BONJOUR WORLD: Charming villages waiting to be discovered in Riviera Nayarit
The destination is Riviera Nayarit. The reason; luxury coupled with a change of pace from the typical Mexican feel.
The best part is that there are a number of little villages in the area all waiting to be discovered and celebrated as your favorite “new destination.”
You likely won’t be able to discover all there is to see in just one trip, so like a flower that continually blossoms take the local experience in and feel the magic as you peel back the layers of the Riviera Nayarit experience.
First let’s get you acclimated to where Riviera Nayarit is located.
It’s on the Pacific side of Mexico and you will likely fly into Puerto Vallarta. Riviera Nayarit is not just a beach destination either since there are also lazy rivers and lagoons, unique art colonies and a world class surfing vibe.
Unlike some Mexican destinations, Riviera Nayarit is a new addition to the line-up offering a modern feel while still engulfing the visitor in authentic Mexico at the same time.
But you’d be wrong to believe that the outer trappings are all there is to offer in this little jewel since, while Riviera Nayarit does boast luxurious properties and five-star restaurants, you can combine that with outdoor sports like zip-lining, horseback riding or ATV adventures oh, and a well-timed margarita or two or three.
After all, it is Mexico.
I visited a few months ago and spent my first two nights at the all-inclusive Iberostar Playa Mita complete with sunset cocktails, four specialty restaurants and a five-star feel. With a Splash Park by day and a disco by night, there is also a nearby golf club and a plethora of water activities to keep you happy.
While I was there I wanted to experience a few of the little villages that make this area so special so I journeyed first to the little town of San Pancho. Just a little tidbit about San Pancho; if you love polo then head there anytime from November to May because it is a town famous for the sport.
The beach in San Pancho is white sand and jungle combined with rocky stretches and a lagoon at the end. The town is home to birds and bars – the perfect place for a sunset margarita before dinner. The quaint feel in San Pancho also encourages a walk down the cobblestone streets, peeking behind the doors that house boutique hotels like the Cielo Rojo and a few trendy restaurants that are so far still hidden secrets.
Not so secret in San Pancho is the Entre Amigos Community Center founded by an American, but offering a real cultural tone in San Pancho. Visitors can volunteer at Entre Amigos, once just a simple after school hangout for kids it is now a full-blown community center with computers, a library, a thrift shop and even classes like yoga and belly dancing.
About 15 minutes from San Pancho is another town with a vibe you won’t want to miss. My host and I headed over to Sayulita and dined at Don Pedros for lunch. Be careful of the margaritas because they are potent. However, if you are up for people watching in one of the most perfect little spots on the beach then tuck in and call it a day. The menu is as diverse as the people strolling along the beach since Sayulita is the quintessential surf town.
At Don Pedro’s you will be seated under a palapa with expanded ocean views. Get your feet moving if you are there on a Monday or Thursday since after the sun goes down there are Salsa nights or Gypsy Flamenco dancing nights depending on when you’re there.
In addition to catching a wave Sayulita is known for its eclectic art finds. For the independent- minded traveler this locale is going to be your thing. From handmade handicrafts to fine art galleries you will definitely want to take a walk and find a unique piece of art to take home.
A few nights at the Iberostar and I headed over to the 22-acre St. Regis Punta Mita Hotel for a few days and nights of being blissfully pampered. This property can easily be coined your own private hideaway and part of the beauty here is that it’s nestled into nature with an eye toward relaxation and seclusion.
There are three pools and one will fit your needs from family to adults only to a pool near the beach. There is a children’s club and a variety of restaurants and bars. The Altamira Tapa, Wine & Gin Bar is as good as it sounds and is the place to hang out for pre-dinner cocktails.
While I lulled my few days at the St. Regis in utter tranquility, I was also coaxed into learning more about surfing and paddle boarding. The Punta Mita Expedition folks at the resort will set you up with an instructor and a board for surfing or paddle boarding and all you need to do is have an open mind that is ready for adventure.
The Remede Spa is 10,000 square feet with lush gardens to wander through before or after one of the signature treatments of which there are several. There is a customized facial after consultation with the esthetician, but I recommend the Diamond Facial meant to regenerate and energize your skin just like the time spent at St. Regis will do for your spirit.
Body work at the spa is just as impressive as the facials and I found that the understanding at Remede Spa of the entire body internally and externally will really make your spa day special.
To end the trip in the best possible way I took dinner at the resort’s signature restaurant Carolina on my final night. It’s a five diamond affair and my host and I had dinner outside under the stars as we sampled the well-crafted menu from the local chef.
Overall, Riviera Nayarit covers 192 miles of Pacific coastline that is still up for the taking with the fertile rainforest in the Sierra Madre Mountains offering a fashionable backdrop for your escape. No need to worry about too much down time unless you just want that kind of thing since the many charming villages will play host to your relaxing adventure the minute you step outside the resort, but that’s all really up to you.
After all, the charm of Riviera Nayarit is that the magnetism is natural and can be found wherever you turn as long as you let this part of Mexico hypnotize you with its magic while you float blissfully along for the ride.