town square, where you can nosh on everything
from tacos and
(spicy goat stew) to fruits
sprinkled with tangy Tajín powder. Plant your toes
in the sand for a seafood meal and a sunset to
remember at Adauto’s on the Beach, or indulge
at Mark’s Bar & Grill, where chef Jan Benton melds
intense Mexican, Asian, and Mediterranean flavors.
Touting its Marina Riviera Nayarit as the largest along Mexico’s Pacific
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle
— less than 4miles west of Bucerias,
along the Banderas Bay coastline — maintains a delicate balance
between traditional pueblo life and the perks of modernization. The
enhancedmarina allows La Cruz to remain authentic to its fishing roots
while elevating its posture. Oglers line the pier and perusemarket stands
as fishermen return in boats filled to the gill with red snapper, tuna, and
mahimahi. In town, you’ll find live music almost nightly, and a host of
various ceviches from one eatery to another.
Yet another maritime marvel is its 3-mile stretch of golden
beach divided by rock jetties into five sections — El Tizate, Cruz de
Huanacaxtle, La Manzanilla, Piedra Blanca, and Arena Blanca.
A quick 20-minute drive north to the tip of Banderas Bay brings
you to the swanky gated resort community of
Punta Mita
, an A-lister
magnet for leisure pursuits. Tee off at a pair of Jack Nicklaus champi-
onship golf courses, indulge in soothing spa treatments, and dive into a
treasure trove of ocean excursions that include tours to Islas Marietas.
Those seekingmore intimate luxuries
can take a stand-up paddleboarding les-
son at Punta Mita’s trendy Hotel Cinco,
then dine at Tuna Blanca, opened by gastro
guru chef Thierry Blouet. The owner of Puerto
Vallarta’s renowned Café de Artistes, Blouet is
also acclaimed as a co-founder of the International
Gourmet Festival, which showcases the culinary
scenes of Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta, and Tepic
each November.
An eclectic bohemian hamlet, appealing with its easy-going vendors
and lack of mega resorts,
popped up on the international
radar in the 1960s as globetrotting surfers searched for the perfect
wave. Today, you can learn the basics from seasoned board riders
at a crop of surf schools on Sayulita Beach, which is reliable year-
round for longboard and shortboard rides. “Surf’s up” shouts intensify
December through April.
Sayulita draws shoppers with its farmers market, surf shops,
and clothing boutiques and stores, which sell everything from Day of
the Dead skeletons to woven tablecloths. Among the most chic is
Revolución del Sueño, where Nico and Lea del Sueño sell limited-edition
silk-screen throw pillows, hipster beach bags, and quirky pieces such
as prints of Pancho Villa on a motor scooter wearing a tutu. If you’re
looking for a spirited souvenir, head to Sayulita Wine Shop. Choose
from a finely curated selection of artisanal tequilas and mezcals, plus
Mexican wines from Baja’s Guadalupe Valley.
Paying homage to the region’s spiritual natives, The Huichol
Center for Cultural Survival is Riviera Nayarit’s most accessible place to
experience the creations of these indigenous people dwelling high in the
SierraMadreMountains. Art and culture aficionados can visually feast on
intricate designs fashioned with vibrant
colors and sacred symbols, including
yarn paintings and beaded crafts.
Once rustic, legendary Don Pedro’s
Restaurant & Bar has taken on a more
sophisticated tone at its coveted setting,
opening to Sayulita’s ocean and forest
views. After ordering Mediterranean-
style cuisine with Mexican influences,
stroll out to the beach to spot surfers
riding the swell.
Lovingly referred to as San Pancho by
its residents, the beach town of
oozes a tenacious spirit that
is just as welcoming as its sprawling
sands and consistent waves. Typically
Issue 1, 2017
otoring along Riviera Nayarit’s Highway 200
is akin to driving the Pacific Coast Highway in
California. Each twist and turn reveals an unex-
pected delight that’s typically trumped by the
next. Just think of roadside fruit shacks, pop-up-
style taco stands, and gravel byways meandering
into sleepy fishing villages, where time creeps at a
snail’s pace. Of Mexico’s prime coastlines, few captivate quite like
this 200-mile stretch, with its dazzling beauty, charming pueblos,
and abundance of wildlife punctuating both sky and sea.
