Wednesday, May 22, 2013

COAST THE COAST: ROAD TRIPPING THROUGH MEXICO'S RIVIERA NAYARIT



Be sure to share your Riviera Nayarit road trip experience on Instagram with #RivieraNayaritRoadTrip

The drive down the Pacific Motorway, Riviera Nayarit’s coastal route, is much like California’s Pacific Coast Highway – but, with exotic twists and turns that only a Mexican setting can provide. With nearly 200 miles of pristine and incredibly inviting beaches framed by the Sierra Madre Mountains, Riviera Nayarit offers the perfect combination of luxury and adventure which makes it ideal for a long weekend getaway or a leisurely extended stay.

Rent a car to drive along Riviera Nayarit’s main highway along the coast to explore seaside villages, pristine beaches, local restaurants and colonial history.  Following is a suggested route for a five day trip.

Day 1: Beautiful Beginnings

Less than fifteen minutes from the Puerto Vallarta Airport,Nuevo Vallarta - Flamingos is the gateway to Riviera Nayarit. World-class golf courses, a wide variety of all-inclusive and luxury resorts, state-of-the art spas and of course, beaches galore make Nuevo Vallarta an ideal place to spend a complete vacation or to kick off your exploration of Riviera Nayarit.

This modern corridor is located on the spectacular Banderas Bay, the largest natural bay in Mexico.  Each year this tranquil Pacific haven welcomes hundreds of humpback whales from November through April who come to mate and bear their babies. Enjoy a half day trip on Banderas Bay with Vallarta Adventures, whose guides are all marine biologists and oceanographers, to enjoy this incredible whale watching experience.  And as if that weren’t enough, true nature lovers will rejoice with the arrival year after year of hawksbill, Olive Ridley and leatherback turtles on the shores of Nuevo Vallarta - Flamingos between June and December.

Ten minutes north of Nayarit´s tourist development epicenter brings you to the truly Mexican town of Bucerias, with its traditional town square, brightly colored homes and artisan market that meanders through the narrow cobblestone streets. Enjoy a refreshing drink and lunch at one of the seaside restaurants where you can dine with your toes in the sand.  At night, the bars are lively and international.

After a cruise on Banderas Bay and an afternoon shopping in Bucerias, treat yourself to Mark´s Bar & Grill, a gourmet experience that offers savors with of intense tastes from Mexico, Asia and the Mediterranean blending in the restaurants harmonic fine decor for a perfect dining experience.

This mixture of luxury hotels, restaurants and activities makes Nuevo Vallarta - Flamingos and Bucerias a perfect combination gateway to Riviera Nayarit. For some, this is the main appeal of the region, but for the discerning traveler this is just one side of the spectrum that the state can offer.

Day 2: From Glitz, Glam, and Glorious Islands 


A fishing village for generations, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle has been modernized thanks to the construction of the Marina Riviera Nayarit, the largest and most modern of the Mexico Pacific with a capacity of 400 ships measuring between 30 and 400 feet. The Marina has created a destination that harmoniously combines the traditional life of a Mexican pueblo with the sophistication of this development. So, when visiting La Cruz - as the locals call it -  you will have the opportunity to witness picturesque scenes such as the arrival of fishermen on the pier in their boats loaded with a variety of fish while savoring a margarita in the Marina’s Sky Bar.
A quick 20 minute drive north from La Cruz will take you to the elite, low key and utterly luxurious Punta Mita. The exclusive gated resort and residential community including the Four Seasons and St. Regis, two 18-hole Jack Nicklaus championship golf courses and luxury residences, is no stranger to high-status celebrities. Its exquisite mansions, world-class spa and golf courses and beaches galore make this a prime example as to how Riviera Nayarit is becoming the A-Listers’ favorite home away from home.

Upon setting foot in Punta Mita, as you stand in the white sands of this peninsula and look out over the immense ocean, you will be immediately overcome with tranquility. Imagine taking in the open ocean as you read a satisfying book, walking through the resort grounds seemingly surrounded by Babylonian gardens, or pampering your palate as you are mesmerized by the sun’s descent below the horizon.

Only a short boat ride away are the Marietas Islands, a government and UNESCO natural protected natural reserve. This is one of the best places to watch marine birds in all of Mexico.

Formed by volcanic activity, visitors can swim under a cove to venture to the “hidden beach.” Here and around this area, marine life is flourishing and visitors must be accompanied by a certified tour provider, such asPunta Mita Expeditions. Come at the right time of the year and it wouldn’t be rare to run into a family of whales migrating for the season.

There is an incredible variety of lodging experience here from the opulent St. Regis and Four Seasons inside the gated Punta Mita to the charming boutique hotels located in the neighboring town of Punta de Mita.Historically significant as the site of the ancient Huichol Indians’ annual spring festival, Punta de Mita is situated at the north tip of Banderas Bay. It has several fine restaurants, luxury residences and two renowned boutique hotels.

Those seeking more intimate luxuries can stop by the trendy Hotel Cinco and grab a drink at the infinity rooftop pool (a definite must) or take advantage of as much yoga and stand-up paddle boarding that they can handle. Drive even further up north and stretch your legs at the breathtaking cliff side Imanta Resort while you open your mind, body and spirit to the life-enhancing benefits of the property’s pristine environment. 

