With 200 miles of pristine pacific coastline and dozens of tiny seaside towns and pueblos, the coastal community of Riviera Nayarit near Puerto Vallarta is just calling out to be explored. There are lush mountain peaks, nature reserves, golden sand beaches, and even an exclusive luxury resort community with some of the top hotel brands in the world. Punta de Mita, home to resorts like The Four Seasons Punta Mita and The St. Regis Punta Mita is a fabulous destination for those seeking over the top accommodations, privacy, and 5-star service. A long weekend with some beach time and lots of delicious food is perfect for a quick trip, and Mexico’s pacific treasure is closer than you think.
Arrive into Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport in Puerto Vallarta and once you’ve made it through customs and immigration, make your way to your rental car. In Mexico, a U.S. driving license and major credit card is sufficient in order to reserve and book a rental car, although it’s best to set up a reservation online ahead of time. Money exchanges are available in the airport and cash machines and banks are accessible throughout the area. Once in the car, take a short drive to Punta Monterrey Beach Resort, a private beach where you can disconnect and settle into vacation mode.
Punta Monterrey is a secluded destination accessed by a narrow and bumpy road. The all-inclusive resort is made up of cabins and bungalows, surrounded by 300 acres of an ecological jungle reserve. There’s limited Wi-Fi in the common areas and no televisions—it’s all about getting to know the other guests and taking in the breathtaking views of the private beach.
After sleeping in and enjoying a typical Mexican breakfast, jump back in the car and drive to Sayulita, a surfing and beach town just down the road. While in Sayulita, find a parking space and take on the town by foot. There are lots of food options and boutique shops to splurge on. After lunch, head down to the water and rent an umbrella and chairs, take a surfing lesson, or enjoy a few tacos with a beer or two. By evening, return to Punta Monterrey for a final nights sleep before departing to San Blas the next morning.
Depart Punta Monterrey by car and drive to San Blas, a small fishing village of about 12,000 people. Ecotourism here is a main draw, and after spending some relaxing days by the beach, San Blas will provide a different atmosphere and experience. Check into the Hotel Garza Canela, a family operated business with one of the best restaurants in all of Riviera Nayarit. Grab a quick bite at the hotel and drive over to La Contaduria, an abandoned fort where visitors can get up close and personal with the structure and enjoy the spectacular views of San Blas and the harbor.
Afterwards, drive to the harbor and hire a boat guide to visit La Tovara National Park. This is a bird lover’s paradise where you’ll find more than 250 species of migratory birds. Additionally, your guide will spot crocodiles and other wildlife during your tour. If birds aren’t really your idea of a good time, then take a different boat ride out to Mexcaltitan, a small man-made island off the coast, which was decreed as a historic monument zone in 1986. The population on the island is about 800 people and visitors can spend the day there walking down the small streets, visiting the museum and town square, and eating fresh fish. That evening, return to Hotel Garza Canela and indulge in Chef and owner Betty Vasquez’ El Delfin restaurant. Chef Vasquez has been regarded as one of the best chefs in the region and her menu makes for a great last meal and experience before departing back to the airport the next morning.
Where to Stay
For that extra-secluded feel near Sayulita, Punta Monterrey Beach Resort will provide just what you’re looking for—a hidden paradise. If you’re looking for something a little more lively, there are plenty of private home rentals close to the action in Sayulita. In San Blas, the Hotel Garza Canela will be your best bet, since it’s home to the best restaurant in town.
There are direct flights to Puerto Vallarta from various U.S. cities including Dallas, Honolulu, Phoenix, Portland, and Chicago on American Airlines, while Delta Airlines has direct flights from cities like Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and Atlanta. Additionally, Air Canada and WestJet Airlines have direct flights from almost every major city in Canada.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Riviera Nayarit Guide