Puerto Vallarta has more than enough restaurants and attractions to keep most visitors occupied for quite some time. However, there are plenty of other towns dotting the Bahia de Banderas that are worthy of your time – even it’s just for a day! Read on for your guide to taking a short day trip to Bucerias. I know you’ll leave as charmed as we did!
Getting to Bucerias
Getting to Bucerias is a breeze. The town is situated approximately 30 minutes from Puerto Vallarta’s international airport. For those staying in el Centro of Puerto Vallarta, tack on another 15 minutes to your journey. The road to Bucerias is modern and smooth, making this 45-minute trip the perfect option for those with motion sickness (me!) and looking to explore some new areas on a trip to Puerto Vallarta.
Some of the most popular day trips from Puerto Vallarta require you leaving at the crack of dawn. Not for Bucerias! We left Puerto Vallarta around 11 am, and arrived in Bucerias with plenty of time to stroll around before finding our lounge chair for the afternoon.
We visited during the COVID-19 pandemic, so opted against the (very safe, affordable, and clean) public bus. Instead, we took an Uber to the center of Bucerias. Getting an Uber from Puerto Vallarta, in Jalisco state, is just as easy as it is anywhere else in the world and costs about $8 USD.
However, don’t plan on using Uber for your return journey to Puerto Vallarta (like we had planned!): Nayarit (the state where Bucerias is located) does not allow Uber. Instead, when you’re ready to leave, ask the staff at the restaurant or beach club where you’ve been all afternoon to call you a taxi when you ask for la cuenta (“the check” for my fellow non-Spanish speakers). Within five minutes of paying our dinner bill at Sandrina’s we had a Mercedes van, large enough for 8 people, all to ourselves for the 30 minute ride back home to Puerto Vallarta.
See + do in Bucerias
No matter your mode of transport, your first stop should be the Bucerias Plaza – at the center of town. From here, you’ll be within a short walk to everything you’ll want to see in Bucerias. Note: everyone’s definition of “a short walk” differs. But trust me, these are seriously short walks. Bucerias is basically just three main streets that run parallel to the ocean for about 10 or 15 blocks.
Mercado de Bucerias
I am a sucker for markets. I love the vibrant colors, the people, and, of course, the haggling. When in Bucerias, be sure to check out the local market, which is in operation every day from 10 am to 6 pm. Whether you make the market your first stop of the day (like us, as to avoid buying all of the things and lugging them around for the day), or the last stop (for those who really do want to buy all the things), you can see the entire market in under 30 minutes.
Stroll the town
The thing I loved most about Bucerias is I felt like I could see the entire town in short order. We left for our day trip with really no destination or plan in mind – we just set out to stroll. After visiting the main streets of the market, we set out to find the town church: Parroquia Nuestra Señora de la Paz (or, Parish of our Lady of Peace). How we managed to miss it, no idea, but we did stumble upon Nino’s Cafe y Gelato during our detour, and the espresso was a perfect pick-me-up to get us ready for an afternoon of…laying on the beach.
Hang at the beach
Our beach in Puerto Vallarta leaves a little to be desired, so the beach in Bucerias was a welcome treat! Spanning nearly three miles of wide-open sand, the beach is the perfect place for an afternoon of lounging in some shaded beach chairs, moving only to play in the waves. The water is surprisingly warm, shallow, and fairly calm. The entire beach front is lined with beach bar after beach bar after beach bar (some going as far as calling itself a beach club). While I did a little research in advance to find the best ones, I would say they’re all pretty comparable. Find the nearest one to you, snag a lounger under an umbrella, and veg out the rest of the day with a cocktail in hand. Is there anything better? Our favorite of the day was Sukha Beach House.
Eat + drink in Bucerias
We are normally all about the food. Except for some ceviche here and there, our appetite didn’t strike in Bucerias until after we left Sukha’s Beach House, about 4:30 pm. We were actually planning on catching a cab back to Puerto Vallarta when we stumbled upon Sandrina’s. Oh my, how lucky did we get. Apparently, after a quick TripAdvisor search back home in Puerto Vallarta, Sandrina’s is the #1 rated restaurant in all of Bucerias. I can see why. The front room caught our attention, with it’s art gallery vibes. And then the service and conversation had us hooked for an early dinner. We were taken to a table in a secret garden tucked in the back with just three other couples (we were early for dinner, and COVID, so, yeah).
I went for Andrew’s Favorite Pasta while Wardell chose the Camarones de Emmanuel. Paired with a bottle of red wine, it was the perfect dinner. Please please please visit the bathroom – complete with a gigantic shell sink and a beautiful Frida Kahlo painting. I would recommend making reservations if you’re looking to dine at Sandrina’s during normal dinner hours – I can see this place being extremely popular during busy hours!
Bucerias has a reputation for being a haven for retired snowbirds and, as a 30-something, I never thought it would be quite my vibe. But, I was pleasantly surprised! From the market to the beach to the restaurant offerings, Bucerias is definitely worthy of a day trip while visiting Puerto Vallarta.