Activities & Attractions

There is so much to see and do here in Nayarit, Mexico – from fishing, kayaking, golfing, tennis, yoga, horseback riding, whale and bird watching, to tequila tours, shopping trips, a jungle boat ride or even a relaxing massage by the beach. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, several local tour companies offer swimming with dolphins, surfing, snorkeling, mountain biking, off-road jeep safaris and even an exciting zipline tour. You’ll also find a variety of specialty shops and markets, as well as some of the tastiest dining options around.

To find a tour guide or a list of current tours being offered, click the Activities & Tours link in our Directory.

You can view the What To See & Do links to find even more things to do.

Activities

Fishing

The waters off the Pacific coast of Mexico are an ideal fishing ground for a huge variety of game fish including dorado (mahi-mahi), sailfish, blue and black marlin, yellowfin tuna, red snapper and wahoo. If you’re lucky, you may see dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles and even a whale or two.

Many of the local restaurants will prepare your catch for dinner, or you can freeze it and bring it home.

photo by Gord Wall

photo by Dave Boroughs

Whale Watching

Humpback whales migrate thousands of miles south to spend the colder winter months in the warm waters here, where they breed, give birth, and nurse their young. Luckily, their breeding season coincides with the high season for tourists here in Mexico. On occasion you can spot these whales and dolphins swimming in the water in Jaltemba and Banderas Bays. Official whale-watching season runs from approximately December 15 to March 31.

There are a few small tour operators that offer whale watching in Guayabitos. Simply walk down the beach, look for the tour stands and make your reservation. These glass bottom boats usually seat 12-14 people, leave around 10am and cost about $150-200 pesos per person. If you are interested, they will also drop you off at the island to snorkel for a few hours afterwards.

Sea Turtle Release

Three types of sea turtles nest in our area: Hawksbill (nest in June-July), Leatherback (nest in December-February) and Olive Ridley (nest in July-December), which are the most common. All of these sea turtles are endangered.

Turtle Camps throughout Mexico play a key roll in the survival of the turtles with nursery facilities and incubation sites. These camps increase their survival rate from a mere 1-2% to 8%. Without help, only one in a hundred will make it to adulthood. Volunteers at the nearby Turtle Camps comb the expansive length of beaches nightly looking for nests, eggs, and mature female turtles. The eggs are collected, taken back to protected hatcheries in Punta Raza, Playa Boca del Naranjo, Higuera Blanca and Playa Las Tortugas, and after 45 days of incubation the baby turtles hatch. The hatchlings are released into the ocean a) at the water’s edge to avoid disorientation, and b) at night to increase the survival rate by reducing the number of daytime predators (birds, crabs, dogs, etc.) and to decrease the risk of the hatchlings burning in the hot sun. The general public is welcome to participate in the releases. Being able to hold a baby turtle in your hands, seal it with a kiss, and wish them farewell, is an experience of a lifetime.

Olive Ridley turtles typically hatch between August and mid-January.

photo by Ken & Bea Rauch

Bird Watching

Mexico has more species of birds than the US and Canada combined. Sightings in our area include a wide variety of hawks, egrets, herons, kingfishers, cormorants, boobies, pelicans, spoonbills, frigate birds, vultures, warblers, wrens, grackles, jays (including the Black-Throated Magpie Jay), swallows, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, and many more. There are several good places to go bird watching near Jaltemba Bay, San Blas and Puerto Vallarta.

Search the Explore Nayarit blog for information.

Flora & Fauna

Mexico is rich in flora and fauna. We often feature information about and photos of the beautiful plants, flowers and trees and the species of birds, fish, animals and other wildlife found in Rincón de Guayabitos, La Peñita, Los Ayala and the surrounding region of Nayarit, Mexico.

Learn more about local flora and fauna on the Explore Nayarit blog.

photo by Christina Stobbs

photo by Jasmine Hohenstein

Horseback Riding

There are a variety of guided horseback tours available, from beginner to advanced. You can take a tour along the hills of La Peñita or the beach in Rincón de Guayabitos or Lo de Marcos, as well as a memorable sunset tour. This is a wonderful experience for groups of all sizes and ages.

Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.) in La Peñita offers trail rides on Saturdays. They also invite everyone to come up the hill to meet their rescue horses, cats and dogs. You can even ride a horse around the Hilltop Refugio, brush them and/or help muck out the stalls, or take a rescue dog for a walk.

Golfing and Tennis

There are several world-class golf courses located in Nuevo Vallarta, Litibu and Punta Mita designed by Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Jim Lipe, Percy Clifford and Robert Von Hagge & Baril.

We also have a 9-hole par 3 public golf course located just south of El Monteón, and the very popular tennis, bocce and pickle ball courts located in the residential zone in Rincón de Guayabitos.

Shop the Tianguis and Farmers Markets

There are several local farmers markets, artisan markets and co-op markets in our area where you can shop for everything from organic produce and homemade goodies, to one-of-a-kind jewelry and artwork. For those who really like to shop – and even for those who don’t – the Tianguis is a must.

