Punta De Mita

Your Guide to the Beautiful Towns and Beaches of Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit

You’re looking for that perfect mix of small town charm, stunning beaches, and authentic culture for your next getaway. Well, you just found it in Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit. From cozy fishing villages to luxury resort towns, this stretch of Mexico’s gorgeous Pacific coast has it all. In this guide, we’ll take you on a tour from end to end, hitting all the highlights. You’ll get the inside scoop on the best places to stay, eat, and play in destinations like Sayulita, San Blas, and Punta Mita. And of course, we’ll show you those famous beaches – we’re talking miles of sand fringed by palm trees and dotted with beachfront restaurants. Whether you’re looking to surf perfect waves, relax under a palapa with a margarita, or experience traditional Mexico, you’ll find your slice of paradise in Riviera Nayarit. Let’s dive in!

Introducing Mexico’s Stunning Riviera Nayarit

Nestled between the Sierra Madre Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit is a slice of paradise. This 200-mile stretch of coastline offers everything from secluded beaches and surfing hotspots to charming towns and luxury resorts.

Pristine Beaches and Surfing Havens

With miles of undeveloped beaches, Riviera Nayarit is a beach lover’s dream. At Chacala, a fishing village turned surf town, you’ll find a crescent of golden sand and rideable waves. Nearby Las Varas and Aticama also offer quiet coves, tide pools, and surfing.

Further north, Sayulita is a bohemian beach town with a vibrant surf scene. Its picturesque beach is popular for swimming, sunbathing, and learning how to ride the waves. More advanced surfers head to Punta Mita, a secluded peninsula with fast breaks like La Lancha and El Anclote.

Charming Towns

The cobblestone streets of San Pancho (officially San Francisco) are lined with art galleries, restaurants, and cafes. Thursday evenings, the town comes alive for the weekly farmer’s market. A few miles south, Bucerías also has a laid-back vibe with an expat community and beachfront restaurants.

For a taste of luxury, check out Punta Mita. This opulent resort area is home to five-star hotels, Jack Nicklaus golf courses, and a yacht club. Revel in the pampered lifestyle as you lounge on pristine beaches, dine at world-class restaurants, and unwind at a lavish spa.

With stunning natural scenery, uncrowded beaches, and welcoming towns, the Riviera Nayarit offers a perfect escape. Come discover this Pacific paradise for yourself.

Top Towns to Explore in Riviera Nayarit

San Pancho

One of the most charming beach towns in Riviera Nayarit is San Pancho, also known as San Francisco. It has a laid-back hippie vibe with colorful murals, art galleries, organic eateries and a popular beach for swimming and surfing. Take a stroll along the cobblestone streets, dine under strands of lights and grab a drink at a beachfront bar as the sun sets over the Pacific.


About 30 minutes south of San Pancho is the popular surf town of Sayulita. It has a vibrant beach scene with people of all ages learning how to hang ten on the gentle waves. When you need a break from the surf and sun, explore the town plaza, shop for local artisan crafts or sample delicious street food like fish tacos, ceviche and Mexican pizza. As night falls, the beachfront comes alive with music and dancing that goes late into the evening.


For a quieter beach getaway, head to the secluded cove of Chacala about 45 minutes south of Sayulita. This tiny fishing village has pristine beaches, seafront restaurants with fresh seafood and rustic cabanas for rent. The turquoise waters of the cove are ideal for swimming, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. Take a boat tour to spot whales, dolphins and seabirds. At night, the stars shine brightly without much light pollution in this off-the-beaten-path slice of paradise.

The laid-back beach towns of Riviera Nayarit offer the perfect escape with each destination having its own unique vibe. Whether you’re looking to surf, swim, shop, dine or just relax, the gorgeous coves and sandy shores have something for everyone along Mexico’s Pacific coast.

Must-See Beaches in Riviera Nayarit

Playa de Oro

Easily one of the most popular beaches in Riviera Nayarit, Playa de Oro (Gold Beach) lives up to its name with soft, golden sand and swaying palm trees. Located just north of San Blas, this half-mile stretch of beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, beachcombing, and sunset strolls. When you’re ready to cool off, grab a coconut or mangosteen from one of the beach vendors. If you’re lucky, you may spot dolphins playing in the surf or pelicans diving for fish.

