This Bucerias travel guide has everything you need to know including the best things to do, best restaurants & where to stay!
Just north of Puerto Vallarta you’ll find one of the most relaxing towns in the Riviera de Nayarit. This roundup of the best things to do in Bucerias, Mexico, is perfect for making the most of your vacation.
In English, the name of this small town means “Place of Divers.” Bucerias is a great place to escape the cold winter months in your home country and experience the magic of Mexico’s Pacific Coast.
After reading this post, you’ll know:
- All the best things to do in Bucerias for every type of traveler
- Where to stay in Bucerias (accommodation for various budgets)
- Must-know travel tips for visiting the beach in Mexico
- Where to eat in Bucerias
- & more!
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How to Get to Bucerias
The town of Bucerias is located approximately 25 minutes north of the Puerto Vallarta airport. You can take a taxi from the airport for between $550-$650 MXN. Rideshare services such as Uber are also available.
There’s also a direct bus from the airport to Bucerias. It departs every 15-20 minutes and costs $18-24 MXN. The journey takes around 15 minutes. The bus lines are Compostela and ATM Medina
From Guadalajara, the drive to Bucerias takes around four hours. If taking the cuota (tollway), a one-way journey costs around $1,000 MXN.
Another option for getting to Bucerias from Guadalajara is taking the bus. First-class buses depart from the Central de Autobuses Zapopan hourly. If you haven’t tried first class bus travel in Mexico, you’re missing out! You can see the schedule and book your ticket on Vallarta Plus here.
What to Know About Visiting Bucerias (Travel Tips)
As you’re planning your trip to Bucerias, there are a few important things you should know. If this will be your first time visiting Mexico, this post has all my must-know Mexico travel tips.
It’s always good to travel with pesos on hand in Mexico, but this was especially true in Bucerias. Many restaurants were solo efectivo (cash only) & unless you have your own set of wheels or take a taxi, getting to an ATM to take out cash can be a bit of a trek.
I did see one (I believe) private ATM in the entrance of a hotel in the Zona Dorada, but I prefer to use ATMs associated with large Mexican banks such as Santander, BBVA & Citibanamex.
Beware of the time zone
Unlike the majority of Nayarit which is on Mexican Mountain Time, popular beach towns such as Punta de Mita, Sayulita, San Pancho & Bucerias are on Mexican Central Time. This means Bucerias and the surrounding towns are on the same time as Puerto Vallarta.
Even if the time changes on your phone while traveling through Nayarit to reach your final destination, know that, once you’re on the coast, all cities in this area operate on the same time as Puerto Vallarta.
It’s also worth noting that Mexico abolished Daylight Savings Time in 2023. Central Time in Mexico is actually one hour behind Central Standard Time in the United States.
Watch where you’re walking
As we were walking around Bucerias, it was impossible not to notice all the construction happening–everything from new builds to hardcore renovations. I’m curious to see what Bucerias will look like five years from now, but in the meantime, watch your step.
All the construction means a lot of dust which can make the cobblestone streets slippery. It’s not uncommon to come across a ripped up or (at the very least) uneven sidewalk. Especially if you’re not used to navigating the streets in Mexico, take care to find sure footing.
How Much Time to Spend in Bucerias
Bucerias is home to a growing number of foreigners who live there during the winter months (November through April) or year round. So many things to do in Bucerias itself plus the proximity to Puerto Vallarta mean there’s always something happening.
Thinking about moving to Mexico? Read about the best places to retire in Mexico.
Not interested in moving to Mexico? Two days in Bucerias is enough time to see what the town has to offer. But if you really want to relax or add on some fun day trips, four days to a week is even better.
Best Time to Visit Bucerias, Mexico
The high season in Bucerias is December through March. Weather conditions are at their most ideal during the winter months (high 70s during the day and down to the low 60s at night), but the area is also at its most crowded.
For good weather and fewer crowds, the best time to visit Bucerias is between April and early June. April is the windiest month, but that could be a good thing since one of the best things to do in Bucerias is kiteboarding.
My most recent trip to Bucerias was in mid-June, and I’ll be honest: it was HOT. Also, since it was the low season, two of the restaurants we wanted to try were closed for renovations/vacation.
How to Get Around Bucerias
Since we drove to Bucerias from Guadalajara, we had our car which was convenient for going to the supermarket and a day trip to Boca de Tomatlan. However, it’s not necessary to rent a car for your time in Bucerias.
If your accommodation is situated in the Zona Dorada (which several of the recommendations in this post are), then you are within walking distance of many of the best things to do in Bucerias. Just take care on the cobblestone and watch out for uneven sidewalks.
To get to Puerto Vallarta, you can take a taxi or use the Uber app. It’s about a 20-minute drive to downtown. The bus, while a fraction of the price, could take as long as an hour.
