On this crescent of soft, gold sand half a mile long, kids play in the shallow water while their parents float in the calm green water without a care. Cold drinks and so-so food are served at several seafood shacks on the sand. Protected by the Piedra Blanca headland to the north, the beach is at the northernmost edge of the town of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. Named for a cross made of superresilient wood (huanacaxtle, which translates to "ear pod," "elephant ear,"
or "monkey ear tree"), most people simply call the town "La Cruz." What was a rough little fishing village now has a 400-slip private marina aptly named Marina Riviera Nayarit at La Cruz (www.marinarivieranayarit.com). It was launched in 2008 as part of the Riviera Nayarit development plan. Like it or not, homey La Cruz is growing and becoming more sophisticated. Facilities: Beach umbrellas, boating, fishing, inner tubes; food concessions, parking.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico