New Malecon in La Penita Mexico

It was a bright bluebird Riviera Nayarit day when I visited La Penita, Mexico  to get some recent shots of the new malecon, and the newly paved streets a couple of days ago. Standing on the new La Penita malecon and looking out over the ocean viewing Coral Island off in the distance with the pelicans lining the beach was stunningly beautiful!
As it has seemed like forever, the vision that was once a dream for many years is now almost completed.  The La Penita Malecon is finished, and it looks like it has been well worth all of the dust, torn up streets and the long wait.  Old structures were torn down, as well as the streets being torn up during the high season; enduring all of the dust and the mess last year has now unfolded to a new and very beautiful malecon that all will surely enjoy. There is still some work left to be done on the new sidewalks. There are some deep rectangular deep holes for the electrical work that are not blocked off so watch your step! As, one could seriously injure oneself!

The new La Penita Malecon is quite a beauty to behold, with inlaid pebbles in a zig-zag design and the Riviera Nayarit logo painted at both ends.  There are plenty of very comfortable benches for seating with Queen Palms planted next to them that will someday bring the beautiful shade.  The new light posts add to the charm.  Easy wide steps lead up to the malecon, as well as wheelchair ramps making the malecon assessable for everyone.

La Penita, Nayarit, a very authentic Mexican pueblo,  is located between Rincon de Guayabitos and Chacala on the Jaltemba Bay.

La Penita has not seen any town upgrades for quite a while.  Not only is La Penita a family town, but also an industrial town, where you can go and get anything that you are needing to build, create or fix. This Mexican pueblo is a favorite for many visitors and snowbirds that relocate for 6 months out of the year during the high season, from November through April, or until Semana Santa begins!

The beachfront La Penita restaurant, Las Brisas, who use to set up tables on the beach serving ice cold beers and great burgers, looks like they are remodeling and gearing up for high season with the newly built malecon right in front of the restaurant. Hytham and Lucy of El Rincon Del Arabe have moved to their new location which is just up from the malecon on one of the new streets and will be selling all kinds of fun Arabic / Egyptian  items, as well as their awesome menu of delicious delights.

Things are looking up for La Penita Mexico!

The La Penita Tianguis runs all year long, every Thursday, starting at 8 am and ending about noon to 1 pm..during the summer.  It is the largest tianguis on the Riviera Nayarit during the high season.

I am quite sure that everyone venturing to La Penita Mexico will be quite pleased this coming high season, as the locals are already enjoying the ambiance of the La Penita Malecon, right here on the Riviera Nayarit in amazing Mexico!

Visit La Penita Mexico and check out the new La Penita Malecon, and enjoy your time on your Riviera Nayarit vacation! 



Sayulita SUP Classic March 8-10

It’s that time if year again and the Sayulita Longboard SUP Classic is here for the 4th annual competition on the Riviera Nayarit in Sayulita Mexico. Sayulita is a world renown for its long wave breaks, making the perfect place for the Sayulita SUP Classic competition. The Tourism board of Nayarit,  Punta Sayulita and the Sayulita SUP community are sponsoring the event. Sayulita is located about 40 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta international airport, which makes this destination very easy to get to. See details below under the Sponsor section for air/flight discounts!

SUP (Stand Up Paddle) has become a world wide sport on rivers and oceans, and the Sayulita SUP Classic event has become known as one of the premier SUP events in the North Americas with professional and amateur athletes coming to compete. Thousands of spectators will be there making it a very fun occasion for everyone with several offshore SUP distance races and the Sayulita SUP surfing competitions.

Raising Our ECO Global Awareness
The focus for the Sayulita SUP Classic is not for the prize monies. Winners of the event will be going for the draw for the international events. Also, the primary cause for this event is for raising the awareness and consciousness in people for the environmental protection for oceans and wildlife, and raising funds for the Reef Check Foundation’s area (, Eco-Diver Program and the Punta Sayulita Foundation’s children’s sports development programs. This event is made possible by the very generous sponsors, the professional athletes, and the Sayulita community event volunteers. Thank you so much!

This years event is the biggest yet, drawing some big time SUP longboard and surfing athletes like the, Men’s Elite and Distance Champion Connor Baxter, defending SUP Zane Schweitzer, 2-time defending women’s SUP elite race champion Candice Appleby and Distance Champion Jenny Kalmbach, Mens Longborad Champion Darren Eudaly and women’s defending longboard Champion Karina Ozunka.

