in the rough Be it a testosterone-y mancation or a more restful but still green-heavy friends’ getaway, Riviera Nayarit delivers with a full menu of outdoors options throughout its towns, villages and resort areas. One of our favorites is around the coastal town of San Blas, whose popular beaches and busy port are always buzzing. San Blas and the village of Matachen are the gateways to La Tovara National Park, a mangrove forest fed by the Pacific Ocean that serves as a sanctuary for local and migratory birds. Motorboats rumble along on a magical journey into the wild, uncovering curious crocodiles and weary boat-billed herons.
In San Blas, visitors will also want to visit its colonial fort and downtown area, still alive with remnants of the town’s surfing-and-birding heyday in the 1950s and 60s and a much earlier high point in the 1700s when Chinese, German, British and other nations deemed the port town important enough to establish consulates.
The stay here is at Hotel Garza Canela, a family-operated gem of fragrant gardens and the warmest hospitality. This is also home to El Delfin, one of Riviera Nayarit’s best restaurants. Rates at Garza Canela start at $80 per room through Dec. 15.
Clients staying closer to Punta de Mita and Nuevo Vallarta can take a boat to the Marietas Islands, a protected area on the northern side of Bahia de Banderas that comes with great opportunities to snorkel among turtles and rays, spot blue-footed boobies and witness humpback whales put on a thrilling performance during the winter season. Vallarta Adventures’ Las Marietas Eco Discovery, priced at $69 per adult, takes visitors along on a 7-hour tour of discovery, kayaking and more. Should that prove too laid-back for clients, they can sign up for an Outdoor Adventure that includes arriving by speed boat to the secluded Boca de Tomatlan, roaring through the jungle on 4×4 off-road vehicles and riding mules into the sub-tropical forest—and that’s just before they get to the real action. The true excitement comes as they start ziplining, crossing bridges surrounded by vegetation, rappelling down waterfalls and splashing through streams. This day tour is $98 pp.