Riviera Nayarit was our last big adventure before lockdown. Located along the Pacific Coast and Bahía de Banderas to the west and the Sierra Occidental to the east, the setting is incredible. From Puerto Vallarta airport, visitors are given the choice of traveling either north or south. To the south is Puerto Vallarta, the old school destination on the coast with plenty of culture and activities. To the north is the Riviera Nayarit, with many smaller beach towns and resorts ready to welcome you to Mexico.
Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit combined are one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico. It’s easy to see why it’s become so famous. We were able to spend a little bit of time on both sides of the state lines during our last trip. We crossed into Nayarit almost immediately, crossing the Amaro River, leaving Jalisco behind us. Beginning with Nuevo Vallarta (a very Americanized township located immediately to the north of Puerto Vallarta), the destinations along the coast get progressively quieter and more hip.
We were visited the coast for a wedding, so we had two nights booked at a fancy resort just outside of Punta Mita and had two nights in Nuevo Vallarta with family. While Nuevo Vallarta has some nice beach front and great restaurants, this feels more like a suburb of Miami than it does Mexico. We were most excited to explore some of the small towns.
Hip Beach Towns
We live in Mexico at the moment, currently in isolation on Cozumel on the Caribbean coast. It was nice to go somewhere else and explore some different beaches. It’s a much different vibe on the Pacific.
The Riviera Nayarit stretches for 150-km along Mexico’s Pacific coast. There are several incredible beachfront destinations to choose from, the most famous of which is Sayulita. We only had a few days to explore and wanted to visit as many different spots as possible. Punta Mita divides the more wild Pacific Coast with the Bay of Banderas. On our most recent trip we were able to spend some time at three of the smaller locations here; Sayulita, Bucerias and La Manzanita.
Our first stop was La Manzanita, located in the small town of La Cruz. It was just a tiny little bay with a few beachside restaurants and a few shops. This was as off the beaten track as you can get. The next day we stopped at Bucerias for lunch, and this was a longer stretch of beach with more visitors and expats occupying the beaches. We had a few cervezas on the beach and enjoyed some ceviche with the sand between our toes.
Our last destination was Sayulita. This overgrown surfers paradise is bustling with activity, and the beachfront here was incredible. Despite being quite popular, the town center retains a locals vibe. Hippies and surfboards could be spotted everywhere. We had planned on surfing but the waves were warning us that this was not a day for beginners. Instead, it was back to the beers.
If you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy the incredible warmth of the Mexican people while basking in the sunshine, the Riviera Nayarit should be top of your list.