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Crocodile tours, pristine beaches, a surf community, boutique hotels, Aztec history … what doesn’t Riviera Nayarit offer? Thanks to its diverse range of attractions and activities, the 200-mile stretch of Pacific Coastline in Mexico attracts all types of travelers, from multigenerational families on vacation to hard-core surfers. Considering the number of offerings, guests will need to set aside a week or two to experience it all. Various towns and communities sprawl far, so those who are hard-pressed for time may want to immerse themselves in one town based on their specific interests. What follows are some of the top areas in Riviera Nayarit for a variety of clients.
For SurfersSayulita is the most popular beach town in Riviera Nayarit. It welcomes all walks of life thanks to its bohemian flair, family- and couple-friendly resorts and terrific beaches. Visitors are quick to adapt to the retro-Mexico pace in the tiny town chock-full of al fresco restaurants and shops selling local art and quirky souvenirs. Street vendors line the streets and beaches with tables of local handicrafts, knickknacks and fresh fruit. It’s so laid-back that local and visiting surfers alike dine barefoot and often bare-chested (the boys, at least), lending to its strong surf culture. Great waves call to beginners and advanced surfers alike, and stand-up paddleboarding is a burgeoning scene.
Just minutes outside of the main town, visitors will find Playa Escondida, a cliffside, eco-friendly boutique hotel. All 24 thatch-roof villas boast patios, many harboring commanding views of a secluded beach.
For Nature LoversSan Blas is a sleepy, quiet and friendly town that has retained almost all of its Old World charm from the early days of Spanish colonization. It offers ruins, palms and the Crocodile Reserve at La Tovara National Park, where visitors can come face to face with crocodiles from a motorboat. In addition, birders can find approximately 80 percent of North America’s migratory birds here. San Blas is also home to the secluded Borrego Beach at the Sea of Cortez, which at one point was in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the longest wave in the world.
When overnighting in San Blas, consider Hotel Garza Canela. The 42-room boutique hotel, owned by Betty Vasquez, is quiet and charming. A highlight is El Delfin restaurant, where Vasquez moonlights as chef. She worked under Juan Mari Arzak of Michelin-starred Arzak in Spain.
For FamiliesPerhaps the most well-known area of Riviera Nayarit is Punta Mita. Thanks to award-winning Jack Nicklaus golf courses, kids programs and breathtaking spas, Punta Mita is perfect for families because just about every member can find an activity to enjoy. The former fishing village is also the site of the ancient Huichol Indians’ annual spring festival, and it’s a quick boat ride to the family-friendly, UNESCO-protected Marietas Islands.
When it comes to accommodations, the whole clan can feel at home at the Four Seasons Punta Mita. The self-contained, 173-room resort offers several pools, including a lazy river pool for kids, and sprawling beaches with daily family programs.
For CouplesLocated on Banderas Bay, Nuevo Vallarta is a big draw for couples thanks to its large number of luxury, all-inclusive resorts, spas, fine restaurants and activities. One activity that is sure to please is a Rhythms of the Night cruise with Vallarta Adventures. Couples will cruise along the bay with a romantic seaside dinner and a dance performance in the isolated cove of Las Caletas.
Consider booking Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit for those looking for a romantic retreat. It’s the only all-inclusive resort in the Pacific Coast to be award Five Diamonds by AAA. The 267-suite property features a spa with two Imperial Spa Suites for couples. There are also five gourmet restaurants on property, including Frida, which offers a menu inspired by the dishes that artist Frida Kahlo made for her lover Diego Rivera.
Four Seasons Punta Mitawww.fourseasons.com/puntamita
Grand Velas Riviera Nayaritwww.vallarta.grandvelas.com
Hotel Garza Canelawww.garzacanela.com