- The northern stretches of the state of Nayarit were once called the “Gold Coast,” thanks to the riches generated by vast tobacco plantations; today, the region’s beaches offer visitors the chance to immerse themselves in nearly virgin natural landscapes.
The Riviera Nayarit is known for an extensive coastline that stretches over 307 km, dotted with luxurious developments like Nuevo Vallarta and Punta de Mita, or the emerging Compostela Coast, where tradition shares space with glamorous hotels. However, there is another coast just farther north that is also part of this tourist destination, encompassing the municipalities of San Blas, Santiago Ixcuintla, and Tecuala.
During the 70s this area was known as the “Gold Coast” and developed thanks to extensive tobacco plantations that generated great wealth and defined an era, although it has steadily declined over the years.
Historical relics coexist in this area with the pristine nature and authentic cuisine; it is ideal for those seeking a peaceful getaway, without the crowds typical of the most popular tourist destinations.
Here’s a look at the towns located on the North Coast of the Riviera Nayarit:
BOCA DE CHILA
This micro-destination since is a mangrove area that’s home to a variety of aquatic and subaquatic birds, offering adventurers the chance to immerse themselves in exciting experiences and enjoy the local flora and fauna up close and personal. Its beach, solitary most of the year, extends over 8 km and is a favorite of surfers chasing good waves. It’s also liked by history buffs, as just 8 km from in the town of Zacualpan they can view a permanent exhibit of rock engravings located very close to the beach.
What to do | This beach offers totally virgin marine landscapes and, if you’re lucky, you’ll witness the arrival of the Olive Ridley turtles that choose this coast to lay their eggs or better yet, have a chance to release of some turtle hatchlings.
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San Blas is known for its idyllic beaches and its great diversity of migratory and endemic birds but, above all, for its historic past. Visitors will find themselves transported to the 1700s when it was the most important port on Mexico’s Pacific coast, back when the country still belonged to the Spanish crown.
To this day, San Blas still maintains the essence of a traditional Mexican town and is the perfect destination for a stroll with the family. It is also one of the most important bird watching destinations in Mexico, attracting thousands of bird watchers from North America and the United Kingdom each year.
What to do |
Swim at Las Islitas, El Borrego, Los Cocos and Aticama beaches. Join a mangrove tour to spot rare bird species and visit the 16th century ruins of La Contaduría on San Basilio hill. You can also visit La Tovara National Park, an incredible network of estuaries and canals surrounded by lush vegetation.
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Santiago Ixcuintla and its coast mirror the colors and essence of Mexico, characterized by the friendliness of its people and the cultural and historical heritage found in throughout the area. To the southeast of the municipal capital there are virgin beaches such as Los Corchos, with its gentle waves; El Sesteo, home to an Olive Ridley turtle camp, and Boca de Camichín, which has been more developed as a tourist destination. It is located where the San Pedro River merges and forms one of the largest areas of estuaries and marshes in Nayarit, very rich in marine species such as shrimp, snapper, snook, and oysters.
What to do | Watch the fishermen as they master the artisanal process of oyster farming. Travel through the estuaries by boat to admire the great diversity of birds, all the way to Jaguar Island (where the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas, CONANP, has installed cameras to study the felines in the area), or sail to Isabel Island or Mexcaltitán Island.
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Tecuala is the last municipality north of Nayarit; this is where the Riviera Nayarit extends along the beautiful El Novillero beach, which holds the Guinness Record as the longest beach in Mexico, reaching 85 km in length and almost half a kilometer in width. Tecuala is considered the “capital of the botaneros,” which are rustic restaurants on the seashore where you can enjoy the most extensive variety of seafood and fish-based snacks; these are offered free of charge as an accompaniment to drinks. You can also visit the marshlands to enjoy the freshest oysters.
What to do | In addition to walking along the beach, tour the mangroves, observe the abundant fauna, and visit the Agua Brava Lagoon.
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The Riviera Nayarit is a safe destination. Hotels, restaurants, and tourist establishments are following all the health protocols established by the Federal Government’s Ministry of Health and operating at the allowed capacities. Access to the beaches is limited. Be a responsible tourist: wear your mask and keep your distance.
The Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the Bahía de Banderas Hotel and Motel Association (AHMBB) are hard at work to jointly promote the region with the support of the Government of the State of Nayarit through its Tourism Promotion Trust (Fiprotur).