6 Beautiful Places to Visit in Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit

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6 Beautiful Places to Visit in Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit

While most visitors to Mexico tend to flock to the popular coastal resorts on the Caribbean coast. the less crowded region of Riviera Nayarit offers some incredible destinations and beach resorts that make the area well worth checking out. One of the most underrated spots in Mexico, Nayarit's Bahía de Banderas or Banderas Bay is full of gorgeous beaches and unique islands. Here are some of the best things to do and beaches in Nayarit, Mexico.

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6 Beautiful Places to Visit in Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit

Top Destinations in the Bahía de Banderas, Nayarit

Marietas Islands

Hidden beach in the Marietas Islands, Mexico

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A short ferry ride from Puerto Vallarta, to the south of Nayarit, these stunning islands are some of the most beautiful and unique in Mexico. With the islands having protected status from fishing by the government, you'll find an abundance of marine life around Marietas, it's the perfect place for snorkeling and diving. It's also a popular spot for whale and dolphin watching, both of which are common sights around the islands.

The incredible hidden beach on the Marietas Islands is a beautiful hidden cove with pristine blue waters and gorgeous white sands located slightly inland. Due to conservation efforts, the beach is sometimes closed to the public and has a daily cap on visitors, so make sure to check before visiting.


Photo by Ahturner/Shutterstock

A quaint seaside town on Mexico's Pacific coast, Sayulita is a colorful, relaxed destination that's popular for its surf scene. The main beach of Sayulita is a long stretch of golden sand lined with trendy cafes and bars. Unlike some of the other coastal towns along the Riviera Nayarit Sayulita is much more lively and its streets are filled with small shops and popular restaurants offering delicious Mexican food.


Guayabitos Beach Mexico

Photo by AlejandroLinaresGarcia/Wikipedia

Further up the coast from Sayulita, Guayabitos or Rincón de Guayabitos is another small coastal community with some beautiful beaches and seaside resorts. The nearby Coral Island is also a popular spot a short boat ride away from Guayabitos for snorkeling and diving. Apart from the main beach at Guayabitos, slightly further up the coast is Playa El Naranjo, which offers several kilometers of beautiful sandy beach.

San Francisco, Nayarit

Stunning beach at San Francisco, Nayarit

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San Francisco or San Pancho is a beautiful beachside town along the Riviera Nayarit that's well worth taking some time out to see. The main beach Playa San Pancho is clean and well maintained, usually with less people than the slightly busier nearby town of Sayulita. Like Sayulita it's also a popular surfing spot, you'll find shops offering surfboards and other gear to rent next to the beach.

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta Mexico

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This beautiful resort town is the gateway to Riviera Nayarit and the Banderas Bay, climbing up the hilly coastline, there's plenty of beaches and things to do around Puerto Vallarta that make it the perfect base for exploring Nayarit. The town itself is beautifully picturesque, with its white-washed houses and resorts and the charming old town crammed with colorful shops and restaurants.

While there are quiet spots around the town, Puerto Vallarta is popular for its night life which is fairly non-existent in other towns around the bay.


Chacala Mexico

Photo by en.wikipedia.org

If you're looking for some peace and quiet, Chacala is a sleepy fishing village further up the coast of the Riviera Nayarit that rarely sees much tourism compared to Puerto Vallarta which can get quite busy. It takes about an hour and a half to drive there from Puerto Vallarta, which is mainly why it's not as popular, but is worth the extra effort to get to.

Getting to Riviera Nayarit

To get to the Riviera Nayarit will depend on which part of the region you want to visit. For most of the beach resorts towards the south and the Marietas Islands, Puerto Vallarta Airport (Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport) is the nearest airport and gateway into the region. You can fly to Puerto Vallarta from a number of cities in the USA, Canada and other international destinations.

If you'll be sticking to San Blas and the north part of Nayarit, Tepic International Airport which serves the capital, Tepic, is much closer. However much fewer airlines fly to Tepic, currently only domestic routes for scheduled flights despite it being an international airport.

Alternatively if you're planning on driving around, consider flying into Guadalajara, which is often much cheaper, and driving to Nayarit from there. It takes about four to five hours to drive from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta but is fairly straightforward and easy.

Is Riviera Nayarit and Nayarit Safe to Travel to?

Nayarit is one of the safer areas of Mexico, especially around the Riviera Nayarit area. Crime is mainly concentrated around Tepic in Nayarit and surrounding states such as Michoacán and Sinaloa.