Learn about the Tianguis and local Farmers Markets

Area Attractions

See Crocodiles at “Cocodrilos del Nayar”

Costa Capomo
Crocodiles are not only native to Mexico, they are prolific along the Nayarit coast. “Cocodrilos del Nayar” is a temporary home for crocs that have entered people’s homes, been seen in ocean swimming areas during the day, been rescued from people or hatched on someone’s land. They have little crocs (400 grams) to Poseidon (4 meters and close to 450 pounds). The entry fee of $15 pesos per person, which helps maintain and feed the crocodiles.

To learn more and get directions, read: Crocodiles up Close at “Cocodrilos del Nayar” near La Peñita

photo by Rob Erickson

Hike the Petroglyphs

Alta Vista (35 minutes north of Guayabitos)
Hike the ancient trails of the Huichol Indians at the archeological site of La Pila del Rey (The King’s Fountain) along the Las Piletas Creek and El Copo Volcano. Although it is not the largest, it is considered the most complex site of its kind in the state of Nayarit. To this day, local Mestizos and Huichol Indians still worship here. Bring your camera, hat and good walking shoes, and for the best experience, hire an English-speaking guide.

To learn more about the petroglyphs (rock carvings), as well as a little history of the area and its people, and how to get there, you can read: Hiking the Petroglyphs at Alta Vista (two-part article).

Hike from Los Ayala to El Monteón

2 hours 30 minutes on foot
There are two semi-organized groups that leave on Tuesdays and Fridays during the winter months. The walk is not overly strenuous, but it is a nice little workout. You will want to wear good hiking/walking shoes, use bug spray and bring a bottle of water, your camera and some pesos for breakfast and the taxi ride back to Los Ayala. Meet at the gate no later than 7:30am either day.

2012 Update: The new meeting point is at the end of Avenida Manglar in Los Ayala. You will see the gates and guard shack up the hill on the private road. It is fenced with a guard, but walkers are allowed in.

Search the Explore Nayarit blog for information.. View the Los Ayala Map to see the new meeting location.

photo by Jasmine Hohenstein

Hike from Los Ayala to Punta Raza (North Beach)

3-4 hours on foot
The trail starts on the south end of Los Ayala and makes its way to the north end of the Punta Raza beach and Playa del Toro (optional) before circling back to Los Ayala. It is a semi-difficult hike because of the rocky, slippery and steep spots encountered along the way. We recommend that you go with a small group and stay together. A GPS would be helpful, and comfortable walking shoes, water and bug spray are a must.

Search the Explore Nayarit blog and Jaltemba Bay Folk forum for information.

Tour a Coffee Plantation in Mesillas

3 hours 30 minutes including travel time (actual tour 1-2 hours)
There are several coffee plantations near Rincón de Guayabitos. Cafe Nayarit in Mesillas is owned by the Alvarado family of La Peñita. For those of you who want to learn more about how coffee is grown, they now offer small group tours of their plantation through Esteban, a local tour guide.

Search the Explore Nayarit blog for information.

photo by Tosia Archer

Orchid Farm Tour at Las Lomas

3-4 hours including travel time
This private Orchid Farm tour begins with an informative overview of Entreamigos, the community education center in San Pancho. Participants then board a van and drive to the village of Las Lomas to tour the 13 hectare orchid farm. The orchid farm is not currently open to the general public, however tours are often offered through Entreamigos.

Search the Explore Nayarit blog for information.

Jamúrca Hot Springs

45 minutes north of Guayabitos
This natural hot spring was used by the Huichol Indians to purify the body and soul. The hot spring feeds directly into a swimming pool keeping the water at a relaxing 96-98°F. There are small covered picnic areas with tables and wooden chairs where you can eat a picnic lunch. Bring your swimsuit, towel, sunscreen, food and beverages, a good book and/or games.

photo by Tosia Archer

Las Aguas Termales (Hot Springs)

Nuevo Ixtlan
The 15 pools at Las Aguas Termales are individually and constantly fed fresh hot water. Each pool gently outflows into a shallow stream. The sound of running water is everywhere. Welcome shade is offered by various trees studded with orchids, bromeliads and vines.

Search the Explore Nayarit blog for information.

Hike to El Cora Cascades

This day trip will take you through beautiful farmland and forests, tiny agriculture towns and finally to the waterfalls at El Cora. For a detailed description on how to get there, visit the blog link below.

Search the Explore Nayarit blog for information.

photo by Rob Erickson

La Tovara Eco-Tour

San Blas (1 hour 50 minutes north of Guayabitos)
A great full-day adventure for those interested in seeing some of the area’s most diverse wildlife. Enjoy an open-air boat ride through the mangroves in search of crocodiles, turtles, iguanas, birds and other tropical wildlife. Then take a quick swim (optional) and have lunch at the spring before heading to see the old Spanish fort in San Blas. Bring your camera, hat, sunscreen, swimsuit (optional), insect repellent, walking shoes, binoculars, and birding book. The tour price is about $100 pesos per person.

Search the Explore Nayarit blog for information.