Perfectly right in between Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita, Bucerias is a quiet beach town often overlooked by many travelers.
With one of the best beaches in the Banderas Bay, a variety of gourmet restaurants and being relatively inexpensive compared to its neighbors, Bucerias might just be the best hidden gem in Mexico on the Pacific coast!
Where is Bucerias? What type of traveler is Bucerías best for? What kind of things can I do there? Is Bucerías safe? Is it a good places for families to visit? Where should we eat?
These were all of my questions before I traveled to this charmingly beautiful community.
So, in this post I will answer all of the above questions and share some travel tips to help you plan the ultimate relaxing Mexico vacation.
Over the last 5 years, my husband and I have been visiting Bucerias twice per year and have searched for the best places to eat, stayed at several different hotels, tried all the local tours.
Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Bucerias, Nayarit, Mexico.
Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. As always, I only share products that I personally use and love, and all opinions are my own.
Bucerias Overview: What’s It Like?
Calm. Quiet. Safe. Familiar. If you’re searching for these feelings in your next trip to Mexico, consider a visit to Bucerias.
As a small bedroom community to Puerto Vallarta, Bucerias feels a little more authentically Mexican compared to the big city and the neighboring condo conglomerate of Nuevo Vallarta.
What’s lovable about this place is that there’s only one mega-resort here, the Royal Decameron.
Other than that, it’s a mix between boutique hotels, and expat owned condos and vacation homes.
On a typical day, you’ll find most people hanging out on the beach, poolside at their hotel, or strolling the main street called Lazaro Cardenas for great shopping and restaurants.
I love Bucerías because it feels more authentically Mexico compared to Puerto Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta.
But still holds enough familiarity that anyone you travel with would fit in well. Which brings me to my next point.
I made a short video providing an overview and tour of what to expect when visiting Bucerias.
How to Pronounce Bucerías:
Boo-seh-REE-us. Make sure to add a little extra emphasis on the ‘ree’ part of the word.
You will definitely notice this among native-Spanish speakers and when you’re visiting the area, as the locals pronounce it this way, too.
Tip – I have found it very helpful to know enough conversational Spanish when visiting Bucerias.
Who Will Enjoy Bucerias?
If you want a relaxing holiday to spend by the beach and soak up the sun, you will love visiting Bucerias!
If you’ve stayed at all-inclusive resorts and want to try something a little more advenrturous without being too overwhelmened, Bucerias is the perfect destination.
When visiting, you’ll find many middle-aged couples and retirees. The whole town becomes very quiet by 9 or 10 pm.
That being said, my husband and I are in our mid-thirties and thoroughly enjoy visiting every year.
It’s also the perfect destination for multi generational travel holidays, like grandparents travelling with their whole family.
So if you like to be busy while on vacation, I would recommend a stay in Bucerias for about 5 days, and then moving on to Sayulita for a livelier atmosphere and the nightlife.
I wrote a similar post about visiting Sayulita, which is only 20 minutes from Bucerias.
And if you can’t decide between Bucerias or Sayulita: my travel guide compares the two towns to help you pick!
Where is Bucerias Located?
On the Pacific coast of Mexico, towards the northern tip of Banderas Bay, you’ll find Bucerías.
It’s located in the state of Nayarit, which is north of Jalisco, the state in which Puerto Vallarta is located.
Don’t worry though, there are no issues crossing state borders here.
You won’t even notice that you have entered a different state!
It’s about 12 miles (20 kms) or a 20 minute taxi ride from the Puerto Vallarta airport.
Leaving the airport, you will also pass Nuevo Vallarta on your left, which is a newly built resort and luxury condo area.
From Bucerías, the distance to Puerto Vallarta is about 30 minutes by car and 40 minutes on the bus.
Map of Bucerias
In this map of Bucerias, you can see the highlighted yellow area along the beach.
This is the main downtown area and where you will be staying, shopping and checking out restaurants.
You can move the map around and zoom in and out to view more.
How to Get to Bucerias from Puerto Vallarta
You can easily get to Bucerias from Puerto Vallarta by bus, taxi or Uber.
I prefer using the app InDrive, which is a cheaper version of Uber.
Central Standard Time Zone
Bucerías observes the Central Standard Time zone, which is the same time as Puerto Vallarta.
While Bucerías is located in the state of Nayarit where most communities are in the Mountain Standard time zone, both Bucerías and Sayulita observe CST to make it easier for tourists and businesses because of the close proximity to Puerto Vallarta and the airport.
Bucerias Transportation: What’s the Best Way to Get Around?
