Riviera Nayarit Mexico

About Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

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Riviera Nayarita
The Riviera Nayarit is a nearly 200-mile stretch of coastline between the historic port of San Blas in the Mexican state of Nayarit to where the Río Ameca empties into Banderas Bay, in Nuevo Vallarta.

This Pacific coast destination, surrounded by beautiful natural scenery, tropical jungle areas and the Sierra Madre mountains, has developed into an important tourist resort over a relatively short period of time. The beaches, small islands and coral formations in this state make it an unbeatable place to spend your vacation. Many traditions of the pre-Hispanic people persist, as you’ll see in the colorful crafts. It offers top-notch hotels, luxurious boats at the Marina de Riviera Nayarit, excellent spas and world-class


The beautiful beaches of Riviera Nayarit offer estuaries, salt marshes, coastal lagoons and diverse ecosystems that allow you to appreciate the region’s natural beauty.

Here you’ll find a beach that stretches 8 km and restaurants serving fish and seafood dishes.

Lo de Marcos
This beach is 1 km long and has fine sand and warm blue-green waters. It also has rustic palapas, where you can sit down to a delicious meal.

Cruz de Huanacaxtle
Here you’ll find a beach of fine white sand and calm waters, making it the ideal spot to relax and do various aquatic sports.

Punta Mita
Located on the northern end of the Banderas Bay, this beach has clear warm waters and fine sand surrounded by volcanic rock formations. You can enjoy a wide array of aquatic sports here.

San Francisco
This 1.5 km beach offers crystalline waters and a magnificent view of the mountains.

El Anclote
Located near Punta Mita, here you’ll find a beach of fine white sand and a wide variety of restaurants serving diverse dishes.

This spot has a long white-sand beach where you can do various aquatic sports.


Riviera Nayarit enjoys a typical tropical climate, with near constant temperature. Average temperatures between 20° C and 30° C. Rainfall is heavier in June and October. Even during the rainy season precipitation tends to be concentrated in large rainstorms with insignificant precipitation on most days.

Temperature in CelsiusJFMAMJJASOND
Rainfall (mm)281877122063343273471231920


Protected by the second largest bay in the American continent, Bahia de Banderas, with over 160 km of golden beaches in the center of the Mexican Pacific and surrounded by the majestic mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental lies Riviera Nayarit. Located next to Puerto Vallarta in the state of Jalisco, Riviera Nayarit is itself in the state of Nayarit. It is home to two volcanoes, Ceboruco and Sanganguey.


Its history dates back to pre-Hispanic times, when it was occupied by Nahua groups (in the south) and Huichol (in the north). The Spaniards first arrived in the bay in 1525 with the emergence of Francisco Cortes de San Buenaventura, nephew of the famous conquistador Hernando Cortes. When he came upon the area it was occupied by various settlements of warlike Indians. These Indians would carry arches and spears flying cotton flags of different colors and designs when entering into battle which inspired him to name the region Valle de Banderas or the Valley of Flags. This is where the Bay of Banderas acquired its name. The Spaniards did conquer the region however in 1530.

It was not colonized till the mid 1800 as farmers began establishing themselves, following the example of the first family to do so, going by the name of Sanchez. During the 18th century Puerto Vallarta grew, transforming itself from a small fishing village into a small landing port serving the Sierra towns and a vacation destination for residents of the Sierra Towns. In the 1950s the domestic airline had started exploring Puerto Vallarta and the Bahia Banderas' potential as an American tourist destination and the rest is history.


At Dolphin Adventure you can enjoy the experience of swimming with dolphins in a pool that was specially designed for this activity.

Located on the northern end of the Banderas Bay, Punta Mita is one of the best spots to observe marine fauna and bird species, such as pelicans, seagulls and hawks. From November through April you can witness arrivals of the humpback whale. Nearby is the ecological reserve Marietas Islands.

Cruz de Huanacaxtle is the nesting ground of the Olive Ridley sea turtle, an endangered species. It’s also a very special place to observe birds and marine fauna.

Although not recommended for beginners, a wonderful area to hike is the Palo Maria where the journey will take you past 7 remote waterfalls. It is located just past Villas Garza Blanca next to the Garza Blanca River and can be accessed by bus. Flash floods can occur during a heavy rainfall.

Explore the Sierra Madre Mountains with one of the jeep, mountain biking, hiking or jungle tours. Many other activity tours are offered as well.

Unique to Here

Among Riviera Nayarit's most important festivities is the Festival de la Virgen de la Paz, which is held in January in Bucerias. At this interesting festival, you can see dance performances, try all kinds of food and visit the local fair.

Nearby Puerto Vallarta hosts one of Mexico's premier culinary arts events, the Festival Gourmet, attended by more than 20,000 people annually. Local chefs at participating restaurants and more than 20 guest chefs from around the world serve up some 500 gourmet foods, cheeses, tequilas and liquors. The event also involves cooking classes, wine tasting, beer samplings and other activities.

  • Airport :
    Puerto Vallarta International Airport
  • Airport Tax :
    The departure tax of around $40 US per person is usually included on your plane ticket, please verify.
  • Distance from Airport :
    10 min
  • Tourist Office :
    Tel. 01 (800) 523-0160
  • Tourist Season :
    October though April
  • Festivals & Events

    Festival de la Virgen de la Paz

    Fiesta de Bahia de Banderas

    Banderas Bay International Regatta

    World Champion Challenger fishing tournament


    Puerto Vallarta International Airport (Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport) is located just to the south of the Riviera Nayarit. From the airport you can hire a taxi or transfer van for a more reasonable price. Most car rental companies have a desk at the airport.

