Explore the Natural Wonders of Banderas Bay
Straddling the Mexican states of Nayarit and Jalisco, Bahia Banderas Bay is the largest natural bay in Mexico, among the 10th largest worldwide, and one of the deepest bays in the world reaching depths of over 3,000 feet. Extending across 68 kilometers (42 miles) of the Pacific Coast, the bay begins in the south at Puerto Vallarta, flows northwest into the Riviera Nayarit at Punta de Mita, continues north beyond Sayulita and through Lo de Marcos where it joins Bahia Jaltemba Bay.
Warm yearlong ocean temperatures and favorable depths yield so much biological diversity that sea life flourishes in Bahia Banderas Bay, of which some species and locales are protected by national marine reserves, such as Las Marietas Islands. The bay’s consistently favorable ocean conditions make various areas within it ideal bodies of water for sport fishing, snorkeling, diving, sailing, kayaking, surfing, kiteboarding, plus Humpback whale watching and sea turtle conservation.
Just north of Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco across the state line is Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit – the first resort town in south Riviera Nayarit. This master planned development of 20,000 inhabitants consists of over 30 luxury resorts and hotels along a 3-mile (5-kilometer) tourist corridor with restaurants, nightclubs, marina, private docks, dive center, and golf course. Water sports activities, such as sunset cruises, swimming with dolphins, whale watching, and much more are accessible from its dazzling gold beach.
Slightly further north is the large beach town of Bucerias and its 30,000 residents. Home to the longest gold beach in Bahia Banderas Bay, stretching across 5 miles (8 kilometers), it’s a favorite for kiteboarding, boogie boarding, and swimming with nearby whale-watching, snorkeling, diving, and sport fishing tours. As an artistic community, Bucerias hosts a weekly Art Walk featuring local artists and galleries on Thursdays from 7:00-9:00 p.m. during high season.
Heading west from Bucerias on the road to Punta de Mita is the upscale beach town of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. With the lovely new Marina Riviera Nayarit, it’s the regional hub for sailing, snorkeling, diving, fishing, and whale watching tours. Once a fishing village, the bay along this beach offers exceptional fishing conditions, so the town has been designated to host the annual International Tuna and Marlin Fishing Tournament in July.
Developed primarily for tourism, the master planned resort town of Punta de Mita features luxury resorts and homes, championship golf courses, world-class spas, white sand beaches of Playa Destiladeras and Playa El Anclote, and beautiful ocean views. Just 15 minutes from La Cruz and Sayulita, this exclusive community of nearly 1,000 residents has one of the best climates worldwide with consistent ocean breezes and an average temperature of 80° Fahrenheit (27° Celsius) year round.
North of Punta de Mita and south of Sayulita is the tiny beachfront community of Litibu and its nearly 20 residents. Framed by exquisite white sand beaches, clear blue sea water, and lush tropical rainforests, the area is being developed as an eco-friendly mega resort. The initial phase includes 6 large hotels and hundred of vacation homes designed around a new Greg Norman, 18-hole golf course, plus a modern marina and new highway. This tropical paradise already rivals its luxury resort neighbors.
Another beach town planned for tourism development and just 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) inland from Litibu is the peaceful village of Higuera Blanca and its 960 residents, many of whom are descendants of families who worked on a large hacienda that once dominated the region. The already established community offers plenty of stores, restaurants, and many other services, including a busy town square. With beautiful ocean views, rolling jungle hillsides, and nearby beaches, this town is sure to please.
Moving north along the lush rolling hillsides beyond Bucerias is the bohemian-style town of Sayulita. This hip, artsy beach town of about 4,000 multicultural residents is known for its laid-back, ‘anything goes’ attitude. Bordering its popular surf beach are a wide variety of restaurants, cafes, snack shops, clothing stores, art shops and galleries with all kinds of delightful modern and traditional items.
About 15 minutes north of Sayulita is the sophisticated beach town of San Francisco (affectionately nicknamed San Pancho). Drawing former Mexican President Luis Echeverria to its shores over 40 years ago, this charming community also captured the hearts of citizens, travelers, and foreign retirees until it grew to its present population of 2,000. With a focus on community services, this small town has its own community center, golf club, beach club, and polo club.
The peaceful, authentic Mexican town of Lo de Marcos and its 3,000 residents are located just 20 minutes south of Rincon de Guayabitos and 20 minutes north of Sayulita. Its long, beautiful, gold beach frames narrow cobblestone roads lined by shops and their friendly merchants converging at a lovely town square. Offering plenty of traveler amenities, this uncontrived, relaxing town has become a favorite among RVers and campers.