The Riviera Nayarit’s abundant nature makes it a destination like few others for visitors to appreciate the local wildlife in its natural habitat. In this Top Ten for Wildlife in the Riviera Nayarit we’ll take a quick peek at everything from tiny birds to giant sea mammals.
10 – San Blas Jays
This bird is endemic to Mexico and is named after the Historic Port of San Blas. It’s one of the “most wanted” birds on every birdwatcher’s list. Curiously enough, the largest population of this winged creature is not in San Blas, but farther south in Bahia de Banderas.
9 – Crocodiles
Whether in captivity or in its natural habitat in the rivers, estuaries, lagoons or river mouths, this prehistoric reptile can be seen just about everywhere in the Riviera Nayarit. A great place to safely see them in their natural habitat is at the crocodile overlook at San Blas.
8 – White Tailed Deer
This beautiful animal makes the Top Ten for the sacred meaning it holds for the Wixarika, or Huichol, people thanks to their legend of the Blue Deer. There’s a very large population of them in Nayarit; they’re also a food source for the local natural predators, helping to keep the ecosystem in balance.
7 – Dolphins
Known for their keen intelligence, these aquatic creatures entertain visitors to the waters of the Mexican Pacific with their leaps and pirouettes, mainly during the winter. They’re very friendly and encountering them during a boat tour in the Riviera Nayarit earns you bragging rights.
6 – Jaguars
From the Sierra de Vallejo in southern Nayarit to the National Marshes Biosphere Reserve in the north, the magnificent jaguar sits at the top of the food chain. It’s practically impossible to see it live because it’s naturally shy of humans, but there is a large population on register in Nayarit, which also confirms the presence of ocelots and pumas in the region.
5 – Boobies
The Islas Marietas National Park is home to the Blue-Footed Booby, which can also be found in the Isla Isabel National Park, along with the Brown Yellow-Footed Booby and, occasionally, even the Red-Footed Booby. These species are semi-endemic to the region.
4 – Giant Manta Rays
This species in particular is being studied in Banderas Bay where they can be seen more often. They’re a great attraction for the scuba divers who venture beneath the waves.
3 – Whale Sharks
The simple mention of the word “shark” tends to frighten most people, but the whale shark is not only huge and friendly, but it’s also harmless to humans. It can be found during certain seasons in the Sea of Cortez in San Blas, and there are even tours set up for swimming alongside them.
2 – Humpback Whales
Humpback whale watching is one of the main attractions in the Riviera Nayarit during the winter season (from November through March). Though their migration route takes them from north to south along the coast of Nayarit, the best place to see them is in Banderas Bay.
1 – Sea Turtles
Over a million sea turtles are registered and liberated in the Riviera Nayarit every nesting season (from June to February), which is why this species is a symbol of the destination and its conservation has become a priority. There are over a dozen turtle camps all along the coast of Nayarit working to protect them. The dominant species is the olive ridley turtle, and there are a good number of hawksbill sea turtles as well.