The Battle of Playa Los Muertos: A Crucial Episode in the History of Puerto Vallarta 


Bahía de Banderas was separated for years from the rest of the nation thanks to its deep ravines, high mountains, thick jungle and rivers that, in addition to being a beautiful tourist attraction, at that time represented a challenge for those who wanted to travel to this port or leave it, because in gaps the passage was almost impossible. 

Despite decades having passed since 1821 and the Independence of Mexico, the area was in an autochthonous state, and there were still battles between locals and unwanted visitors, who disembarked in the port to take advantage of the natural wealth of the bay and surrounding areas. 

One of these relatively neighboring areas was “El Real del Cuale”, a mining town that is located next to the Cuale river, in colonial times the mining settlement received the name “El Real” to distinguish it from other non-mining towns or with the same name. 

Being the Real del Cuale a mining area, it had nearby mines that had not been discovered by the ambitious explorers and, therefore, had not yet been exploited. However, the more visitors the mines received, the faster the word spread, arousing curiosity in looters who gradually visited the settlement to steal the gold, a treasure that rightfully belonged to the locals. 

The looters transported their mutiny following the Cuale River, following the division in the Caloso to reach Bahía de Banderas, where they docked.  

The locals couldn’t take it anymore, and, becoming fed up with the constant looting of their resources and natural wealth, they decided to take matters into their own hands once and for all, even if they had to pay with their own lives. 

According to the texts by Ventura García Castillo, and according to the legends, on a fateful Saturday, May 3, 1862, a group of locals were watching the port, when they noticed how a ship anchored at the dock, near the mouth of the river. Cuale, which is where the bridge that joins the Malecón with Olas Altas is now located. For the locals, this act could only mean one thing: exploitation. 

While the ship loaded with stolen gold was watched, the guards and porters continued with their tasks, unaware of what fate would have prepared for them, as a group of locals would have agreed to dedicate themselves to stealing the riot, while another would take care of the looters. 

Between arrows and bullets, Playa Los Muertos is born 

The encounter began between arrows and bullets that flew through the air, crossing from one side to the other, causing several to fall, however, the locals were determined to knock down their opponents, to the point of fighting until exhausting resources, because they not only flew arrows and bullets, but stones, sticks and knives were added to it, even without resources, they came to strangle themselves. 

Thus, locked in a battle to the death, the fight was bloody, letting a river of blood run between the lying bodies, it drenched and stained the golden sand of the beach with blood red. 

When the fight ended, the survivors took over the riot and left the place, without taking into account how they would have marked the history of Puerto Vallarta forever. 

Los Muertos beach is known worldwide, although many are unaware of the origin of the name, providing a perfect environment for urban legends. It is true that savage brutality was experienced on these beaches, however, today it is far from this reality, since the location of this beach is in the Emiliano Zapata neighborhood, which is one of the quietest and safest areas, It has also been adored by the LGBTQ+ community for decades now, as it has been named the best “gayfriendly” beach community in Mexico, opening with open arms to all tourists. 

  Source: Tribuna de la Bahia