Road Tripping North – The Fun and Fabulous Towns of the Riviera Nayarit (Part One)

Whenever we have friends come to visit us here in Puerto Vallarta, our inner tour guides come out and there are always several “must-do’s” on our tourist playlist. Ceviche and margaritas at Barracuda on Playa Los Camarones, hike from Boca de Tomatlan to Maraika on the south shore, dinner at Barcelona while watching the sunset and Old Town Farmers’ Market at Parque Lazaro Cardenas are just a few of our favourite things to do.

Also always on the list is a day trip north to the gorgeous Riviera Nayarit. This 200 mile stretch of coastline starts at the resort town of Nuevo Vallarta and ends in the small fishing village of San Blas. Along the way, there are so many great, little, coastal towns, each with their own personalities, the hardest part is choosing which town to spend the day in.

Nuevo Vallarta

Insú Sky Lounge at Marival Residences
Insú Sky Lounge at Marival Residences

Many people reading this article will already be familiar with the area of Nuevo Vallarta, as it is home to many popular all inclusive resorts, luxury condominiums, golf courses and timeshares. It is also home to some of the finest restaurants in Jalisco and Nayarit, so it is a great place to visit if you are looking for an amazing meal. One of my favourite spots is Insú Sky Lounge at Marival Residences which offers sleek design, amazing views, incredible sunsets and, of course, mouth watering cuisine. The concept is tapas from all over the world and the menu is broken up into continents – Argentinean empanadas from South America, roasted duck spring rolls from Asia, potato blinis with smoked salmon from Europe, and shrimp corn dogs from North America are just some of the items on their menu.


Mariscos El Payo
Mariscos El Payo

Heading north up the coast from Nuevo Vallarta, the next stop is the fun town of Bucerias. If you happen to be arriving by car, I would suggest driving through the side streets on the south end of town where creative owners have taken pride in building some beautiful and totally unique homes. After that head to the town square on the north side of town, where you’ll find a plethora of food stalls to choose from including my favourite, Mariscos El Payo, which serves a killer seafood cocktail complete with prawns, scallops, octopus and conch. Don’t forget to ask for their special homemade spicy soy dressing; it takes the seafood cocktail to the next level!

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

La Cruz Sunday Farmer's Market
La Cruz Sunday Farmer’s Market

Just up the coast from Bucerias, you’ll find the pretty little town of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, named after the giant cross at the town entrance that is made of wood from a Guanacaste tree.  La Cruz is most famous for its beautiful marina and its fantastic Farmers’ market.  You can see both if you head there on a Sunday as the market is located along the jetties of the marina and features local vendors who make, grow or design their own wares. One of my favourite stalls is the Italian sandwich guy who makes giant paninis stuffed with roasted pork, sausage, grilled onions and cabbage.  Be prepared to stand in a long line as he is always busy.

Punta de Mita

Playa El Anclote
Playa El Anclote

Next along the way is the stylish beach town of Punta de Mita, which is best known for its celebrity visitors and white sand beaches.  Nicknamed by some as the Mexican Malibu, this is a great spot to dine on fresh seafood right on the beach and watch the waves roll in.

There are many great places to choose from but my favorite is Si Senor at the south end of “restaurant row” where they make incredible cucumber jalapeno margaritas and amazing grilled prawns.  After lunch, don’t miss an opportunity to rent a stand up paddleboard from one of the many surf shops along Playa El Anclote.  It is a great way to get out in the water, get a little exercise and see the coast from a different perspective.

Coming up in Part Two of The Fun and Fabulous Towns of the Riviera Nayarit, we’ll explore the towns of Sayulita, San Francisco, Lo de Marcos, Rincon de Guayabitos, and San Blas.

Larissa Magee works at Agave Villas Mexico, which specializes in Punta Mita and Puerto Vallarta Villa Rentals. Looking to visit the area for your next vacation? Get in touch with the experts at

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