A winter sun holiday is all the more enjoyable when you escape the cold, damp grey of the UK. And if you’re lucky enough make it out of hibernation, you’ll find a real treat in Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit, two neighbouring destinations along Mexico’s Pacific Coast. From natural beauty and wildlife wonders to cultural treasures and moreish coastal cuisine, read on to discover why you should visit the region this season.
With over 300 sunny days a year and average annual temperatures of 28ºC, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit are tropical havens no matter the month.
Soak up the sun along Puerto Vallarta's 40-mile coastline. For a sure bet, you can’t go wrong with Playa Los Muertos in the Zona Romantica, the most visited beach around.
Or claim your favourite piece of paradise in Riviera Nayarit, spanning 192 miles of pristine Pacific coastline, framed by the Sierra Madre Mountains. Two of the destination’s beaches – Playa Nuevo Vallarta Norte and the Marina Riviera Nayarit La Cruz de Huanacaxtle – have been awarded Blue Fag distinctions. For those who prefer privacy, the uninhabited Marietas Islands have the famous Hidden Beach.
Beyond the ocean, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit present opportunities for myriad adventures thanks to their diverse topography: tropical jungles, fertile valleys, steep mountainsides and arid flatlands.
Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit may be well-known for their natural beauty, but that’s just the start of their appeal.
Rife with life, Puerto Vallarta is one of the most exotic places in Latin America due to its biodiversity. Thick jungle shelters hundreds of species of wildlife, including tropical birds, ocelots, jaguars and iguanas, while whales, dolphins and sea turtles call the warm waters of Banderas Bay their home.
Wildlife wonders are just as abundant in Riviera Nayarit. More than 500 humpback whales migrate to Banderas Bay to mate and raise their calves every year. 80% of North American migratory birds also visit the destination annually. Marietas Islands and the historic village of San Blas are especially popular for birdwatching. Here, you’ll have the chance to spot species like the Blue-footed booby, a marine bird native to subtropical and tropical regions of the Pacific Ocean.
Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit invite culture lovers to experience the spirit of Mexico first-hand.
Splurge at the Mercado Municipal in Puerto Vallarta’s historic centre for local goods, artisan crafts and genuine souvenirs at bargain prices. Or take a walk on the Malecón for beachfront views, local restaurants and boutique shops all in one place.
In Riviera Nayarit, history buffs can unearth the time-honoured secrets of Mexcaltitán, believed to be the birthplace of the Aztec civilisation, or live like a local in the ‘boho-chic’ surfing haven of Sayulita.
Foodies, take notice! If there is one word to describe the coastal cuisine of Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit, it’s moriesh!
Kick off the good eating in Puerto Vallarta at La Cerveceria Union, a Mexican restaurant with a wide variety of national and international beers.
Get your fill of tequila, tacos and cocktails with Vallarta Food Tours’ MEX-OLOGY, a 3-hour walking tour exploring Mexico’s native spirits and their deep-rooted cultural ties. During the tour, you’ll visit five tasting locations highlighting mezcal, tequila, raicilla and Mexico´s signature beer cocktail: the michelada.
Nearby in Riviera Nayarit, the Spice Market Restaurant at W Punta de Mita provides Southeast Asian sensuality with street food inspired by Chef Jean-Georges Vongeritchen.
Over in San Pancho, the cultural heart of Riviera Nayarit, Bistro Organico serves healthy and delicious food that pays tribute to the area's abundance of fresh seafood and indigenous produce.
A playground for the rich and famous, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit are primed for celebrity spotting. The Kardashian-Jenner family has visited the twin destinations numerous times. Hollywood’s young stars such as Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Lea Michele, Zendaya, Anna Kendrick, Demi Lovato, Jennifer Lawrence and Joe Jonas have repeatedly chosen the region for their holidays. Musicians Quincy Jones, Sheryl Crow, Lady Gaga, John Mayer and countless more have also come to enjoy this beautiful area.
Punta de Mita in Riviera Nayarit is the retreat of choice for the world’s biggest names. Hotels offering ultimate luxury include the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, St. Regis Punta Mita Resort and W de Hotel. Luxury hotels in Puerto Vallarta include Casa Velas, Garza Blanca and Mousai.
Direct flights to Puerto Vallarta International Airport are available via Thomson Airlines from London Gatwick and Manchester or AeroMexico via Mexico City from London Heathrow. British Airways runs direct flights to Dallas/Fort Worth, offering code share on its One World partner, American Airlines.