Punta de Mita, Riviera Nayarit

The Ultimate Riviera Nayarit Travel Guide

You know that moment when you stumble across a hidden gem of a destination that seems almost too good to be true? That’s Riviera Nayarit for you. Nestled along Mexico’s lush Pacific coast, this laidback slice of paradise has it all – endless stretches of soft sand beaches, charming colonial towns dotted with pastel buildings, a treasure trove of natural wonders to explore, and mouthwatering regional cuisine. In this ultimate travel guide, you’ll discover everything you need to know to plan your own escape to this coastal wonderland. We’ll share insider tips on the best places to stay, eat, and play from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita and beyond. You’ll learn how to immerse yourself in Riviera Nayarit’s rich culture and adventure to secluded beaches, jungle waterfalls, and more. So what are you waiting for? Your Mexican dream vacation awaits!

Getting to Riviera Nayarit: Transportation and Logistics

Fly into Puerto Vallarta International Airport

The closest airport to Riviera Nayarit is Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR), located just 30 minutes south of the Riviera Nayarit border. Major airlines offer direct and one-stop flights here from cities across North America and some cities in Central America. Once you land, you can easily get to destinations in Riviera Nayarit by bus, taxi, or rental car.

Rent a car for maximum flexibility

Renting a car gives you the freedom to explore Riviera Nayarit on your own schedule. All major car rental companies have counters at the Puerto Vallarta airport. The drive to Riviera Nayarit is easy – just head north on Highway 200. While driving in Mexico, be aware that road signage may differ from what you’re used to. Obey the speed limit, wear your seat belt, and don’t drink and drive.

Take a bus for a budget-friendly option

If you’re on a budget, public busses regularly shuttle visitors between Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit. Two bus services, Primera Plus and ETN, offer comfortable rides with air conditioning, reclining seats, and onboard restrooms. Busses depart the Puerto Vallarta airport and bus terminal for destinations like Bucerías, Sayulita, San Pancho, and Punta de Mita. Fares range from $3 to $10 per person each way.

Get a taxi for door-to-door service

Taxis are readily available at the Puerto Vallarta airport and can take you directly to destinations in Riviera Nayarit. Fares vary but expect to pay $50-$100 or more for the one-hour drive to spots like Sayulita or Punta Mita. Be sure to negotiate the fare before getting into the taxi and only use official airport taxis to ensure a safe ride.

Top Towns and Cities to Visit in Riviera Nayarit


This bohemian surf town is a must-visit. Wander the cobblestone streets, shop for handcrafted goods, and enjoy a cold beer while watching the sunset. When you’re ready to hit the waves, rent a board and wetsuit right on the beach. The food here is also amazing, with fresh seafood, traditional Mexican fare, and hip cafes on every corner.

San Pancho

Just north of Sayulita, San Pancho has a more laid-back vibe. The beach stretches for miles and the sunsets are legendary. Check out the EntreAmigos community center, which offers activities like yoga, dance, and art classes. Or just find a quiet spot to curl up with a book – San Pancho is the perfect place to unwind.


This colorful beach town is ideal for a family getaway. The beach is calm and shallow, perfect for little ones. You’ll also find kid-friendly activities like boat tours, horseback riding, and a small water park. In the evening, stroll the cobblestone streets, shop for souvenirs, and enjoy a delicious taco or quesadilla. Bucerías has a fun, festive atmosphere any time of year.

Punta de Mita

Just south of Sayulita, Punta de Mita is an upscale resort area with luxury hotels, gourmet dining, and world-class golfing. Even if you’re not staying at one of the resorts, the beaches here are stunning. Check out the Marietas Islands, a wildlife refuge with secluded beaches and snorkeling. Or charter a boat for whale watching, sport fishing, or island hopping. Punta de Mita is a little slice of paradise for those seeking an indulgent getaway.

With stunning beaches, adventure activities, delicious food, and vibrant culture, the towns of Riviera Nayarit have something for everyone. Get ready for your most memorable Mexico vacation yet!

Best Beaches in Riviera Nayarit

With over 200 miles of coastline, Riviera Nayarit is a beach lover’s paradise. No matter what kind of beach vibe you’re looking for, you’ll find it here.


For a laid-back hippie surf town vibe, head to Sayulita beach. This popular beach town has a distinct bohemian feel, with surfers, yogis and free spirits congregating on its sandy shores. You can rent a surfboard right on the beach and take lessons if it’s your first time hanging ten. When the sun goes down, beach bonfires are lit and the party keeps going into the night. It’s a perfect place to disconnect from the world for a while.

