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Riviera Nayarit
The Perfect Destination

Article & Photography by Michael Morcos

Welcome to a 200-mile stretch of Pacific Coastline in Mexico that is full of authentic beach towns, all-inclusive resorts, and is still relatively off the well-traveled Mexican circuit. This strip of paradise from Punta de Mita to San Blas is the perfect vacation destination with hot sun, wonderful beaches, a storied history, great culture, incredible cuisine, nature and local wines and fantastic local Tequila!

Hotel Cielo Rojo 

Hotel Cielo Rojo was amazing from the check in to the check out! Clean, private, chic and affordable, the attention to detail in their rooms is second to none with comfortable cotton sheets, clean, puffy pillows and designer accents in cushions and curtains.

The suites are beautifully designed for comfort, class, an artistic flare with original artwork, and the entire hotel is built with relaxation in mind. Lying right in the heart of cobblestoned San Pancho, it is within walking distance to the beach and the quaint town it is part of.

The concierge offers personalized attention for guests with recommendations including cultural events to the occasional tequila tasting night!
Hotel Cielo Rojo truly embodies the spirit and kindness of the Mexican town it is part of, and it has a beautiful beach with very few people – a private paradise! On top of all this, there was a delicious supper prepared at the Organic Bistro, a resto with a delicious and sophisticated menu, excellent service, as well as an amazing wine selection.

Santa Maria del Oro

Founded as a mining town, Santa María Del Oro was named after the ore mined there – Gold! Now, the town is treasured for its corn, peanuts, and sugarcane, as well as a sizable cattle and poultry industry.

A very interesting town in itself, the town’s major tourist attraction is one of Mexico’s oldest churches – the church of “La Asención,” built in 1594 during the time of the Spanish invasion. A natural wonder also awaits visitors in this mainly agricultural town, a crater lake of the same name located just a little east of the town with a lovely tourism area that greets many national and foreign tourists.

The Rio Grande de Santiago, a major river crosses the northern region of the municipality, serving a diverse flora and fauna, from colorful and eye catching birds to white tailed deer. The area has created an unmatched atmosphere of tranquility that makes this a unique paradise, complete with high-mineral hot springs that provide healing properties.
Our lunch was served at the Santa Maria Resort alongside an amazing view of a Crater Lake. Delicious traditional Mexican dishes were served, giving everybody enough energy to enjoy activities of the day. One such activity is the Yemaya adventure club. Offering an outdoor pool and beautiful garden, Hotel Yemaya Adventure Club is located in Santa María del Oro, just a few feet from the Santa María Lake. A few minutes’ walk and we swam in the lake, and luckily the waters were cool enough to rid us of the heat of the day. Once you are in the lake you understand the magic of the place. With loads of colorful butterflies fluttering and the calmness of the surroundings, there is definitely a soothing energy here, something very thought provoking beautiful.

Historical Jala

The next stop was a step into history in Jala. Small cobbled stoned streets, colonial buildings, and wonderful Cathedral transport visitors into the rich tapestry of Mexican history and culture. We were treated to a thrilling tour of a more ancient feature of the area, the volcano of Ceboruco. The road to the volcano is just off the main highway and then a 3 km walk up a path from the end of the road gets you to the crater. Ceboruco last erupted in 1870 and rises about 1000 m above its base. A fascinating archeological site of a temple and burial grounds thought to date to 700 AD is nearby. A trip into the past indeed!

Capitol Affair

We next departed for Tepic, the capitol of the province of Nayarit. Small and lively this is one of Mexico’s most magical cities. Sitting in a basin near a trio of volcanoes: Sanganguey in the east, Tepetiltic to the south and San Juan in the west, the city is a vibrant centre. Plaza Principal in the heart of the city is one of the prettiest town plazas in the country. The large cathedral and City Hall are located here. Be sure to check out the Museo de Artes Populares, whose collection contains the best examples of regional crafts and explores the aboriginal roots of the area. We ate Dinner at Emilianos, and for a small town restaurant, the place has a big heart and fancy menu, including exceptional Mezcal, made from the heart of the maguey plant, called the “piña”, and prepared the same way it was 200 years ago!

