded. For fewer crowds, always go on a weekday.
Once you have had your fill, you can turn around and hike back, or you and do like I do, and walk over to the pier, walk to the end, line up to the right side of the pier and hop in a lancha with a bunch of your new friends, and hang on tight for your return ride, along the coast and back to Boca. Now here’s the thing, here’s where you are going to feel slightly bad because get this, that two hour hike you just took to Las Animas just took that panga ride less than 5 minutes! Less than 5 minutes! Uggh!! I actually have a video of that ride back right here in the show notes for this episode. So I have video of the 1 ½ hour trip by land, and then that 5 minute ride back by sea for you to check out. It’s cool to be able to retrace the hike from the water. But just 5 minutes? Sheesh!
As you exit the boat, hand the pilot 60 pesos, and step off the boat onto the dock. From there, hit the bathroom one more time and head up the road, back up to the highway where you more than likely will see a bus waiting to fill up for the ride back to Vallarta.
Hand over your 8 pesos and have a seat on the bus, this time, on the left side so you have that great view of the ocean, Los Arcos, the dramatic coastline, all the way back to Basillio Badillo and Constitution. Home Sweet Vallarta!
So that is the hike from Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas Beach. A hike that you can do in any number of ways depending on your abilities.
So let’s review
- The hike takes about 2 hours without stops but you will definitely want to stop and enjoy some of the beaches and views and maybe a refreshment along the way.
- At a minimum take water, towels, sunscreen, bug spray and a camera and wear good walking or hiking shoes.
- Catch the bus to Boca de Tomatlan from the stop in front of the OXXO at the corner of Basillo Badillo and Constitucion. About 8 ½ pesos.
- Once in Boca walk down the hill from the bus into town. You can buy drinks and snacks here for the hike and take a look around town.
- Make your way to the river and footbridge at the foot of town. There will be a post with a bunch of signs; one will point to Las Animas.
- The Panga ride to Boca back from Las Animas is approximately 60 pesos.
- The bus back to town is another 8 ½ pesos.
So do the whole hike, just part of it, or just come on the website and check out my videos and pictures, and feel what it’s like to do that hike.
Just get out there, and have fun amigos.
Okay, that should do it for this week’s episode of the Puerto Vallarta Travel Show.
Next week stay tuned for more on the ground reports from Puerto Vallarta Mexico, with travel tips, great restaurant and excursion ideas and more. Until then, remember, this is an interactive show where I depend on your questions and suggestions about all things Puerto Vallarta. If you think of something I should be talking about, please reach out to me by clicking on the Contact us tab and sending us your message.
And remember, if you are considering booking any type of tour while you are in Puerto Vallarta, you must go to Vallartainfo.com, JR’s website and reserve your tour through him, right from his website. Remember the value for value proposition. His experience and on the ground knowledge of everything Puerto Vallarta in exchange for your making a purchase of a tour that you would do anyway, you’re just doing it through him as a way of saying thank you. It costs no more than if you were to use someone else so do it. Really. And when you do take one of these tours, email me about your experiences. Maybe you can come on board and share with others what you liked or didn’t like about the tour. Again contact me by clicking on the Contact us tab and sending off a message.
And once again, if you like this podcast, please take the time and subscribe and give me a good review on iTunes if you would. That way we can get the word out to more and more people about the magic of this place. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Remember I made it easy for you to do just that with each episode I create. But if you haven’t been to my website, you really need to have a look there. I have the links to the places we talk about, interesting pictures and the more all right there in my blog-posts and show-notes for each episode of the show so check them out for sure if you haven’t already all-right? All right.
So, thanks to all of you for listening all the way through this episode of the Puerto Vallarta Travel Show. This is Barry Kessler signing off with a wish for you all to slow down, be kind and live the Vallarta lifestyle. Nos Vemos amigos!