Other champions will also be competing this year including Chuck Patterson, Sean poynter, Mary Osborne, Patricfio Ganzalez and 2 time SUP surfing world Champion Kai Lenny! Along with some top SUP’ers, Jen Smith, Mo Freitas, Vanian Walsh and Anthony Vella.

Our own local Sayulita boys Ryan Helm and Mexican SUP National Champion Fernando Stalla will be competing as well.
This shows a huge support for the fundraising and the importance of raising of awareness for the Reef Check and Punta Sayulita Foundation.

Friday Events and Activities
The weekend kickoff starts of Friday, March 8th with a surfing clinic for the special needs and underprivileged children under the guidance and supervision of Jimmy Gamboa, a well known Malibu longboard surfer, along with the members of his organization TheraSURF, as well as the Sayulita professionals and instructors from the local Sayulita Surfing Schools.

There will also be a Sayulita community-wide beach cleanup scheduled on Friday along with  an interactive-educational program given by honorary ambassador, James Pribram of the ECO-Warrior Foundation and members from “Project Save Our Surf.” Lets all try to keep our Sayulita beach clean!
A fun children’s interactive Reef Day art camp with Sayulita Art Camps and  local artist Treva Dea will follow.
The participating surfers will also be there for a “meet the pros” autograph session!

The folks from the Olukai footwear company, who is the official giveback partner of this years Punta Sayulita Classic, will be participating on Friday and all weekend with prizes and donations for children through its “Ohana Giveback Program.”

Reggae Recording Artist Mishka
Everyone is excited that “Mishka” will be returning this year to perform the free beachfront Punta SUP Sayulita Classic concert on Saturday night, March 9th.  mishka20Mishka and his band have a fabulous sound with reggae roots and attract thousands of people to events like this. He also has as an appreciation for the ocean and our environment. Everyone is grateful for Mishk’a very generous support for this Sayulita SUP Classic event.

“I am inspired to return to Sayulita for the 4th Annual Punta Sayulita Classic – to feel the good vibes and play some music in one of my favorite places. The last time we played there in 2011 stands out in my memory; wonderful people in a beautiful place who know how to have a good time. This year we will be playing a whole lot of new tunes as I am releasing a new mini album on Jimmy Buffett’s Mailboat Records, so this will be a release party for the new music. I’m stoked! See you there!”

All of the sponsors have been very generous. Alaska Airlines is the official airlines of the 4th Annual Punta Sayulita SUP Classic and is offering a special airfare discount code for anyone traveling to Sayulita to compete or take part in the weekend fun! Alaska Airlines has expanded their surfboard length for flying, so competitors can travel with a SUP board up to 12’6″ in length.

The Punta Sayulita Classic is pleased to welcome back the generous of support Alaska Airlines as the official airlines of the 4th Annual Punta Sayulita Classic. Alaska Airlines is offering a special airfare discount code ECMU117 to anyone traveling to Sayulita to compete or to simply take part in the weekend festivities. For years Alaska Airlines has been one of the most active airlines flying to Mexico offering nonstop flights to Puerto Vallarta from numerous west coast cities including Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle. Alaska Airlines is also expanding their surfboard length dimensions so competitors can travel with a SUP stock race board up to 12’6″ in length.

If your looking for a private air transportation,XOJET, also a sponsor for the Sayulita SUP Classic, are offering specials on their private charters on any of their super mid-sized jets.

For more information about he events, or if you would like to become a sponsor, please contact or visit: ; contact Kevin Roberts or Jose Luis Caselin at US Toll Free (866) 947-6017 or +52 (329) 291-3957.
For information regarding the Reef Check Foundation visit

The 4th Annual Punta Sayulita SUP Classic Sponsors

Pesenting Sponsors:
The Riviera Nayarit Tourism Board
Punta Sayulita
Sayulita SUP Community Volunteers

Platinum Level Sponsor:


Gold Level Sponsors:
Jack Daniels
New Mix

Silver Level Sponsors:
Don Pedro’s Restaurant
St. Regis Resort Punta Mita
Hotel Kupuri

Bronze Level Sponsors:
Body Glove
Alaska Airlines

Quickblade Paddles

La Mision de Mita Industry Level Sponsors:

Toes on the Nose
Victory Wetsuits
Stand-Up Paddle Mexico
de Reus Architects
Stone Contractors
Villa Amor
Sayulita Central Hotel
Ruben’s Deli
Vallarta Lifestyles
Skiver Advertising
Grupo Chalita

Its going to be an amazing SUP Sayulita weekend, so come and enjoy the fun competitions and Reggae music by Mishka!Its a weekend not to be missed!
If you are are looking for a inexpensive rental click here that will house your boards too click here! 