From the Puerto Vallarta Airport
From the airport, you can take a taxi or walk across the street and hop on a local bus.
If you want to catch an Uber from the Puerto Vallarta airport, turn left once you’re outside and walk across the pedestrian bridge and you can order if from there.
The central part of Bucerías is not very big, and a lot of the main areas you will be visiting are quite concentrated.
Within the downtown core, you can walk everywhere as it’s not very widespread.
Even if you’re staying on the outskirts of downtown, you can walk all the way to Centro in about 20 minutes.
Keep in mind, the roads here are basically all made of big round stones, so flip flops, thongs or flat sandals should be your footwear of choice.
I even found that my wedges were difficult to walk around in!
That being said, renting a bicycle or finding accommodations that have bikes to use for free is a great idea. We ended up using bikes during our last few days.
Also, if you’re staying at a condo or villa type of accommodation you will likely need to do a couple grocery store runs; this is where bikes come in handy!
You can also take a taxi and usually Uber is available!
There are also plenty of local buses you can take to get to anywhere you want right from
We’ve taken the bus into Puerto Vallarta and all the way to Sayulita.
I highly recommend taking a bus, they’re cheap and safe.
You pay the bus driver directly when you walk on to the bus, and he will provide you change if you don’t have exact change.
Most bus rides will be about 10-30 pesos.
Is it Bucerias Safe?
Yes. It’s safe to walk around and during the day time I had no problem walking around alone.
If you’re a solo female traveler, you will feel comfortable in Bucerías.
At night, however, it’s always prudent to walk with someone.
But this is usually the case everywhere else, too.
If you’re walking in the downtown or near the pedestrian bridge to get into downtown, I recommend walking in a larger group and don’t carry a large or flashy purse.
Also, don’t carry a lot of cash on you at all times. Again, this is a pretty general travelling tip not unique to Bucerías, but all of Mexico.
I have traveled throughout Mexico using this mini-backpack/purse and have never had an issue!
It’s perfect for both walking around town and when you head to the beach or out on an excursion.
My husband also travels with this flat crossbody sling bag (similar to a fanny pack).
He loves it because he can keep his phone, wallet, keys and cash close to him and easily accessible at all times.
Where to Stay in Bucerias
Bucerias has so many great types of accommodations to choose from.
You’ll want to stay in the Zona Dorada (Golden Zone).
This is where most visitors choose to stay because there are plenty of beachfront accommodations.
Of if you’re not beachfront, you’re only a few minutes walking distance to the beach.
If it’s your first time visiting, you’ll want to stay on the west side of the Highway.
If you’re more adventurous and sticking to a budget, across the highway on the east side of Bucerias, you’ll find more local neighborhoods and budget accommodations (still very safe).
Here’s a quick list of our favorite places to stay in Bucerias:
This is the only all-inclusive option in Bucerias. It’s very budget friendly and is located on a beautiful part of the beach.
Beachfront with a courtyard pool and only 4 suites, all of which have kitchens and patios.
- Tip: this is out FAVORITE place to stay in Bucerias, but it’s getting very hard to book in! You’ll need to book very far in advance for this one!
Superior beachfront location in the Golden Zone, right next to the best beach bar in town (Karen’s), great pool and private beachfront loungers and umbrellas for guests.
Best value hotel, 30 second walk to beach, lush courtyard pool and rooftop patio area for amazing sunsets.
5-minute walk to beach, located in a very quiet area, each of the 6 suites have 2 bedrooms and full kitchens, great for families or couples!
For a more detailed look at each of these properties, check out my guide to the best places to stay in Bucerias
I have an entire video about my favorite places to stay in Bucerias, watch here!
The Best Restaurants in Bucerías
Many restaurants in Bucerias cater to North American tourists. You’ll find great choices for Italian and Americanized restaurants here.
But, there are also plenty of locally run, authentic Mexican restaurants and street food if you prefer that, too.
And lots of fresh seafood!
A lot of the menus we saw and tasted were food items that have been tailored to be more familiar with visiting tourists, and many menus are available in English.
If you want to find more authentic places to eat, I recommend joining a food tour, who will bring you to hidden gem places to eat in Bucerias.
🌮 Learn more about local cuisine and sights!
Explore Bucerias sightseeings and food during the Bucerias Bike and Food Tour with an informative guide. Your guide will take you to local spots to sample locally roasted coffee, artisanal juice and mouthwatering tacos. Ride your bike between the food stops and enjoy Buceria!Buy the tour HERE
Karen’s (Best Beach Atmosphere)
This is the number one place to eat on the beach on the beach in Bucerías.
