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As The Riviera Nayarit continues to grow, attention has turned to the state’s many small towns. One of these is La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (pronounced wha-nah-CAX-slee), also known as La Cruz. The town is about a 20-minute drive north of Puerto Vallarta’s international airport, positioning it nicely for day-trips farther north into Riviera Nayarit or south to Puerto Vallarta’s cosmopolitan attractions.
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle’s main beach is three miles long and activities include snorkeling, scuba and surfing. Once a traditional Mexican fishing village, La Cruz now has a world-class marina attracting well-heeled yachting enthusiasts from around the world.
While the town has changed since the marina opened — especially in its range of restaurants — it still has a charm of its own, with cobblestone streets in some areas and rock walls draped with bougainvillea. The town’s informal social center is the town square, only a block away from the marina.
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle MarinaThe 340-slip La Cruz de Huanacaxtle Marina can accommodate boats between 30 and 400 feet. It is a well-maintained facility surrounded by landscaped grounds and an attractive boardwalk. The marina has many services and conveniences for boaters, including bathrooms, showers, laundry, security, electricity and fueling stations. The marina also claims to have the largest marine travel lift on Mexico’s west coast, capable of handling vessels weighing 150 tons.
Local fishermen were rewarded with the construction of a modern fish market adjacent to the marina where they can sell their daily catch. The market is a great resource for visitors doing their own cooking, either onboard their sailing vessel or in a local villa rental.
The marina also serves as a hub for excursions out onto the waters of Banderas Bay. These range from sport-fishing to sunset sailings.
With the opening of new restaurants and attractions, the marina has become an entertainment center of its own. The Ikuai Sailor Pub is a thatched palapa on the top floor of the yacht club offering sea views. The pub’s restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and serves regional dishes, as well as Asian and Italian specialties. The marina’s Taikai Sky Bar provides 360-degree views and features a DJ playing dance music. Taikai can also be booked for a private event for up to 100 people. The Xiriki Amphitheater is an open-air venue on the marina boardwalk, where performances, movies and culinary events are held. Xiriki has a seating capacity of 250 and can also be booked for private events. The yacht club’s Etupa VIP Lounge has a business center, Wi-Fi and flat-screen televisions, with the option to watch DVDs from Etupa’s library.
Future plans at the marina include enhanced commercial spaces within the marina, as well as condominiums and additional restaurants.
The international crowd attracted by the marina has led to the opening of a wide selection of restaurants in town. Some restaurants specialize in international cuisines, such as the Black Forest Restaurant, offering German cooking; Frascati Ristorante, specializing in Italian and Mediterranean dishes; and Aki Samurai House, serving Japanese cuisine. According to Guillermo Guerrero, public relations coordinator for the Riviera Nayarit Tourist Board, a favorite eatery among locals is Columbia.
“It’s been open for many years and a specialty of the house is its tostadas heaped with octopus, fish or shrimp,” he said.
At this time there are no boutique hotels directly associated with the marina. Visitors looking for lodging nearby have two choices.
The Villa Bella Bed and Breakfast Inn is comprised of two casitas. The property’s Main House has three suites and two adjoining rooms with private bathrooms. The Owners Apartment can accommodate two couples and can be booked separately utilizing independent entrances. Villa Bella has a pool and is also the site of the popular Frascati restaurant.
The beachfront Vallarta Gardens Resort and Spa is in nearby Bucerias. The property features sea-view villas with kitchens, complimentary Wi-Fi and private plunge pools. The property also has an on-site restaurant and spa. It’s possible to walk along the beach from Villa Bella to the marina in La Cruz.
If La Cruz de Huanacaxtle’s accommodations don’t appeal to your client, there are luxury choices in nearby Punta Mita and Litibu, as well as bohemian chic hotels close by in the surf town of Sayulita.
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle Marinawww.marinarivieranayarit.com
Riviera Nayarit Tourist Boardwww.rivieranayarit.com
Vallarta Gardens Resort and Spawww.vallartagardensresort.com
Villa Bella Bed and Breakfast Innwww.villabellalacruz.com