Aerial view of marina in Nayarit, Mexico

Things to do in  Nayarit

Where the jungle meets the sea

Nayarit borders the Pacific Ocean, providing the perfect backdrop for a horseback gallop along the beach while surfers ride the rolling swells. This west coast Mexican province blends lush nature with rich culture. The markets of Bucerías are filled with the colorful artwork of the Indigenous Huichol people; the tiny island-city of Mexcaltitán claims to be the birthplace of the Aztecs; and, when the sun starts to go down, musicians congregate in the town square in La Cruz. Life in Nayarit may be laid-back, but there’s always something to do.

Top 1 attractions in Nayarit

Marietas Islands (Islas Marietas)

The small, uninhabited Marietas Islands (Islas Marietas) are located in the Bay of Banderas off Mexico's Pacific coast. Making up a UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve, the islands are famous for their abundance of flora and fauna. It's a great place to visit if you want to trade the crowds of the beach resort scene for some natural delights.More
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All about Nayarit

When to visit

Visit Nayarit during the spring months for fewer visitors and mild weather. March to June visits allow you to avoid the rainy season and relax in Nayarit’s beachside villages in relative peace. Nature lovers should consider timing a visit to Puerto Vallarta during the whale-watching season from December to March, when humpback whales often are seen playing in Banderas Bay.

Getting around

In southern Nayarit, frequent local buses run between the town of Bucerías, the fishing village of La Cruz, and the surfing beach of Sayulita. Buses will have their destinations painted or marked on the windshield, and the driver will tell you the fare based on your destination. For those venturing farther inland, a car rental is a good idea, especially if you’re not confident with Spanish.

Traveler tips

The surfer’s paradise of Sayulita is a 40-minute drive from Bucerías. This stretch of ocean will be filled with surfers showing off, while visitors sip margaritas at palapas, the thatched roof dwellings or shelters lining the beachfront. If you’re feeling adventurous, book a surfing lesson, rent a board, or opt for a horseback ride along the sand. Later, refuel with perfectly fresh fish tacos from one of the many food stands scattered throughout town.

Local Currency
Mexican Peso (MX$)
Time Zone
CST (UTC -6)
Country Code

People Also Ask

What is Nayarit known for?

The province of Nayarit is known for its stunning coastline, earning it the nickname “Riviera Nayarit.” The region is rich with history and culture. The ancient city of Mexcaltitán is said to be the origin of the Aztec civilization, and the Indigenous people today are famous for beading and embroidery.

Can you swim in the ocean in Nayarit?

Yes—and you’d be missing out if you didn’t. From shallow beaches that invite you to float all day to the exhilaration of the big surf breaks, you’ll want to spend your time by the sea. Always follow specific beach signage and the examples of locals when swimming at unfamiliar beaches.

What is the calmest beach in Nayarit?

Playa la Manzanilla, next to the town of La Cruz, looks out over Banderas Bay and is the calmest beach in Nayarit province. This shallow, sandy beach is protected from the direct swell of the Pacific, and it’s a lovely spot to sunbathe, sample ceviche, and play in the water.

Is Nayarit known for seafood?

Yes. From fish tacos to ceviche, seafood in Nayarit is incredibly fresh and plentiful. Restaurant menus often include yellowfin tuna, wahoo, mahi mahi, and red snapper. In the evenings, you’ll see the long, open-air fishing boats coming in from the sea to ground themselves on the beaches each night.

Does Nayarit have crocodiles?

Yes. Crocodiles in Nayarit favor brackish rivers and mangrove forests, but you also can spot them on some of the more remote beaches. If you want to get up close and personal, visit El Cora Crocodile Sanctuary in Bucerías for an opportunity to observe them safely and support their conservation.

What is the culture of Nayarit?

Nayarit is dotted with fishing villages and quiet beaches that lend it a more laid-back vibe than the rest of Mexico. Artwork by the Indigenous Huichol people fill the marketplaces, and towns celebrate their patron Catholic saints during exuberant festivals filled with music, food, and fireworks held throughout the year.

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