    In Puerto Vallarta taxi are easy to find and there is a tourist bus service. Local buses also travel from the hotel zone and marina area to the downtown or old-town areas. Any bus marked Centro will pass through both. Buses marked Tunel will skip downtown and head directly to the old-town. Traffic can get quite congested here and parking can be difficult to find.

    Activities & Sports

    While enjoying the magnificent scenery, you can do various aquatic activities, including surfing, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, boating and sailing.

    Great deep-sea and freshwater fishing are included among the many attractions; sailfish, dorado and red snapper fishing are some of the most popular catches.

    If you’re looking to do recreational activities on land, you can go on an ecotourism outing, do an adventure tour, or go mountain biking. Other outdoor activities you can enjoy here include horseback riding and whale-watching.

    Located near the main entrance of the Riviera Nayarit tourist resort is the Parque Aquatico Splash. This aquatic park has spacious green areas where you can relax, a 20 m water slide, a children’s play area and a dolphin and sea lion show.

    Vallarta is a great destination for golf enthusiasts, as it has world-class courses with abundant vegetation and beautiful bay views: Casa Club El Tigre, Paradise Village Golf and Country Club, Club de Golf Flamingos, Mayan Resort Palace Club de Golf, and Four Seasons Golf.


    The Altavista petroglyph complex is located near the village and beach-town of Chacala. This region was originally home to the largely unstudied Tecoxquin indigenous culture dating to 2300 BC. This extensive group of rock carvings is still used today for ceremonial religious purposes by the native.

    Visit the archeological site of Guachimonton in Teuchitlecen which is considered one of the first settlements living in a more structured society and is composed of circular structures dating back 2000 years.

    Attractions & Sights

    Most attractions are in Puerto Vallarta. Wander through Viejo Vallarta, with its traditional cobbled streets, white-walled houses, wrought-iron balconies and red tiled roofs. Plaza de Armas is the city's main plaza where visitors can often see public concerts.

    Visit the Parroquia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, with its unusual dome, a replica of the crown worn by Empress Charlotte in 1860, or admire the original murals by the artist Manuel Lepe in the Palacio Municipal.

    Walk along the Malecon with its esplanade of bronze statures and wide variety of shops with something for everyone; explore the galleries displaying contemporary Mexican art. Saucedo Theatre Building, built in 1922 in a Belle Epoque style has been converted to retail use.

    Various pre-Colombian objects were found at the Puerto Vallarta archaeological site and they are now on display at the local Cuale Museum of Archaeology. If you want to know more about the history and culture of the place, this museum is a must. The University of Guadalajara's Coastal Center features several public attractions including the Peter Gray Art Museum and a Crocodile Farm.

    The Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens has agaves and other native plants and orchids. The Puerto Vallarta Zoological Gardens is home to 350 animals.

    There are many boat excursions available along the bays of Banderas, Yelapa, Caletas, Quimixto, Playa Animas and Marietas Islands.

    There are beautiful coastal villages to explore as well in the area such as Punta Sayulita, El Monteon, Rincon de Guayabitos, and Penita de Jaltemba.


    Many hotels organize fiesta nights once a week. At Marina Vallarta you’ll find several nightclubs where you can have some cocktails as you take in an impressive view of the marina. If you had something more intimate in mind, you can visit the various establishments that play lounge music, which gives the atmosphere a much more romantic feel.

    For night owls, check out the many bars and nightclubs in Puerto Vallarta, offering everything from live jazz and salsa, to popular DJ mixes. Favourites include Cactus, El Faro, J.B. and Zapata for nightly pre-Hispanic and folk music.

    Side Trips

    The state capital Tepic, which lies146 km to the northeast, has many museums, historic buildings and beautiful parks that await you. See the Palacio de Gobierno, Cuatro Pueblos Museum, Cathedral of the Purisima Concepcion de Maria, Temple of the Cruz de Zacate, Amado Nervo Museum and the Casa de la Cultura. Visit the Regional Museum of Anthropology and History which offers archaeological exhibits and the ethnography of the Cora and Huichol indigenous peoples.

    Here is a once-in-a-life-time excursion: After a 50 min flight deep into the Sierra Madre, you will visit a real indigenous village. The Huichol Indians, cut off from the world by the rugged mountains and deep canyons, still live much as they did in pre-Columbian times. They refuse to be influenced by the modern world and live by rich oral and ceremonial traditions. They are known for their exquisite beadwork.


    Riviera Nayarit has a network of deluxe hotels, some located on secluded coves. And you still can find a few budget hotels on the waterfront. Many resorts have various spas offering all kinds of treatments to relax the body and mind.

    Riviera Nayarit is a well-developed tourist destination where you’ll find beaches and virgin areas that are ideal for camping and experiencing direct contact with nature: Islas Marietas and Punta Mita.

    Eating Out

    Among Riviera Nayarit's most traditional dishes are pescado zarandeado (whole grilled fish), trozos ahumados con lena de mangle (fish smoked over mangrove wood), soups, and famous oyster enchiladas. You can also try various dishes prepared with shrimp, including meatballs, tamales, turnovers and tecuelena style (baked shrimp with cheese). Other regional favorites are tlatishuile, a thick stew with various spices, and caldo de cuarentena, a chicken soup seasoned with saffron and cumin. For tasty desserts, indulge in the cheesecake or corn pie.

    Finding a place to eat should not be very difficult, there are approximately 500 restaurants in the Vallarta area.


    If you want to buy souvenirs, such as crafts, jewelry, clothes or perfumes, the best place to visit is Riviera Nayarit’s Paradise Plaza, a mall with various boutiques.

    Riviera Nayarit is famous for its crafts made by the Huicholes, who create original and colorful hand-beaded items, including various embroidered products. Here you’ll also find handicrafts made of conches and seashells, as well as lovely ornaments, toys and regional sweets in the Bucerias or Cruz de Huanacaxtle artisan markets.

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