Framed by the crystal clear waters of Bahía de Banderas, the Nayarit Peninsula has long been a favorite getaway for the city slickers of Puerto Vallarta. Featuring pretty compact fishing villages shrouded in a wrap of dense, jungle-like forestation, its as far removed from the hubbub of modern life as one could possibly wish for. Its also pretty exclusive. Prior to the 1990's, Punta Mita was little more than a fishing pueblo, propping up its economy with lumber and coffee export to the mainland, along with a flourishing crafts scene. Touristic development hasn't swamped the “jewel of the Nayarit Riviera” with a multitude of flashy resorts, however it did attract the jet set.
Four Seasons Hotels spied an opportunity at Punta Mita, subsequently opening the only Four Seasons resort in Mexico, while golf tycoon Jack Nicklaus so fell in love with the rugged bliss of the peninsula, he promptly devised a world-class golf course to match the scintillating beauty of its volcanic landscapes. Four Seasons St. Regis Resort occupies a 1,600 acre site, inclusive of a 9 mile stretch of coastline and dense thickets of mangrove trees adding to its exclusivity. Few are fortunate to experience the breathtaking panoramic views to be had from the pools and cabana balconies - the website offering the only tantalizing glimpse for dreamers and jet set wannabes. Just 45 minutes North from the revolutionized port city of Puerto Vallarta, Punto de Mita is fast catching up with the city for rocketing real estate value. Sunsets across the volcanic archipelago Las Islas Marietas (two miles offshore) are said to be some of the most beautiful in Mexico – a motivation for many with deep pockets, to take advantage of relatively relaxed building regulations for opulent shore-front homes.
Hope is not lost for the lowly traveler limited by budget. A slice of this Mexican paradise may still be enjoyed with all the luxury trappings you'd expect of a resort clustered coastal town. As if in defiance of the increasing proliferation of expensive resorts, locals have taken it upon themselves to develop budget friendly bed and breakfast accommodations at the heart of the village. Nearby Vallarta offers a slew of affordable accommodation options, with equally breathtaking ocean views. Activities abound at Punto de Mita are largely of the aquatic variety. Panga boats nestle upon the tranquil El Ancote harbor side of the main beach, operated by various schooled locals for scuba-diving excursions and “free swimming” at the caves of Las Islas Marietas. Largely uninhabited, the volcanic outcrop is a haven for marlin and basking sharks, coupled with a burgeoning population of colorful seabirds, including the clumsy Blue-footed Booby (so named for its distinctive bright blue feet).
Modernly evolved to attract a first class breed of clientele, Punta Mita features little by way of central attractions and is still a bit rustic. It also attracts a hip crowd of surfers and you can get surfing lessons on the beach - but not to worry, the waves are pretty mild.
Also of interest is the Megalithic monument atop Carayeros Hill, thought to date back to around 300 B.C. The rocky track, littered with potholes and the remains of cobblestones conveys little of the importance of the monument, save for a few chalky milestones at the roadside almost entirely concealed by greenery. Enveloped by dense, impenetrable forest, its impossible to veer from the dormant volcano's path lending credence to modern belief the site may once have been used for human sacrifice. First settled in 200 B.C, Carayeros was once a major outpost for the Aztatlan ethnic group, known to have inhabited areas North of Puerto Vallarta (El Cahon). Their legacy takes shape in the form of a ruinous observatory, temple and ceremonial plaza, clustered within a walled community overlooking Nayarit Bay. It would seem that even 200 years before the birth of Christ, the sunsets across the Southern Gulf of California were a key influence for settlement of the area!
How to Get to Punta Mita from Puerto Vallarta
The best way to get to Punta Mita from Puerto Vallarta is by bus. A bus ride from town costs $23 pesos as of this writing (less than $2.00 USD). The buses are not the somewhat uncomfortable fair one takes around town but more like a semi-comfortable long-distance with with padded seats and arm rests. You can catch the bus at Las Glorias (across from Coppel) in the Hotel Zone or in front of Walmart. It's quite easy, even for folks that speak no Spanish. The bus will have Punta Mita written on the front and you just get on and ride. Punta Mita is the end of the line.