Come and enjoy the weekend, get autographs by top surfers and enjoy the 4th Annual Sayulit SUP Classic.  If your looking for affordable housing click here.
This is a Sayulita event for the entire family.
See you on the beach!

For more great photos of   last years Sayulita SUP contest click here!


For more information on the event and to see lasts years music video by “Mishka” click here!

Discover Sayulita for great surfing and SUP on the Riviera Nayarit in Mexico!


San Pancho Music Festival in Mexico

Its that time of year again, and the 13th annual San Pancho Music Festival is happening on February 22 through the 24th.
They will feature performing artists from the region of Riviera Nayarit, Mexico, as well as musicians from the United States and Latin America.  The San Pancho Music Festival has really come a long way and grown from the original concept of a backyard venue of a local resident in 2001. Click here for last years photos!

San Pancho, also traditionally known as San Francisco,  is located on the Riviera Nayarit just north of Sayulita and South of
Lo de Marcos off of the 200 highway  in Mexico. A small quaint town filled families and unity, this town is also chalked with Mexican culture, art and wildlife. The San Pancho estuary holds many birds and other wildlife, with clean pristine beaches making San Pancho a place to go and be remembered.

The location of the San Pancho Music festival is at the Plaza del Sol, and is easy to locate, as there is only one main avenida. As you come into San Pancho, it is off of the main street on the left, about half way into town. Last year in early 2012 the  Plaza del Sol in San Pancho was remodeled and it’s facilities updated.  A new stage was completed to enhance the Plaza as an entertainment venue.  Public rest-rooms were modernized, the portico was remodeled with new landscape installed.   The Plaza is now better suited for the ever increasing crowds drawn to the community celebrations and festivals.

The San Pancho music and  fun will begin at 5pm each day, with performances up until 11pm each night with fun a jam session Saturday evening. The lineup for music looks like fun this year.
Here they are :

Friday 2/22
5pm – Folkloric Dancers
5:45pm – Juan-Ted (rock-n-roll, blues, pop, guitar)
6:30pm – Frida’s Eyebrow (blues, folksy ballads)
7:15pm – Pantera Fantasma
8pm – Dave Fisher & the 8 O’clock Band (folk, ballads, guitar)
8:45pm – Los Bertos y Las Muses
9:30pm – The Duvalin Band (classic rock, pop)
10:20pm – Atrakadero (Latin ballads and Banda)

Saturday 2/23
5pm – Leonardo (Swedish hang)
5:45pm – Joe Hadlock (jazz, pop, keyboards)                                     
6:30pm – Uiok and Friends (classic, new age, pop)
7:15pm – Werther Ellerbrock (blues, pop, rock, guitar)
8pm – Jeff Oster (smooth jazz, trumpet & flugelhorn)
8:45pm - Steve O’Connor & Doug Robinson (jazz, keyboards)
9:45pm – Banderas Bay Jazz Allstars (jazz)
10:15pm – Jam Session with:

·         Jeff Oster, trumpet
·         Chas Eller, keyboards
·         Bryan Savage, alto sax
·         Steve York, bass
·         Werther Ellerbrock, electric guitar
·         Lazaro Poey, drums
·         Doug Robinson, melodica
·         Steve O’Connor, acoustic guitar

Sunday 2/24
5pm - to be announced                                                
6pm – Luna Rumba
7pm – Tatewari (flamenco)
7:45pm – Beto, Carlos, and Carlita (traditional ballads)
8:15pm – Latcho & Andrea, The Blonde Gypsies (flamenco, gypsy boogaloo)
9:15pm – Los Compas (Nortena music, Latin)
10:30pm – Mariachi / folklorico

It is a truly wonderful balance of amateurs and professional performers coming together for 3 days to share an unforgettable and enriching musical experience in one of the most beautiful regions of Mexico.  Come early and enjoy the day and the San Pancho Beach.

The San Pancho Hostel is offering rooms on Saturday for 1/2 price! Stay Saturday, and get Sunday FREE, along with a late checkout on Monday!

That’s a sweet deal, and makes for a very fun weekend! 
You an contact them here.

Discover the San Pancho Music Festival on the Riviera Nayarit in beautiful Mexico!


HealthCare Resources Puerto Vallarta Summer Newsletter

This newsletter is written by Pamela Thompson….Thanks Pam for keeping us so informed on the Riviera Nayarit!
Here you will discover the clinics and the  pricing for the different clinics offered this summer.

