(LifeWire) - Welcome to the Riviera Nayarit
Until recently, the Riviera Nayarit area -- north of Puerto Vallarta, on Mexico's Pacific Coast--was an off-the-beaten-path destination best known to surfers; now developers have discovered the potential, and families find more all inclusive resorts opening.
The Riviera Nayarit stretches for 100 miles, and has beautiful beaches, nearby mountains, lush tropical vegetation that you might explore by a canopy tour. New resorts cluster in Banderas Bay and Punta de Mita, not far from the Puerta Vallarta airport; but there's much more to explore, all the way north to the colonial town of San Blas.
Puerto Vallarta's Gustavo Díaz Ordáz International Airport is well served from the United States (those from Canada and other countries will need to connect). You can make a straight shot from many major US hubs, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Houston and Atlanta. The airport is less than 25 miles from the more developed Nayarit towns and established resorts. Expect the drive to take a half-hour to 45 minutes. Check to see if your resort offers airport transfers; if not, there are plenty of taxis and shuttle services at the airport.
How's the Beach?
The Riviera Nayarit's white-sand beaches are some of the most gorgeous in Mexico. You really can't go wrong with any of the beaches along this stretch of coast; the beaches at the northern end of Banderas Bay (around Cruz de Huanacaxtle and Punta de Mita) are particularly prime for wading with small children, and it's worth a trip up to Lo De Marcos for its idyllic sands.
For those who hope to catch some waves, the entire Nayarit coast is your oyster. Sayulita is a top spot, as is San Blas. If you don't know how to surf, Nayarit is a great place to take some lessons.
Family-Friendly Resorts in the Riviera Nayarits
More full-service and all-inclusive resorts are opening; families seeking luxury have several choices, and there are value-priced choices too. The Riviera Nayarit also has options that suit more adventurous families, without the roster of kids programs and other scheduled activities expected at all inclusive resorts.
Some family-friendly resorts in the Riviera Nayarit:
This all-inclusive resort has a secluded cliff-top location with spectacular views and reasonable rates; lush grounds with walking paths; three pools; kids' club. Location is just 12 miles from the airport, near the village of Bucerias.
Palace Resorts is a small award-winning chain of all-inclusives, mostly in the Cancun area. This resort is on Banderas Bay, with kids club, playground, and other family-friendly features. Look for Palace Passports promotions that offer free excursions.
Grand Velas Resort & Spa
This luxury all-inclusive is also on Banderas Bay, with spacious suites, three swimming pools, kids' pool, kids club for ages 4 to 14and more, This award-winning resort is a member of Leading Hotels of the World.
Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita: at the northern tip of Banderas Bay, 26 miles north of Puerto Vallarta's airport, this beachfront luxury resort has Kids for All Seasons for ages 5 to 12, and a teen program when there at least five or more teens n the property; also, a games room, and family activities. The Four Seasons brand is known for its pampering, and goes the extra mile for families with amenities such as milk and cookies upon arrival, complimentary child toiletries and supplies, and more.
Playa Escondida: Nestled at the foot of dense jungle hills, this beachfront resort is about 40 minutes north of the airport, in Sayulita. It isn't really recommended for young children (though they aren't forbidden) - it's a rugged property - but teens can enjoy the surfing lessons, horseback rides and zip canopy tours on offer here.
St. Regis Punta Mita Resort: on 22 acres near Punta de Mita; luxury property (not an all inclusive) with kids program and "family pool" (and adults-only pool.) Cabanas, butlers for your room, pool butlers; three pools; new in 2008.
For any resort, always read recent visitor comments at a site like TripAdvisor.com.
Attractions & Fun Outings
The Riviera Nayarit is all about enjoying the lush tropical surroundings. Besides sunbathing and surfing, the entire 100-mile coastal stretch is ripe for exploration by car, by bike or on horseback. You might expect snorkeling and jungle canopy tours, but there are also several excellent golf courses for those who'd like to hit the links. And if the serenity of the surroundings seems too good to be true, bustling Puerto Vallarta and its shopping and clubs are just a half-hour away.
More Riviera Nayarit Tips
- Single parents or guardians traveling to Mexico with a child under age 18 should bring a notarized statement indicating the other parent's permission to travel abroad
- To avoid traveler's diarrhea, stick to bottled beverages (even for toothbrushing) and avoid uncooked or street food.
- For resorts and major attractions, always check recent visitor comments at a site such as TripAdvisor.com.
- Top Things to do in the Riviera Nayarit
- General information about Mexico Travel
- Riviera Nayarit Tourism website
This brief profile is meant to introduce this area to family vacationers; please note that the writer has not visited in person.
*always check resort sites for updates.