San Pancho

Just north of Sayulita, San Pancho beach has a more peaceful ambiance. The beach stretches for miles with soft white sand and gentle waves, ideal for swimming or long walks along the shore. San Pancho still has a small-town feel, with colorful houses, cobblestone streets and a charming town square. For the best sunset views, head to the beachfront restaurants and enjoy a margarita or michelada while the sky erupts in orange and red hues.

Punta de Mita

At the northern tip of Riviera Nayarit, Punta de Mita beach is a tropical paradise flanked by the Sierra Madre mountains and Marieta Islands. The islands, just offshore, are a popular spot for snorkeling, kayaking and boat tours. Whale watching is also popular here, especially from December to March when humpback whales can be spotted breaching just offshore. The relaxed beach town has upscale resorts, beach clubs and an 18-hole golf course with stunning sea views on every hole. Whether you want an action-packed beach getaway or a peaceful respite in your own private cabana, Punta de Mita delivers.

With a beach for every mood, Riviera Nayarit’s shores have something special in store for you. Make your escape to this Pacific paradise and let your inner beach bum out to play. The warm sand and azure waters are waiting!

Riviera Nayarit Cuisine: Traditional Dishes and Where to Try Them

The cuisine of Riviera Nayarit is a vibrant fusion of indigenous Mexican flavors blended with Spanish influences. Some dishes you must try include:

Fresh Seafood

With miles of coastline, seafood is king here. Tostadas de ceviche—raw fish cured in lime juice—are a must. Try the shrimp, tuna or mixed seafood versions. Or dig into a plate of fish tacos, baja-style with crispy fried fish, cabbage, pico de gallo and a creamy chili sauce. For the freshest catch, head to El Delfín in San Blas or Mariscos El Delfín in La Peñita.

Mole Negro

Mole negro is a rich, thick sauce made of chiles, spices, and chocolate. It is usually served over meat and rice. The mole negro at Casa de Mole in Tepic is legendary, made with over 30 ingredients and simmered for hours. Their mole chicken enchiladas are also amazing.

Chiles Rellenos

Chiles rellenos are roasted green chiles stuffed with cheese, then fried or baked in egg batter. La Cabaña restaurant in Bucerías and El Barracuda in Sayulita are known for their chiles rellenos. Try them topped with salsa ranchera, crema, and queso fresco.

Fresh Tortillas and Salsas

No meal is complete without warm corn tortillas and fresh salsas. Look for tortillerías that make tortillas to order, like Tortillería Nayar in Tepic. They also sell containers of salsa roja, verde, and chili arbol to take home.

The culinary traditions of Riviera Nayarit reflect the region’s natural abundance and cultural richness. Whether you want an upscale dining experience or casual street eats, you’ll discover flavors as vibrant and varied as the destination itself. Buen provecho!

Experiencing the Vibrant Culture of Riviera Nayarit

Colorful Traditions

The local culture in Riviera Nayarit is a vibrant mix of indigenous Mexican and Spanish influences. You’ll discover colorful traditions, festivals, and handicrafts that showcase the region’s cultural heritage.

Witness ceremonial dances, like the Danza de los Voladores, where men climb a 30-meter pole and spin down, attached only by ropes. Marvel at the intricate beadwork and embroidery of the Huichol people. Their geometric patterns and animal symbols are works of art. Shop for handmade goods at the Mercado de Artesanías in Puerto Vallarta, where you’ll find pottery, textiles, wood carvings, and jewelry.

Delicious Food

The food in Riviera Nayarit is as colorful as the culture. Savor fresh seafood like red snapper, mahi mahi, and shrimp. Indulge in chicken mole, a rich sauce made of chiles and spices. Or try chiles en nogada, poblano peppers stuffed with meat and fruit, topped with a walnut cream sauce. Wash it all down with a michelada, a spicy beer cocktail, or a margarita.

Street food is also popular, like tacos al pastor, carnitas, or gorditas. You’ll find food carts and stalls in most towns and cities. For a taste of history, dine at Restaurant Café de la Plaza in San Blas, open since 1890. They serve classic Mexican and seafood dishes in an elegant courtyard.

Festivals Galore

Riviera Nayarit hosts many festivals and events year-round. In February, Puerto Vallarta celebrates Carnaval with parades, music, and dancing. April brings Flavors of Nayarit, a culinary festival in Bucerías. La Cruz de Huanacaxtle hosts a sailing regatta and festival in November.

