This Beach Town Is Puerto Vallarta's Dazzling Destination Dupe - With Less Chaotic Crowds

With its colorful homes and cobblestone streets, Bucerias, Mexico, is a small strip of paradise on the Bay of Banderas in Mexico's Nayarit region. What began as a small fishing village is now a thriving tourist destination and a popular hometown for Canadian and United States expats. This small coastal town boasts the same vibrant culture and beach-chic ambiance as Puerto Vallarta without the crowds or price tag. 

It's diminutive enough to feel the small-town community vibe but not so tiny that it lacks energy. Bucerias is nothing short of the perfect sweet spot for travelers looking for a quintessential Mexico beach town. Perfectly situated against the tip of the coast, Bucerias is just a 20-minute drive from the Puerto Vallarta International Airport and 30 minutes from the nearby surf town, Sayulita. Its proximity to major landmarks makes it a perfect hotspot for visitors hoping to take day trips and explore the rest of the region.

Bucerias translates to "place of divers"; the name reflects its fame as a prime diving location and the large concentration of pearls in the surrounding waters. November through April is considered the high season in Bucerias, making these months the best time to visit. Most markets and attractions are open and operating throughout the season, allowing visitors to grasp the full experience of life in Bucerias. For those seeking a beautiful, warm-weather destination, Bucerias, Mexico, should have the top spot on your bucket list.

Immerse yourself in Bucerias' colorful culture

What's a trip to Mexico without spending at least one day at the beach? The main beach in Bucerias is one of the cleanest, with crystal clear waters and fine golden sand banks. It's perfect for laying out a towel and sunbathing or cooling off in the pristine waters. Located in the heart of town, the Crearte Cultural Center is the hub of activity in Bucerias, bursting with creative passion. Pottery and dance classes are frequently held in the city square, and it's an excellent place to peruse the cobblestone streets and immerse yourself in the local culture. 

Speaking of creativity, Bucerias is alive with artistic talent. Every Thursday evening from November to April, the local art galleries invite guests to tour the city's Art District, also known as the Golden Zone, during the Bucerias Art Walk. Aside from admiring the pretty artwork, it's a great place to get to know the local gallery owners and top artists around Bandera Bay.

La Cruz Market is also an exciting attraction for visitors and locals alike. On Sundays in the La Cruz Marina, over 200 vendors line up to share hand-crafted artisan pieces, locally sourced produce, and entertainment. The view of the ocean makes this gathering spot that much better! Live music accompanies the gathering from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., adding a whimsical and upbeat element to this small local market. 

Top spots for dining and lodging

Tacos, tacos, and more tacos! You can find them on every street corner in Bucerias, but only the locals can help you spot the best of the best. There's no denying that Bucerias has some of the best cuisine in Mexico, and locals are proud to show off their culinary roots. Food tours are one of the best ways to sample the local favorites of this region's foodie scene. Check out the Bucerias Taco Tour, a three-and-a-half-hour walking excursion around the city streets, tasting Bucerias's top seven taco vendors. Tour guides also provide additional elements of culture and history to enrich the experience and give travelers a first-hand authentic look at the city.

With a large expat scene and many vacation homeowners, accommodations in Bucerias range from small boutique hotels to rental condos, giving the town a homey and more intimate feel. One of the best parts of staying in Bucerias is that it's easy to secure spacious lodgings with full kitchens and suites for families or larger groups traveling together. Paraiso Bucerias is one of the best places to stay in town. With a white-washed exterior and tiki-style thatched roof, Paraiso embodies a charming and tranquil ambiance. This boutique hotel boasts six styles of bungalows, a lounge pool, and manicured gardens. Guests will enjoy Pariso's central location. The property is just 5 minutes from the main shopping district, 15 minutes from the airport, and just a few blocks from the beach.