How to Spend the Perfect Weekend in Mexico’s Picturesque State of Nayarit
The Marriot-owned W Punta de Mita resort is the ideal basecamp for luxury and adventure.
Nestled on the Pacific coast of Mexico is a rare, alluring combination of lush jungle greenery and tropical beaches unlike anything found in the United States.
At the heart of this biodiversity is the state of Nayarit, a picturesque destination where, from its beach towns to fishing villages, and among the people who call its welcoming environs home, authenticity permeates.
Vacation destinations here are no different. Each utilizes touches of regional authenticity that keep cultural immersion at the core of the tourist experience. One property that has perfected this standard is the stunning Marriot-owned W Punta de Mita resort, a 119-key property that blends seamlessly into the coastal jungle that anchors the aesthetic in every square foot of the property.
This is where I set up during a recent visit to the surf-haven peninsula of Punta Mita, my second time visiting this jewel of the Banderas Bay. The small beach town, less busy than its neighbor to the north, Sayulita, is a prime destination for enthusiasts of fishing, jungle expeditions, and thanks to one of the country’s best breaks, surfing.
I enjoyed a doses of each, and am anxiously awaiting my next visit. From adventure to relaxation and cultural immersion, Nayarit and its coastal towns have something special to offer everyone. If you’re in need of a vacation highlighted by either, look no further for recommendations than the myriad attractions below.
W Punta de Mita: Visitors to Nayarit going the resort route will be hard-pressed to find accommodations that capture the region’s bohemian art and surf culture better than the W Punta de Mita.
Radiant furnishings, tiled floors, and headboards fashioned from punctured tin or surfboards grace each charismatic room, while candy skulls, luchador masks, and Huichol-inspired artwork accentuate the vibrant culture for which the Riviera Nayarit is renowned.
Seven restaurants and bars comprise the property’s culinary scene, each offering its own unique charm, allure, and memorable flavors. Perhaps most impressive, however, is the “Camino Huichol” walkway. More than 700,000 mosaic tiles make up a stunning path that splits the property’s beachfront pool, bar, and restaurant scene. It extends to the ocean, a remarkable first impression that sets a vibrant tone of warm hospitality that the staff lives up to at every turn.
One & Only Mandarina: Solace and solitude await at this luxury resort positioned where the Pacific coastline cliffs meet a luscious jungle. The resort pays tribute to the Cora and Huichol cultures by employing resource-efficient architecture and sustainable practices, while botany experts were consulted during its development to ensure the preservation of land and ecological wildlife. Of its myriad features, most notable is a 235-year-old Higuera Blanca tree, otherwise known as The Grandmother Tree.
Conrad Punta de Mita: This Hilton-owned, 324-key luxury property sits nestled in a picturesque oceanfront inlet radiating with the soothing soundtrack of the Pacific. Outward-facing abodes ensure privacy while rendering a panoramic view of exceptional sunsets and pristine beaches. Lounge in a hot tub on a private deck of one of the resort’s expansive suites after sampling ocean-to-table dining or enjoying a tequila tasting that doubles as a class in local history. If pampered living and savory dishes are your cup of tea, then this is a destination to feature prominently on your upcoming travel itinerary.
Eat & Imbibe
Whether dining on or off property, options are abundant. Try any of the below to satisfy thirst and hunger pangs elicited by days of immense adventure under the sun.
Spice Market: This restaurant on the resort’s property offers Mexican-Asian fusion masterfully served in a family-friendly, stylish atmosphere. Pork belly bao buns, spicy chicken samosas, Korean fried chicken, and house-made ginger ice cream are a few of the menu’s stellar highlights. Dozens of signature cocktails are available, some of which you can learn to make yourself—ask about the mixology class.
Chevycheria: Satisfy hunger right on the beach, feet in the sand, with this ceviche bar built around a centerpiece 1950s Chevy truck. Craft beer and cocktails are available to enjoy alongside made-to-order ceviches. Guests of the resort can also sign up for a ceviche-making class.
