Bucerias now features sophisticated restaurants and boutiques. // © 2014 Mark’s Bar & Grill
Feature image (above): Outdoor dining at Marks Bar & Grill // © 2014 Mark’s Bar & Grill
Nayarit is one of the smallest of Mexico’s 31 states, but it offers an enormous variety of experiences, sights and culinary sensations. With 192 miles of Pacific coastline framed by lush green rainforest and the Sierra Madre Mountains looming in the distance, a beautiful palette of greens and blues is omnipresent. The delightful region is made up of distinct communities along the coast, each with its own personality and features.
Bucerias is one of the beach towns closest to Puerto Vallarta International Airport (about 10 miles or a 15-minute drive away), with many U.S. and Canadian ex-pats living there full- and part-time. Bucerias means “place of the divers,” for the divers who once harvested oysters here. It is the only community in Riviera Nayarit that has a traditional Mexican plaza facing the beach.
Bucerias is a typical tranquil Mexican town, with a church, plaza, cobblestone streets, multicolored homes (some with thatched roofs), traditional restaurants and shops. But today’s Bucerias is also home to many excellent, cosmopolitan restaurants, such as Mark’s Bar & Grill and Mezzogiorno Ristorante Italiano, along with sophisticated boutiques. A lovely spot is the celebrated “Alley of the Kiss” (Paseo del Beso), which is decorated with sculptural art and gives visitors a postcard-perfect place for photos.
For recreation, Bucerias features a golden five-mile beach that’s ideal for kite surfing, swimming, horse-back riding and more. From Monday to Saturday, Avenida del Pacifico offers a sprawling artisan market featuring authentically dressed Huichol Indians selling their wares. Visitors will find a wide array of seaside restaurants here as well (don’t miss the fresh oysters). At the end of day, people flock to the Malecon promenade to view the sunset and, after dark, Avenida Mexico is famous for its many bars and pubs. For jazz, visitors should try Encore on Wednesdays and Fridays, while Sandrina’s offers a Flamenco show on some Mondays each month.
For accommodations, there is everything from small bungalows and bed-and-breakfasts to enormous condo towers and hotels. One of my favorite is Los Arroyos Verdes, an eco-property designed and built five years ago by Mexican architect Guadalupe Dipp. It features a botanical garden built around 36 private casitas, as well as a restored Airstream trailer and a small RV. Twenty-six staffers attend to the garden, nursery and authentic temazcal sweat lodge, and lead daily activities, including yoga, tai chi, salsa dancing and more. Los Arroyos Verdes offers vintage bicycles for exploring the surrounding roads and the huge azure swimming pool is magnificent. The hotel’s restaurant is helmed by Maria Renee Del Moral, a top-notch Paris-trained chef whose chiles rellenos stuffed with buttery plantains and goat cheese, are sublime.
Arroyos Verdes offers three shuttles daily for the 15-minute drive to the beach and town of Bucerias, or guests can reach it by a pleasant 35-minute walk. The property also provides a shuttle to Puerto Vallarta International Airport.
Clients looking for a truly laid-back Mexican beach town should be sure to include a visit to Bucerias as part of any Puerto Vallarta/Riviera Nayarit vacation.