Chacala Beach

The quintessential Mexican beach town, Chacala has remained relatively untouched by mass tourism. Its crescent-shaped beach is framed by jungle-clad hills and sheltered by a rocky headland, creating a sense of seclusion. The turquoise waters are ideal for swimming, snorkeling with tropical fish, or paddle boarding. When the sun gets too hot, grab some fresh ceviche and an ice-cold beer at one of the palm-thatched palapa restaurants along the shore. For the best views, head to the hilltop hotel overlooking the bay.

Playa Los Cocos

A 30-minute drive north of San Blas, Playa Los Cocos is a little slice of paradise. Flanked by coconut groves, this secluded beach has soft white sand and azure waters that stretch as far as the eye can see. It’s the perfect escape from the crowds, with little development beyond a few rustic palapa restaurants. Pack a picnic, bring your dog, go horseback riding, or just find your own private stretch of sand. The sunsets here are legendary, with vibrant pink and orange hues that dance across the sky and sea. For a peaceful beach getaway, Playa Los Cocos can’t be beat.

From popular beaches with all the amenities to pristine, undeveloped coves, Riviera Nayarit has a perfect stretch of sand for every mood. Now that you know about some of the must-see beaches in the region, grab your swimsuit, sunscreen, and a cocktail and hit the beach! The turquoise waters and white sands await.

Outdoor Activities in Riviera Nayarit

The natural landscapes of Riviera Nayarit lend themselves perfectly to outdoor recreation. Whether you prefer land or sea, adrenaline rushes or quiet reflection, there are myriad ways to experience the great outdoors.

Hiking and Birdwatching

The Sierra Madre Mountains provide excellent opportunities for hiking and birdwatching. Spot colorful macaws, parrots, and hummingbirds in their natural habitat. For sweeping views, hike to the top of the San Juan Waterfall or take a guided hike through the jungle canopy at Los Arcos Eco-Park.

Beachgoing and Watersports

With 200 miles of coastline, you’ll never run out of beaches to explore in Riviera Nayarit. Relax on the white sands of Sayulita beach, ride the waves at Punta Mita, or go snorkeling among tropical fish at Islas Marietas National Park. Many resorts and tour operators offer equipment rentals and lessons for watersports like surfing, sailing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.

Adventure and Eco-Tourism

If you’re an adrenaline junkie, Riviera Nayarit will thrill you with opportunities for zip lining, off-roading, and swimming with whale sharks. Go on an eco-adventure in San Blas, like jungle canopy tours, mangrove tours or crocodile spotting. Many tour companies and resorts organize these kinds of sustainable and educational eco-tours.

Golfing and Sport Fishing

World-class golf courses with stunning ocean vistas can be found throughout Riviera Nayarit, especially around Punta Mita and Nuevo Vallarta. Deep sea sport fishing is also popular, with opportunities to hook mahi-mahi, sailfish, marlin and tuna. Charter a private boat or go on a group fishing tour.

With this combination of outdoor activities set amidst a backdrop of natural beauty, you’ll never run out of ways to stay active and entertained during your time in Riviera Nayarit. Get out and explore!

Where to Stay: Best Hotels and Resorts

Punta de Mita

Punta de Mita is a popular beach town with some of the best luxury resorts in the region. The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort is a five-star resort set on 22 beachfront acres with spacious rooms, an oceanfront infinity pool, and a full-service spa. The Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita also gets rave reviews, with beachfront rooms, multiple pools, tennis courts, and several dining options.


For a more bohemian vibe, head to the surf town of Sayulita, about 30 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta. The Hotelito Desconocido is an eco-friendly hideaway with palapa-style bungalows, yoga classes, and fresh, organic meals. The spacious rooms at the Hotel Bahía del Espiritu overlook the beach and have colorful Mexican decor. In town, you’ll find casual beach bars, artisanal shops, and taco stands.

San Francisco (San Pancho)

The small beach village of San Francisco, also called San Pancho, has a handful of intimate hotels. Casa de los Arcos is a charming B&B with just six rooms, some with balconies and hammocks. The owners can arrange surfing lessons and tours. Nearby, the oceanfront resort Costa Alegre has colorful cabanas, a yoga palapa, and wood-fired pizzas.