They also have happy hour everyday from 3-5 pm and the happy hour drink specials change daily.
My favorite was the coconut mojito! The breakfast here was also one of the best. Highly recommended!
Toscana Mia (Italian Fare)
Surprisingly, some of the best Italian food can be found in Bucerías. My number one recommendation is Toscana Mia. They only serve Lasagna on Fridays, so you know it’s going to be good!
The house-made Limoncello should not be passed up either!
Travel Tip: try to make a reservation if you can, this place fills up quick.
Mr. Taco (street food)
In downtown Bucerias, starting at 7pm, you’ll find the Mr. Taco street cart across from Jax Bar.
These were the best Al Pastor tacos we found in the area, and only about $1 each.
If you want authentic tacos but in a sit-down atmosphere and in the Golden Zone, hit up Tacos Linda.
This little restaurant is slightly off the beaten path and outside of downtown, but it’s still on Lazaro Cardenas, one of popular the main streets.
It’s all fresh, homemade and simple. And cheap!
If you want to feast on a delicious meal of tacos and don’t want to spend very much, head to this place.
Also, they don’t serve alcohol but you can bring your own beer or wine. This also helps keep the cost down.
Stop at an OXXO (it’s like their 7-Eleven there) on your way there and grab a couple cold beers to enjoy with your tacos.
La Postal (Best Atmosphere)
If you’re looking to dine in an outdoor oasis and feel like you’re on the movie set of the Secret Garden, definitely check out La Postal.
The restaurant seating is completely outdoors, and you’re surrounded by trees and greenery, hanging lights and different levels of patio seating.
The food is Italian-American style and delicious!
They also host live jazz music and serve the best gelato in town.
El Bunker Beach House (best appies/snacks)
Our favorite place for small bites is El Bunker Beach House.
It’s a colorful spot along Lazaro Cardenas, you can’t miss it!
They also serve breakfast, dinner and have live music.
The tuna ceviche with mango and pineapple is my favorite.
Cocina de Jorge
Red Apple Place
Los Dorados de Villa Birria
More ideas here: Insider’s Guide to the Best Breakfasts in Puerto Vallarta
Mi Chula Catrina
Mr. & Mrs. Fish
Mar y Sol
If you can’t bare the thought of missing a game while you’re on vacation, don’t fret, there are great sports bars in Bucerias.
We love the Goalie Bar for one of the best places to watch hockey. It’s in the middle of the Plaza in Centro.
YoYo Mo’s has a great sports bar atmosphere, lots of TVs, pool tables and perfect pizza.
You can find it in the heart of downtown.
Swimming and Beaches in Bucerias
The beach in Bucerias stretches for 5 miles, and most of it is soft and light golden in color.
It’s a very gradual and shallow entry way into the water, so it’s perfectly suitable for swimming, even for small children.
The largest waves I’ve ever seen in Bucerias have only been about 3 feet high. From November to March is when the wind is the most calm and the waves are small.
While the water isn’t turquoise in color like you would see in Cancun, the water close to the shore is nice and clear and very clean.
Things to Do in Bucerías
Bucerias is the perfect place to relax in the sun, spend time by the beach or pool, and eat great food!
But there’s a whole lot more to do in this quaint beach town to fill your time.
1. Enjoy the White Sandy Beach and Ocean
I love spending time on the beach and playing in the salty waves, but I’m not a fan of noisy crowds.
One of the biggest and best surprises about visiting Bucerías is that you’ll never have to fight for a quiet spot on the beach!
You can show up any time of the day and you’ll always have lots of sandy space to choose from.
Don’t forget to bring your sand-free beach towel if you hate getting sand all over your stuff!
And yes, you can swim in the ocean in Bucerias!
In fact, it’s one of the best beaches in Banderas Bay to swim.
The sand is soft, there are no rocks and the water is shallow for about 100 feet.
The waves are also more stable and calm compared to Puerto Vallarta beaches.
- Tip: Keep in mind that Easter is one of the busiest holidays in Mexico, and Bucerías seems to be quite a popular spot for locals from Guadalajara.
- So if you’re visiting at Easter, you might have to wade through the crowds.
2. Watch the Incredible Sunsets Every Night
People in Bucerías plan their daily schedules around the sunsets here!
The perfect blend of bright oranges, yellow red and purple dance across the sky each evening.
And the location of Bucerías is perfectly situated in the bay so you have an unobstructed view of watching the sun disappear behind the curvature of the earth.
3. Sunset Bike and Food Tour
One of the best ways to see and experience Bucerias is on bike.
