Most people have dreamed of visiting Mexico’s Caribbean shores. The white sand beaches and turquoise waters are the object of screensavers, picture-perfect yet choc-a-bloc full of things to see and do. But what about Mexico’s lesser known Pacific side?
In my opinion, Mexico’s Pacific is where the real magic happens, specifically the 200-mile stretch of scenic coastline comprising the Riviera Nayarit. A backdrop of mountainous jungle that meets a lively beach scene full of culture, food and nature, it’s a wonder the Riviera Nayarit isn’t already number one on every travel bucket list.
Want to learn more? These five epic reasons to visit the Riviera Nayarit will have you clambering for the next plane to Mexico:
1. San Pancho
I’ve already admitted my love for San Pancho on Go! Girl Guides, so it’s only appropriate to start the list off with this prize destination. In between the fresh local cuisine, the creative and talented community, the stunning sunsets and the adorable dogs, it’s a wonder I was ever able to leave San Pancho at all. This small town is starting to attract more expats and travelers, but so far it has managed to keep a distinctly authentic and local flare. It’s the perfect place to wind-down and listen to live music at any of the open-air restaurants.
Sayulita has blossomed in recent years, and it’s no longer the sleepy surf town that it used to be. But it’s still a fun loving if crowded beach with great waves for both paddle boarding and surfing. Just a few miles up the road from San Pancho, Sayulita has a bit of a hippy vibe to it, with plenty of bar specials, shopping and organic restaurants. If you can, time your visit to Sayulita during the Friday farmers’ market, when local vendors sell fresh produce, homemade goodies, and mouth-watering cuisine. Sayulita is also home to numerous music, surf and film festivals.
3. Punta de Mita
Celebrities like Orlando Bloom and Demi Moore have vacationed here, and a handful of chain luxury resorts have set up accommodation nearby. But despite this brush with fame, Punta de Mita still feels like a small, authentic fishing village. If you’re budget allows it, don’t miss a stay at Casa de Mita, an all-inclusive luxury boutique hotel with unparalleled views, to-die-for cuisine, and an unpretentious air. Punta de Mita also makes a great place to base your explorations of the surrounding Riviera Nayarit.
4. Puerto Vallarta
It’s technically not inside the Riviera Nayarit, but it’s pretty darn close—and remains the largest city nearby with an international airport. If you’re flying in or out of Puerto Vallarta, it’s worth a bit of time on your itinerary; with a cosmopolitan night scene, beautiful nearby beaches and islands and heaps of colonial charm, it won’t be hard to do. Don’t miss the street tacos and a performance of Rhythms of the Night, my two most memorable experiences in the city.
5. Animals Encounters
It’s not just quaint towns, vibrant cities and beautiful beaches on the Riviera Nayarit; there are also numerous animal encounters to be had throughout the region. Try a close-up encounter with a family of humpback whales. Watch as hundreds of baby turtles are released to battle their way into the ocean. Listen to the birds, snorkel with manta rays or even visit the Crocodile Research Center. The possibilities for wildlife encounters are virtually endless.
My last piece of advice? Get in on visiting this piece of paradise while it still remains a secret! Such great gems can only remain hidden for so long.