Lo de Marcos

For a peaceful escape, head to the tiny beach town of Lo de Marcos, about 15 minutes from Sayulita. The beachfront Hotelito Punto Mita has just five rooms with minimalist decor, balconies with ocean views, and a small pool. You’re steps from the quiet beach and a short walk into town. The area has a deserted island vibe, with few tourists and lots of natural scenery. It’s the perfect place to unplug from it all.

The Riviera Nayarit offers luxurious resorts, secluded eco-hotels, and beachfront boutiques with a laid-back vibe. No matter your budget or style, you’ll find the perfect place to stay in one of the charming beach towns along this stretch of Mexico’s Pacific coast.

Local Cuisine You Must Try

Fresh Seafood

Living along miles of coastline means the seafood in Riviera Nayarit is amazingly fresh. You’ll find shrimp, lobster, snapper, and mahi mahi on menus everywhere. A popular way to enjoy the local catch is in a ceviche, raw fish marinated in lime juice. The acid in the lime “cooks” the fish, resulting in a light, citrusy dish perfect for a hot day.

Chiles and Salsas

Like elsewhere in Mexico, chiles and salsas are a key part of the cuisine in Riviera Nayarit. Sample a variety of homemade salsas with your meal, ranging from mild green chile to spicy habanero. Chiles rellenos, roasted green chiles stuffed with cheese or meat and fried, are a popular dish. You’ll also find chiles used in moles, rich sauces made from chiles and spices.

Fresh Fruits

The tropical climate means fruit trees thrive in Riviera Nayarit. You’ll find mangoes, papayas, bananas, and coconuts growing wild and also for sale from street carts and markets. Other tropical fruits like guanabana (soursop), mamey sapote, and zapote negro (black sapote) are also common. For a refreshing snack, try fruit sprinkled with lime juice, chili powder, and salt.

Street Food

Some of the best food in Mexico can be found from street carts and small taquerias. In Riviera Nayarit, look for tacos al pastor, thinly sliced pork marinated in chiles and spices. You’ll also find quesadillas, tamales, elotes (grilled corn on the cob), and fresh juices. For dessert, try churros, fried-dough pastry sticks dusted with sugar and cinnamon.

The diverse landscape and agriculture in Riviera Nayarit means the food is just as varied. Whether you opt for an upscale meal with wine pairings or grab something quick from a street vendor, you’ll get a taste of the fresh local ingredients and complex flavors the region is known for. Come with an empty stomach—you’re going to want to try it all!

Getting Around Riviera Nayarit

By Bus

The main bus lines in Riviera Nayarit offer an affordable and convenient way to travel between towns along the coast. Primera Plus and ETN are two of the most comfortable bus lines, with air conditioning, movies, and reclining seats. Busses depart from the main bus stations in each town, traveling up and down the coast throughout the day. Fares range from $5 to $15 USD depending on the distance.

By Taxi or Rideshare

Taxis and ridesharing services like Uber are readily available for getting around locally within towns. Fares depend on the distance but expect to pay between $5 to $20 USD. Taxis can also be hired for longer distances between towns, with fares ranging from $20 to $60 USD or more depending on the trip. Always negotiate the fare upfront to avoid surprises.

Drive Yourself

The coastal highway in Riviera Nayarit is in good condition, making driving yourself a great option if you want flexibility and independence. You can rent a car in towns like Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita or San Pancho and use it to explore the region. Driving at night can be challenging though due to lack of lighting and road signs in some areas. Exercise caution, especially around pedestrian crosswalks.

Organized Tours

Joining a group tour is a hassle-free way to travel between towns with a guide. Many hotels, tour agencies and activity providers offer van tours up and down the coast, stopping at major towns and attractions along the way. Tours typically last 6 to 8 hours and cost between $50 to $100+ USD per person, including hotel pick-up and drop-off. It’s a great option if you want to sit back, relax and let someone else do the navigating while you enjoy the views.

With a variety of transportation options to choose from, getting around the towns and beaches of Riviera Nayarit couldn’t be easier. Hop on a bus, call an Uber, rent a car or join a guided tour—the choice is yours! Whichever way you get there, adventures await in this stunning stretch of Mexico’s Pacific coastline.

