Photo courtesy of Riviera Nayarit Convention & Visitors Bureau
What do Mother Nature, airlines, horses and whales have in common? They each add to the appeal of planning a “South of the Border” vacation getaway to Riviera Nayarit.
“December is a peak travel period for Riviera Nayarit – and for good reason,” said Richard Zarkin, public relations manager, Riviera Nayarit Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The weather averages about 73 degrees, there is little to no rain, a lot of sun and everyone’s most anticipated sighting of humpback whales returning to play in the Banderas Bay.”
Zarkin adds that many Riviera Nayarit hotels provide guests with festive holiday packages and special amenities attracting everyone from solo to multi-generational travelers. “On Christmas morning at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, Santa and his elves will skydive onto Las Cuevas Beach to celebrate with guests staying at the resort,” says Zarkin. “Kids will even get to enjoy a traditional pinata and an abundance of seasonal treats and gifts.”
Adding to that list, Dreams Villamagna Resort & Spa will host a New Year’s Eve celebration for guests with gourmet dining options and dancing on the beach until dawn.
Here are seven reasons to take off your boots and pack your suites for a Riviera Nayarit winter escape.
1) Easier Airlift
Just from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) alone, Interjet, Southwest and American Airlines are making it easier to hit Riviera Nayarit’s beaches for the holidays.
Both Southwest and American will boost service to once daily beginning on Dec. 14 and Dec. 15 respectively.
2) The Weather
It’s a positive forecast that Riviera Nayarit’s December weather will outshine nearly any other vacation destination in Canada and the U.S. While you can dine on turkey at Thanksgiving or sip eggnog when opening Christmas gifts, why not switch it up a bit with turkey tamales and lounging poolside beneath swaying palms with a margarita to mark Christmas Day?
Since there’s zero percent chance of building a snowman, build a sand castle instead. Count on only a three percent chance of rain – meaning no ice or slush on streets since the average high daily temperature is 81F. For traditionalists linking the holidays with cooler weather, nights appease when the thermostat can dip to an average low of 46F – a temperature that is typically warmer than daily December highs across the U.S. and Canada.
3) Water Wonders
From mid-December to the end of March, Banderas Bay is a humpback haven that delivers close encounters via whale watching adventures. The six-month, round-trip sojourn from Artic waters to the bay is the longest made by any animal in the world.
READ MORE: Nights in Riviera Nayarit
With a gestation period of roughly 11 months, whales heavy with calves arrive to give birth and seek relief in the warm water that’s free of strong currents. The same shallow water also makes for a great training ground for their young.
Consider booking whale watching excursions that feature smaller boats that make a lower eco-impact and allow the captain to get in closer to the whales without disturbing them. Because humpback whales are still on the endangered list, some companies allocate a portion of the proceeds from their Nayarit whale watching tours to future whale research and conservation.
4) San Pancho Polo Season
While you might not match the sport of polo with Mexico, the low-key town of San Pancho is lauded as one of the country’s top spots for this equine sport. Each winter, La Patrona Polo & Equestrian Club hosts Saturday exhibition events that attract national and international competitors from across the globe. Fans of the sport can tap into private lessons, as well as enjoy the club’s restaurant, concert hall, art gallery and services for private events that include weddings.
5) Year-Round Golf
Riviera Nayarit is home to some of Mexico’s most hyped golf courses that are designed by such acclaimed players/architects as Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus. Sprawling along the coastline are 18-hole challenges that include El Nayar, Flamingos, El Tigre, Litibu, and Punta Mita Pacifico and Bahia.
With stunning views of Banderas Bay and the Pacific Ocean, courses are fringed by pristine beaches and lush tropical rainforests that merge for spectacular scenery as golfers fine-tune their strokes.
6) Epic Eco Action
While most visitors gravitate to Riviera Nayarit’s gorgeous beaches, they’re equally engaged with land activities that provide mega adrenaline rushes.
Land options include guided backcountry eco-adventure tour aboard a 4x4 Mercedes Benz jeep, rappelling, ziplining above a rainforest tree canopy and off-road ATVing. Nature lovers can also set their spirits soaring with a bird watching trek or send new life into the surf on a turtle release tour.
Riviera Nayarit operators also offer treks to San Blas that reveal rich cultures, colonial history and traditional lifestyles of the region’s warm and wonderful people.
7) Farmer’s Markets
Each winter, Riviera Nayarit’s micro-destinations deliver a crop of organic or artisanal farmers’ markets that welcome visitors through the end of April/early May. Count on home-cooked delicacies, jewelry, handicrafts, organic products, pottery, yoga classes and live music to blend for a festive mood.
In Nuevo Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit Farmers’ Market is held on Tuesdays from 9am-2pm in the Business Center parking lot. Each Saturday, Tianguis Artesanal Nuevo Vallarta operates during the same hours at Marina Nuevo Vallarta.
The La Cruz Sunday Market hits Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle from 10a.m.-2 p.m. on Sundays, while the nearby Mercado del Mar is open daily for those seeking fresh catches hauled in by local fisherman.
From 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Lazaro Cardenas Street, Bucerias visitors will find the Monday Market and Forever Springs (Wednesdays). The municipality of Compostela’s Rincon de Guayabitos welcomes with its Guayabitos Market and La Penita de Jaltemba held from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. respectively at the main plaza on Monday and Wednesday.
On Revolucion Street in Sayulita, Mercado del Pueblo greets visitors each Friday, while San Pancho’s Mercado del Sol unfolds on Tuesdays at Plaza del Sol. Both run from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.