Sports travel Nine Things That Will Make You Love Riviera Nayarit
If you live in the northern hemisphere, with its cold winters and wet springs, an escape to a warm and sunny climate might be just what the doctor ordered. Especially if that climate includes a different culture and exciting food. If so, Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit is the perfect destination for you, with an annual average temperature of 77º Fahrenheit and a sub-humid climate. About 10 minutes from Puerto Vallarta International Airport, Riviera Nayarit extends north for about 200 miles. To discover this southern beauty, make sure you rent a car and explore beaches, towns and wonders of nature to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Banderas Bay, one of the largest and most beautiful bays in the world, is not to be missed at the southern tip of Riviera Nayarit. Make sure you book a boat to go whale watching for an unforgettable experience. The humpback whales choose these waters every winter to give birth to their offspring. If wildlife is what interests you, continue exploring at the San Juan State Biosphere Reserve, at the foothills of the San Juan and Sangagüey volcano.
FOOD IN SAYULITA
Let’s be clear. One of the best reasons to visit Mexico time and time again is to taste authentic Mexican cuisine. While in Sayulita, start your day with breakfast at Choco Banana. Continue onto lunch right on Sayulita Beach, at Don Pedro’s, where you will delight in tasting the delicious grilled artichoke or the shrimp tacos. This is the place to see and be seen. And if you wander into town and find yourself at the Sayulita Wine Shop, you might want to stay for an informative and delicious tequila and agave tasting.
Long before the Riviera Nayarit became a tourist destination, it was part of the prominent Aztec empire. The island of Mexcaltitan is only 1,300 feet in diameter and can be covered by foot within a couple of hours (which is helpful, since no cars are allowed!). The island can only be reached by boat, just a 20-minute ride from La Batanga pier at San Blas. Since the island is normally underwater during the rainy season, between September and November, it has been nicknamed “The Mexican Venice” because the only way through town is by boat. Although just a tiny island, Mexcaltitan offers compelling cultural attractions. This picturesque town is decorated with traditional tile-roof buildings and charming unmarked shops identified by rote. Near the town square is a historic church and the Museo del Origen (Museum of Origin), which displays Aztec and Mesoamerican artifacts, such as the stone engraving of an image with that snake-capturing heron that led to the development of Mexico as the cultural treasure it is today.
TOWN OF BUCERIAS. MERCADO ARTESANAL
Your next stop should be the town of Bucerías, on via Highway 200. Hit the beach and wait for one of the most spectacular sunsets you’ve ever seen, then walk back to the center of town where you’ll be greeted by art galleries all along Lázaro Cárdenas street; check out the Mercado Artesanal for handicrafts and indulge yourself in a piece of art. On Thursdays the main avenue turns into an art exhibit—it’s quite fun, and there are plenty of cafés, bars and intimate restaurants for you to stop in and enjoy a fine dinner.
Just a few miles offshore, the Marietas Islands are accessible by boat with Punta Mita Expeditions. It was Jacques Cousteau who was responsible for appealing to the Mexican government back in the 1960s to preserve Islas Marietas as a national park to protect its delicate ecosystem. Just take your snorkel, sunblock, bikini and camera. The islands are one of the icons of the Riviera Nayarit. At one time, the Mexican military used the islands for bomb targeting practice, decimating the local flora and fauna. Today, the islands are now a protected bird sanctuary, within Isla Marietas National Park, and teeming with life both above and under the water.
HIDDEN BEACH MARIETAS
Hidden Beach (also called Playa del Amor or Lover’s Beach) on the Marietas Islands is only accessible with special permission. Unfortunately, you can’t access the beach during high tide. Hidden Beach is invisible from the outside, and is only accessible through a long water tunnel that links the beach to the Pacific Ocean. There is approximately six feet of space above water level, so visitors can arrive at the beach by swimming or kayaking. The islands remain uninhabited but are frequently visited by tourists who come to enjoy the diverse marine wildlife and the unique tropical Eden of Playa del Amor.
YOGA IN SAN PEDRO
In keeping with San Pancho’s chilled vibe, yoga is big here with studios like El Estar and Yoga San Pancho, with both group and individual classes available. With varieties such as Kundalini, Vinyasa, Hatha Flow and Yin, there is truly something for everyone. Yoga San Pancho also offers Feldenkrais classes: a discipline that focuses on maximizing comfortable and effective motions through movement awareness.
Few golf courses compare when it comes to views of Banderas Bay and the Pacific Ocean, pristine beaches and the rainforest of the Sierra Madre Mountains. One of those clubs is the Litibú Golf Club at Punta Mita and designed by Greg Norman. Litibú attracts golfers from all over the world with its eighteen holes, extensive yardage and golf lessons, but the real draw is the breathtaking view of both the virgin jungle and the ocean. You would be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful spot to practice the sport you love.
This is when you step up to the plate: You may not have planned on it, but taking a surf class can be fun, adrenaline-fueled and full of laughter and excitement. In Sayulita there are several surf schools including Luna Azul, Sayulita Surf School, Rancho Mi Chaparrita and Vallarta Adventures. Try standing up on the board, keeping your balance and riding a wave-it’s a unique experience! But if you prefer something more relaxed, get a longboard and a paddle and try your hand at SUP (you’ll still need your balance, though!) It’s great core exercise, too.