We are combining our July and August newsletter for several reasons – the main one being that I am behind! We will do the same for September and October as well. And then, hopefully, the November newsletter will be jam-packed with loads of new “fall-winter season” items.

July-August Clinics
These screening-only clinics are offered at a discounted price available only through HealthCare Resources. They are held in various locations and can be booked by sending an email with the name(s) of the clinics, your name and phone number, and any questions you may have to Pamela(at)

Summer Clinics

Cardiac Clinic
July 27, 2012
$550 pesos – PLUS members $500 pesos
Includes: EKG, Blood Pressure Check, Consult/Interview with a bi-lingual cardiologist and their recommendations. (We recommend prior to the appointment, you have a Cholesterol Profile. We are offering a very discounted price for this at $322 pesos.)

Ear Clinic
July 31, 2012
$375 pesos – PLUS members $325 pesos
Includes: Complete evaluation by an ENT of your ears and a cleaning (if needed) – you’d be amazed at the “gunk” that builds up in our ears here due to the humidity. Note: This is not a hearing test! **We do have an audiologist that comes frequently to the area. If you would like an appointment with her, please let me know. She will be here again sometime in August.

Vascular Clinic
August 2, 2012
$400 pesos – PLUS members $350 pesos
Includes: Evaluation by a vascular specialist, checking your legs/pulses/carotids – see how your blood is flowing! You will receive a complete report with recommendations.

Foot Clinic
August 3, 2012
$300 pesos – PLUS members pay $250 pesos
Includes: Review of your feet/toes, pulses, balance and recommendations by a podiatrist. Our feet take a beating here! Take care of your tootsies! And if you haven’t yet had a “medical pedicure” – you should! It’s fabulous!

Women’s Clinic
August 7, 2012
$775 pesos – PLUS members pay $690 pesos
Includes: Consult/Interview, pap smear, pelvic exam, colposcopy. Wonderful female GYN. Note: If you are concerned about a hormone imbalance, we recommend having the lab-work prior to the appointment. We have a special price for this.

Eye Clinic
August 8, 2012
$400 pesos – PLUS members pay $350 pesos
Vision Exam, Eye Pressure Exam (Glaucoma check), consult.

Mammogram Clinic
August 9, 2012
$920 pesos – PLUS members pay $820 pesos
Includes: Digital mammogram, ultrasound (if necessary), manual exam, review of mammogram. Please ladies, this is important!

Men’s Urology Clinic
August 10, 2012
$700 pesos – PLUS members pay $650 pesos
Includes: Consult/Interview, ultrasound of kidneys, bladder and prostate, measurement of residual urine. (We recommend prior to your appointment a PSA and Urinalysis. We are offering a very discounted price of $470 pesos for these.)

Skin Clinic
August 15, 2012
$275 pesos – PLUS members pay $225 pesos
Includes: Review of your skin, from scalp to toes by an oncologist. Get those funny spots checked!

Ongoing Clinics

Colonoscopies, Endoscopies, Men’s and Women’s Check Ups

Our PLUS membership program has become quite popular the past couple of years. For further information, please visit (Prices are in pesos!)


Folks Returning in the Fall and Insurance Coverage

If you are preparing for your return in the fall/winter, we urge you to make sure that you have the proper insurance coverage. Please email me with any questions that you might have regarding this. And if you are in the area now, I am more than happy to sit down and have a chat about all of your healthcare needs. I have a new (and air conditioned!) office at Hospital Amerimed. I hope you will come by for a visit! As well, I am happy to give you a tour of this new, state-of-the-art facility.

Are you attempting to lose a few pounds? Or perhaps lower your cholesterol? Are you borderline diabetic and would like to get things under control? Please know that we work with a very knowledgeable, multilingual (and great!) registered dietician. Consider a few sessions with her and be prepared for success!

A New Source for Mail

Mailbox Etc in El Centro has a great new service for the Riviera Nayarit communities of Nuevo Vallarta, Bucerias, La Cruz and San Pancho! Beginning July 16, 2012 anyone who signs up for a mailbox to receive their US/Canadian mail will receive mail delivery to their area! This is a simple, secure way for you to receive your mail, magazines and online purchases. They will also be collecting out-going mail. They can set up your service prior to your arrival if you are coming in the fall-winter. Please email Jessica Corley for further information. This is a wonderful service they will be providing!

We certainly hope that you are having a stupendous summer, wherever you are! Stay cool! Remember that we are here for all of your health care needs. For all of the latest news, look for HealthCare Resources Puerto Vallarta on Facebook.

