Between the Pacific Ocean and the Western Sierra Madre Mountains lies a pure treasure — Riviera Nayarit! With a coastline nearly 200 miles long full of white sand beaches and turquoise waters, and a sub-tropical climate that brings a 77°F average temperature year-round, Nayarit is a perfect vacation spot. Whether you’re looking to explore the quaint surf towns that line the coast, to venture inland in search of the area’s unique animals or just to lounge with an umbrella drink on the beach, Riviera Nayarit checks off all the boxes for a great trip!
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This glamourous, 1500-acre gated community is home to 6 miles of Pacific Coast beaches along with two of our favorite hotels in the area – the Four Seasons Punta Mita and the St. Regis Punta Mita. With tons of great restaurants, two world class Jack Nicklaus golf courses and many options for accommodations, Punta de Mita is a great option for travelers of all kinds!
Puerto Vallarta is home to the international airport as well as many all-inclusive and big-name hotel brands (like the luxe all-inclusive Grand Velas). Its Nuevo Vallarta and Flamingo neighborhoods stretch along a miles long area of the coast. With cute neighborhoods to explore, many restaurant options, multiple marinas and golf courses and great shopping, this is a wonderful option for many travelers to Riviera Nayarit. One thing to remember – this is the most “touristy” destination on the list, so for those looking to get away from it all you may want to look further afield.
This charming fishing village just outside Puerto Vallarta is a great day trip for travelers in the area. Spend the day wandering the cobblestoned streets in search of the perfect Mexican art to take home, relaxing on the 18 mile beach or, for the more adventurous, kite surfing along the tops of the waves.
Fans of Riviera Maya’s Mayakoba complex will rejoice to discover that the owners are duplicating the community along the Pacific Coast. Mandarina is in the beginning stages of development but the first hotel – One & Only Mandarina – is opening this November. The complex will eventually offer multiple luxury hotel options to complement the stunning private beach and lush jungle hillsides.
Just north of Sayulita lies a town that claims the title of “Cultural Capital of Nayarit”, San Francisco. This quaint town, lying between the waves of the Pacific Ocean and the foothills of the Sierra Madre, offers travelers a glimpse into Mexican history and culture through the local galleries and museums. Make sure to take time to learn about the traditional Huichol handicrafts of the area. For sports enthusiasts, San Francisco is home to La Patrona polo club where you can take in a match or even arrange for private lessons.
The surfing capital of Riviera Nayarit, the boho chic town beach town of Sayulita is a must visit for travelers of all kinds! A visit to the water will find families playing in the white sand while surfers “hang ten” on some of the world’s best waves. Meanwhile the markets, boutiques and art galleries of town offer wonderful shopping and souvenir options and local restaurants abound for a sunset drink or dinner.
Get away from the beach for a day with an ATV or jeep tour in the mountains of Higuera Blanca! Ride along country roads and mountain paths for great views of Punta Mita and the sea, while keeping an eye out for wildlife like wild boars, deer, or Guacamaya parrots. For even more adventure, combine your tour with a high-speed canopy zipline through the jungle.
You can’t spell Puerto Vallarta without “art”, and the town has a vibrant art scene. Our favorite activity is to walk along the coastal promenade to see the statues and sculptures of the Malecon. These beautiful creations of bronze and stone are from local and international artists, forming an outdoor interactive art gallery.
You may be familiar with farm-to-table, but in Punta Mita sea-to-table is the name of the game. Want the freshest meal possible? Set sail into the waters of the Pacific with a local chef to try your hand at spearfishing. Return back to the resort and enjoy a hands-on cooking class to turn your catch into ceviche.
Head to the oldest part of Vallarta for a walking tour of the historical center. As you explore the cobblestone streets, listen to stories of how the city grew from a humble fishing village to the large city it is today. Make sure to stop at the iconic Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which towers above the Spanish Colonial-style streets.
A short boat ride from Punta Mita will bring you to the Marieta Islands. This biosphere reserve is home to incredible wildlife famously studied by Jacques Cousteau. Spot turtles, fish, dolphins, and many birds, including the blue-footed booby (the rare species mostly found in the Galapagos). It is also the best place to watch for humpback turtles during the season.
Every year, whales arrive in Banderas Bay after journeying from the Arctic to give birth to their calves. These humpback whales are the region’s most faithful visitors, easily seen from December through March all over Riviera Nayarit. Our recommendation to spot them? Go for a short walk on the beach! You may spot a blowhole exploding, a slapping fin, or the most magnificent view of them all: the male backflip.
The Four Seasons Punta Mita is designed to keep everyone happy, from toddlers to teens to grandparents. The resort has two secluded beaches, a family-friendly lazy river, two pools, and two excellent golf courses, so there’s no excuse for boredom on your trip! The resort has extensive accommodation options from rooms and suites to casitas and residences, so ask your River Oaks Travel concierge which option will fit you best.
The St. Regis Punta Mita has a romantic South of France feel, with rooms featuring private balconies and many with plunge pools. Besides the beach, lounge at the three bi-level pools or take advantage of the impressive 10,000sqft Remede Spa (with two outdoor pavilions for manicures and pedicures!).
A 20-minute drive from Punta Mita at the end of a dirt road, you will find a beautiful private jungle hideaway inspired by Aman hotels and Mexican prehispanic architecture – Imanta. From individual bungalows seated on top of the dramatic cliffs to 5-bedroom suites, there are plenty of options for romance or friends trips – your River Oaks Travel concierge can match you to the perfect accommodation for your trip.
Opening November 2020, the highly-anticipated One&Only Mandarina is the first major hotel in the La Mandarina development. Located on a spectacular cliff overlooking the Pacific, the resort features a mix of rooms and treehouse-style villas with private pools among the lush rainforest. You can also enjoy the five swimming pools, full spa, and three restaurants, though we won’t blame you if you never leave your room!
Relax seaside in Punta Mita with up to 18 guests in your own luxurious, seven-bedroom villa – Casa Tesoro. Lounge in the infinity pool with friends, or take a few short steps down to the white sand and swimmable beach. From arranging stunning celebratory dinners beside the ocean to a family movie night at the in-villa theater, your full-service staff of 10 will ensure that your getaway is unforgettable.
The Conrad Punta de Mita opened its doors in early September 2020 in Litibú. It comprises 324 rooms and suites, all with fabulous views of the ocean and the majestic Sierra de Vallejo, and with design influenced by the local Huichol works of art. Our favorite part of the resort? The Conrad Spa, featuring a temazcal and seven treatment cabins surrounded by jungle plants and flowers.
Traveling to Riviera Nayarit for the first time? Or one of your favorite destinations to return to?Whether your first or fiftieth trip, our River Oaks Travel concierge team can help you make your next trip unforgettable! Contact us today and use our personal experience and industry connections to help you maximize your experience.