We couldn't help but wonder if we were in the right place when we pulled over on the side of the road and saw a few guys with surfboards next to the jungle on the edge of the main road. Sure, there was a tiny strip mall across the road with a few shops, but it didn't really look like a beach entrance as we imagined.
Yet our maps told us this was the place and for our friend's son who was getting a surf lesson, this is where we had to park or so they said. (Wild Mex is a great company to use if you're looking for surf lessons in the Punta de Mita area and want to avoid the more crowded Sayulita waters.)
"Just walk 200 meters through the jungle, follow the path and you'll find the beach," they said.
Now I admit, I am not very good at spatial measurements or knowing how far 200 meters actually is, but it sure felt like a lot longer carrying a cooler, beach chairs, towels, and making sure my 3 year old kept moving.
And before we even entered the hidden path, we all took a deep gulp as we saw the sign warning us that crocodiles live in this jungle and to walk at our own risk. It was definitely one of those parenting moments that had me questioning my gut and common sense as we chose to forge ahead despite the warnings. I just had all the horrible stories from Disney and others over the years of crocodile sightings gone wrong on repeat in my head. And I thought, "Let's get to the other side as fast as humanly possible" which is not very fast if you're carrying a day of beach gear and walking with small children.
Despite the fear and the questionable decision we made to trek through the jungle, the view on the other side when we made it was UNBELIEVABLE. It was a hidden gem of a beach called "La Lancha". (map is linked below.)
The sand was soft, perfect for setting up our umbrellas and building sand castles. The water and sky almost seemed to be one as they were the same hues of aqua blue that you see in all the vacation brochures with the perfect rolling waves for the kids to splash and ride on the boogie boards.
It's a locally known surfer's beach and used to be private but is on the up and up of getting discovered as we learned throughout the day as more people kept trickling in through that secret jungle path, making their way to this beautiful spot.
Word to the wise, it's definitely the kind of beach that makes you want to park there all day long and there's nothing close to "buy" (the Oxxo on the highway was closed) so pack your coolers for the day.
There's an area of tidepools on one far end of the beach which is super fun for the kids to find snails, squid and hermit crabs hidden in the shallow water alongside the natural rock/coral that makes up the ocean floor.
The other end of the beach is an exclusive area for the "4 Seasons" guests from Punta de Mita and has umbrellas and drinks for their clientele.
If you're looking for an adventure off the path and a new place to explore while you're visiting Vallarta, we highly recommend our new favorite beach, "La Lancha".
*As far as the crocodiles go, we've heard they are usually seen during Rainy Season (June - October) as the jungle we crossed turns into knee-high mud, so to be on the safe side, I'd recommend exploring this beach when it's the dry season.