WARM regards,
Pamela Thompson
HealthCare Resources Puerto Vallarta
Cell: 044-322-107-7007

Pamela Thompson has lived and worked in Puerto Vallarta for over 17 years, 10 of them in health care. Pamela now leads HealthCare Resources Puerto Vallarta, a local healthcare resource network. Her years of experience and expertise are available to you by emailing your questions to pamela(at) or by visiting

Discover the Amazing Riviera Nayarit for your next tropical vacation where the
ocean meets jungle, and move to Mexico for life!


Riviera Nayarit Kite Surfing Competition

The most challenging of water sports, Kite Surfing has become very popular, as it takes riders across the waves, combining windsurfing, surfing and parachutes along with a very strong and agile body makes it a very extreme water sport on the Riviera Nayarit in Mexico this year. The competition starts on Saturday, March 10th through March 17th with the minimum of four races each day. The judging with be held with the  International Kiteboarding Association regulations.
The competition begins at Huanacaxtle to Bucerias. The International Kite Surfing competition will take place from Sunday, March 11 to Saturday March 17th.
The Kite Surfing competition is big this year, with an expected 50 competitors coming from over 10 different countries. Word has it that the World Champion Sean Farley Gomez, 2010 World Champion Adam Koch and 2011 World Champion Johnny Heineken will be competing this year as well.

The best place to view the racing is Bucerias, where there is plenty of room on the beach to take some great photos and have some fun watching the event.

 Come to Bucerias to watch the Kite Surfing on the Riviera Nayarit in beautiful Mexico! 





Puerto Vallarta News Network


Nayarit Snorkeling Beaches

The Riviera Nayarit may be a relatively undeveloped tourist region, but it is booming with tropical nature and exotic wildlife and is starting to catch on as a popular travel place.  Located along the Pacific Ocean, the Mexican state of Nayarit is said to have some of the best snorkeling in western Mexico according to

Although not yet well studied, the Mexican Pacific coral reef along the Nayarit coastline draws abundant sea life.  The ocean water in this region is relatively warm and rich in nutrients, so large varieties of tropical fish flourish here, including manta rays, eagle rays, moray eels, puffer fish, needlefish, king angelfish, jack fish, damselfish, Moorish Idol fish, starfish, seahorses, octopuses, sea turtles, dolphins, whales, and more.

The coral reefs of southern Nayarit (Riviera Nayarit) that attract these fish are all one type of reef: narrow fringing reefs.  These fringing reefs are dense, well-developed frameworks, measuring up to nearly 20-feet (6-meters) thick.  Fringing reefs are the most common reef type (the other types are barrier and atoll) and are found near the shore in shallow water.  This is great for snorkelers, since the fish swim closer to the shore.

These conditions make for some pretty terrific snorkeling.  While there are many beautiful beaches along Bahi Banderas Bay, Bahia Jaltemba Bay, and Bahia Matanchen Bay of the Riviera Nayarit, here are five wonderful snorkeling beaches with fascinating underwater worlds.

Playa El Anclote

El Anclote Beach is a lovely beach with rock jetties near Punta de Mita. Fabulous snorkeling tours to The Marietas Islands Marine Reserve with its unusual reef formations, such as with lava tubes and caves, are available from this beach.

Playa Chacalilla

Chacalilla Beach is a small beach with clear, aqua-colored water just north of Chacala.

Playa Los Ayala

Los Ayala Beach is a fairly long beach with clear, aqua-colored water just south of Rincon de Guayabitos in Bahia Jaltemba Bay.

Playa de los Muertos

Los Muertos Beach is protected by large rocks on both sides and has calm, clear water just south of Sayulita.  Beyond the rocks to the south is the tiny beach of Punta Las Cargadas near four rock islands, which is also a good snorkeling spot.

Playa Gemelas

Gemelas Beach is a pair of twin beaches south of Bucerias and Nuevo Vallarta with clear water and rock formations near Los Arcos National Marine Park.

Discover the vibrant underwater world of Mexico’s Pacific Ocean at great snorkeling beaches in charming Mexican towns along the Riviera Nayarit.


Sayulita Sunset Sailing Cruise

Pulling into the Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, just 15 minutes from Sayulita, we walk up the first dock on the right to a 50-foot schooner – more accurately, a traditional trimaran – that reminds of days of old when pirates would sail the seven seas.  It’s as long as its sails are tall and has a cabin (main salon) lined with rare Rangoon teak wood panels, uncustomary on those modern fiberglass boats.

