Why Mexico’s West Coast Should Be On Your Holiday Bucket List
You should add Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit to your destination wish list ASAP!
When you think about going on holiday to Mexico, your mind likely wonders to the wild parties in Cancun, or the hustle and bustle of Mexico City, however if you travel that little bit further to the West Coast you can see a side of the country that’s lesser known and, some may argue, even more beautiful.
Over the last 10 years the area has become more popular with American and Canadian tourists, but with weekly flights direct from London and Manchester UK holiday makers are getting in on the action as well.
We travelled to two spots on Mexico’s pacific coastline, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit, and experienced a holiday we’ll never forget – no kidding, it was one of the best weeks of our lives and we came back to London wishing we lived on the beautiful Mexican coastline.
Here are all the things that made us fall completely in love with the West coast of Mexico…
Be at one with nature and see whales in the wild
Over the course of our week in Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit we went out of many boat trips, one of which was a specific whale watching tour hosted by Wildlife Connection. Seeing humpback whales in the wild, metres away from your boat, is something we’ll never forget.
Witnessing these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat was jaw-dropping and is a more common occurrence while on the west coast of Mexico – of the three boat trips we did over the course of the week, we saw whales every time (!!) even if it wasn’t a dedicated whale watching trip.
We took part in a luxury yacht and snorkel tour courtesy of Vallarta Adventures and on the way out to our destination we were stopped by two male humpbacks fighting just off shore. The displays we saw mere hundreds of metres away from our boat left us speechless!
Discover a hidden paradise in Banderas Bay
One of the area’s most popular attractions is the world-famous ‘hidden beach’ – only accessible by swimming! Situated in the northern tip of Banderas Bay, the Marieta Islands are a sanctuary for many endangered species, including the rare blue-footed booby birds that we saw nestling in the rocks.
From the sky to the sea, we jumped in to join the tropical fish that populate the area for a bit of snorkelling before heading back to dry land, not before taking many an Instagram pic on the hidden beach of course! Our tour was hosted by the amazing Tour Pelayo who guided us through this hidden paradise.
Live the surfer lifestyle in Sayulita
One of our destinations during the trip was the surfing capital of the area, Sayulita. Internationally recognised for its incredible surf scene and ‘hippie-chic’ vibe, Sayulita is a must-stop spot for anyone travelling to Riviera Nayarit.
We took to the waves with Lunazul, one of the local surfing schools, and then spent the afternoon browsing the town’s art galleries and shops. It’s a colourful, relaxed haven that would make anyone want to escape the crowded London streets and live the surfer’s lifestyle.
Stay in boutique hotels with that special touch
Arriving at Casa Velas, a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of Puerto Vallarta, was the perfect remedy after stepping off a 10-hour flight. We were treated like royalty during our stay and it was a great place to come back to after an action-packed day in Puerto Vallarta. Not only were the rooms outstanding (fit with your own personal hot tub!) the on site resturant served up some incredible cuisine and we made full use of the pool bar for one (read: many) margaritas.
In our second location we stayed at the stunning Maraica San Pancho, with only 16 rooms and a proud eco-friendly, sustainable way of life, we felt like we were staying somewhere truly special. Located on the beaches of San Pancho and surrounded by jungle the hotel is truly unique and falling asleep to the sound of the crashing waves was so special, we never wanted to leave!
Dine like kings and queens
Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit are awash with restaurants that will blow your mind. On our first night we went to Casa Kimberley and dined at the Iguana Restaurant and Tequila Bar. The properties (two connecting MANSIONS) were previously owned by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor and we’d highly recommend posing for the perfect Instagram pic on the iconic romantic bridge.
Some other foodie highlights from Puerto Vallarta include the innovative Icu Resturant – we were treated to a multiple course meal consisting of local Mexican traditions but with an innovative twist. Our food was paired with amazing, experimental cocktails which blew our minds! Another place you HAVE to visit is the Las Palmas restaurant on the sea front in San Pancho, Riviera Nayarit. We dined with the sound of the crashing waves and ate some of the best seafood we’ve ever tasted – shout out to the incredible homemade mango sauce they paired with delicious raw shrimp.
Pretend you’re boujee AF at La Patrona Polo & Equestrian Club
A highlight of the trip was a guided tour of La Patrona Polo & Equestrian Club in Riviera Nayarit, as well as an epic dining experience at Beach Club Tierra Tropical. During our tour of the decadent grounds they explained how the site is used not only for sporting occasions but also for events – and what’s even more impressive is their dedication to protecting the biodiversity of the area, fit with their own allotments where they grow their own ingredients for the meals they serve in the club, it was amazing to see such an eco-conscious way of living.
We dined at Beach Club Tierra Tropical on the last night of our trip and we sure went out with a bang. Course after course of some of the best food Mexico has to offer, we were treated like royalty by the staff and spoilt with the location – the Beach Club is, as it says in the name, right on the beach with views of the pacific coastline for days.
Experience the region’s rich culture and history
High up in the jungles surrounding Puerto Vallarta are the Vallarta Botanical Gardens. We were given a guided tour of the grounds from the owner himself, learning the history of the area as well as the deep traditions surrounding the Peyote plant and its significance to the Mexican people.
Later that day we took a sunset stroll along Puerto Vallarta’s Malecón guided by Peyote People, an independent art gallery based in the heart of the town. The rich culture of the location really shone through as we watched the sun go down over the picturesque promenade.