December is the liveliest month. Towns come alive with posadas, religious processions reenacting the journey of Joseph and Mary. Colorful farolitos, paper lanterns, light up the streets. On Christmas Eve, families gather for a midnight feast where they break open a piñata. Welcome the New Year with fireworks, music, and dancing in the town squares.

From cultural traditions to mouthwatering cuisine to vibrant festivals, Riviera Nayarit offers an authentic taste of Mexico. Experience the soul of this magical region through its vibrant culture. Let the colors, sounds, scents, and flavors transport you.

Outdoor Activities and Nature in Riviera Nayarit

Nestled between the Sierra Madre Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Riviera Nayarit is an adventure lover’s paradise. You’ll find no shortage of ways to get your heart pumping in the fresh air and stunning natural surroundings.

Surfing and Beach Activities

With 200 miles of coastline and swells that can reach up to 15 feet high in the winter, Riviera Nayarit attracts surfers from around the globe. Sayulita and Punta Mita are popular surf towns, with waves for all skill levels. If surfing isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy beach activities like swimming, sunbathing, beachcombing, or building a bonfire at night. Many resorts and tour companies offer equipment rentals and lessons for surfing, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking and more.

Hiking in the Sierra Madre

Lush rainforests, waterfalls and wildlife abound in the Sierra Madre Mountains. One of the most popular hikes is to the secluded beach at Playa Las Animas, accessible only by boat or a 3-mile jungle trail. The trail starts in the town of Bucerías and winds through thick vegetation before descending to the soft white sands of the beach. Other stunning trails lead to scenic viewpoints like Punta Negra or the lost town of Palo Verde. Be prepared for hot weather, and watch out for tropical wildlife like snakes, spiders and crocodiles.

Bird Watching

Over 500 species of birds inhabit Riviera Nayarit, including vibrant parrots, toucans, hummingbirds and frigate birds. Head to the coastal lagoons of Marismas Nacionales or San Blas jungle to spot flocks of migratory birds. Many resorts also have on-site nature trails perfect for bird watching. The best time for birding is early morning when the birds are most active. Bring binoculars, field guides and patience to witness these colorful tropical birds in their element.

With its wealth of natural attractions, Riviera Nayarit offers an open-air adventure for every taste. Trade the confines of a gym for the thrill of hiking through the jungle, the rush of hanging ten on an epic wave or the wonder of encountering exotic wildlife in their native habitat. Mother Nature is the ultimate personal trainer here, and she’ll never let you miss a workout.

Must-See Sights and Tours in Riviera Nayarit

Puerto Vallarta Beach Boardwalk (Malecon)

No trip to Riviera Nayarit is complete without strolling along the scenic beach boardwalk in Puerto Vallarta. Flanked by palm trees, shops, restaurants and lots of public art, the Malecon offers unparalleled people watching and views of the Bahia de Banderas. Grab an ice cream or margarita and take in the vibrant atmosphere. As night falls, the boardwalk comes alive with music and dancing.

San Pancho Turtle Release

Between November and March, you can witness the special moment when tiny olive ridley sea turtles are released into the ocean. The San Pancho Turtle Rescue Center rescues thousands of endangered turtle eggs and hatchlings each year, raising the babies until they’re ready to survive on their own. Releasing a hatchling into the sea is a magical experience you’ll never forget.

Puerto Vallarta City Tour

One of the best ways to get acquainted with Puerto Vallarta is on a guided city tour. You’ll visit cultural highlights like Plaza Principal, Los Arcos amphitheater and the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Then head up into the hills for panoramic views of the city and bay. Some tours also stop at an artisan village to shop for souvenirs. It’s a great overview of Vallarta’s history, architecture and natural scenery.

Yelapa Waterfall Hike

For outdoor adventure, hike to the spectacular Cola de Caballo waterfall in the jungle village of Yelapa. The moderately challenging 2-mile hike follows a river through tropical forest, where you might spot birds like kingfishers or parrots. Refresh yourself under the 150-foot waterfall, surrounded by granite cliffs and a natural swimming pool. Afterward, reward yourself with a cold beer and fish tacos at one of Yelapa’s beachfront restaurants. It’s a perfect day escaping from it all.

Riviera Nayarit offers a wealth of exciting things to see and do. Whether you want to immerse yourself in culture, indulge in delicious food and drink, enjoy activities in the great outdoors, or just relax on the beach, this region has something for every interest and taste. Dive in and experience all the magic Riviera Nayarit has to offer!