Two steps lead up to the boat and a hand reaches out to help us aboard.  Looking up, I’m greeted politely by a thin, gray-haired man with a strong handshake, welcoming us to his pride and joy: Sayula 1, the first boat ever to operate out of Sayulita.  He’s a bit rough around the edges, and I imagine him wearing a black patch over one eye with a yellow sash around his waist and a long sword at his side.  Could he be a pirate?  This man of the sea is an original with 25 years’ experience sailing the ocean blue.

Sail Away

Once we’re all aboard, a low rumble breaks the sound of rolling waters, and we begin to glide back from the dock as if floating on air.  Passing more contemporary boats in the marina on our way out to sea, feeling the soft sway of the boat and smelling the fresh ocean air, we sense the history of this sailing trimaran and realize we have stepped aboard a legend.  Before long, the marina is behind us and the wide Pacific Ocean draws us in.

Port side (on the left), we begin to pass colorful buildings of all shapes and sizes in the towns that line Bahia Banderas Bay on the Pacific coast of Riviera Nayarit; behind us, San Pancho, then Sayulita, Bucerias, Nuevo Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta and finally the open sea.  Starboard side (on the right), we ride near the land, passing Punta de Mita in the distance and the rolling hills of tropical rainforests in varying shades of green peppered by rock barriers that extend into the ocean.


Sailing On…

The land begins to fade in the distance as the ocean grows wider and the rolling waves draw us out.  With the wind in our sails, we follow the distant shadow of the land and continue starboard when rounding a bend north of La Cruz, a lovely beach cove opens up to a small gold beach where seagulls and pelicans perch on rock beds welcoming us.  Anchoring the boat a short distance from shore, we swim to the beach and relax awhile having this slice of heaven all to ourselves.

If only we could stay here forever, but alas, we are hailed back to deck and climb aboard to enjoy some snacks, drinks, music, and friendly conversation.  We float for a while and then head back in the direction we came, spotting a dead sea turtle along the way: a tragic loss to nature.  We mutter sadly about her death and are quiet for a time as we journey back to the marina.  The ride is calm and smooth as the sun sets on a lovely Nayarit day. Hues of red, orange, yellow, and purple fade into gray as we say good-bye – for now.

Take a boat tour aboard a traditional trimaran for a Sunset Sailing Trip from Sayulita, Mexico, in the Riviera Nayarit.


- By Desiree Bilon

Endangered Sea Turtles

Although Olive Ridley might sound like the name of a children’s storybook character, it is the actually the name of a species of sea turtle in trouble. The Olive Ridley takes it name from the grey-green color of its heart-shaped shell. Even though this is one of the most abundant species of turtles in the world, it is still considered an endangered species on the Pacific coast of Mexico where the Riviera Nayarit is located.

The second smallest of the sea turtles, after the Kemp Ridley, Olive Ridleys weigh between 75-100 pounds (34 – 45 kg) and reach 2-2 ½ feet (0.6-0.75 m) in length. Mostly omnivorous, this turtle lives off a diet of crabs, jellyfish, lobster, and shrimp. Commercial fishing, loss of nesting habitat, and climate change are among the human-induced threats to turtle population levels worldwide.

The Olive Ridley has a number of natural predators. In San Francisco (San Pancho), a small town one hour north of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific coast, the domestic dog is the largest predator, digging up turtle eggs. Human poachers are also known to gather turtle eggs while the female is depositing them into the sand, only later to resell the eggs – considered an aphrodisiac in Mexico. If the eggs do remain in the sand, fly larvae pose the greatest threat to the nests. Once the turtles have hatched, ghost crabs become the new predators, going after the baby turtles and tucking them into their sand holes.

Sea Turtle Rescue

Frank Smith, a US expatriate, who has dedicated his life to turtle conservation, founded the Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C. in 1992.  The “group” built the first marine nursery in San Pancho, Nayarit to help increase turtle numbers. Sea turtles, even though diminished in population, play a key role in oceanic ecosystems. They are vital in maintaining healthy sea grass beds and coral reef, which provide habitat for other marine life; help balance marine food webs; and help facilitate nutrient cycling from water to land.

Frank stays up every night until 4:00 am and then sleeps until noon. From the end of June until mid-November, he is out collecting nests. Two teams, 3-4 people each, take turns searching for nests. One team goes from 10:00 pm until 1:00 am and the next team goes from 1:00 am to 6:00 am. They look for turtle tracks in the sand, approximately 2-feet wide (about 0.6 meters wide), and then follow them up to the nest sites. Once the female has finished depositing her eggs, and leaves, the team retrieves the nest.

