The stunning Riviera Nayarit has more than 200 miles of pristine beaches and jungle on Mexico's Pacific coast. That would be reason enough to visit it, but what makes this stretch of land even more attractive are its charming beach towns, fishing villages and the colorful Magic Town (Magic Towns). Puerto Vallarta is a coastal tourist port city in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. Many people confuse it with being in the state of Nayarit, but it's called the “gateway” because the Puerto Vallarta airport is where you'll fly to and get to the Riviera Nayarit, which officially begins when you cross the Ameca River northbound to Nayarit to Nuevo Vallarta and beyond.
Nuevo Vallarta (the “new Vallarta”) is one of the first destinations in Nayarit you will visit. Less busy than its neighbor to the south, Nuevo Vallarta is a great vacation spot for those who prefer to spend a day at its luxury beachfront resort, on the green grass of the golf course, or have a margarita at the marina. Nuevo Vallarta is less beautiful than luxurious. Its boulevard, lined with palm trees, is elegant and clean; here you are not in a small town in Mexico.
In any case, Nuevo Vallarta is popular for its long sandy beach, exclusive marina, and expat community. If you want to meet other internationals, head to the Nuevo Vallarta Riviera Farmers Market, which is held in a parking lot near the Hard Rock Hotel every Tuesday from 9 to 2 p.m. You can also take many boat tours from Nuevo Vallarta beach to see the Marietas Islands, watch whales, or cross the bay to discover hidden coves and fishing villages such as Yelapa. The next closest beach town in Nayarit is Bucerias.
Be careful not to speed through Bucerias on the road as you head north into the jungle of Nayarit. This small coastal town is full of locals and internationals who enjoy the proximity and convenience of Nuevo and Puerto Vallarta while hiding on their own beach in front of Banderas Bay. Bucerias is appreciated as an “authentic Mexican city”, but you won't be left without the comforts of your creature with its luxury hotels, fantastic restaurants, shops, art galleries and, of course, its beaches. It also has an extensive flea market typical of what you would find in Nayarit, full of colorful handicrafts, tapestries, leather goods, glassware, toys, silver, traditional clothing and more.
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (or simply known as La Cruz) is a traditional fishing village on the coast, just after Bucerias. This is where you can go on an exciting ocean fishing tour with the locals or where you can grab a round of guacamole chips and grab a margarita while watching the sailboats swing in the bay of La Cruz Marina. Head to one of the best beaches in Nayarit in Playa la Manzanilla to spend the day relaxing on its golden sands. The swimming here is great because there are no big waves, like in some of the other coastal towns and villages.
It's less popular than Sayulita or San Pancho, but it still attracts the type of traveler who enjoys a little peace and quiet in a city that doesn't receive too many foreigners on its shores. That said, Lo de Marcos has one of the most picturesque and uncrowded beaches in Nayarit. In reality, the resort cannot access these breaks, so you must access them by boat from the city of Punta Mita. Therefore, there are 2 options for staying in the area: at the luxurious Punta Mita resort or staying in the cities of Nuevo Coral del Risco and Emiliano Zapata.