Few places can claim to have it all, but at two neighboring destinations on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, there really is something for everyone. From artisan markets and adventure style activities, to board walking and bird watching, to rich culture, delicious cuisine and everything in between, travelers of every pace and personality will find what they are looking for at Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit.
For Sun Seekers
Whether you enjoy a relaxing day on a tranquil beach or livelier shores, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit’s wide selection of beaches, stretching over 200 miles of stunning Pacific Coastline, is sure to fit any style. In Riviera Nayarit, the rippling waves found at the traditional fishing village Sayulita are renowned by surfers around the world. At the ultra-luxurious resort Nuevo Vallarta, beachgoers can enjoy pristine waters and golden sands within walking distance of high-end hotels and restaurants. Between the Pacific Ocean and Sierra Madre Mountains, the small-town vibe of San Pancho is an idyllic getaway for those in search of peace and quiet. In southeast Puerto Vallarta, Boca de Tomatlan offers a tranquil beach away from the crowds and several open-sided, thatched roof restaurants to enjoy a delicious meal and pleasant view. For a more popular shoreline, Playa Los Muertos in Puerto Vallarta’s Romantic Zone, is an ideal choice for people watching. To the south at Conchas Chinas, the gentle tidal pools, rock shells and rich sea life appeal to children of all ages.
For Fans of Culture and Cuisine
Bring your camera and walking shoes to The Malecón, a promenade located at the heart of Puerto Vallarta that showcases 870 metres of Mexican sights, sounds and seashore all in one place. With picturesque views of the beachfront, sand sculptures and stone arches, along with a wide array of local restaurants, boutique shops and galleries, it’s a must visit for anyone in the area whether alone or in a group. Also be sure to visit Puerto Vallarta Mercado Municipal, a two-storey market located in the town’s historic centre, where visitors can find a vast assortment of local goods, souvenirs and artisan crafts. On the second floor of the market, flavours and aromas of authentic Mexican cuisine such as comida corrida, a traditional lunch, are sure to satisfy any appetite. Just a few minutes away in Riviera Nayarit, the Altavista Petroglyph Complex showcases one of the largest known concentrations of ancient stone engravings in the region. Or take a trip back in time at San Blas, considered to be the birthplace of the Aztec civilization.
For Bird Lovers
As a natural sanctuary for hundreds of species of birds, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit are a bird lover’s paradise. There are plenty of fully guided bird watching tours to choose from, and visitors have the chance to glimpse at such rare species as the Colima Pygmy-Owl and the Citreoline Trogon, two birds among many that are endemic to Mexico. In fact, the largest number of bird species ever counted (309) was reached this year by the Audobon Society at the San Blas Christmas Bird Count, a popular event amongst birdwatchers worldwide. Likewise, the Festival of Migratory Birds, a popular event held every year in San Blas during the last week of January, is a one of a kind experience for any bird watching enthusiast. For bird watching tours in Sayulita, Riviera Nayarit, visit http://www.sayulitabirdwatching.com. For tours in Puerto Vallarta, visit http://www.discoverpacifictours.com/new/birds.html.
For Active Adventurers
From off-road safaris in the Sierra Madre Mountains to whale watching and scuba diving in the bay, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit offer fun activities fit for any adventurer. During the winter, various species of whales migrate to the warm waters of Banderas Bay for feeding and mating, providing a great opportunity to participate in whale watching tours. For more intimate encounters with marine life, you can go swimming with sea lions and dolphins or scuba diving to get up close and personal with turtles, manta rays and tropical fish. If you would rather stay dry, safari tours throughout Puerto Vallarta let you drive your own off-road vehicle through the lush jungles of the Sierra Madre. Or for gravity defying thrills, Vallarta Adventures operates the longest zip line in Mexico at over 1,200 metres and reaches speeds up to 100 kph. See all of the exciting escapades on offer from Vallarta Adventures at http://www.vallarta-adventures.com.
Passionate golfers of any skill level will find that the resorts of Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit, with spectacular greens and fairways, make for some of the top golf courses in the world to aim for a hole in one. In Puerto Vallarta, the Marina Vallarta Club de Golf features an 18-hole course designed by famous Austrian-born architect Joe Finger. Close by, the Vista Vallarta Club de Golf was recently ranked among the Top 10 Resort Golf Courses in Mexico by the ‘Best Golf Guide to the Mexican Riviera’ magazine. In Punta Mita, a breathtaking mini-peninsula in southwest Riviera Nayarit, the Pacifico Golf Course features the ‘Tail of the Whale’, an optional, gorgeous par-three hole that is a natural island green. For a bigger challenge, El Tigre Golf Course in Riviera Nayarit has been testing the skill of even professional golfers since 2002. If you prefer to eat while you play, be sure to check out the sixth annual American Express Punta Mita Gourmet & Golf Classic, 28th-31st January, for a four-day, perfect pairing of gastronomic excellence and golf competition. For more information, visit http://puntamitagourmetgolf.com.
If you enjoy adventure, beautiful ocean views, bird watching or board walking, crafts, cuisine and culture, golf and much more, there’s plenty to see and do for any pace and personality in Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit.
Photo by Santiago Almada (Creative Commons)