Sea Turtle Nurseries

Two types of nurseries are used in San Pancho. One is the beach nursery where eggs are buried into a fenced off area in the sand, simulating a more natural habitat. The second is the “box” nursery. By replicating commercial hatcheries, carefully selected sand is placed into a styrofoam box and kept in a semi-heated room. The eggs are placed into the sand in neat rows, as opposed to a bunch of eggs dumped into a hole. Survival rates in the box nursery are successful, around 89%.

Due to lack of space, not all the eggs can be kept in the box nursery at the same time and some have to stay on the beach. While susceptible to attacks from dogs and fly larva in the egg stage, artificial lights pose a problem for the new hatchlings, born after 45 days.

“When they emerge to the surface, they look for the bio and chemical luminescence of the waves to guide them – it’s like a flash of lightening for them. Artificial light behind the beach attracts the newborn turtles and they head up the beach in the wrong direction. When the sun comes up it kills them within an hour.” Frank explains and urges people on the beachfront to turn their lights off.

You might see Frank on the beach, driving his dune buggy along the sand at sunset with passengers, the baby turtles.

“We only release 60 hatchlings in one spot. Then we go 400 feet down the beach and release another 60. We don’t release any in the same spot for a week to avoid fish predators,” Frank assures me.

Over the past 20 years, with the help of Grupo Ecológico, the Olive Ridley population in San Pancho has increased from 200 to 1,170 nests.

For more information about visiting or volunteering, visit Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.

Join the special residents of San Pancho on their mission for Saving Sea Turtles in Trouble in the Riviera Nayarit, Mexico.

[Photos courtesy of Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde.]


Celebrating Mexican Independence

September is a special month in Mexico – el Mes de la Patria (month of the homeland) – because this year,  Mexicans celebrate 201 years of independence from Spanish rule and 101 years since the Mexican Revolution (November 20th, 1910). The entire month consists of festivities, although the official Día de la Independencia (Independence Day) is September 16th with official celebrations begining the evening of September 15th.

Starting in early September, the country’s cities and towns are adorned with Mexican flags and decorations in colors of green (symbolizing independence), white (symbolizing religion), and red (symbolizing union).  Restaurants serve traditional Mexican specialties (antojitos), such as Chiles en Nogada, ponche, and more.

On the eve of September 15th, across the country, Mexicans gather in town squares (zócalos) dressed in green, white, and red – colors of the Mexican flag – indigenous costume, or traditional Mexican garb: men as Charros and women as China Poblanas.

They await the official commencement of the holiday, indulging in cervezas, tequila, and Mexican food, which begins with a patriotic speech given by a local official, serving as a reenactment of Father Hidalgo’s El Grito de Dolores (The Cry of Dolores), also known as El Grito de la Independencia (Cry of Independence), addressing his followers in Dolores, Guanajuato to take action against Spain.

Brief History of Mexican Independence

Before present-day Mexico existed, pre-Columbian Mesoamerica was inhabited by Aztecs and other Indian civilizations until Spanish invaders conquered their land in 1521 and renamed it New Spain.  After 300 years of Spanish oppression and tyranny, and 10 years of revolutionary war, Mexico’s hard-earned independence was finally won on September 16, 1821.

On September 16th, 1810, a Catholic priest, Father Miguel Hidalgo, gave his famous “grito” (or shout), which started a revolt lasting one year, ultimately leading to the Mexican War of Independence, the most important observed national holiday in Mexico.  Unfortunately, Hidalgo was executed for his actions.

Another priest, Father Jose Maria Morelos, continued the fight for independence and helped to establish the first proclamation of separation from Spanish rule, granting equal rights to all Mexicans on November 1813, with the Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America, but was also executed.  Today, Hidalgo is considered the father of Mexico and Morelos, a national hero.

At long last, in September 1821, the final document – the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire – pronouncing Mexico as an independent nation and was signed in Mexica (a former part of the Aztec empire).  The country’s present name originated from the Aztec Nahuatl word Mēxihco, which evolved into México in Spanish.  Officially named the United Mexican States (Estados Unidos Mexicanos), this beautiful country honors its independence on September 16th each year.

Independence Day Festivities

As with most things Mexican, this occasion is celebrated with gusto. Each year, festivities begin the evening of September 15th at 11:00 p.m. in zócalos (town squares) across the country.  A local representative rings a symbolic liberty bell and gives a patriotic speech ending in a shout for Mexicans to unite, a reenactment of Father Hidalgo’s “grito,” to which the crowd responds: “Viva Mexico” and “Viva la independencia!” Fireworks and patriotic music fill the air as they sing their national anthem.