A merging of boundless beaches with lush emerald rain forests
and the majestic Sierra Madre Mountains, Riviera Nayarit rolls out in
microdestinations, from the brilliantly hued beach resorts of Nuevo
Vallarta and Punta Mita to colonial San Blas, which springboards
to bird-centric La Tovara National Park.
While development often grabs the spotlight, the region’s preservation
and wildlife-protection efforts deliver a bevy of ecotourism endeav-
ors. Nodding to the area’s nature-friendliness, the Mexican Institute
of Standardization and Certification awarded Riviera Nayarit two new
clean-beach certifications in 2016. Its tally of 12 certified strands chalks
up to roughly one-third of the country’s total count, a ringing endorse-
ment for sun-and-surf enthusiasts to carve out plenty of beach time.
To put its affluence of fauna in perspective, the locale is home
to 500 species of birds, hundreds of humpback whales migrating
from Arctic waters to mate and give birth between November and
April, and four protected species of sea turtles nesting to lay eggs
between June and December.
(turtle) camps are scattered along the sands
of Banderas Bay, most hatchlings are liberated at Nuevo Vallarta
Turtle Camp, which reports an average of 5,500 registered nests
annually. For a heartwarming experience, book an evening tour via
eco-operator Wildlife Connection, and watch as these adorable
newbies — resembling Oreo cookies — are released with their
quartets of flailing limbs.
If you want to enjoy more wildlife encounters, tour El Quelele,
a marshy lagoon and domain of American crocodiles, and take a
jungle boat ride through the bird-watching utopia of La Tovara. The
park boasts 80 percent of the Pacific’s migratory bird population
from January through March, when you may spot arresting species
such as boat-billed herons, black-bellied tree ducks, and the bumblebee
hummingbird. Wildlife also abounds at the UNESCObiosphere reserves
of Islas Marias and Islas Marietas. Accessible by swimming beneath a
cove, the latter’s underground Hidden Beach opens to the sky.
Just 13 miles separate
Nuevo Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta
, but the
two have distinct vibes. With a mix of clubs and bars lining its iconic
Malecón, Puerto Vallarta is indisputably the place to party. And while
Nuevo Vallarta isn’t exactly a wallflower, it is the chiller of the two, known
for more sophisticated pursuits.
Start with the dining scene. Here, you’ll find outstanding fare at
popular establishments such as La Casona steakhouse at Villa La
Estancia; El Barracuda, a renowned Mexican spot adjacent to the old
marina; and Nick-San, where authentic Japanese specialties are fused
with local ingredients.
And the golf courses — equal parts visually stunning and chal-
lenging — are amazing, too. Built in 1970, the 18-hole Flamingos Golf
Course appeases eco-focused players with a layout of rolling hills and
mangroves, natural lagoons, and abundant tropical rain forests. El Tigre,
Nayar, and the Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman courses at Vidanta
Nuevo Vallarta add 54 world-class holes to the mix.
You could easily spend an entire weeklong exchange or Getaway enjoy-
ing activities around Nuevo Vallarta, with the occasional southward
excursion to indulge in Puerto Vallarta’s nightlife. And yet, the possibilities
not far beyond call for at least one road trip to connect the coastal dots.
Twenty minutes north of Nuevo Vallarta,
charms with
mellow surf, brightly colored homes, and an open-air market with stalls
lining narrow cobblestone paths. Vendors peddle street food in the
Issue 1, 2017
Riviera Nayarit Convention & Visitors Bureau
Pacific Mexico
Make an exchange or buy a
Getaway at
The Getaway price is valid
July 1 through September 30, 2017.
Eight waterfront holes
showcase the enviable
location of Punta Mita
Pacifico Golf Course.
BELOW: Sayulita’s quirky
shops, galleries, and
restaurants sit just steps
away from the cerulean sea.
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