With a rich history and breathtaking natural landscapes Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit offer a refreshingly authentic side of Mexico. Discover 6 of the best, hidden gems that should be on your radar if you want an off-the-beaten-track adventure...
Take a Tour
What better way to escape the populated tourist areas and get to know the real Puerto Vallarta than by taking a tour crafted by local people?
Street Food Tours: Mexico is renowned for its signature gastronomy, which is loved all over the world. However, there is nothing like the authentic flavours which can be sampled on a street food tour. Vallarta Eats (http://www.vallartaeats.com/) offers reasonably priced tours in the Old Town, taking small groups away from tourist eateries to discover local foodie paradises. They are launching a new ‘Tasting Vallarta Tour’ on November 1st.
Walking Tours: There are also a number of walking tours in the region which take you to undiscovered places. Escape Route Vallarta (http://escaperoutevallarta.com/) offer unique, personalised tours, such as their Tropical Plant Walk, a delight for fans of botanic life.
Travelling just 12km south of Puerto Vallarta will bring you to this family-run property offering scenic horseback riding tours. As well as riding through the tropical jungle and round the rugged mountains, visitors are also treated to a trip to a hidden restaurant and secluded swimming hole, even passing a location featured in the movie Predator!
Terra Noble Spa
High up in the hills of Puerto Vallarta, Terra Noble Spa (http://www.terranoble.com/) is a hub of tranquillity, set against the awe-inspiring backdrop of the city and ocean. Primarily offering a range of invigorating spa treatments inspired by its jungle surroundings, the centre also runs artistic workshops and can host events and weddings.
Situated just off the coast are the Marietas islands, a goldmine for the adventurer. The uninhabited islands have an iconic form, a result of a combination of years of volcanic activity and military target practice by the Mexican government in the early 1900’s.
Spectacular rocky caves, quirky formations and exotic wildlife cover the islands, but they are most famed for the Hidden Beach, officially called Playa De Amor, or the 'Beach of Love’.
To reach this idyllic sun-trap you have to swim through a short tunnel, following a boat trip. Several tours now run to the islands, making this dream a reality (eg. Vallarta Adventures, http://www.vallarta-adventures.com/).
Tawexikta Lugar Del Sol (The Place of the Sun)
Four indigenous tribes still reside in Riviera Nayarit and surprisingly travellers to the regions have the opportunity to visit one such community.
The Huichol tribe welcomes visitors to share in their traditions and stay at a cabin in the village, which is located in Tawexikta and can only be reached by motorboat. While there visitors can take a glimpse into the traditional way of life, by sampling traditional meals, watching rituals first-hand and purchasing symbolic, colourful masks and necklaces from the Huichol women.
A magical place famed for its biodiversity, authentic gastronomy, culture and rich history, this peaceful colonial port is definitely worth a day trip. Spend a relaxing day in the sun at the pristine El Borrego Beach, or follow the cobblestone streets back in time at San Basilio fort.
Nature lovers are also perfectly placed in San Blas as it boasts the most diverse population of endemic and migratory birds found anywhere in Mexico, making it ideal for bird watching. As well as this the waters around the town are populated by Whale Sharks – don’t miss the rare opportunity to swim with these majestic creatures.