4 Ways to Experience Riviera Nayarit’s Natural Nirvana
Coveted for its nearly 200-mile stretch of gorgeous coastline and lush interior jungles, Riviera Nayarit continues to garner global appeal and recognition for its certified beaches, wildlife protection and conservation that harmonize with the region’s exciting development.
“Riviera Nayarit is known as being the perfect blend of luxury and nature,” said Richard Zarkin, public relations manager, Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau. “As our tourism continues to develop, it is our duty to protect the natural riches of the region – including our rare birds, sea turtles and beaches.”
Zarkin adds that the destination was recently awarded two new Certified Clean Beaches designations. “That makes a total of 12, which is the highest among any destination in Mexico,” he says. “It’s a true testament to Riviera Nayarit’s ongoing and effective conservation efforts.”
1) Sea Turtle Release
Thousands of female Olive Ridley sea turtles born on Riviera Nayarit beaches return between June and November each year to build nests for laying eggs in the same location where they were born.
Yet, with 100 million years of existence in waters that cover the globe, nearly every sea turtle species is classified as endangered because of over-exploitation and natural habitat destruction.
As evidence of its aggressive sea turtle recovery initiatives, Riviera Nayarit released an estimated one million hatchlings into the ocean in the last year alone. Mexico government agencies and marine biologists have created a number of turtle protection programs in conjunction with turtle farms dedicated to harvesting, nesting patrol and hatchling releases.
At Campamento Tortuguero in Nuevo Vallarta, visitors can release these newbies and tap into educational lectures that further highlight priceless lessons on their conservation.
2) Jaguar Protection
Created in Nayarit State, Alianza Jaguar is a non-profit organization and civil association dedicated to promoting the conservation of the Jaguar and its habitat. A protected species in the country of Mexico, jaguars have seen a dwindling population at the hands of illegal hunters and humans who clean the land.
Since the late 1990s, the AJ has diligently worked on conservation programs and broadened its focus to Mexico’s western states of Michoacán, Colima, Jalisco, Nayarit and Sinaloa.
These big cats occupy 10.7-plus million square feet of jungles, oak-pine forests and coastal plains in Nayarit state alone. To preserve and protect the species during development planning, those donning GPS monitors are tracked to assure that highway routes are not mapped to disrupt their migration habits.
3) Certified Beaches
“The Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau – along with local schools, hotels, civil associations and private businesses – is committed to keeping the beaches of our region clean,” says Zarkin.
Of Mexico’s 31 Certified Clean Beaches in nine states, Riviera Nayarit boasts a lion’s share of that tally with 12 beaches certified by the Instituto Mexicano de Normalización y Certificación.
“With all of this support, we were able to add a third Blue Flag certification for the Santa Maria del Oro lake,” Zarkin says. “I have no doubt that we will continue to uphold these stringent environmental standards and make a positive impact on our community and eco-system.”
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) also awarded Nayarit the recognition of “Clean Tourism Destination” for the Fraccionamiento Náutico Turístico de Nuevo Vallarta neighborhood, making it the first in Mexico to receive this environmental certification.
The destination’s certified beaches include Bucerías in Banderas Bay, Chacala in Compostela, Costa Capomo Becerros in Compostela, El Borrego in San Blas, Isla Coral in Guayabitos, Los Muertos in Sayulita, Nuevo Vallarta Norte I, Nuevo Vallarta Norte II, Nuevo Vallarta Sur, Palladium at Punta de Mita, Platanitos in Banderas Bay and Rincon de Guayabitos.
These gems allow visitors to dive into the region’s bevy of water recreation options that include stand up paddling, surfing, whale watching, scuba diving and sailing.
Zarkin adds that more than 20 local groups have joined forces in the recently created Beach Cleanup Network. Picking up garbage found on Riviera Nayarit beaches the second Saturday of every month, the collaborative effort collected more than 7,000 bags in 2015.
4) Protected Paradise
Catapulting into the spotlight thanks to famous French explorer, author and researcher Jacques Cousteau, who studied the sea and all forms of life in water, the island cluster of Islas Marietas brims with wildlife both below and above the surface.
Home to 103 registered species of reef fish, the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is reachable exclusively via tours with approved operators including Punta Mita Expeditions (puntamitaexpeditions.com). Exploring the region in a high-bow, medium-sized boat known as a panga, passengers typically witness the same wildlife that engaged Cousteau – Blue-Footed Booby, giant manta ray, wild dolphins, sea turtles and massive mammals during whale season.
Some 2.5 hours by boat from Riviera Nayarit’s San Blas, Isla Isabel also delivers a mothe rlode of rare bird spotting opportunities in a nature reserve that’s a dream for eco-enthusiasts craving an immersive experience coupled with an overnight tent stay.
From mid-December to the end of March, Banderas Bay flourishes with what’s considered some of the most spectacular whale watching opportunities in the world. While a variety of operators offer tours, Vallarta Adventures is the only one in the area utilizing a spotter plane to get passengers closer to ogle these spectacular mammals in action.
More by Dawna L. Robertson
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