This evening tour will guide you around town with stops at several different restaurants for appetizers and cocktails, ending with a special drink on the beach to watch the sun go down!
4. Go on a Walking Mural & Facade Tour
Whether you’re a professional photographer or the occasional picture taker or anyone in between, you’ll fall in love with all the beautiful street art.
Take a stroll through town and look for all the murals or subtle outdoor art displays.
You can check out my post about the most Instagrammable places in Bucerías, which would be a great start to your self-guided tour. It includes google map locations as well.
Tip: almost every public entrance area to the beach has the most vibrant art. Walk along the beach and find them all!
5. Visit the Bucerías Market
The Bucerias Market is one of the best places to visit. It’s open every day.
I think it’s the best market in Banderas Bay.
I really like it because all the shops and booths are close together and you can shop around for the best prices.
Bartering tip: the shop owners expect you to barter with them a little bit, so have some fun!
A good rule of thumb is to start at half of what they quote you.
Then you can slowly work your way up until you agree on a price.
There’s another market you can visit is on Sunday mornings, which is where most locals and expats shop.
So if you want to experience an authentic Mexican market, the one on Sunday mornings in Bucerías has it all. You’ll find it across the highway from Centro.
6. Beach Massages!
I found that spa and massage prices were much cheaper in Bucerías compared to Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita.
Massages on the beach were cheaper by about 50 pesos or more.
7. Horseback Rides on the Beach
A sunset horseback ride along the beach was one of my favorite activities I’ve done in Bucerias!
You’ll see handlers trot up and down the beach, just flag them down and schedule a ride.
8. Day Trip to Sayulita
Sayulita is a fun and lively beach town to visit for a day.
You can get there by bus, or book a day trip tour.
We loved this day trip to Sayulita, because it was a small group and our guide showed us all the best places in town before we had free time to explore.
After, he brought us to a secluded beach and cooked us a lunch that’s a regional specialty.
9. Visit a Chocolate Farm
10. Day Trip to the Hot Springs
The natural hot springs are only about 1 hour from Bucerias (closer than if you drive from Puerto Vallarta).
Book a small group tour, because they’re really hard to get to on your own.
We always book this hot springs tour with Antonio, who also provides a grilled lunch!
Tip: tell them Aly Smalls sent you and they’ll take great care of you!
11. Visit the La Cruz Sunday Market
On Sundays, take a 10 minute drive to La Cruz for one of the best markets in the whole Bay!
12. Live Music!
JAX Bar & Grill is one of our favorite places to catch live music in Bucerias.
In high season (November to April) they have live music every day, and the genre of music is different each day.
Read my full guide here – 16 unmissable things to do in Bucerias.
How Much Time Should You Spend in Bucerias?
5 days to a week is the perfect amount of time to enjoy all that Bucerias has to offer.
Of course, if you can stay longer, you won’t run out of things to do.
Many snowbirds and retirees spend upwards of 2 to 4 months in the winter as well.
Is Bucerias Touristy?
While Bucerias has grown significantly in the last 15 years, it’s still much less touristy than Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita and Nuevo Vallarta.
In the evenings, you’ll still find a large number of locals who flock to the beach and beach bars near the centro area.
And if you venture across the highway to the local neighborhoods, you’ll find very few tourists there (but it’s very safe and welcoming).
So, is Bucerias Worth Visiting?
If you’re considering a visit to Bucerías, you should just go for it!
In my opinion, it’s a perfect destination for those who like slow travel and truly take the definition of holiday or ‘rest and relaxation’ to heart.
Since it’s perfectly central between Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita, access is very easy to make fun day trips (read more about 14 unique ideas!)
Immerse yourself in being part of the community during your time here, and by the time you have to head to the airport you’ll have almost forgotten you’re not a local.
Is Bucerias Cheaper Than Puerto Vallarta?
We found Bucerias to be roughly the same price as visiting Puerto Vallarta, except for a couple things. Spas and massages on the beach are cheaper than Puerto Vallarta.
Also, we found the best tasting street tacos at Mr. Taco in Bucerias, which were only 17 pesos per taco than the usual 20-22 pesos per taco you find in Puerto Vallarta.
Other than that, Bucerias has all the same types of accommodations as Puerto Vallarta, all varying in price.
The only difference is that there is one all-inclusive resort in Bucerias, the Royal Decameron Complex, which is significantly less expensive than neighboring Nuevo Vallarta resorts and many of the resorts in Puerto Vallarta.
In short, Bucerias is slightly less expensive than Puerto Vallarta, but I don’t think it’s enough to really be noticeable.
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