Beyond the beach in the Riviera Nayarit: 5 mountain villages to explore

  • If you want to breathe in clean air
    and immerse yourself in nature while enjoying gorgeous country landscapes, then
    you’re going to love these towns in Bahía de Banderas and Compostela!

The Riviera
Nayarit is a multifaceted destination: not only does it have 23 coastal
locations, but there are charming villages dotting the tourist corridor right “across
the beach” that are well worth a visit. Most of them are in the municipalities
of Bahía de Banderas and Compostela in the Sierra de Vallejo mountains.

Below we’ll
introduce you to five mountain villages to explore—perfect destinations for a
daytrip where you can breathe in the clean air and immerse yourself in nature
while enjoying the gorgeous country landscapes. Not to mention you’ll
appreciate their historical heritage, including old churches, stone buildings,
and even archaeological remains.
See what’s waiting for you in the Riviera Nayarit!

little town built into the side of one of the Sierra de Vallejo’s mountains is
in the Municipality of Compostela just seven kilometers from Federal Highway
200 and only 20 minutes from Rincón de Guayabitos. Thanks to its altitude—300 meters above sea level—the town lives up to its name with spectacular vistas of
the ocean and the soursop, mango, and pineapple fields. Most of the homes have
clay-tiled roofs and line narrow streets made of flattened earth and river
stones; these are ancient buildings that defy time.

if this weren’t enough, Altavista is home to the ceremonial archaeological site
of La Pila del Rey, also known as “The Petroglyphs” or the “The
Sanctuary,” where experts have identified over 60 petroglyphs that date back
to 2,000 A.C.

town in Bahía de Banderas has an important historical past: it was once of the
municipality’s most important resource distribution centers in the latter part
of the 19th century—just after Valle de Banderas. El Colomo was part
of the huge Hacienda Maisterrena, owned by the Spanish cacique (chief)
Martin Maisterrena. The property started in La Peñita de Jaltemba (Compostela)
and extended all the way to the town of San José del Valle (Bahía de Banderas).
The village is located approximately 20 kilometers from Nuevo Vallarta—the
grandeur of its past can still be seen in some the homes that date back to the
1900s, including the hacienda near the church.

history, El Colomo offers adventure activities for the more daring visitors. El
Chorrillo, located three kilometers from town, is a natural spa that’s a
favorite with locals and visitors. It’s ideal for a daytrip out to the
countryside with the family for a dip in the cold water, especially during the
rainy season when the stream runs high and creates the small waterfalls that
give the place its name.

de Vallejo is one of the oldest villages in Bahía de Banderas and originated in
the late 19th-century Hacienda Maisterrena. Here, time seems to
stand still, thanks to the rustic infrastructure, cobblestone streets, adobe
houses, the town square with its stone benches, and the parish dedicated to the
Virgin of Guadalupe. Visitors standing in the square can enjoy a beautiful view
of the Sierra de Vallejo and its intense shades of green. Near the town,
explorers can still discover crystal-clear streams tumbling down the

village is on the “border” between Bahía de Banderas and Compostela, even
though it belongs to the former municipality. To get there you have to travel
about 30 kilometers from Bucerías along Estaciones avenue, head through the
Valle de Banderas and continue to San Juan de Abajo. There you have to take the
detour to El Colomo and continue on to El Coatante until you reach the detour
that will take you to Fortuna de Vallejo.

village of Mazatán is tucked away in the mountains just 15 kilometers southeast
of Compostela, the capital of the municipality of the same name. Its name means
“Land of the Deer” or “Place where deer abound,” and it has a rich history
that’s reflected in its architecture, traditions, and inhabitants, hard-working
people dedicated to farming and livestock. Of note is that it was an important
producer of coffee, coconut oil, and soap during the 1940s and 1950s.

village is small and rustic, with narrow cobbled streets lined with proud old
homes with high ceilings and wooden gates dating back to the era of the
viceroyalty; most of them have fallen into disrepair. The plaza is small with a
simple kiosk that reflects the passage of time. This place is the meeting point
for the villagers to get together to catch up and pass the time, especially
during the patron saint festivities held in honor of the Virgin of the
Nativity. That celebration is held in early September in the 17th-century

you want to visit Mazatán you have to take Federal Highway 200 and follow the
Compostela-Guadalajara junction. After approximately 1 kilometer you’ll reach a
fork: to the left is Compostela, to the right is the road to Mazatán.

Ixtlán (Las Cañadas) is a small rural village located in the municipality of
Compostela, located at an altitude of 148 meters. It’s part of the villages of
the Sierra de Vallejo, so it’s surrounded by dense vegetation that turns a
brilliant green during the rainy season. The village isn’t much more than a
collection of houses, however, it’s quite charming. It’s greatest attraction,
though, is that it’s only 2 kilometers from the spa waters of Nuevo Ixtlán, a
thermal spring with 31 pools shaded by leafy capomo trees. The place is managed
by a group of co-op members that belong to Las Cañadas Co-op and engage in
ecotourism activities to help their families.

get to Nuevo Ixtlán you have to take Federal Highway 200 to the crossroads at
Altavista, just 15 minutes past Rincón de Guayabitos (if you’re coming in from
the south), then turn right. If you’re coming from the north on the same
highway, you’ll arrive at the junction just a few kilometers from the Chacala
crossing, then make a left. The road is long and twisty, but don’t despair
because it’s very much worth the drive.

Pacific Treasure will be here when the COVID-19 health crisis is over. 
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our webpage:
The Riviera Nayarit Convention and
Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the Bahía de Banderas Hotel and Motel Association
(AHMBB) work tirelessly to promote the destination with the support of the
Government of the State of Nayarit via its Tourism Promotional Trust

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