Driving or riding an ATV is probably the best way of reaching the farthest corners of the astounding natural surroundings of the Riviera Nayarit, the almost-virgin, tropical forest and pristine beaches, as well as the always impressive Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range.
Cities and towns along the Riviera Nayarit have something for every kind of traveler: laid-back fishing villages like Lo de Marcos and Rincon de Guayabitos, for those seeking a tranquil and typically Mexican experience. There are also sprawling resorts in Nuevo Vallarta and Punta Mita, which are almost cities of their own, with numerous restaurants and bars, a spa, a golf course, a marina, a boutique and convenience stores on the premises.
Nuevo Vallarta is a town in the northern part of the Mexican state of Jalisco, and is only separated from Puerto Vallarta by the Ameca River. Among the interesting features of Nuevo Vallarta are its beautiful beaches, where all sorts of sports and aquatic activities can be found. There are two professional golf courses, two aquarium parks and an aquatic park, as well as hotels, restaurants and bars suiting every budget. Last but not least is the friendly nature of the local inhabitants of Nuevo Vallarta, always smiling, hospitable and helpful.
The tourist development simply known as ''Flamingos'' is really close to Nuevo Vallarta, in the Riviera Nayarit. This area presents luxurious condominiums and hotels, as well as large scale resorts, all of them surrounding a beautiful professional golf course designed by Percy Clifford.
Bucerias is a calm and charming town you'll fall in love with. Located only 10 miles from Puerto Vallarta's International Airport, Bucerias features many world class restaurants where all sorts of delicacies are prepared, mainly exquisite recipes that bring the freshest flavors from the sea to create mouth-watering dishes. Some of the coziest hotels in the region are here in Bucerias, surrounded by lush vegetation and a sprinkle of traditional Mexican festivities to spice up your next stay in the Riviera Nayarit.
During the past two decades, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, a peaceful fishing town, has become a place where travelers from all around the globe (most of them from the US and Canada) arrive on their own boats to spend some days of relaxation in this Mexican paradise. Travelers who have spent a vacation or two in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle get so hooked on this beautiful town that they often move here for good. That's why the cultural mixture found in arts, restaurants, and public life in general is varied. Top tourist attractions in the area are the beach, the yacht club and the nearby golf course.
Litibu is a small town located south of Punta de Mita, where developing infrastructure in the area (highways, roads, drainage and public street lighting system) aim to consolidate this joint project of the federal government and private investments, as one of most important tourism developments in all the Riviera Nayarit. The master plan includes the construction of huge resorts, a commercial port, a heliport, hospitals, shopping malls, and a golf course.
Located about 45 minutes northwest of Puerto Vallarta, Punta de Mita is a small peninsula which offers a coast lined by beautiful beaches bathed by the clear waters of the Pacific Ocean. A Four Seasons Resort, one of the more luxurious and exclusive hotel complexes in Mexico, can be found here in Punta de Mita. Spend time wandering around these shores, going fishing, horseback riding, or playing golf and tennis. Some other aquatic activities, such as diving, snorkeling and surfing can turn any regular vacation into a sublime experience in the Riviera Nayarit.
Close to Punta de Mita, in the heart of Banderas Bay, are the Marietas Islands. They make up a sanctuary for the conservation of diverse species of birds. The reef system that surrounds the islands is ideal for diving and snorkeling. Despite the fact that you cannot set foot on the islands (it's a protected area), those who have ventured on boat trips to the area have reported seeing large marine turtles, manta rays and even wild dolphins!
Even though Sayulita is just 25 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, both towns seem to have more than distance to separate them. Puerto Vallarta offers modern resorts, nightclubs and state of the art restaurants. Sayulita preserves the essence of the old Mexico, where the lack of a wild nightlife is compensated for a clear, starry sky and safe streets with almost no traffic. There are public plazas dotted with old trees and colorful flowers where locals gather to listen to music, have a cup of coffee, have dinner while watching the sunset, or just contemplate the creative handicraft work of the Coras and Huicholes.
There are no major resorts in Sayulita and if you visit the region, you'll see it's better off this way, since this small town is a major attraction on its own. Lots of travelers who stay in more the economical accommodations offered here, normally venture off to the sea to surf or go kayaking, while some others go horseback riding on the beach. For eating options, Sayulita offers some of the finest specialties of Nayarit cuisine.
San Francisco is familiarly known as ''San Pancho" by repeat visitors for its friendly and easy going ambiance. There's a Polo Club in San Pancho, where locals and travelers alike try their luck at this challenging sport of Persian origin. People in San Pancho do not only go horseback riding in order to score goals in a polo game, they also go for a ride at sunset on the beach or explore the jungles with their four-legged friends. Some other activities you should give a try at San Pancho are hiking, camping, mountain climbing, doing yoga on the beach or just swimming in the ocean.
Lo de Marcos is a popular ''pueblito'' that offers a calm atmosphere, ideal for a family vacation. Riding horses on the beach and playing golf on a small course nearby are the main attractions, besides the great amount of restaurants and local cafeterias that offer the most delicious specialties from Nayarit.
Located a little more than 40 minutes from Puerto Vallarta, Rincon de Guayabitos is a traditional place that, over time, has gained the trust of hundreds of families worldwide for its tranquility, safety of its waters and the cordial attitude of locals towards visitors. The most common lodging options at Rincon de Guayabitos are bungalows and condos, so it's perfect if you're looking for a budget vacation, where there won't be too many dinners in fancy places or money to spend on gratuities, this is an ideal choice. In this quaint town, lie on the beach to sunbathe, ride a glass-bottom boat or during winter, if you're lucky enough, watch a humpback whale swim through the area.
San Blas is a coastal town in a quickly developing area, where you can find beautiful beaches, the constant commercial activity of its port, its rich cultural inheritance and its abundance of migratory birds coming from different parts of the world. One of the most visited places in San Blas is La Tovara National Park, an interesting mangrove forest that can only be explored by boat.
Some scientists state that Mexcaltitan is in fact Aztlan, the cradle of the Aztec civilization, which later founded Tenochtitlan in central Mexico. Nevertheless, there is no concluding evidence that proves the fact that this unique man-made island, constructed in concentric stages on a lake and surrounded by mangrove swamps, is the true place where legend says that the Mexica started their migration to find the mythical eagle devouring a serpent on a thorny nopal. Paying a visit to Mexcaltitan, along with a visit to San Blas, constitutes the final part of the Riviera Nayarit. It is a must for your next vacation when you visit this beautiful region of Mexico. Don't forget to try the shrimp meatball soup!