Things to Do in Bucerias, Mexico
The first time I visited Bucerias in April 2023, I was only there for an afternoon–a quick pit stop on the way to Nuevo Vallarta. It was just enough time to fall in love with the beautiful beach & I knew then that I needed to get back there as soon as possible…
Lucky for me, I had the chance to go back to Bucerias two months later in June 2023 when my husband surprised me by planning a long weekend there for HIS birthday (I know, what a guy). We drove from our home in Guadalajara and spent three nights in the Zona Dorada.
One of the reasons I love Bucerias is its proximity to Puerto Vallarta. You’re close enough to take advantage of tours and activities there, but Bucerias itself doesn’t feel overcrowded or touristy. It’s the best of both worlds.
1. Relax at the Beautiful Beaches
Wherever you are in the Riviera de Nayarit, one of the top activities is enjoying the area’s incredible beaches.
The closest beach is Playa Bucerias. This long stretch of beach has soft sand and (depending on the time of year) swimmable waters. Unless you’re staying at a hotel with beach access, plan on bringing your own towel, umbrella and beach chair.
There are several restaurants located along the beach where you can order food and drinks. We spent a nice afternoon at Oye Henry’s (see the video below). The restaurant wasn’t very busy so we were able to keep our table and continue ordering cold beers while laying in the sand nearby.
If you’re staying for more than a few days, consider checking out some of the other incredible beaches near Bucerias:
- Playa La Lancha – This virgin beach is a 30-minute drive from Bucerias. It’s popular with surfers and paddle boarders. After you park in front of the Oxxo and cross the street, it’s a 10-minute walk through the jungle to the water.
- Playa Manzanilla -This family-friendly beach with calm waters is located just south of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. The entrance is located between the Marina Riviera Nayarit and Condominios Real de Mar.
- Playa Destiladeras – This swimmable beach is reachable by bus from Bucerias. There are some small bars and restaurants offering food and drinks.
2. See Humpback Whales
Thanks to its location in Banderas Bay, Bucerias is the perfect place to make your base for whale watching. The best time to see humpback whales near Bucerias is mid-December to the end of March.
During the whale watching season, tours depart daily from the marinas in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (Marina Riviera Nayarit), Nuevo Vallarta & Marina Vallarta. This Humpback Whale Research Adventure Tour includes a fascinating educational session before getting out onto the water to see the whales in their natural habitat.
3. Release Sea Turtles
Perfect for families, the season for releasing sea turtles starts in August and runs through December. Participating in a turtle release is generally free, however, donations are welcome.
Here’s where to release sea turtles near Bucerias:
- Sayulita Turtle Release Camp
- Boca de Tomates Sea Turtle Camp (just behind the airport)
- Turtle Release Nuevo Vallarta Sanctuary (Flamingos Beach)
4. Listen to Live Music
Even though we visited Bucerias during low season, I was pleased to see that many of the restaurants and bars in the Zona Dorada had live music. If you head to the Centro, many of the bars down there are also great places to listen to live music in Bucerias:
- Jax Bar & Grill
- The Sunshine Bar
- Sports Bar The Goalie
- Encore Restaurant & Jazz Lounge
- Bar 329
- Ozzie’s Sports Bar & Grill
5. Join the Bucerias Art Walk on Thursday Evenings
Every Thursday evening from November to April, you can join the Bucerias Art Walk. Local galleries open their doors from 7 to 9 p.m., and there’s even a chance you’ll see local artists working on a piece.
The Bucerias Art Walk is along Avenida Lázaro Cardenas in the Zona Dorada. If you’re planning on staying in Bucerias for longer than a few days, this is a great way to learn about upcoming workshops and events in the local art community.
6. Take Your Picture with “El Buzo” in the Main Square
One of the best ways to commemorate your trip to Bucerias is with the town’s most iconic resident: El Buzo. In English, “El Buzo” translates to “The Diver” & this statue is dedicated to the trade that gave Bucerias its name.
The sculpture is located in Plaza del Viento in Centro and is right next to another excellent photo opp: the colorful Bucerias sign.
7. Scope Out the Flea Market on Sunday Mornings
Located right next to El Buzo, the Bucerias Flea Market is the perfect place to pick up a souvenir. This market is open every day of the week, but Sunday is when you’ll find the widest selection featuring items from all over Mexico.
My advice for markets is always to just look and not touch until you’re ready to buy. Do a lap around the market to get the lay of the land and see what’s available before making any decisions.
8. Ride Around Bucerias on a Bike Tour
Tired of lounging on the beach and ready for some action? This Bucerias Bike and Food Tour takes you to local spots around town. It’s a beginner-friendly places and lasts approximately three hours.