Best Times to Visit Riviera Nayarit

The ideal time to visit Riviera Nayarit depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for. The dry season from December to April offers warm, sunny weather perfect for relaxing on the beach or partaking in outdoor adventures. The green season between May and November brings lower prices and smaller crowds, as well as a chance of afternoon rain showers.

If you want to enjoy the beaches and ocean without the rain, the dry season is your best bet. From December through February, daytime highs average around 82 F, while nighttime lows stay in the mid-60s, making it pleasant to dine al fresco or stroll the boardwalks after dark. The winter holidays and school breaks mean bigger crowds, so January and February may be slightly less busy.

For lower prices and thinner crowds, visit during the shoulder months of April to June or September to mid-December. You’ll still have mostly sunny weather, with daytime highs in the mid to upper 70s and an occasional quick rain shower. Resorts and tours often run promotions and discounts during these months.

The rainy or “green” season lasts from May through November. You can expect frequent afternoon thunderstorms and showers, with the most rain falling between July and September. The rain usually only lasts a few hours before clearing up again, and temperatures remain warm, ranging from the mid 70s to mid 80s. The lush, green landscapes are beautiful during this time, and resort rates are at their lowest.

No matter the season, Riviera Nayarit offers an inviting climate and scenery. Do some research on the weather and events for your desired travel dates and destinations to determine the ideal time for your beach getaway. The rewards of the vibrant culture, natural wonders and slower pace of life here await you any time of year.

FAQs About Visiting Riviera Nayarit

What’s the weather like?

The weather in Riviera Nayarit is warm all year round, with average highs around 82 F (28 C). The dry season runs from December to April and is generally the most popular time to visit, with little chance of rain. The rainy or “green” season is from May to November, and you can expect occasional afternoon showers and thunderstorms. The rain keeps the scenery green and lush, and the crowds thinner. Pack a mix of shorts, t-shirts, swimsuits as well as a light jacket.

How do I get around?

The best way to explore the Riviera Nayarit region is by rental car. Major towns like Sayulita, San Pancho, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Punta Mita are within 30 minutes of each other. If you don’t want to drive, taxis and busses also provide transportation between towns and beaches. Within towns, you can walk or bike to get around. Some hotels also offer shuttle services to nearby beaches and attractions.

What languages are spoken?

Spanish is the main language spoken in Riviera Nayarit. Many locals in the tourism industry can also speak English. It’s always a good idea to learn some basic Spanish phrases to be polite. Carry a translation guide or download a translation app to help you communicate.

Is it safe?

Riviera Nayarit is generally a very safe destination for tourists. Exercise normal precautions like not displaying valuables, using ATMs in well-lit locations and being cautious of your surroundings. Petty crimes do happen, so lock your doors and don’t leave belongings unattended on the beach. As in any place, be wary of unsolicited offers from strangers. The beaches and towns are very family-friendly, but take care in more remote areas. Register with the local embassy or consulate when you arrive.

What should I pack?

•Light, casual summer clothing like shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, sundresses

•Swimwear – bring a couple swimsuits so you have a dry one handy

•Sandals, flip flops and comfortable walking shoes

•A coverup, sarong or light jacket for cool evenings

•Sunglasses, sunhat and sunscreen

•Beach towel, book or magazine

•Chargers, camera, any medications

The laid-back beach vibe means casual attire is the norm. But some restaurants and clubs do have dress codes, so pack at least one nice outfit. A small backpack or beach bag will help you carry essentials. Don’t forget any important documents, cash, cards, IDs, etc. Have a great trip!


You’ve just scratched the surface of the amazing towns and beaches in Mexico’s gorgeous Riviera Nayarit region. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway, an authentic Mexican cultural experience, or a lively resort town, you’ll find something perfect for your next vacation here. With endless coastline, friendly locals, incredible food, and plenty of activities, it’s easy to see why Riviera Nayarit is becoming such a popular destination. Hopefully this guide has given you some inspiration and ideas to start planning an unforgettable trip. The beautiful towns and beaches of Riviera Nayarit are waiting for you to come explore. All that’s left is to book those flights and get ready for the Mexican adventure of a lifetime!