Bucerias holds a special place in my heart because we made a lot of wonderful memories and friends here. My husband and I have lived in Mexico for a cumulative total of six months, and much of that time was spent in Bucerias, a small beach town 45 minutes North of Puerto Vallarta on the Riviera Nayarit.
It’s ironic; when I first started researching where to live in Mexico while still in Seattle (where we live for half the year), Bucerias came up as an option; I read that it was a popular expat town, especially amongst Canadian snowbirds. I briefly considered it, but ultimately landed on Marina Vallarta instead, since it was closer to downtown Puerto Vallarta, so that’s where we lived for our first two months in Mexico. Sasha later decided that he wanted to take kite surfing lessons, and we read that Bucerias was the place to do it as the windy season starts here in March. Our timing landed perfectly and I found a place just two blocks from the beach; the decision was made – this would be our home for the remainder of our stay in Mexico. And it was the best decision indeed! This truly feels like home to us.
In this blog post, I’ll cover what to do, where to eat, and where to stay in Bucerias! But before we jump in, where is Bucerias, anyway?
WHERE IS BUCERIAS?
Bucerias is located approximately 45 minutes North of Puerto Vallarta, and 20 minutes South of the hippy vibes beach towns of Sayulita and San Pancho, both of which we visited nearly every weekend to surf and relax. Bucerias is located in the state of Nayarit, which borders the state of Jalisco where Puerto Vallarta is located. It’s right in the center of the enormous Bahia de Banderas (Banderas Bay), which makes it a prime spot for kite surfing (starting in March) and whale watching in the winter! Though the beach isn’t the most beautiful (especially compared to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean side of Tulum or the Yucatan Peninsula), it’s still a great place to swim, and you can literally walk all the way to the airport along the beach – it goes North and South for 29 kilometers (18 miles)! Another reason we love having Bucerias as a home base, is because it’s only 20 minutes North of Puerto Vallarta International Airport, so it’s very easy to get to other cities in Mexico. We often left work on a Friday evening, took a quick flight, and spent the weekend in another city.
Bucerias in Spanish means place of divers, and this once quaint fishing village has now turned into a quaint expat and tourist destination. In the 1980’s, Canadians started flocking to this area; many still remain as full-time residents, and others live here for half the year. The population is approximately 9,000, but doubles during the winter season. There are two sides to Bucerias; over the walking bridge to the North, you’ll find the more authentic Mexican flare with street tacos, local vendors and more traditional buildings.
On the Southern side is the more modern Bucerias with new construction and a primarily North American expat population for residents.
What we love about living here is the diversity of having both modern and traditional food, architecture, and both local Mexicans and foreign expats – both equally interesting! Another thing we love about Bucerias, is that buildings rarely exceed 7 floors, and units are condominiums rather than massive hotels (you can find the all-inclusive resorts in Nuevo Vallarta, Bucerias’ neighbor to the South.) The dusty cobblestone roads and colorful flags all add to the charm of this wonderful small town, and the bougainvillea add vibrant color to the streets.
11 FUN THINGS TO DO IN BUCERIAS
So, what is there to do in this little beach town? There are plenty of things to do here to fill up a week! We ended every work day with a run along the beach, and usually a massage a few times a week because it’s so affordable! (One hour is $12 – $18 USD per person, and those ladies are STRONG!) Bucerias is an excellent home base because it’s close to everything! Each weekend we either rented a car to go up North to Sayulita and San Pancho, East to San Sebastian del Oeste, or down South to Puerto Vallarta, or we hopped on a plane to explore a different city in Mexico! (If you’ll be traveling or living in Mexico, check out all my blog posts on our travels throughout Mexico)
- Take a kite surfing lesson
- Go stand up paddle boarding
- Take a yoga class
- Whale watch from the beach
- Get a massage on the beach
- Take a glass-making workshop
- Visit the Bucerias Art Walk (Thursdays only from 6 – 9 PM)
- Drive 25 minutes West to surf at Playa La Lancha
- Take a day trip to Sayulita or San Pancho
- Take a cooking class
- Enjoy a meal at one of the many tasty restaurants
If you’re looking to get into kite surfing, The Kite Zone is a great school to take lessons. They offer lessons by the hour, or you can do a package deal of 6 hours of lessons (over however long a span you’d like), for just under $600 USD. They provide you with lessons on the beach first, to get the hang of the kite, then they take you out to the bay on a boat so it’s easier to launch. Sasha had a blast learning!
A bonus is the owner’s adorable Jack Russell Terrier named Kira, the shop dog who will greet you with a smile and kisses.
If you’re feeling artsy, check out A Broken Art, a mosaic school and gallery where they teach you how to make a mosaic piece, which you can take home with you. Splash of Glass is another place where you can make your own art piece! Bucerias is home to many art galleries, so enjoy a day of wandering the streets. On Thursday evenings from November – April, from 6 – 9 PM, join the weekly Bucerias Art Walk, where all the artists and galleries come together to showcase their creativity.