San Blas

The next day we departed for San Blas, another locale that is lost in time. They seem to move at a different pace here, almost standing still with its haciendas, historic buildings, and streets with residents riding strangely modified bicycles. San Blas dates back to the late seventeenth century when the port was constructed as a point of departure for Spanish colonization efforts. The historical aspects are complemented by its natural wonders including canals surrounded by mangroves and small islands as well as the annual arrival of more than 300 migratory birds. Wandering the streets you can relive the events of the years gone by that have marked the history of Mexico.

We were treated to an evening in the Hotel Garza Canela, a family operated, 100% Mexican business, which started back in 1970 under the management of the Vázquez González family. Their philosophy has always been centered on providing guests with new experiences while providing great accommodations and they succeed on these counts. The Hotel is a picturesque, quiet and charming hotel right in the middle of San Blas, well known for its restaurant serving local fare with a special twist.

La Tovara National Park is located just outside San Blas, and offers the largest collection of birds in Mexico, a film set and adventures in the jungle! Our tour started while a light mist glided over the area, just like in a film. We were given descriptions of the fishing of mullets and snappers in the waters of the estuary, including the birds that join in the rich fish feast!

Crocodiles and turtles rest on floating logs, and we eventually float through the mangroves and we can see the stilt houses that were built for “Cabeza de Vaca”, a film about the Conquest of Mexico. A dazzling array of wildlife and amazing facts about what you’re seeing fill the entirety of this must do in San Blas! The boat ride ends at a wildlife sanctuary where jaguars, crocodiles, exotic birds and much more await!

We enjoyed dinner at El Delfin with Chef and owner Betty Vázquez preparing the most exquisite dishes with local flavors, textures, scents and colors. The “El Delfin” restaurant surprises with new creations that will make your stay an unforgettable experience. Try the shrimp quesadillas with Serrano – divine!


Internationally recognized for its outstanding surfing, Sayulita is a somewhat bohemian community where visitors’ can see fine art galleries and stylish colorful shops with clothing, decorations and jewelry. There are also several beachfront restaurants and cafes, and we ate in a beach front restaurant in this small touristic town with a true Mexican feel.

Punta Mita Four Seasons Resort

Punta Mita, is an exclusive gated community within Punta de Mita where standing in the white sands of this peninsula and looking out over the immense ocean will give you an overwhelming feeling of tranquility. It is an exclusive and luxurious getaway that rises from the peninsula that includes almost six miles of beaches. A sophisticated and well developed paradise for a special getaway.

Finally, If you are looking for an extra special resort in Mexico, the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita is picturesque beyond words. Beautifully landscaped, this is a destination all on its own and one of the best hotels I have ever been to. From the moment we arrived we were treated like royalty and I was blown amazed to the attention to detail by the house keeping service who were able to read our minds from restocking beverages to the fresh fruit selection!

There are activities for every taste, including a whale watching tour, kayaking, and even stargazing. I had a crash course on Tequila by a staff member, something to remember for sure I later treated to an incredible Tequila message!

Meals were varied and exquisite and their many swinging day beds and hanging nests by the beach were fantastic for digestion.

Everything was perfect with large, well appointed rooms, luxury amenities and a great tub to relax in. The manicure gardens and original art that was found everywhere gave a spectacular ambiance to the stay.

The views from the infinity pool were as stunning as the sunsets. Dinner at the Bahia restaurant on the beach was a pleasure as was the lobster and prawns fresh from the sea. After dinner, a walk along the perfect beach was a great way to wind down. The Four Seasons Punta Mita is an oasis of white-sand beaches and turquoise waters and guests can enjoy some of the best snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing and golf in the world!

This was a perfect ending to a perfect tour of Riviera Nayarit!


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