Indulge in Riviera Nayarit’s “gateway to paradise.”
By Steve Zepezauer
Though I’d been here before, it still feels like a dream I’m having for the first time. As our car slowly snakes down the cobblestone road, we are engulfed by the unbelievably green and dense terrain, which offers only the occasional peek-a-boo views of the ocean and visions of what’s next to come. Our window of the world that we left only a few hours ago seems to fade away and I actively remind myself to enjoy this particular moment. As we approach our destination, reality sets in as we arrive once again at the place they call the “gateway to paradise.” Welcome to Punta Mita.
Along the pristine Pacific coastline of Riviera Nayarit, about 25 miles north of the ever-popular Puerto Vallarta, travelers seeking a different kind of getaway experience will find the more serene destination of Punta Mita.
The less-touristy Nayarit region continues to be one of the safest destinations for travelers in Mexico. Its serpentine coastline stretches almost 200 miles and is largely undeveloped, featuring a handful of luxury resorts and dozens of seaside coastal towns. Punta Mita is one of the jewels of this coastline. Situated on a 1,500-acre private peninsula with lush landscapes and white sand beaches, this is the kind of place you think of when you want to feel like you are far away.
For world-class accommodations, there are two properties in Punta Mita: the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita and The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, as well as 17 subcommunities and two Jack Nicklaus Signature golf courses—which includes the famous “Tail of the Whale” hole on the Pacifico Golf Course, featuring the world’s only natural island green (only accessible at low tide).
This coastal hideaway is on the same latitude as the Hawaiian Islands and enjoys the similar warm tropical temperatures partnered with comfortable sea breezes. And, since the flight is about half the distance compared to Hawaii from Southern California, more people are discovering the Nayarit region in recent years due to its easy accessibility from airports in Orange County, Los Angeles and San Diego.
Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita
The Forbes Five-Star Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, our home base, offers the epitome of the Punta Mita experience with a “mi casa, su casa” kind of attitude. There are many ways to define luxury and most hospitality companies attempt to impart their own version of it to their guests. The incomparable luxury experience at the Four Seasons in Punta Mita can’t be discussed without mentioning the incredibly trained and dedicated staff. The level of service and caring is felt immediately upon arrival and is relentlessly wonderful without being intrusive.
Set on 52 acres, the focal point of the beachfront property is the mesmerizing Nuna infinity pool. It’s the perfect place to get lost and embrace the moment and the magnificence of the place—while sipping on a margarita or local beer, of course. Two secluded beaches offer feet-in-the-sand moments for just relaxing or participating in one of the numerous ocean activities.
With 177 casita-style guest rooms and plunge pool suites, as well as 29 villas and residences, there are numerous options to accommodate guests.
For families and groups seeking an ultraluxe, more private stay, the resort also offers three free-standing oceanfront beach homes that include all of the resort’s amenities and services. The massive hacienda-style accommodations include private pools, patios and grilling areas, as well as daily access to a personal host who is dedicated to taking care of every possible detail—creating an idyllic home-away-from-home vacation experience.
Dining alfresco with the Pacific as your backdrop is hard to beat and this resort offers numerous options for that. And the food doesn’t get any fresher when you factor in the local fishing village that provides fresh fish daily.
A couple of the favorite eateries include the contemporary Mexican restaurant, Dos Cantrinas, and the seafood-centric beachfront grill Bahía by Richard Sandoval. Be sure to experience the edgy vibe of Mez, the mezcal-forward bar featuring more than 70 varieties of mezcal.
The property’s world-class Apuane Spa utilizes local flora and herbal ingredients to create an assortment of personalized treatments. One of the signature options, the Tequila Stone massage, is a longtime favorite. Using a combination of tequila and sage oil, the treatment is designed to both release muscle tension and improve joint mobility. And, for those who want to maintain their workout routine while spending time in paradise, the state-of-the-art fitness center is the place to go.
Overall, the resort was more than just a place to stay; it was an experience of Mexico’s natural beauty and warm hospitality. And it is truly a gateway to a memorable escape.
Naviva, A Four Seasons Resort, Punta Mita
Located just five minutes away from the Four Seasons Punta Mita, the recently opened luxury tented resort, Naviva, offers a one-of-a-kind retreat set within 48 acres of jungle. Leaning on biophilic design—where the natural world is the driving force for design—15 luxury tents connect guests to the natural beauty of Mexico in a unique and immersive way. The intimate all-inclusive resort simplifies the experience by including all food and drinks plus curated community activities, mind and body practices and spontaneous moments. (fourseasons.com/naviva)
Neighboring Towns Worth a Side Trip
A couple of nearby towns worth the time to visit while staying in Punta Mita are Sayulita and San Pancho. Sayulita is about 30 minutes up the coast from Punta Mita and is known for being a chic surfer’s town with bustling cobbled streets full of vendors, shops and tourists. There’s an eclectic mix of restaurants, boutique hotels and surf hostels. It’s the kind of place where you can find yourself in a beachside palapa where the drinks flow freely and the music is loud.
Another 15 minutes up the coast is San Pancho (formally, San Francisco), a much quieter destination that is known as the cultural heart of Riviera Nayarit. The town’s main square, Plaza del Sol, is a meeting place for art and music festivals throughout the year, as well as sundry cultural events. And, for a small town, San Pancho has a diverse and impressive number of restaurants that have been attracting accomplished chefs and foodies alike.
Photos courtesy of Four Seasons