With several prime locations in the northern side of Banderas Bay and points beyond in Riviera Nayarit, Puerto Vallarta has long been a choice destination for surfers, worldwide. Point breaks, reef breaks, beach breaks, jetty breaks and sand bars provide all types of swells, from glassy tubes and barrels for the hardcore longboard surfer, and gentle, soft-breaking swells, ideal for beginners.
In addition to longboard surfing, paddle boarding (or SUP: stand-up paddle boarding) is extremely popular at a handful of destinations that seem custom-made to practice it. All that is needed is a paddle board, a paddle, and the ability to stand on your own feet. Children as young as 6 and adults well into their 80s can learn the basics in less than 15 minutes and be on their way.
North of Banderas Bay, Sayulita has a great wave reputation that has turned the village into Riviera Nayarit's surf city. The reef break can be soft and ideally suits longboard beginners, and the surf is gentle enough for beginner and advanced paddle boarders. A few miles north, San Pancho features tubes and barrels, particularly at low tides in the morning hours.
In Punta de Mita there are a number of breaks, some accessible from the beach and others only by boat. The most popular is El Anclote, which, when the surf is up, offers three breaks, providing something for beginners, intermediates and advanced. The break here is best for longboards or stand-up, although when a good swell comes through, its good for all. There are three other good breaks on the point, but you'll need a boat to get to them, which can be quite reasonable. Best thing to do is visit one of the many surf shops along Avenida El Anclote in the village, they'll set you up. For paddleboarding, this is a great area. The water is usually very calm, as its protected, allowing for beginners to experienced to cruise up and down this beautiful coastline.features consistent, clean swells that wrap around the point and right into the beach, wonderful for beginners to learn either longboard surfing or paddle boarding.
Between Punta de Mita and La Cruz, there are several good longboard surfing spots at several point and reef breaks. Punta de Burro is a right reef break with occasional barrels. Good rights can also be had nearby at Pools, Veneros and Destiladeras.
Closer to Puerto Vallarta and south, there is a reef break at El Tizate and occasional beach breaks in front of the resorts in Nuevo Vallarta. The only spot south of Puerto Vallarta with a break (for lefties) is Quimixto.
There are two prime paddle boarding locations near Puerto Vallarta begging to be discovered. While you won't find instruction or equipment rentals at either (see below) they stand a chance of becoming good paddle boarding destinations in the future.
North of Puerto Vallarta, Jaltemba Bay features gentle surf and a variety of lodging options for anybody looking for an alternative spot to paddle. And south of Puerto Vallarta, Cajón de Peña is a spectacular freshwater reservoir located less than two hours away along Carr. 200 Sur.
There are many surf schools at Punta de Mita and Sayulita where you will also find equipment rentals. In addition, there are several surf shops in Bucerias, La Cruz and San Pancho.