If you are looking for a unique family-friendly vacation, be sure to add Riviera Nayarit, Mexico on your short list. Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Western Sierra Madre Mountains, the stunning contrast of beach and mountains will draw you in; the food and culture will have you coming back for more.
I spent three days in July exploring Riviera Nayarit with 49 other Macaroni Kid Publishers as part of a press trip to get to know the region and share my experiences with my Macaroni Kid community. One thing was clear as soon as I stepped off the plane in Puerto Vallarta: this is not your typical beach getaway.
I knew as soon as I was thrown in the bustle of the airport looking for my transportation that I was in for an adventure. There were very few Americans, and most of the people only spoke Spanish. There was not a McDonald’s or Starbucks in sight. Although Verizon Wireless assured me Mexico was included in my data and text plan, I had no service to call and find out where my ride to the hotel was waiting for me. What did I get myself into??? Thankfully, after a few minutes of panicked impatience, my driver found me. He greeted me with a smile, and I eagerly took the refreshing cold towel to wipe off the sweat dripping from my face from walking up and down the airport exit area. He took my bags, and we were off to the Reflect Krystal Grand Nuevo Vallarta hotel.
The 30-minute ride to the airport was uneventful, but I was instantly amazed at how the landscape quickly changed from city to mountains to eventually beach. Our hotel, the Krystal Grand Nuevo Vallarta, is situated right on the famous Banderas Bay, and it was bustling with people when I arrived. I was told that the end of July was a busy time because kids were just getting off from school.
After a long flight, I was excited to enjoy a drink with my fellow publishers and just take in the views. I was not disappointed. Our hotel had stunning views of the natural beauty surrounding us – from the rooftop lounge and adult pool, we could enjoy the beautiful sun setting behind the mountains.
I’m glad I had a night to relax because the next two days were action-packed, and I loved every minute of it. It reminded me of my junior year in college when I studied abroad in Australia and spent days living out of a backpack, hiking through rainforests, and learning to surf. I was extremely impressed with our tour company, Vallarta Adventures, which offers adventures and cultural experiences in the Puerto Vallarta area including off-roading, swimming with dolphins, scuba diving, and eco-tours. Their local guides are friendly, knowledgeable and so helpful. Juan Carlos was our tour guide, and he was the best!
To get a taste of Mexican life, I would recommend a tour that includes an opportunity to try the local food. I loved Vallarta Adventure’s off-roading tour which included a guided hike in the mountains, making our own tortillas, and a beachside barbecue to round out the day.
Making our own tortillas was fun and delicious!
Juan Carlos gave us a history lesson on the avocado, just before we had the best homemade guacamole to go with our tortillas. Yum!
If you love the sun and surf, you can skip the mountains and head straight to the quaint surfing town of Sayulita. Situated on Banderas Bay, Sayulita is perfect for surfers and beach bums alike. It has a lively beach town with local shops, restaurants, bars, and boutique hotels. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the white sands, swim in the Pacific or go shopping. I can envision bringing the family to Sayulita for a whole week of learning to surf, brushing up on my Spanish, and enjoying the views.
We spent the afternoon relaxing at the Frente al Punto beach club, which has everything you need to enjoy a day at the beach including private beach access, an outdoor restaurant and bar, umbrellas and chairs to use, waiters that brought your drinks, and indoor and outdoor showers. It was refreshing to cool off in the water while enjoying a spicy margarita from the bar.
I love a good vacation destination where I can relax, enjoy outdoor activities, and experience a little bit of the local life. Since it is a relatively new vacation spot, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico boasts beautiful luxury resorts that do not take away from the natural beauty of the area and makes it attractive to visitors who love a sense of adventure, culture, and natural beauty. I will definitely be back with the family!
For more information about the region, visit http://www.rivieranayarit.com.
Disclosure: CVB Riviera Nayarit provided a complementary three-day stay and included all activities, meals and transportation. All opinions are solely that of the author.