Day 3: Hippie Chic Hot Spots

From Punta de Mita, it’s only a half hour drive to Sayulita, an eclectic bohemian town that has become an internationally recognized surfing destination. Surf on waves that are perfect for any level, particularly from December through March. There’s also snorkeling, fishing and irresistible beaches, casual beachfront restaurants and a collection of art galleries and boutiques to satisfy any vacation shopping urge.  Here you can also purchase indigenous Huichol art in the town plaza or at Galeria Tanana.

In the hills and jungles surrounding the village, active travelers take their pick of hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding. And, when the action slows, yoga, massage and other refreshing pursuits at local day spas and retreats provide the perfect relaxation. Opt to embody the laid-back healthy living of a Pacific getaway with a yoga retreat at the Haramara or in a jungle-beach hideaway at Playa Escondida.

The neighboring beach town of San Francisco is lovingly referred to asSan Pancho by the locals.  Rich with tradition passed down from the indigenous Tatuan de Nayares Tribes, the town carries a strong community oriented spirit that is just as welcoming as the long beaches and persistent waves and is an alternative to the more commercialized vacation typical of resort areas.

Home to cultural centers, galleries, cozy restaurants, traditional bakeries and stores selling colorful art. Many visitors are surprised to find that San Pancho is the home of the impressive La Patrona Polo Club with competitions weekly from November through May.

A happy combination of comfort and style, the centrally located Hotel Cielo Rojo sports a quirky collection of antique fixtures and artwork in an intimate nine-room setting.

Day 4: Calling all Nature Lovers

Enjoy the 90 minute drive along the coastal highway to San Blas, taking a left from time to time to explore a small village with a seaside restaurant on a deserted beach like Lo de Marcos or La Peñita de Jaltemba.  Have a sweet snack and take some pictures at the candy cooperative along the roadside which sells candies made in the region from local fruits such as tamarind, coconut, bananas and jackfruit.

Time your trip just right and you will catch the sunset illuminate the historic town with its ruins of a colonial cathedral and La Contaduria Fort, the departure point for Father Junipero Serra, who founded the California Missions. A hub from the early Spanish colonization days, San Blas has preserved much of its old-world charm and hospitality, making this a journey back in time.

Feel like a local and stroll through the main plaza and the stone streets of San Blas.  Palm trees, historic ruins, local architecture and a busy port bring San Blas to life.
One of the most enjoyable experiences is a boat journey through La Tovara National Park. Take a small motorboat with guide into the waterways of the park through the mangroves.

Then when fresh water from the mountains meets the salt water from the sea, tall swaying reeds line your route.  At any time of the year, be prepared to encounter the roseate spoonbill, the black-bellied tree duck and the bumblebee hummingbird among many other winged creatures. At the end of the journey, you can visit Crocodile Reserve to see hundreds of crocodiles from lively newborns to huge, sleepy older ones.  From January through March, this area welcomes 80% of North America’s migratory birds, and becomes a haven for birdwatchers.

Spend the night at Hotel Garza Canela and experience one of Riviera Nayarit’s most famous restaurants – El Delfin Restaurant, whose chef, Betty Vazquez, studied at The Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts in Paris and with Chef Arzak in Spain. Nayarit´s gastronomy ambassador blends fresh Mexican fish and vegetables with international recipes to create her own matchless culinary style.  She and her sisters who own the hotel provide a particularly warm welcome to visitors from around the world.

Day 5: A Trip Back in Time

Get an early start from San Blas and take a daytrip to Mexcaltitan, known as the birthplace of the Aztec civilization and the ‘Venice of Nayarit” for the many canals throughout the island.
Mexcaltitan may be reached from la Batanga pier north of the village of Santiago Ixcuintla. The visit begins with a refreshing boat ride through estuaries, islets, coves and mangroves from the mainland – either 25 minutes by open motorboat or longer by dugout canoes whose designs have been unchanged for centuries. Time is in no hurry here so put away your watches as there is no urgent schedule to follow. With no means of public or private transportation in Mexcaltitan, the only way to get around is by foot and this is where visitors have their first surprise because the sidewalks are reserved for drying shrimp!

Shrimping and harvesting other delicacies from the sea, is the primary occupation in Mexcaltitan, and dried shrimp is made into a zesty, mouthwatering variety of dishes, some dating back to pre-Hispanic times. Have lunch at La Alberca, the best restaurant on the island with a gorgeous lagoon view and a menu completely devoted to shrimp.

For more information about Riviera Nayarit and its towns, visit www.rivieranayarit.com.
 
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About Riviera Nayarit
Mexico’s newest destination, Riviera Nayarit, stretches along 192 miles of pristine Pacific coast framed by the majestic Sierra Madre Mountains just ten minutes north of accessible Puerto Vallarta International Airport.  The region extends along the entire coast of the Pacific state of Nayarit including the resorts of Nuevo Vallarta, the historic colonial town of San Blas, exclusive Punta Mita, picturesque fishing villages, miles of serene beaches and spectacular Banderas Bay.  Riviera Nayarit offers countless activities, such as: PGA golf courses, luxury spas, whale watching, turtle release, zip lining, surfing, bird watching, international cuisine, and the local artwork from the traditional Huichol tribe. Riviera Nayarit is recognized as a “Virtuoso Preferred Destination.” The region attracts and satisfies vacationers of all tastes and budgets with its wide range of accommodations including chic luxury resorts, eco-tourism boutique hotels and quaint B&B inns. For more information, visit www.RivieraNayarit.com or follow Riviera Nayarit's Fan Page on Facebook.
 

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Tel:  (212) 715-1600
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