A fish taco, a cold beer and a spot on the powder-soft sand gazing out at the deep-blue Pacific. If that sounds like your idea of paradise (yep, ours too), then Punta Mita is your kind of vacation. Only an hour’s drive from its more famous neighbor, Puerto Vallarta, this one-time small fishing village is perched on a peninsula surrounded by the Pacific, while back inland the Sierra Madre Mountains rise majestically from the dusty landscape. Punta Mita has been building a following among discerning A-listers, who come for the luxurious homes, the 200 miles of beaches along the Riviera Nayarit, for the jungles and mountains, to load up with the colourful arts and crafts of the Huichol Indians and to bask in the sun; it’s on the same latitude as Hawaii and blessed with 85 degrees in the summer, 75 in the winter. So pack your surfboard and sun lotion, and follow their lead.
A sea safari
You might also want to pack your snorkel, and perhaps a pair of binoculars. A few miles off the Punta Mita peninsula lies the Islas Marietas National Park. The low, volcanic islands, recognized as a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, are uninhabited by humans but the wealth of wildlife, both on their 5 square miles and in the waters around, means they’re often referred to as Mexico's Galapagos Islands. In the early 1900s, the islands were used as a gunnery and bombing range by the Mexican government, but when oceanographer and conservationist Jacques Cousteau came across them in the 1960s, he began a campaign to have their unique and pristine ecosystem protected – a campaign that ultimately led to the creation of the Marieta Islands National park in 2005, eight years after his death.
Under the surface of the waves, you’ll find a veritable aquarium: king angelfish, cortez sea chubs, giant damselfish, rainbow wrasse, octopus, pufferfish and sea cucumbers. Sea turtles, dolphins, and huge manta rays are often spotted near shore, and during the winter months, humpback and gray whales pass on their migration south from Alaska. The islands are known for their ‘hidden beach’, or Playa Escondida, reachable only by timing the tide just right to squeeze through a cave and onto a sandy bank inside a crater open to the sky. But the dry land really belongs to the birds – there are more than 90 species that make their home here, or stop by on their migration, including frigate birds, herons, egrets, pelicans, and the star of the show, the rare blue-footed booby with its bright-blue webbed feet, which mates and nests along the rocks.
Surf ’n’ turf
If laid-back surfer vibes are more your thing, then head up the coast from Punta Mita to Sayulita, a bohemian town that’s home to ride-em-high waves, funky boutiques and plenty of places to find that ultimate fish taco. The town’s plaza is surrounded by cobblestone streets lined with brightly colored murals and buildings, many showing or selling the crafts of the Huichol people, a tribe indigenous to Mexico that’s known for creating bright yarn paintings and beadwork. Pick up great gifts to take home: beaded bracelets and belts, jewelry made of intricately twisted wire, old Spanish movie posters, incense and harem pants. Taquerias abound, as well as churros trucks selling hot, cinnamon-topped deep-fried dough; you’ll find paletas (traditional Mexican popsicles) in a rainbow of flavors, plus a Sayulita favorite, the chocolate-covered frozen bananas at Choco Banana. There are fresh juices and agua frescas, Mexican beers, and the local cocktail, Michelada – Pacifico beer, Clamato juice, lime juice and hot sauce. So, that paradise you were looking for? You’ve found it.
Not far from Sayulita you’ll find another, slightly more active way to spend the day. Monkey Mountain, or Cerro de Mono, is the highest point in the area and one of the most distinctive features of the surrounding landscape. The Huichol Indians of the past considered the mountain to be sacred and went there to make offers to their gods – their clay figurines (the monos that give the mountain its somewhat misleading name, since this is also the Spanish word for monkey) dot the slopes, along with mystical petroglyphs. Hiking up, shaded by trees heavy with limes, you’re likely to spot deer, small wild pigs, and armadillos, and upon reaching the summit your reward is an awesome panoramic view of Banderas Bay far below.
Experience a villa in Punta Mita
Blue skies, even bluer pools, and sand segueing into some of the bluest waves you’ve ever seen – our villas in Punta Mita are a feast for the eyes and the perfect base for your dream Mexican vacation.
Homes in Hacienda de Mita
Those seeking calm, serenity and privacy on the vibrant Mexican Riviera are sure to find a home from home among our Hacienda de Mita rentals. Tee off at one of the two Jack Nicklaus championship golf courses practically on your doorstep, stroll into the village of Punta de Mita, hit the beach for surfing, kayaking and sunbathing or just cool off with a dip in the pool and a cold bottle of beer. However you like to spend your vacation time, our luxury properties, with their beautifully appointed kitchens and spacious inside and outside areas, are just perfect for making lasting memories with family and friends.
Homes in El Encanto
Looking for beauty, space and a place to indulge yourself and your friends? Then our El Encanto villas are just the thing. The name of this luxury development tucked away on the shores of the Bay of Banderas is Spanish for ‘enchanting’, and it has charm by the bucket load. Stock up the wet bar, crank up the tunes, light the barbecue and sizzle your way to a fabulous fiesta.
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