The Riviera Nayarit is located on the coast of the Mexican Pacific in the State of Nayarit within the municipality of the Banderas Bay. This tourism corridor is 307 km long and is only 10 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta’s International Airport. The Riviera encompasses various charming villages and abundant vegetation offering visitors an entire gamut of activities, incredible cuisine, a variety of traditions and customs as well as the wonderful warmth and hospitality of its people. The villages host several developments that rank among the best in the world, in great part due to their exceptional service. The destinations within the Riviera Nayarit include: Nuevo Vallarta, Flamingos, Bucerías, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Punta de Mita, Higuera Blanca and Litibú, Sayulita, San Francisco, Lo de Marcos, Los Ayala, Rincón de Guayabitos, La Peñita, Bahía de Matanchén, San Blas, Isla de Mexcaltitán and Playa Novillero.
Nuevo Vallarta is the gateway to the Riviera Nayarit and is the second destination with the largest hotel offer in the country. It has impeccable golf courses, condos, restaurants and marinas, as well as 5 kilometers of golden sand beaches with gentle waves. Flamigos is just a little further down, complementing Nuevo Vallarta with its hotels, cuisine and beaches that extend into the Riviera.
Flamingos is followed by Bucerías, where you will fall in love with the locals and its very traditional cobblestone streets and colorful façades. There are plenty of beach activities to keep you occupied, including jet skiing, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and more. Of course, the excellent cuisine is a plus. Bucerías is Mexico at its best!
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle has evolved from a quiet fishing village to one of the fastest growing destinations in the area thanks to its stylish marina, the largest and most modern in the entire tourism corridor. La Cruz is host to the International Sport Fishing Tournament and is famous for its Mercado del Mar, or Ocean Market, which receives the daily catch from the area’s fishermen. This town offers visitors a wonderful balance between the innate hospitality of its citizens and a more sophisticated ambiance.
The Punta de Mita resort area is all about exclusivity and luxury. Located on a peninsula that boasts nearly 10 kilometers of virgin beaches surrounded by green hills, it’s the destination of choice for celebrities and socialites. The resort is home to the famous Punta Mita Pacífico Golf course, a par 72 green with the legendary Hole 3B known as the “Tail of the Whale.” Unique in the world, the hole was placed on a natural island 199 yards from the first tee next to the beach. This signature course by Jack Nicklaus is his second; the other is Punta Mita Bahía. The resort also offers spas, boutiques and restaurants, as well as the Four Seasons Punta Mita Resort and the St Regis Punta Mita Resort.
Higuera Blanca has retained its identity as a small village dependent on fishing and agriculture, tucked away among mountains that are literally bursting with flora and fauna. The first resort developments have taken place in the surrounding area: just five kilometers away is Litibú, where two resorts, La Tranquila and Imanta offer services of the highest order. Here, visitors who enjoy a challenge can test themselves at the 18-hole Greg Norman golf course.
Sayulita is a small town that is a must if you visit the Riviera Nayarit. It’s famous for its surf and its boho-meets-cosmo atmosphere, all of which gives it a unique identity. Sayulita is top of the list for great R&R coupled with quite a bit of fun and all the authenticity you can ask for during a vacation. Its cuisine is as relaxed as its ambiance and just as delightful, tempting your palate with dishes that range from the simplest of recipes to elaborate haute cuisine. Here, the international set comes to visit and ends up staying, creating a fusion with Mexican culture that is unlike any other.
In San Francisco—best known as San Pancho—you’ll find culture distilled from the day-to-day happenings and tranquil stretches of beach perfect for taking it easy, though there are a few that are made for surfing. Its streets are lined with cultural centers, galleries, restaurants, artisanal bakeries and small restaurants. There are also soccer fields and golf courses, though the focus here would be on the La Patrona Polo Club, San Pancho’s signature sport. Your visit to the Riviera Nayarit wouldn’t be complete without a visit to San Pancho’s galleries for a look at the amazing art of the local Huichol tribe, an afternoon of high spirits and high society at the Polo Club or, why not, a morning observing the fishermen bringing in their catch as they have been doing for generations. Yes, San Pancho has certainly evolved, but it has never lost its soul.
Lo de Marcos and Los Ayala: Lo de Marcos is all about the beach: snorkeling, kayaking, surfing, boat tours and fishing are all part of the daily life in this coastal village. If you’re a golf lover, you’ll find what you’re looking for at the 9-hole Ensueño Course. Los Ayala is made for beachcombers and those looking to spend an afternoon lounging peacefully with a book, through beach sports are also available, including whale watching tours during the winter season.
San Blas, located on the Matanchén Bay, is full of history. The fort at San Blas is a proud symbol of its heritage, while the surrounding scenery is rich and vibrant. This is a perfect destination to enjoy with the family or a group of friends for a weekend. Its seven kilometers of fine sand beaches are great for long walks, surfing, snorkeling, kayaking and whale shark watching.
The Island of Mexcaltitán is considered by many to be the birthplace of Mexico, as it was once home to the Mexicas who set forth and founded Tenochtitlán. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986. Today it’s a picturesque town of tile-roofed homes lining narrow streets that tend to flood during the rainy season, forcing its inhabitants to navigate them by boat and giving rise to its nickname, the “Venice of Mexico.”
Rincón de Guayabitos has a bay famous for its resemblance to a giant swimming pool: its 30-meter wide beaches glisten with fine, pearly sand and extend for two kilometers, bathed by crystalline waters. Its tropical vegetation, mild temperatures and gentle waves make it ideal for water sports and a great choice for families.
As you can see, the Riviera Nayarit offers a wonderful variety of experiences—you’ll find yourself wishing you had more time to enjoy it all before you leave! The destination also plays host to several important international events, including the Mexico Cup Regatta, the Beach Polo World Cup, the International Gourmet Festival and the Punta Sayulita Classic, among many others. There’s always something to do in the beautiful Riviera Nayarit, come visit soon!