Guides are available in English. The tour costs $75 US per person.
9. Go Horseback Riding on the Beach
This would make a great family-friendly activity or romantic date night. When we were in Bucerias, we saw people riding horses up and down the main beach at pretty much all hours. You can simply ask the guide on the spot how to organize a ride.
If you prefer to book something ahead of time, this tour takes you to the nearby town of Higuera Blanca & you will get to ride along the incredible Litibu Beach. Roundtrip transportation is included, and the price is $115 US per person.
10. Check out the Local Markets
The Bucerias Flea Market isn’t the only market worth checking out. Here are some of the other local markets happening around Bucerias:
- Bucerias Farmers Market (Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
- La Cruz en La Marina Market (Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
- Nuevo Vallarta Farmers Market (Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
11. Take a Food Tour
If you’re only in town for a short time, one of the best things to do in Bucerias is take a food tour. This gives you the chance to sample all the tastiest eats in a short amount of time.
My Mexican Kitchen offers four different food tours each week. The Night Tacos Tour starts at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday and costs $65 US per person. Click here to learn more.
12. Try Kiteboarding
Bucerias is known as one of the top spots in Mexico for kiteboarding, so if you think it looks fun, it’s the perfect place to take a lesson. The kiteboarding season in Bucerias starts in February and runs through June.
Check out The Kite Zone for more information about lessons. English speaking instructors are available.
13. Rent a Paddle Board
Stand up paddle boarding is another popular water sports activity in Bucerias. Surf Mexico and Coral Reef Surf Shop rent board and offer lessons.
14. Signup for Surf Lessons
This part of Mexico is known for its surf. While you’re in Bucerias, you can learn how to surf. The instructor will likely take you to nearby Punta de Mita or Playa La Lancha for more beginner-friendly waves.
Surf Mexico offers group and private lessons starting at $1,700 MXN for a three-hour sessions which includes roundtrip transportation.
15. Get a Massage
Nothing says a relaxing vacation like a full-body massage. Up and down Bucerias Beach, there are tents with massage tables. Individual masseuses walk the beach offering their services.
If you’re like me and prefer getting massaged indoors (no sand), here are a few spots in town:
16. Learn to Cook Mexican Food
This activity is top of my list for the next time I’m in Bucerias. I’ve taken Mexican cooking classes in other parts of the country, and it’s always a memorable experience.
My Mexican Kitchen offers will show you how to make classic Mexican comfort dishes like chilaquiles, tostadas and tacos dorados. There’s even a special seafood class! Classes are $65 US per person and you can see the schedule here.
17. Go for a Hike
An hour from Bucerias, the hike from Boca de Tomatlan to Playa Las Animas is absolutely incredible. It’s medium difficulty with some steep inclines and occasional scrambling. My friend Janine put together a very detailed guide to this popular Puerto Vallarta hike with incredible ocean views.
If you’re looking for a hike a little closer to Bucerias, the Monkey Mountain hike near Litibu is supposed to have some awesome panoramic views.
18. Go Golfing
Looking to hit the green while on vacation? Flamingos Golf is one of the area’s most popular golf courses. The par 72 championship course features Bermuda grass, 43 bunkers and nine water hazards.
You can rent clubs and/or check out the driving range. Learn more about prices and hours on the Flamingos Golf Facebook Page.
19. Visit the Crocodile Sanctuary El Cora
Just 20 minutes from Bucerias, you can experience the magic of the mangrove forest and see crocodiles in their natural habitat. The guided tours, which depart every 20 minutes and last about an hour, are perfect for families–get the chance to hold a baby crocodile!
El Cora is open every day except Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Check out the Crocodile Sanctuary Facebook Page for more information.
20. Check Out El Eden Botanical Garden
Plant lovers and garden enthusiasts won’t want to miss this hidden gem in Bucerias. El Eden is open every day except Sunday, and it’s free to walk around. It’s a unique opportunity to see the plants and flowers native to the area in one place.
El Eden Botanical Garden is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays until 2 p.m.
21. Place Your Bets at Incanto Casino
From poker and craps to slot machines, Incanto Casino is a gambler’s paradise (in paradise). The casino is open every day until 2 a.m. Here is the Google location.
22. Zoom on Zip Lines with an Ocean View
This tour will have you zooming along the longest zipline in all of Banderas Bay. You’ll have a bird’s eye view of the rainforest nature preserve in Punta De Mita which is home to all kinds of wildlife including wild boars and macaws.
There’s roundtrip transportation from select pickup/drop-off points in the area & the price includes a tequila tasting.
