When you think of a holiday to Mexico, tacos, tequila and Aztec ruins probably spring to mind. But Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit offer another side to the story. For starters, they’re on a different coast. The Pacific side of Mexico is home to spotless sands, thick rainforest and protected parks. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s the lowdown on our favourite things to do…
This place is one of Mexico’s most beautiful natural hotspots. The Marieta Islands are packed with wildlife, including humpback whales and exotic birds. You can watch dolphins leap through the waves, and go snorkelling with rays and turtles. But the ‘hidden beach’ is the real highlight. As the name suggests, Playa del Amor is totally invisible from the outside. Hop in a kayak, paddle through the long rocky tunnel and prepare to be wowed.
Playa del Amor, Marieta Islands
Just a stone’s throw away from Punta de Mita, the picturesque village of Higuera Blanca is a great spot for horse riding. You can saddle up, trot over white sands and splash in the surf. When you fancy a break from the beach, head over to Litibu Golf Course – the fairways here have tropical forest on one side, and the Pacific Ocean on the other.
Embrace your inner David Attenborough and spend a day at Los Arcos National Marine Park. Just south of Puerto Vallarta, this protected coastal area is only accessible by boat. It’s a popular spot for snorkelling, thanks to its coral reef, deep tunnels and hidden caves. The granite cliffs, meanwhile, are covered in all kinds of birds, ranging from pelicans to parrots to penguins.
Los Arcos National Marine Park
If the urban jungle is more your scene, head to the city of Puerto Vallarta, where you can visit ornate churches and browse trinket-filled markets. Overlooking the sea, the Malecon boardwalk plays host to a long line-up of restaurants and bars. Pull up a chair, order some tacos and margaritas, and watch the sun sink into the sea. Not quite ready to go to bed? You can dance the night away in the low-lit bars and clubs, which stay open until the early hours.
Mexico’s Pacific Coast isn’t just about beaches and wildlife. You’ll also find some world-renowned golf courses in Riviera Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta. Some of the greens were designed by golfing legend Jack Nicklaus, and come with great views to boot. If you’re staying in the Nuevo Vallarta area, you can practise your swing against a backdrop of sun-topped mountains, leafy rainforest and sandy beaches.
Punta Mita Golf Course
If you want to add a dash of adrenaline to your holiday, check out our Jungle Expedition. Hidden in the depths of the green-clad Sierra Madre Mountains, treetop bridges and sky-high zip lines make for a great adventure. Explore the jungle à la Tarzan, as you don a harness and zoom through the leafy canopy. And if that’s not enough to get your heart racing, you can even ride a raft down the river afterwards.
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Author: Sarah Reeves
Published: September 27, 2016
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