Playa de los Muertos or "Beach of the Dead" is the most popular beach in Puerto Vallarta, and just a few short blocks from Villa Cabana. Visitors are always curious about the name of the beach and how it came by such a sinister moniker. As it turns out, no one has been able to find any records that give us a definitive answer to this question, but there are a few legends about it. Two of the three stories I know of involve pirates, and the last one is a little less salacious. Let’s start with the pirates… Everybody loves pirates!
One legend describes a forgetful pirate captain who couldn’t remember where he buried his treasure. There was one thing he was sure of though: The treasure was buried somewhere on this beach. In a panic, he sent his entire crew out to search for it. After days of searching, one swabbie stumbled upon the booty and, thinking he would keep it all for himself, decided to stay mum about it. It turns out the swabbie with the secret wasn’t very good at keeping secrets. His loose lips didn’t technically sink the ship but, when the entire crew went out to recover the treasure and get a piece of the action (a piece of the pieces of eight?), a deadly fight broke out and when it was all over, only one member of the crew had survived. Seeing the carnage of all his slain crew mates strewn across the sand, the lone survivor dubbed this place the "Beach of the Dead" and quickly slipped away with the loot.
The second pirate-based legend is that the beach was a favorite waypoint for buccaneers seeking to wait out nasty storms, or just take on drinking water and provisions in between raiding and plundering hapless trading vessels. Now, as you probably know, pirates weren't known for being good-natured. They tended to simply take whatever they needed, whenever they needed it, rather than acquire their provisions through honest trading like everybody else. Needless to say, the Proto-Puerto Vallartians, after having their village ransacked on a regular basis, decided they had finally had enough. They hatched a plan and the next time pirates landed on their beach, the villagers ambushed them and the epic battle that ensued left the sand of the beach stained red and littered with the bodies of pirates and villagers alike. Word of the battle spread and the infamous pirate landing spot became known as The Beach of the Dead.
Last, but not least, the simplest and therefore most likely explanation for the name of the beach is that when the town was founded, the first cemetery was located very near this beach. Because the Mexican people have a long history of remembering and honoring their deceased loved ones through celebrations like Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead), the name of the beach becomes much more logical, and significantly less sinister.