If you are looking for an exciting white-sand beach destination with every water sport adventure and competition available to mankind, a dazzling nightlife, and every waking moment as thrilling or laid back as you want it to be, then Nayarit, Mexico is your place. More specifically, the Nayarit Riviera, aka RivNay, the up and coming tropical paradise destination.

The state of Nayarit has been developing its coastline into the most sought-after travel destination to rival that of their sister on the Gulf Coast, the Mayan Riviera. And RivNay may win. Its scenic 200 miles – from Bucerias to San Blas – of virgin coast is lined with deciduous trees, lush jungle, and tangling mangroves set against high volcanic mountains with rivers flowing down their slopes to the Pacific Ocean. But the towns along the coast are being developed to accommodate beach-loving surfers, sailors, snorkelers and swimmers, offering accommodations, ambiance, and activities to meet every traveler’s budget, lifestyle, and interest. From easy on the pocket villas to RV parks to luxury class resorts, it’s all here.

RivNay, blessed with 11 different point breaks, beach breaks and reef breaks from the Ameca River to San Blas, is drawing in tourists with world-class surfing competitions at San Blas’ renowned Matanchen Bay. But you don’t have to be a surfing expert to enjoy the breaks. Calmer waters are found at many of the beaches, like Punta de Mita, which are great for swimming and beginning surfers. Visitors can also take in surfing lessons at many of the beaches, including Sayulita and Playa Chacala.

Banderas Bay in Nayarit’s Nuevo Vallarta is becoming a world-class sailing center with competitions like the Copa Mexico Regatta Bicentennial Edition. No worries, if you are a first-time sailor or just want to set to the seas on a sailboat, there is a wide array of sailing opportunities. Visitors can partake in sunset sailing excursions, rent a boat, take private sailing lessons, or rent a private charter.

There are many other activities to enjoy in Nayarit as well. Take to the winding jungle trails on a mountain bike, enjoy the countryside on horseback at an area ranch, or soar through the air on zip line tours near Punta de Mita.

Meander through the shops of a charming RivNay village checking out the Mexican culture and picking up a few authentic handcrafted souvenirs. Art galleries have also begun to pop up featuring both local and famous artists. Punta Mita, Sayulita, Lo de Marcos, San Pancho, Playa Chacala and Puerto Vallarta are all great day trips for both shopping and amazing water adventures.

If visiting between mid-December through April, add whale watching to your list of vacation adventures. The RivNay is home to the humpback whale, one of the world's greatest creatures. The whales come here to calve – imagine seeing the baby humpbacks with their mothers! Take a whale watching tour or rent your own boat, either way there’s little doubt that you will see whales jumping from the water very near you.

For some real excitement, plan a trip around a festival! All of Mexico loves a party, and Nayarit seems to excel in them. From yoga festivals to urban art festivals, Nayarit provides more reasons to celebrate than George Washington has pennies.

A must see – the exotic International Festival of Migratory Birds, when hundreds of migrating birds descend upon the RivNay at San Blas. A spectacular festival for everyone, not just for veteran birdwatchers!

If you love food, and who doesn’t, check out the International Gourmet Festival. The cui¬sine in this region is influenced with Asian spices reigning from Colonial times when Euro¬pean and Asian mis¬sions arrived in the area. Nayarit is known for its wonderful cuisines and this festival celebrates the food and restaurants from the RivNay to the state capital at Tepic. Enjoy delectable food beneath the shade of a palapa or at a local restaurant, taking in the culture and excitement of palatable sensations you won’t soon forget.

Experience the Mexican culture in the tiny fishing village at Bucerias. Meander through art galleries in the town’s weekly Art Crawl. Attend its fun, family oriented Urban Art (Chalk Art) Festival organized by local galleries to celebrate both the art and the cuisine of the region. While you’re there, take a deep sea fishing excursion for which Bucerias is famous, reeling in species such as sailfish and marlin dorado.

From the local charm found in its ancient fishing villages, to adventures on its high seas, to its savory mouth-watering cuisine, a trip to Nayarit is a trip to paradise.

Spanish version of this page: Nayarit