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WHERE TO STAY IN RIVIERA NAYARIT

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Where is Riviera Nayarit? The vacation destination is located on the central Pacific coast of Mexico. Puerto Vallarta has the closest international airport. Flights depart from Tepic Airport (code TPQ) to and from Mexico City.

Nuevo Vallarta aerial view
Nuevo Vallarta aerial view
Photo: Riviera Nayarit CVB

How do you decide which place to stay? Riviera Nayarit has 23 hotel zones, towns and villages along its 300-kilometer (192-mile) coastline.

Before booking an all-inclusive resort, boutique hotel, bed and breakfast, inn or bungalow, you have to decide what you want to see and do in Riviera Nayarit.

Nuevo Vallarta

The main town and the closest to Puerto Vallarta Airport, Nuevo Vallarta has the most luxury hotels and resorts, as well as the most restaurants, ranging from seafood to steak. In addition to five kilometers (three miles) of beaches, it offers spas, yoga classes, diving, snorkeling and swimming with dolphins.

Golfers can play on three golf courses in Nuevo Vallarta (Flamingoes Golf Club, El Tigre Club de Golf and the Nayar Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus). Boaters can dock their yachts in two marinas.

Many visitors come to Nuevo Vallarta for the International Gourmet Festival, held every November. Another popular annual event is the Vallarta Yacht Club Banderas Bay International Regatta, held every March.

Huichol handicraft market
Huichol handicraft market
Photo: Riviera Nayarit CVB

Bucerias

Travelling along Highway 200 to Bucerias, you'll discover a typical Mexican town with cobblestone streets and brightly painted buildings with red tile roofs and large wooden doors. You can cycle along streets lined with pink bougainvillea, cascading over walls, to oceanside parks, dotted with palm trees.

After strolling on the beach, or kayaking in the Pacific Ocean, you can dine on fresh seafood and Mexican food. The artisans' market and small stores sell silver jewelry and Huichol art.

The Huichol are indigenous Mexicans, who call themselves the Wixarika people. Their handicrafts include colorful souvenirs made with Huichol yarn painting and beadwork.

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

West of Bucerias, at La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, you can see fishermen unload their catches from boats in the marina. In the Mercado del Mar, vendors display fresh shrimp, lobsters and red snappers on crushed ice.

Facilities and services at Riviera Nayarit Marina draw visitors who want to go sailing, wind surfing, sports fishing and yacht cruising. Bars and restaurants entice them to linger and dine on fresh seafood caught by local fishermen.

The Regatta Mexico Cup (held in March) and the Deep Sea Fishing Tournament (held in October) also attract sailors and sports fishermen to the Riviera Nayarit Marina.

Sailing regatta
Sailing regatta
Photo: Riviera Nayarit CVB

Punta de Mita

At the northern end of Banderas Bay, Punta de Mita is home to luxury hotels and resorts. The Four Seasons and St. Regis offer exclusive access to Punta Mita Pacifico and Punta Mita Bahia golf courses (both designed by Jack Nicklaus).

Other Punta de Mita communities, Higuera Blanca, El Anclote and Corral del Risco, offer gourmet restaurants. The Punta Mita Gourmet and Golf Classic, held in April, combines golfing with gourmet food, cooking classes and tequila tastings.

Sayulita
Sayulita
Photo: Riviera Nayarit CVB

Sayulita

Punta Sayulita Longboard & SUP Classic, held in March, is a major surfing and stand-up paddling event that draws surfers from around the world.

Taco stands, casual restaurants, bars, art galleries and Huichol handicrafts have also attracted many expats to settle in this Mexican beachfront town.

San Pancho

Officially called San Francisco, San Pancho is another Riviera Nayarit expat community. Its polo club, Haus der Kunst art gallery, beautiful beach sunsets, Huichol beadwork, restaurants and B&Bs entice many visitors to stay and make their homes here.

A turtle-release program takes place during the nesting season in the summer and autumn. Year-round, visitors can ride horses along San Pancho's wide sandy beach.

Lo de Marcos

Located northeast of San Pancho, on Highway 200, Lo de Marcos used to be a hacienda. Today, it is a place where you can fish in the surf along the beach and ride bicycles through town.

Farther north, the communities of Los Ayala, Rincon de Guayabitos, La Penita de Jaltemba and Chacala front a bay that is so calm it is called "the largest pool in Mexico." The towns feature small hotels and restaurants, as well as beaches that are ideal for families.

Swordfish catch
Swordfish catch
Photo: Riviera Nayarit CVB

San Blas

Located in the middle of the Riviera Nayarit, San Blas is known for its historic buildings, its large population of migratory birds and easy access to La Tovara National Park.

You'll see cannons on stone walls, haciendas with colonnades, miles of beaches and colorful churches topped with bell towers. San Blas International Fishing Tournament, held in late May and early June, draws anglers hoping to win prizes for their marlin and swordfish catches.

Isla de Mexcaltitan

Known as the birthplace of Mexican culture, the Island of Mexcaltitan is the place where the Mexica began their journey to Tenochtitlan, which later became Mexico City. You can travel to the island on a boat ride through the mangroves.

Palm trees tower over the red tile roofed buildings. Shops sell handicrafts made from palm leaves and mangroves. When Mexcaltitan streets become canals during the rainy season, boats are used for transportation, as in Venice.

Novillero

What is the longest beach in Mexico? Located at the northern end of Riviera Nayarit, Playa Novillero is 90 kilometers (56 miles) long and 0.5 kilometers (0.3 miles) wide. It is so shallow that you can walk out nearly 100 meters (328 feet).

Hotel Imanta near Punta Mita
Hotel Imanta near Punta Mita
Photo: Riviera Nayarit CVB

Selecting a place to stay is easier if you first decide what things you want to see and do on a Riviera Nayarit vacation. Don't be surprised if the diversity of attractions entices you to stay in more than one community, so you can experience more beaches, restaurants and activities.


TRAVEL INFORMATION

Riviera Nayarit: www.RivieraNayarit.com

Mexico Tourism Board: www.visitmexico.com

More things to see & do in Riviera Nayarit:

Salsa Huichol - Hot Sauce from Nayarit Mexico

Jala Nayarit Mexico - Pueblo Magico (Magic Town)

Riviera Nayarit Mexico Ecotours

Mexican Breakfast - Almuerzo in Nuevo Vallarta