North of Puerto Vallarta is a stretch of Pacific coastline that has yet to be stomped on by tourist hordes. It’s known as Riviera Nayarit, in the state of Nayarit, and offers 192 miles of sandy beaches framed by the majestic Sierra Madre Mountains. Fishing villages, surfing enclaves, bird watching and delicious dining and just a few of the highlights.
At Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita the private beach, world class sculptures, and very fine dining spell deep dish luxury. There’s amazing snorkeling, and even fishing. If you snag something, you can have the chef cook up your catch of the day.
Walk through nearby Bucerias and you’ll discover a small fishing town packed with restaurants and open market vendors. Cobblestone streets, a main square dotted with pubs, gallery style shops and a lovely church make it a big draw for snow birds.
Thirsty? Alquimista Cocktail Room is a sizzling hot mixologist’s dream situated in an unassuming little strip plaza. Israel Diaz is fearless behind the bar, concocting drinks that contain everything from pickled snake juice to freshly muddled cucumbers.
After reaching San Blas, around a 3 hour drive from Puerto Vallarta, we stopped for lunch at Garza Blanca at Las Islitas. What was on the menu? Why freshly caught fish, what else? So delicious. And mango rolled in hot pepper for dessert. Yum!
A La Tovara Nature Reserve we took small motor boats through the mangroves and spotted around 40 different bird species and a few crocodiles. What a gorgeous way to spend an afternoon.
Dinner at El Delfin Restaurant with renowned Mexican chef Betty Vazquez was a dream. Betty trained at The Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts in Paris and worked in Michelin three-star restaurant Arzak in Span before coming home to ply her magic at her family’s hotel, Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas.
At La Contaduria, up on Cerro de Basillio (Basillio Hill) we checked out the old customs house. This was a cultural exchange crossroads between the Americas, Asia and Europe. I can just imagine the goods – spices, silk and gold – that might have passed through.
The haunting ruins of La Marinera were so peaceful. This church, built to honour Our Lady of the Rosary, the Seafarer in the 1700s, burned down in 1787. A replica of the statue of Our Lady was commissioned in 2000 and you can see it every Oct. 7 at the Triduum of Masses when she is place in San Blas’ main square and then taken on a pilgrimage up the the ruins of the old church.
Riviera Nayarit is a treasure. Shush. Don’t tell too many people!