Planning Your Riviera Nayarit Vacation: Tips and Recommendations

To make the most of your Riviera Nayarit getaway, do some planning ahead of time. Here are some tips to help you prepare for a hassle-free beach vacation in paradise:

Once you’ve booked your flight into Puerto Vallarta, you’ll need to arrange transportation to your hotel. Many resorts offer shuttle services to pick you up at the airport, or you can hire a taxi for around $50 USD each way. Renting a car can also be convenient for exploring on your own schedule. The drive time from the airport to most towns along the Riviera Nayarit coast is 45-90 minutes depending on traffic.

Decide which area you want to stay in based on the experience you’re looking for. Options include:

  • Sayulita: Bohemian beach town with a hippie vibe, popular for surfing and yoga.
  • San Pancho: Charming fishing village with a pristine beach and lush jungle surroundings. Great for unwinding in a natural setting.
  • Punta Mita: Upscale resort area with world-class golf courses, secluded beaches and the Marieta Islands. Catering to luxury travelers.
  • Lo de Marcos: Peaceful beach community with a slow pace of life. Perfect for a relaxing beach getaway in an authentic Mexican town.

Once you choose a destination, book lodging in advance, especially if traveling during peak season from December to April. Everything from beach bungalows to luxury resorts and vacation rentals are available.

Don’t forget to pack essentials like sunscreen, bug spray, beach towels, sandals and a coverup. The Riviera Nayarit has a hot tropical climate, so pack light, breathable clothing. A hat and UV-protective sunglasses will also come in handy during your beach adventures in the bright Mexican sun.

With some advance planning, you’ll be all set to embark on an unforgettable Riviera Nayarit getaway. The only thing left to do is sit back, relax and enjoy this slice of paradise!

Riviera Nayarit FAQs: Answering Your Top Travel Questions

How do I get to Riviera Nayarit?

The nearest major airport is in Puerta Vallarta, about 45 minutes south of Riviera Nayarit. Most major airlines offer direct or one-stop flights to Puerta Vallarta International Airport (PVR) from cities across North America. From there, you have a few options to reach towns in Riviera Nayarit:

  • Rent a car at the airport and drive yourself. Highway 200 runs north along the coast, connecting Puerta Vallarta to main towns like Sayulita, San Pancho, La Peñita, and San Blas.
  • Take a shuttle or bus. Shuttle services and local busses depart from the airport to destinations in Riviera Nayarit. Fares range from $15 to $30 USD per person.
  • Book airport transfers. Many hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals in Riviera Nayarit offer pre-arranged airport shuttle transfers for guests. Fares typically start around $30 to $50 USD for up to 4 passengers.

What towns should I visit?

Some of the most popular towns along Riviera Nayarit include:

  • Sayulita – A bohemian beach town with a vibrant surfer vibe, cobblestone streets, and colorful buildings. It has a more rustic feel than Puerta Vallarta.
  • San Pancho – A charming fishing village with a long, quiet beach, lush jungle surroundings, and laid-back atmosphere.
  • La Peñita – A traditional Mexican town with an authentic feel, uncrowded beach, and affordable prices. Popular with locals and budget travelers.
  • San Blas – A historic port town surrounded by estuaries, mangroves, and secluded beaches. It attracts nature lovers and outdoor adventurers.
  • Lo de Marcos – A peaceful beach town with a scenic long beach, lush palm groves, and relaxed vibe. Mostly frequented by locals and long-term snowbirds.

There are many more picturesque towns and secluded beaches to explore along the Riviera Nayarit coast. No matter which places you visit, you’ll experience the region’s laid-back beach culture, natural scenery, outdoor activities, and traditional Mexican heritage.

What is the weather like?

Riviera Nayarit has a tropical savanna climate with hot weather throughout most of the year. The dry season runs from December to April, with little chance of rain and daytime highs around 82 F. The rainy or “green” season is from May to November, with short tropical showers and temperatures in the mid to upper 80s F, along with increased humidity. Ocean temperatures stay warm all year, ranging from 77


You now have all the info you need to plan an unforgettable trip to Mexico’s gorgeous Riviera Nayarit. With stunning beaches, lush jungles, charming pueblos, and amazing food, this region truly has it all. Whether you’re looking to relax on secluded shores, embark on outdoor adventures, or immerse yourself in Mexican culture, Riviera Nayarit is sure to exceed your expectations. Just don’t forget your sunscreen! With so many incredible sights and activities, you’ll be tempted to stay outside exploring from sunup to sundown. But with this complete guide in hand, you can confidently craft your perfect Riviera Nayarit getaway. Enjoy every magical moment!