Take Costa Azul, in a rather remote stretch of coast about a half hour north of Puerto Vallarta center. The place was first developed by a surfer 25 years ago. He simply picked the place with the killer waves and went to work. The beach (pictured here) is wide and deserted, the view is dramatic, and you have the stretch of sand almost to yourself. This at a low-key adventure resort that starts at $118 per person all inclusive--taxes and activities too such as off-site kayaking, snorkling, horseback riding, and surfing.
Or there's Majahuitas, an eco-resort on the north side of town that can only be reached by boat. Electricity is provided by solar panels and a zillion candles light up the place at night. Each room is a funky little house open to the sea. Naturally, they have a great beach and it's all their own.
Contrast this with a few heavyweights in town whose beaches are, shall we say, modest? At the big Barcelo La Jolla Mismaloya Resort, you can see the movie set where Night of the Iguana was filmed across the bay, but you'll have to search much harder to find the small stretch of sand past the pool. They're working with sandbags and seawalls to try to restore it. At the nearby InterContinental Presidente, "We have much more of a beach in the summer than the winter," says the nice manager. Let's hope so: right now the secluded bay is pretty but at high tide there's not enough room to set up some beach chairs--they'll wash away. The beach at the Sheraton Buganvillas is not much to write home about either since half of it is just rocks and a nearby river makes the other half silty.
In all fairness, Mother Nature has more to do with this than any developer or architect. Unless they pull a Cancun and just pipe in the sand from the sea bottom whenever they lose some, it's tough to control the elements. Just remember that if a good beach is important to you, always look beyond the resort price and do a little research to see what other people are saying about the patch of sand you'll be walking on. Looking at the official web sites won't help--in two of the bad cases above the pictures are very old and the resort doesn't have much incentive to update them....
· Puerto Vallarta reviews [HotelChatter]