On September 16th, the official Independence Day, merriment continues with parades, carnivals, rodeos, bullfights, folk dances, mariachi music, and more traditional Mexican food and drinks.  In the Riviera Nayarit, each of the small towns will celebrate in their zócalos with their own unique flair. If you’ll be vacationing in Mexico on Mexican Independence Day, the holiday offers a festive occasion to honor national values that Mexico – and much of the world – holds in high regard:  liberty and unity¡Viva la libertad! (Long live freedom!)

Note: Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) is not Mexican Independence Day, but there is a connection between the holidays. While Mexican Independence Day celebrates the country’s freedom from Spanish rule on September 16th, Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico’s national unity as an autonomous country after preventing a subsequent invasion by France in 1862. Since this event occurred at Fuerte de Loreto in Puebla, Mexico, it is known as The Battle of Puebla.

Join us in Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in one of the many delightful towns along the Riviera Nayarit, Mexico.



Legend of Mexcaltitán Island

Mexico exists in large part due to the Aztec civilization, and the Mexican state of Nayarit is Aztec country.  Even the great Maya of the Yucatan Peninsula were invaded by Aztec predecessors.  Long before the “Riviera Nayarit” was considered a tourist destination, it was part of the influential Aztec empire.  Credited for naming the country of Mexico, the Aztecs also authored the crest in the center of the Mexican flag, which became the Mexican National Emblem.

The image of the emblem comes from the Aztec legend, which identifies their new settlement as the place where a heron would be seen sitting on top of a cactus in the center of a lake capturing a snake in its beak.  On their pilgrimage from the island of Mexcaltitán in 1091 – considered the mythical Aztlán and birthplace of the Mexican identity – they searched for this new land, witnessing the snake-capturing heron in the region now known as Mexico City, and built Tenochtitlán in 1325, a significant site of ancient Aztec ruins today.

Arising out of this legend, historians believe the mythical name of the island, “Aztlán,” means “land of the herons” in the Aztec Nahuatl language, and its formal name “Mexcaltitán” derived from the Nahuatl “Metztli,” their moon goddess, which means “in the moon’s house.”  While the island may have multiple names, they do know the Aztecs eventually referred to themselves as the Mexicas after settling in the new region and calling it “Mexica,” which stems from the island name and later evolved into “Mexico.”

Tourist Attractions

Mexcaltitán’s historical significance makes it a truly magical place today. After receiving Historical Monument status in 1986, the island was designated by the Mexican government as a Pueblo Magico (magic town).  The Pueblos Magicos (magic towns) program began in 2001 to support the preservation of valuable historical areas which influenced Mexican culture and tradition. With about 40 Pueblos Magicos, it has increased tourism and income to towns that model Mexican culture, history, and architecture.

Built in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica by the Aztecs, this small island is only 400 meters (1,300 feet) in diameter, has no cars, and can be easily traversed by foot within an hour or two.  The island is accessible only by boat and is a 20-minute ride from La Batanga pier on the mainland near San Blas.  During rainy season, September through November, the roads are normally under water, making the only way around town by boat and earning it the nickname: “The Mexican Venice” (La Venecia Mexicana).

Surrounded by wetlands and endangered mangroves, conditions are ideal for shrimp fishing, the primary livelihood of island residents.  Mangrove marshes are natural shrimp habitats and also provide material to construct levees and make barcinas (special bags) for drying shrimp, the latter consisting of manta cloth and palm leaves.  Travelers who enjoy eating shrimp will find a variety of regional specialties with fresh shrimp, such as zarandeado, tamales, paté, and aguachiles (spicy lime shrimp).  It is also the place where dried, crunchy shrimp or “cockroach shrimp” were created, a delicious snack served with chilled cerveza (beer).

For such a small island, its rich history offers significant cultural attractions.  Dotting the natural landscape of this picturesque little island are traditional tile-roofed buildings and small unnamed stores that residents identify by memory.  Central to the island is the town square with a church and museum, Museo del Origen (Museum of Origin) which contains artifacts of Mesoamerican history and Aztec culture, including an archaeological stone engraving with that meaningful image of the heron capturing a snake, without which, Mexico may not be known as the cultural treasure it is today.

The island of Mexcaltitan is one of various tourist attractions worth visiting near the beach town of San Blas in the Riviera Nayarit, Mexico.


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