The idyllic beach and drowsy country ambience of the little former mango-processing village of San Francisco (San Pancho as locals call it, pop. about 1,000) offers yet another bundle of pleasant surprises. Exit Highway 200 at the road sign 25 miles (40 km) north of the Puerto Vallarta  airport and continue straight through the town to the beach.
The broad golden-white expanse of sand enclosed by palm-tipped green headlands extends for a half mile on both sides of the town. Big, open ocean waves (take care—there’s often strong undertow) frequently pound the beach for nearly its entire length.
Offshore, flocks of pelicans dive for fish while frigate birds sail overhead. At night during the rainy months, sea turtles come ashore to lay their egg clutches, which a determined group of volunteers  tries to protect from poachers. Beach palapa restaurants provide food and drinks.
San Francisco has acquired a history museum that tells stories of the local past, from the days of the old haciendas to President Luis Echeverría, who came, fell in love with San Pancho, and gave the town its first big boost. Find the museum on Avenida Tercer Mundo, corner of Calle Latina America. Hours vary, depending upon the availability of volunteers.
If you’re enticed into staying, a sprinkling of good restaurants, hotels, and bed-and- breakfasts offer food and accommodations.