23. Go On the Marietas Islands Hidden Beach Tour
One of the most popular tours in the Puerto Vallarta area, this tour of the Marietas Islands leaves from Nuevo Vallarta and includes breakfast, lunch & an open domestic bar. You’ll have a chance to snorkel with marine life and access to the Instagram-famous beach is guaranteed.
24. Have a Snorkel Adventure
The main beach in Bucerias isn’t great for snorkeling (the water can be a bit choppy), but you don’t need to go far for your underwater adventure. This post has all the information you need for visiting the best snorkel spots around Puerto Vallarta.
25. Enjoy the famous Rhythms of the Night Tour
For an evening of entertainment, look no further than the popular Rhythms of the Night Cruise and Dinner Show in Puerto Vallarta. So much more than your average sunset cruise, this acrobatic dinner show (written and directed by the co-creator of Cirque du Soleil) is inspired by Aztec legend.
26. Take a Day Trip
While there are lots of awesome things to do in Bucerias, staying in town means you’re only scratching the surface of this incredible area. If time permits, here are some of the best day trips from Bucerias:
- San Pancho
- Downtown Puerto Vallarta
27. Watch the Sunset with a Cold Drink
Last but certainly not least, one of the best things to do in Bucerias is simply kick back with an ice cold beverage and watch the sunset. You’re welcome to BYOB to the main beach or grab a table at a beachside restaurant.
Our first night in town, we watched the sunset from Karen’s Place which is one of the most popular spots in town. People in Bucerias also love:
Where to Stay in Bucerias
Despite not being all that big, there is a good variety of accommodation options in Bucerias.
- Refugio del Mar Luxury Hotel Boutique: One of the top-rated hotels in Bucerias, this is a great option for couples or families who want apartment-style accommodation. Every room is equipped with a dishwasher and oven. The hotel has a lovely outdoor pool and provides umbrellas/chairs to use at the beach (free of charge) which is only a short walk away. Book a stay at Refugio del Mar here.
- Aventura Pacifico Beach Hotel: Located in the Zona Dorada and just a two-minute walk to the beach, rooms here start at around $60 US per night. There’s a sundeck and rooftop pool for guests to enjoy. The suites feature a patio or balcony. Book a stay at Aventura Pacifico Beach hotel here.
- Hotel Olas Altas Bucerias: One of the more budget-friendly hotels in Bucerias, rooms here start at around $47 US per night. This is an older hotel, but some of the rooms have been renovated recently, and the location can’t be beat. Book a stay at Hotel Olas Altas Bucerias here.
- Hotel Palmeras: For Mexican charm, spacious rooms & a fabulous location, this is a solid option in the heart of Bucerias. The outdoor pool is surrounded by vegetation, and the staff is very friendly. Rooms start at around $100 US per night. Book a stay at Hotel Palmeras here.
Best Restaurants in Bucerias
Scroll back through the list of best things to do in Bucerias for even more restaurant recommendations. After my time there, these are my picks for the best places to eat in Bucerias.
We came here on my husband’s birthday, and this spot really wow’d us. Located a couple of blocks back from the beach, La Negra is two floors (the downstairs has long tables for large groups). The upstairs is open air with lots of plants, a pretty bar and a couple of disco balls.
La Negra has one of the best burgers I’ve eaten in Mexico to date plus some really gourmet tacos and a creative cocktail menu. I will go back to Bucerias just to eat at La Negra again.
Another top spot in Bucerias, La Postal is an Italian restaurant dishing up thin crust pizza and homemade pasta. Seriously, do yourself a favor and get the pasta. Mine was topped with bacon and a spicy tomato sauce.
The restaurant is a garden-setting with some covered areas. The staff is really nice and even topped off my husband’s mezcal when he accidentally cracked the glass.
One of the most popular beachfront restaurants in Bucerias, Karen’s Place serves “Mexican fusion” cuisine. There are tables right on the beach or you can sit on the deck. The restaurant emphasizes that it’s not a beach club, so don’t plan on posting up here all day.
We just had drinks here and ordered the guacamole. A lot of the staff spoke English, and this seems to be a popular gathering spot for foreigners in Bucerias.
This popular breakfast spot in Bucerias serves classic Mexican fare such as chilaquiles. They are also open for lunch.
El Rincón de Ensenada
Tucked away in the Zona Dorada, this seafood spot is perfect for enjoying fresh seafood at a reasonable price (eat like the locals do). We went here for lunch after the four-drive drive from Guadalajara, and I was grateful when my grilled shrimp tacos came out fast.
We saw a few people picking up to-go orders, so that could be a good option if you prefer to eat at the beach.
Is Bucerias Worth Visiting?
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or a base from which to explore the greater Puerto Vallarta area, Bucerias is absolutely worth visiting. I have a strong feeling that this little town is going to explode over the next few years, so if you want to visit before it gets too crowded, plan your trip soon.