Riviera Nayarit’s Protected Natural Areas, a treasure house of biodiversity

The Riviera Nayarit is home to several important areas designated as Protected Natural Areas (PNA), which together comprise our destination’s greatest natural treasure.

The PNAs were created to conserve our natural patrimony through the proper stewardship of these areas, as well as allow for significant income generation for the people living in their vicinity. Thanks to the biological monitoring performed by the Conanp (Commission of Natural Protected Areas) coastguard we know how important it is to conserve and care for these areas.

We realize travel after COVID-19 will be different. There will be an increase in demand for more sustainable destinations with less mass tourism, and visitors will demand more from tourism providers in terms of hygiene and sustainability. In order to continue to be competitive, destinations must adapt to these new tendencies, offering unique experiences to their visitors.

In this respect, the Riviera Nayarit has made it clear that its value resides beyond its promise of sun and sand, and offers its visitors so much more, including seven Protected Natural Areas.

The richest PNAs are Islas Marietas National Park, Isla Isabel National Park, the natural reserve at Islas Marías, Sierra de Vallejo, Isla del Coral, the National Wetlands, and La Tovara National Park. Together, they cover 800 thousand hectares.

Islas Marietas National Park

This park was designated a Protected Natural Area on April 25, 2005; three years later it was named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and in 2004 it was named a Ramsar Site (a Wetland of International Importance for its biodiversity and bird habitat). According to data from the Conanp, it is home to the largest nesting site for the brown-footed booby and probably has the largest population of its kind in the world at over 30 thousand birds. It is a privileged spot to visit, one that must be treated with great care and respect.

Area: 1,383 hectares.

Islas Marietas National Park.

Islas Marías

The Islas Marías natural reserve is a PNA and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This archipelago is made up of four islands—Isla Madre, María Magdalena, María Cleofas, and the San Juanito islet—located in the Pacific Ocean 112 km from the coast of San Blas. These islands are home to an incredible number of species of flora and fauna, both wild and endemic, including the Islas Marías parrot, the Islas Marías raccoon, the Islas Marías boa, and the Islas Marías butterfly. The area also encompasses an ample variety of ecosystems: coastline, reefs, mangroves, and low and medium jungle, all of which harbor the genetic heritage of humanity.

Area: 641,284 ha.

The Islas Marías natural reserve.

Isla del Coral

Besides a tourist destination, this islet located just 3 kilometers off the coast of Rincón de Guayabitos is a tiny paradise with a gorgeous turquoise-tinted beach that resembles a natural aquarium, plus an incredible variety of flora and fauna. Isla del Coral has become an icon of the destination. Manta rays, turtles, starfish, and schools of multicolored fish are commonly sighted in its crystal-clear water.

Area: 13 ha.

Isla del Coral.

Isla Isabel

The Isla Isabel National Park is located just off the coast of Santiago, Ixcuintla, and was the first designated PNA in Nayarit. It’s also a Biosphere Reserve thanks to its nearly virgin status and mountainous landscape with cliffs and panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean; it was also named a Ramsar Site by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the World Heritage Convention. There’s no doubt Isla Isabel is an amazing place and is reserved for travelers who appreciate nature, as well as recreational and professional divers seeking spectacular marine landscapes.

Area: 194 ha.

The Isla Isabel National Park.

Sierra de Vallejo

The Sierra de Vallejo was declared a Protected Natural Area in 2005 within the Biosphere Reserve category; it covers an area of 63,598 hectares that extend across the municipalities of Bahía de Banderas and Compostela, including 2,000 hectares that were declared a Jaguar Sanctuary. This extraordinary PNA is home to enchanting flora and fauna and is crisscrossed by rivers and streams that tumble down from the mountains, of which Cerro Vallejo is the main peak. Because of its environmental importance, it is a part of the heritage of the people of Nayarit, of Mexico, and of the entire world.

Area: 63,598 ha.

Sierra de Vallejo.

Nayarit National Wetlands

This exceptional area known as the Nayarit National Wetlands (Marismas Nacionales Nayarit) is located in the northeastern portion of the state. It is an enormous network of saltwater coastal lagoons, mangrove forests, swamps, deltas, and wetlands that represent between 15 and 20% of the total mangrove ecosystems in the country. This Protected Natural Area falls under the Biosphere Reserve Category, declared on May 12, 2010. It is also a Ramsar Site for its importance as a wetland and of international importance as a site for birds. Isla Jaguar is located within the National Wetlands and is a sanctuary for these imposing felines; the Conanp has installed several monitoring checkpoints in this area.

Area: 133,854 ha.

Nayarit National Wetlands.

La Tovara

Located in the municipality of San Blas, La Tovara natural park has been recognized as a Ramsar Site for the enormous variety of endemic and migratory species that reside there. This is an extraordinary habitat, made up of an estuary and a freshwater spring, with navigable canals surrounded by different types of mangroves, leafy vegetation, and beautiful flowers including orchids and bromeliads. It’s also home to 16 different species of animals, including the swamp and river crocodiles, the green macaw, the coati, and the white-tailed deer.

Area: 5,733 ha.

La Tovara natural park.

The Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the Bahía de Banderas Hotel and Motel Association (AHMBB) continue to work together to advance the region, strengthening its promotion and helping position it on the world map with the support of the Government of the State of Nayarit via the Tourism Promotion Trust (Fiprotur).

Originally posted on rivieranayarit.com

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