San Pancho, a Short Drive from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

San Francisco, or San Pancho as it is more commonly referred to, is a quaint Mexican village nestled between the verdant Sierra Madre Mountains and jungle and a long stretch of pristine Pacific coast. In close enough proximity (hour drive) to the international airport at Puerto Vallarta, yet full of small town appeal, San Pancho is being proclaimed as one of the next great destinations in the so-called Riviera Nayarita, and as another desirable alternative to the more commercialized vacation typical of resort areas like Puerto Vallarta.

With only approximately 1,600 full-time residents, San Francisco still displays the characteristics of a more traditional Mexican town—with men on horseback riding through the streets, or roosters running free in a neighbor’s yard for example. Yet even for such a small village, the population is still reasonably diverse. Drawn by the tranquil pace of life, the months of unwavering sunshine, and the tropical coastal atmosphere, San Pancho is also home to a growing number of expatriates hailing from the United States, Canada, or even Europe or southernmost Latin America. The result is an eclectic cultural mix that—along with the beautiful natural environs—is creating even more of a draw for visitors and new residents.

Alongside the interesting cultural mix of a fine art gallery or hidden haute-cuisine restaurant, San Pancho is also brimming with art and social responsibility activity. The art collective Colectivo San Pancho organizes various art expositions and events throughout the year, and a community volunteer organization mobilizes recycling education and efforts and youth activities in the town. Various environmental organizations also work to educate about and protect for instance the local jaguar habitat or the nesting turtle populations on San Pancho beaches.

The Riviera Nayarit is home to one of the world’s great creatures – the humpback whale. From Mid-December through early April, these waters are filled with magic, as the humpbacks come here to calve. You may see baby humpbacks – a glorious sight. You almost can’t go on a boat ride during these months without seeing the whales breaching (jumping) near your boat.

A more relaxed day can be spent meandering local village shops where one can find handicrafts from all over Mexico and even from other countries around the world.

Punta Mita, Sayulita, Lo de Marcos, San Pancho, Playa Chacala and Puerto Vallarta are all great day trips and each town offers its own versions of fun and interesting adventures to add to your Riviera Nayarit vacation.

What to do in San Pancho?

Surfing and Stand up Paddling, Local Golf Courses, Snorkeling & Scuba Diving, Canopy Tours, Marietas Islands Adventure, Horseback Riding, Boating & Sailing, ATV and Hiking, Whale Watching, and Bird Watching, just to name a few.


Paraiso Escondido offers beautiful, 2 Bedroom 1 bath Mediterranean-style rental casitas’s on the beach. You don’t get any more closer to the water than this. Visit Website

Bird Canyon; Live in the best of both worlds in your beautiful luxury teak bungalow amid the trees one-quarter mile from our beach and in a great location to explore the adjacent beach just one mile down a beautiful jungle road. Visit Website

Casa Obelisco, rated #1 in Trip Advisor and the recipient of many special reviews and acknowledgements (one of 10 Most Romantic B & B’s worldwide by in 2009). A beautiful Mediterranean villa overlooking the beach (and just across the street from the north end of the beach) offering a swim up pool bar with cocktail and food service, wonderful rooms each with a private outdoor area and fabulous breakfasts daily. Visit Website

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