Mexico, North America, Personal

We’ve Got Crabs: How Our Voyage To Yelapa Went Awry

Back before I was a travel blogger, my husband and I spent our one year anniversary in beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We had planned several activities for our trip, including a day trip to Yelapa, a fisherman’s village that couldn’t be accessed by car.

One of my biggest pet peeves about travel bloggers is the impression that their vacations are totally flawless. Purely by happenstance, they end up in the most luxurious hotels, they choose the perfect activities and they stumble upon the best restaurants the city has to offer.

In reality, this couldn’t be father from the truth. Bloggers have travel mishaps, too. They just seldom include them in their posts.

While planning our trip to Puerto Vallarta, we carved out a full day to explore the nearby village of Yelapa and hike to the waterfalls. There are two waterfalls within walking distance of Yelapa.

Yelapa Beach Puerto Vallarta

The first waterfall is just 15 minutes from the pier and includes a small pool at the base of the waterfall. The second one is more of an actual hike. To get here, follow signs to the right and follow the trail along the river. It is several miles to reach the waterfall. This waterfall includes several small pools interconnected by waterfalls.

This was the hike we were planning on doing, but our day didn’t work out that way.

The voyage to Yelapa was an adventure in itself. From the city of Puerto Vallarta, we took the bus to Boca De Tomatlan from Constitucion at Basilio Badillo for 7 pesos. Then, we took a water taxi from the bay of Boca De Tomatlan to Yelapa. The trip took about an hour and a half, one way.

It was fun being on the bus with the locals who were heading to work. At the Basilio Badillo bus stop, a local man was selling homemade breakfast burritos – very tempting, but we had already eaten breakfast.

The water taxi was a thrill. I’d recommend taking a water taxi at some point while you’re in Puerto Vallarta; it’s a great way to see the villages along the coast.

Yelapa TourismBeauty tip: Don’t bother styling your hair while in Mexico in June, the humidity will destroy it. I am beating myself up for getting “all done up” everyday in Mexico. I’d just end up throwing my hair in a pony-tail midday anyways.

We arrive at Yelapa and it’s a quiet, unspoiled beach, contrary to what I had read about the village being very touristy. We start our trek towards the waterfall hike and we are interrupted by a local with an iguana.

“This is Pedro,” he says.

“Hola Pedro,” we reply.

“Do you want a picture with Pedro?” he asks.

“No, thank you.”

“Oh, you make Pedro sad. He is 12 anos. Very long life for an iguana.”

*awkward silence*

Turns out, Pedro is quite famous in Yelapa, and many travelers mention meeting him upon arrival. See a video of Pedro, the famous Yelapa iguana, taken by another Yelapa visitor here.

Yelapa Waterfall Hike

As we approach the archway (the only path to the long waterfall hike, as far as we know) we notice something odd about the arch…it’s moving. The entire thing is inhabited by crabs! Large, beady-eyed crabs running back and forth along the floor and across the sides of the archway. Some even had their little claws in the air as if to say, “Come at me, bro.”

I girly screamed, and did one of those little half jumps – as if that would protect me from the crustaceous Yelapa waterfall bouncers.

I backed away from the archway with my arms crossed. We had come all this way; 1.5 hours by bus, water taxi and foot. We couldn’t turn back now. My husband offered to pass through the archway to prove that the crabs were harmless, what a gentleman! 

Yelapa waterfall hike fisherman village

As he walked through, a crab released itself from the ceiling of the arch and brushed against my husbands back. He manly screamed and jumped back.

“Nope. We’re done. We’re going back. Goodbye Yelapa and goodbye Pedro,” he said while brushing the heebie-jeebies off his shirt.


About the Crabs

During the rainy season (June-October), thousands of purple-and-yellow and red land crabs can be found along the beach and in the jungle in Yelapa. Land crabs are unique in that they do not live in the ocean. In fact, they aren’t swimmers at all and can drown in the ocean. They only go to the sea when releasing larvae. Otherwise, they burrow in the sand and hide under leaves, and apparently have a side-gig as Yelapa waterfall security. 

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In Yelapa, it is not uncommon to see land crabs under docks, inside of buildings and along walls. Land crabs are basically harmless to humans (unless you pose a threat to them, in which case they may pinch you), but they can damage homes, clothing and gardens. 


I am embarrassed to say that this was the extent of our Yelapa adventure. We saw the beach, we greeted Pedro and we were bullied out of Yelapa by crabs. 

Hopefully your trip to Yelapa is far more successful than ours.

To see photos from someone who actually got to the Yelapa waterfalls, visit Vi Warkentin Photography.

Thanks for reading,


Our Yelapa misadventure

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