Mesa1: Whether it’s with a group of your closest friends or for a romantic outing, the Mesa1 experience offers unmatched privacy via a small, private island replete with ocean views, a single table fashioned after an expansive tree trunk, and an exclusive onsite chef ready to enlighten your palate.
Hector’s Kitchen: In the nearby town of Punta Mita is chef Hector Leyva‘s culinary cathedral boasting top-shelf spirits and Mexican cuisine with flavorful hints inspired by Leyva’s international travels. Locally-sourced fish, meats, and ingredients teeming with flavor are part of a rotating menu that keeps Leyva’s options continually fresh.
Anchor Cafe: If you’re looking for coffee or brunch, few spots will satisfy better than this Sayulita staple. Smoothie bowls, avocado toast, bagels, omelettes, and a whole lot more comprise a menu that boasts arguably the most savory, fresh ingredients in town.
El Jakal: It’s practically criminal if you visit a destination renowned for its fishing and fail to sample any of its spectacular seafood, and few places are ready to wow more than this laid-back culinary shrine that will leave you fiending for more. Try the tuna tostada, coconut shrimp, or red snapper. Actually, try everything.
Chocobanana: After dinner, beat the heat with a local favorite at the Chocobanana. The simplicity of a frozen banana dipped in chocolate, nuts, coconut shavings, or sprinkles may not sound extravagant, but your taste buds will forever be indebted.
Surf: The Punta Mita peninsula attracts surfers from all over the region while offering a break ideal for any experience level. If you’ve never surfed before, don’t fret—the resort partners with local outfitter Punta Mita Adventures to offer private lessons, whether part of a group or one-on-one, that will have you standing up on a wave in no time. If surfing isn’t your speed, non-motorized water sport rentals are also available.
Snorkel: Join Punta Mita Adventures for a snorkel excursion in the nearby Marietas Islands, a 40-minute ride by boat where diverse ocean life and geological formations await. For otherworldly sightseeing, explore the islands’ hidden beach, accessed via a 40-foot tunnel swim that ushers guests into a white sand oasis—known as Playa Amor—brimming with biodiversity. The organization offers additional water-based options such as sailing, catamaran charters, scuba certification courses, dolphin swims, and whale watching tours.
Get off-Road: If you’re not one for open water, the heterogeneous Punta Mita Adventures offers a number of land-based activities to satisfy any adventure craving. Principal among them is an off-road excursion that will have you caked in dirt as you tear through rich jungle, hills, and valleys in your very own Polaris RZR UTV. Cap off the tour with a visit to Sayulita—after a much-needed wash rag wipe-down—to refresh with local cuisine. Additional tours, such as zip-lining or treks to the agave fields of Guadalajara, considered the birthplace of tequila, are also available.
AWAY Spa: Once the ocean salt or off-road dirt is washed away, venture over to the W’s 4,000 square-foot AWAY Spa, an immersive relaxation space offering massages and body treatments, signature facials, steam rooms, and ancient Huichol healing techniques. Prolong the relaxation by visiting the spa’s hot and cold pools nestled in an oasis of lush greenery and birdsong.
For an outside-the-box option, sign up for a sound bath meditation session hosted on the spa’s wooden relaxation deck, during which an instructor plays Tibetan sound bowls alongside soothing meditative discussion to lull guests into a state of mental and physical relaxation complemented by the area’s jungle tranquility.
Nirvanna Spa & Massage: Top-notch therapists and a mind-boggling range of options are the name of the game at Nirvanna, where therapists combine ancestral practices with cutting-edge therapy techniques to craft unique, revitalizing experiences for each guest.
Services are available in-home, on the beach, or in the brick-and-mortar spa. Stone and agave massages, cupping, sound therapy, and even a wine and massage combination make up just a few of the options offered. We can’t think of a better way to end an action-packed trip.