Although visitors to Mexico often steer towards Tulum for its wildlife or Cancun for its beaches, the lesser-known region of Riviera Nayarit is the hidden treasure on the Pacific Coast that should be on the bucket list for travellers this winter for multiple reasons.
From experiencing whale watching to playing on luxury golf courses, strolling along its hidden beaches to hiking in the Sierra Madre mountains, Riviera Nayarit is an idyllic location providing a range of activities that will keep everyone entertained.
Below are the top 10 things to do in Mexico’s most desirable destination.
Saunter down the quaint cobbled streets of Sayulita
The boho-chic town of Sayulita, blessed by beautiful sunset views and beaches to write home about is the perfect get away for a laid back and less crowded holiday. The town, once a quaint fishing town gone dormant, has transformed into trendy colourfully cobbled streets littered with boutiques and bars. Apart from being a surfer’s paradise the list of activities to get stuck into is also never-ending… horse-riding, snorkelling, boating, biking and more!
Surf in favourite break in the whole Bahia de Banderas Bay
Punta del Burro is an unspoiled beach that all surfers need to visit. Following a five-minute walk through the jungle, visitors are met with crashing waves that are perfect to ride. Now, surf lovers from around the world have a luxury haven to stay at. The all-inclusive resorts, Dreams Bahia Mita Surf & Spa Resorts and Secrets Bahia Mita Surf & Spa Resort, have recently opened their doors in Riviera Nayarit as part of AMResorts. With more than 320 kilometres of tranquil coastline and surrounded boundlessly by nature, visitors will be able to experience authentic adventures as well as the unlimited luxuries the hotel has to offer.
Explore La Tovara’s lagoon: a birdwatcher’s paradise
La Tovara National Park is one of the most important mangrove sites in Mexico and home to an abundance of nature and wildlife that coexist, forming a unique and surprising ecosystem. Its unique location means that natural, fresh spring water comes flowing down from the mountains. It is here where travellers can discover Camalota Lagoon’s crystal-clear waters – a perfect habitat for thousands of fish, reptile species and over 250 species of bird. According to the legend, those who take a dip in the lagoon will be protected by magical nets to stop the crocodiles nipping at their toes…
Disconnect from the outside world on Isabel Island
The marvellous beaches and crystal-clear blue waters of the Isabel Island provide the perfect location to shut off from the outside world. The island is uninhabited and has a very basic and rustic infrastructure, so visitors here will be sleeping in their tents beneath the stars. Diving and snorkelling on Isabel Island is a sensational opportunity to visit the oasis of marine biodiversity. The island is also ideal for avid birdwatchers being home to the blue-footed booby, the brown pelican, frigate birds, seagulls, whale sharks, and many other animal and plant species.
Admire Mexico’s hidden beach in the Marietas Islands National Park
Located in the UNESCO-recognised Marietas Islands National Park is the ultimate bucket-list destination, a hidden beach formed by volcanic activity. The beach is hidden underground so visitors will have to take a plunge and swim through a passage that will eventually lead them to the private shore. The crystal-clear waters and coral reefs are ideal for snorkeling and the islands have frequent visits from turtles, dolphins, and humpback whales. A limited number of visitors can visit so as to protect this beautiful place and respect the nature.
Enjoy winter whale watching in the warm waters of Riviera Nayarit
When winter draws near in Europe, in Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit, November marks the start of the whale migration. As these ocean giants travel back from North America to the warm Pacific Ocean waters of Riviera Nayarit and its surrounding area for the winter months to feed, mate and give birth, visitors can expect visits from these magical creatures. Have close encounters, led by expert guides, with Humpback Whales, Orcas, Blue whales, Sperm whales and California Grey Whales, plus many species of dolphin.
Discover the mysterious island considered birthplace of the Aztecs
Mexcaltitán is shrouded in mystical and magical history that is well-worth a day trip. The island is deep-rooted in ancient Aztec history and many historians believe that this island is the birthplace of modern-day Mexico. Over time it has been popularly known as the “Mexican Venice” because Mexcaltitán features high pavements that allow pedestrians to navigate the island even during times of high-water levels which can flood the streets of the island.
Visitors will find no cars. A canoe ride around the charming island takes about 30 minutes, passing thousands of traditionally colourful Mexican houses, and street art.
Hike up the stunning Sierra Madre mountains to be dazzled by the views
Trails up the Sierra Madre mountains, like the ‘monkey mountain’ hiking trail, known as the Cerro del Mono, allow visitors to delve into the beauty of nature. Starting the trail at Higuera Blanca, hikers can take a guided tour through small authentic villages to arrive up the mountain. There they are met with a breathtaking view overlooking the pacific waves crashing against the rocks whilst the sun sets on the horizon.
Trek through the fortresses and temple ruins of San Blas
San Blas is yet another hidden gem to be found in Riviera Nayarit. Discover the ruins of temples constructed centuries ago, such as el Templo de la Marinera, whilst surrounded by lush nature. The village was a thriving port for the Spanish conquistadors from the 16th century and the legacy lives on in the ruins left behind, like the Fort of San Basilio. After the adventures, visitors can dig into enticing, authentic dishes made with freshly caught fish from the area.
Get stuck into golf with a backdrop of the glorious beaches and crashing waves
Riviera Nayarit is one of the most important destinations for golf lovers, not only for the number of available courses but also for the important national and international championships it holds. The 7,014-yard Jack Nicklaus Signature course, with its renowned 3B green on a natural ocean island, has made Punta Mita a veritable paradise for world-class golfing. The course is spread over 200 acres with eight holes bordering the Pacific Ocean of Banderas Bay. The tropical landscape of palm trees and flowering trees add to the pleasure of playing this challenging course.