For many, the word "Riviera" evokes the bronzed denizens of the Cote d'Azur in southern France, muttering in French, and spending their time watching films at Cannes and their cash at the elegant old casinos in Monaco. But there is another Riviera: one that speaks Spanish; one touched by the tropical breezes and the warm waters of the Pacific. Welcome to Nuevo Vallarta!
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Just 25 minutes north of the more famous Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta is one of a chain of resorts strung along the beautiful coast of southern Mexico known as the Nayarit Riviera (named for the Mexican State of Nayarit where it is located). Just past the mouth of the Gulf of California in Banderas Bay (or, "Bay of Flags"), Nuevo Vallarta was funded by the Mexican government and was built over a period of 10 years (1980-1990). In that time, its population has nearly doubled from 57,028 to 111,457. In its planning, the state kept a keen eye to both culture and ecology. The result is a pristine, white sandy beach, 3 miles long, and dotted with first class hotels.
The marina development, featuring a 300-slip state-of-the-art marina, Padi 5-Star Career Development Dive Center, and condominiums are available to visitors and residents alike. Whether you choose to hang out at the resort, or to venture off and explore the rich history and tropical environment outside of Nuevo Vallarta, there is much to see and do, and many local businesses anxious to show you. Lounge on the beach where the waves are mild. Get out in the water on a "boogie board" or a 2-person sea kayak. Pamper yourself at the Tatewari Spa where the region's Huichole people will indulge you in their unique, traditional ritual blending elements of body, soul, and mind. Or, arrange an excursion with one of the local tour companies who'll guide you from sea to jungle, take you on a thrilling ride on a zip line, arrange a candle-lit dinner with native performers on a private beach, or an eco-tour of the Sierra Madre Mountains. There's deep-sea fishing, surfing, diving, whale and sea lion watching. And don't forget the golf clubs! There are 3, world-class, 18-hole golf courses. You'll also experience first-class dining in Nuevo Vallarta. Many of the hotels along the beach feature from 3 to 5 restaurants equal to any appetite.
So, visit Nuevo Vallarta and experience the luxury, beauty, and first class accommodations of the "other" Riviera.
Photo credit: James Hernandez via Flickr