Do you love surfing and beautiful, uncrowded local beaches? If so, you’ll love Playa La Lancha, easily our favorite local spot in this area. Located in Punta de Mita where the Banderas Bay ends, this beach is perfection for surfing, stand up paddle surfing, or just a fun weekend day at the beach with friends. It’s a long stretch of beach with nice coves and plenty of space, and the waves are perfect for all levels! This beach requires walking ten minutes through the forest, so don’t expect easy accessibility directly from the road. This means you have to carry your board and beach gear, making it a less crowded, more local beach.
Just a few minutes from Playa La Lancha is the delicious Organi-k; they’ve got several locations (including one in Sayulita), but this one is our favorite because it’s a shack on the side of the road and reminds us very much of Sunrise Shack on the North Shore of Oahu where my family is from. They make delicious and healthy bowls, smoothies, raw vegan energy bites, and kombucha!
If you’ll be spending more time in Bucerias, take a day trip to Sayulita and San Pancho for a change of pace. You can read more on these lovely beach towns in my other blog posts here:
12 Best Things To Do in Sayulita, Mexico
San Pancho, Mexico is Your Hippy Dream Come True
If you’re a foodie, you can take a cooking class in Bucerias! Check out My Mexican Kitchen for an authentic experience.
WHERE TO EAT IN BUCERIAS
If you follow my blog, you know that local food is the topic that excites me the most. 😁 Let’s cover the best places to eat in Bucerias (in order of our favorites!)
- La Negra (local Mexican, bar)
- La Postal (pizza & home made pasta)
- Buonissimo Gelato (attached to La Postal)
- N’WOK (Asian fusion)
- Paninos Artisan Bakery (fresh bread, croissants, pastries, breakfast & paninis)
- La Cabra y La Mata Cafe (in-house roasted local coffee)
- Restaurant Le Bistrot (French)
- Sandrina’s (Greek / Mexican)
- Luna Luna (Mexican)
- Mmugazz Art & Cuisine Bistro (Farm-to-table)
- Ixi’im Vegano (vegan)
Hands down La Negra is our favorite local bar, and I love that it’s owned by local Mexicans. The staff (who are so friendly) all know us by name, as we come about four times a week! We live right across the street from it, so it’s dangerous! 😉 You must try the tuna ceviche – that was our favorite! Their cocktails are phenomenal and so creative!
Perfect for when that comfort food craving hits. They serve the best pizza in Bucerias, and all their pastas are home made from scratch.
For a post-dinner treat, Buonissimo Gelato is attached to La Postal, so you don’t have to go far!
Located on the more authentic, local side of Bucerias, this Asian fusion restaurant is owned by Chef Norman, originally from Colombia. He is super friendly; don’t be surprised if he sits down and joins you for supper! We had fun chatting with him. If you’re staying in Bucerias, they also deliver food to your home! Everything on the menu is fabulous. We especially love their pad Thai, curry and gyozas.
PANINOS ARTISAN BAKERY
First of all, this is the only place open before 8AM in Bucerias (they get a late start around here), and the only bakery in the area! Good thing it’s a great one! We buy fresh bread every few days (love the olive loaf), and they make outstanding paninis. Their breakfast is great, and their cinnamon roll was my Achilles heel, as I was tempted to eat one daily.
LA CABRA Y LA MATA CAFE
They roast local coffee beans in-house from the Nayarit region, Chiapas, Oaxaca and other areas in Jalisco. This is where we purchased our weekly coffee beans (they grind it for you on site based on the type of coffee machine you have at home.)
RESTAURANT LE BISTRO
You know it’s going to be authentic French cuisine when the owner is a nice lady from France, and her French husband is the Chef. This place has a lovely ambiance, both indoor and outdoor seating on a cobblestone street, and a small menu, typical French style. Our favorite dish was the seared tuna. I have high standards for good tuna being from Hawaii (and nobody grills tuna better than my Dad), but this was outstanding.
Owned and operated by a Canadian lady and her Greek husband, Sandrina’s has the nicest outdoor courtyard of any restaurant in Bucerias. Our standards for Greek food are high because we have spent quite a bit of time in Greece. We were engaged and later married on Crete Island, and Greece holds a special place in our hearts. Our favorite dishes here are the roasted potatoes, the fish tacos, and the stuffed poblano chili pepper. The service is friendly, the ambiance is romantic and pleasant, and they provide a 15% discount if you pay with cash.
By the way, if you’re curious about Cretan food, check out my blog post on 12 Must-Try Foods in Crete.
If you’re looking for live extreme iguana entertainment, look no further than Luna Luna. In addition to having good authentic Mexican food for breakfast and lunch, you can have a front seat to daily iguana entertainment.
I’ve got a funny story; I was watching my lunchtime entertainment (iguanas, of course), and I heard the scratching of their claws on the tin roof above me. The fighting was crazy; they were scrambling around, rolling over each other as their huge tails slammed the ground. Then I saw a tail swoop down, nearly hitting me in the face, and thought, “oh my god, they’re going to fall to their death. I am going to witness an iguana dying right here in front of me whilst I eat my puerco en salsa verde.”…And sure enough, just as I looked up, two enormous 4-foot-long iguanas FELL TEN FEET from the rooftop, straight to the ground with a loud thud. I froze in horror, but they just hit the ground and scattered, completely unscathed. I screamed so loud the Chef came out to see what had happened. I said, “oh my gosh, I just witnessed two iguanas fighting and they fell to the ground from the roof up there!” And he laughed and said, “ohhh, yeah, that happens all the time, sorry about that.” After lunch, I became slightly obsessed with iguanas, and fell into a rabbit hole of useless information. Here are all the fun facts you never needed to know about iguanas:
- They’re arboreal (they live in trees)
- They live up to 20 years
- They’re not cuddly and don’t like to be touched by humans
- They cannot tolerate temperatures under 50 F. Once temperatures drop below this, they become lethargic and immobile and lose their grip, causing them to fall out of trees. You’ll actually see this from time to time on a “weird weather alert” in south Florida in the winter. “Iguanas fall from trees at alarming rate”. But they don’t die; their metabolic functions continue, but they’re paralyzed until it warms up again, then they thaw out and come back to life
- Their mating season lasts 3-4 months (I’m pretty sure that was the behavior I was witnessing, because I have since returned to Luna Luna several times and saw zero iguanas)
- They bob their head up and down to acknowledge each other
- They whip their tails when they feel threatened, as a sign of aggression
- They have sharp teeth, meant for ripping apart vegetables (as you’ll see in the video below)
- They can run up to 21 miles per hour
- They can fall up to 40 feet and not die
Congratulations. Now you’re an expert on iguanas. You’re welcome. 🤣
MUGAZZ ART & CUISINE BISTRO
This restaurant has a lovely outdoor courtyard seating with an open-air yoga studio in the back, and art surrounding the entire space. The food is local farm-to-table style with vegan options available.
WHERE TO STAY IN BUCERIAS
There are several options on Airbnb, but because this is a small community where everyone knows everyone, there are a lot of places that one might find by word of mouth. One thing to note about living in Bucerias, is that there is a lot of construction. Lots of new construction is being built, and I’m afraid that in a few years it may start to look like a mini Puerto Vallarta and become busy. One of the reasons we love Bucerias so much is because it’s quaint and quiet. Sasha and I joke that we’re probably the youngest people who live here, as most are retired Canadians in their 60’s – 80’s. If you’re looking for partying and nightlife, I would definitely recommend downtown Puerto Vallarta over Bucerias, but if you’re working remotely and love a laid-back beach life, and especially if you love water sports, I highly recommend Bucerias.
We were so lucky to stumble upon Pardela, a beautiful luxury unit inside Pacifica Condominiums, located just two blocks up from the beach and within walking distance to all the restaurants and bars. This building was completed in November of 2020, and has 50 units. Pardela Now is run by two sisters – the space is stylishly designed by Ana, and Alessandra manages the unit. They are absolutely wonderful to work with, and extremely responsive! They have two units to choose from – both with views of the ocean! You can see pricing and book directly through their website here. We especially loved that all the furnishings in the unit are made from natural materials and fibers, such as cotton and hemp.
The best part about the building is the amenities; there’s a gym with brand new equipment, the staff is friendly, there’s a 24-hour concierge, a parking spot included, and the best part is the stunning infinity pool! It’s truly the best spot in Bucerias! We couldn’t get enough of those sunset views, and used the pool every single day. You’ll get to know your Canadian neighbors quite well, too! They’re very friendly, as Canadians are. 😁
The internet speed is very fast (especially for a beach town in Mexico!) – over 100 Mbps, which made it a great place for us to work remotely. We loved all the various options for remote working locations within the building!
So, now you know why Bucerias was our favorite place to live and work remotely in Mexico. We will definitely be coming back here to spend more time next year.
**PIN THIS POST!!**
GabbyMarch 31, 2021 at 9:28 pm
Lisa I did not know what Bucerias meant. I learn a new Spanish word with your blog. Thanks
culturalfoodiesApril 1, 2021 at 7:34 am
Aww, yay! 🙂 I’m learning new Spanish words all the time!
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SONIKAAugust 31, 2021 at 9:39 am
Are the prices for the building in pesos or US dollars? Thanks
culturalfoodiesAugust 31, 2021 at 12:11 pm
Hi Sonika, I quoted everything in U.S. dollars. The accommodation was quite pricey because it’s a luxury accommodation just one block from the beach, and with the most epic rooftop infinity pool ever. 🙂 It was worth the splurge!
Emily Van AllenFebruary 16, 2022 at 6:58 pm
Your article peaked my attention as we absolutely love Bucerias.We unfortunately are only unable to spend 6 weeks here but it still feels like a second home. I was disappointed that the pictures and restaurants mainly reflected The Golden Zone. Other than N’Wok ,all the restaurants were on the other side. We may not be the prettiest side but more authentic and definitely more fun.