This post was last updated on April 23rd, 2016
It was by accident that we first stumbled upon Punta de Mita, Mexico. We were driving south along the Riviera Nayarit coastline, on the lookout for hidden gems surrounding our temporary home in San Pancho and close to Puerto Vallarta. It was one of those days when we didn’t ask for any advice or directions, but instead just got on our motorcycle and drove, occasionally stopping at sandy strips along the way. At first nothing convinced us to stay for long, but that was only until we arrived at the idyllic beachfront village of Punta de Mita. We took one look at the beach and the fresh pineapple juice vendors before getting off the bike and on the sand, officially trading in our road trip for an extended afternoon siesta.
Later when we returned to San Pancho singing praises of the ‘hidden gem’ we had just discovered, we learned that Punta de Mita isn’t exactly the top-secret Mexican destination we thought. Celebrities like Orlando Bloom and Demi Moore have vacationed there, while a handful of chain luxury resorts have set up accommodation nearby. But despite this brush with fame, Punta de Mita still feels like a small, authentic fishing village. And it was this authenticity that sparked our ongoing love affair with the beach town.
Of course there are plenty of beautiful beaches and sleepy fishing villages around the world. But Punta de Mita boasts a few extra characteristics that are sure to charm. Here are 3 to get you interested—we’ll let you discover the rest for yourself.
1. The Humpback Whales
It was our young Mexican neighbor in San Pancho who first asked us if we were interested in going whale watching nearby. Nearly immediately Dan and I replied in a chorus of ‘Yes!’ and ‘When?’ and ‘Can we go right now?!’ Little did we know that our whale watching expedition would take us back to Punta de Mita, the port for the boats that head out to witness the migrating humpback whales between December and March of each year.
A small group of us piled into a boat and set out. It took only a few moments to see the first massive whales jumping out of the water ahead of us. We stared in awe as the enormous mammals continued to make appearances around us, their deep braying reverberating across the ocean waves.
Towards the end of our boating tour, after we had already turned around and started the short ride back to shore, we were putting our cameras away when the boat driver suddenly called out, “Look here!” Sure enough, an entire family of humpback whales (mother, father, and baby) was swimming gracefully alongside our boat. Their sheer size was humbling, as was the fact that they could easily flip our boat with a swish of their tail if they wanted. But the Humpbacks were as gentle as could be, swimming alongside our boat until eventually they decided it was time to continue on their way. It was a moment that we will not soon forget.
2. Casa de Mita
After our trip to the Yucatan Peninsula, we had to return to the Riviera Nayarit to catch our flight back to North Carolina. We only had two nights upon our return, but we knew exactly where we wanted to spend them: Punta de Mita. After a bit of research and navigating the myriad of indulgent options available, we decided specifically on Casa de Mita—and we’re so glad we did.
Casa de Mita is an elegant beachfront villa with only eight rooms, each uniquely decorated with hand-painted Mexican tiles and custom-carved furniture from various artisan regions around the country. From the outside the hotel is unassuming, but inside no detail has been left unaccounted for. We stayed in the penthouse junior suite, and to say it was magnificent would be a complete understatement. The beddings, the towels, and the robes were ultra-luxurious. The mini-fridge was equipped with top-notch beverages, including beer and wine, restocked each day. And the oversized ceilings and en-suite sitting area ensured the room was spacious and comfortable. But while all these details were appreciated, it was the private, ocean-facing terrace and balcony that left a lasting impression. This served as our ‘office’ for a few days, and I’m quite confident a better writing space does not exist.
While it was difficult to tear ourselves away from our romantic quarters, we did find time to enjoy the oceanfront pool with swim-up bar. Though Casa de Mita is an all-inclusive, they serve only the highest quality food and beverages. The margaritas were a guilty indulgence of ours, though all the drinks were top-notch.
Each every one of our meals at Casa de Mita was phenomenal; the extra care that goes into ensuring each individual guest is getting exactly what they want is obvious. And while each meal was memorable, the highlight of our dining experience was the first night’s steak and lobster dinner—not something you’ll find on the menu at every all-inclusive hotel.
If you’ve ever wanted to sample a few Mexican tequilas, Casa de Mita has an open tasting room with plenty to choose from. It’s available any time you would like, but certainly the perfect post-dinner nightcap.
Even the most jaded of luxury travelers will find Casa de Mita a special treat, largely in part due to the staff. Many of the staff members have been working at Casa de Mita for over a decade, and their knowledge of the local area and how to pamper the guests is superb. For example: I ordered a set of contact lenses to be delivered to Puerto Vallarta, a large city about an hour away. When we asked the staff for directions on how to arrive at the eyewear store, they wouldn’t tell us. Instead, they insisted that they go pick-up the contacts and deliver them back to the hotel for us so we wouldn’t lose a few hours of precious vacation time running errands. With limited time to enjoy Punta de Mita, we couldn’t have been more grateful for this favor that went above and beyond any service we would have expected.
3. The Surrounding Area
In addition to the whale watching and luxury accommodation, Punta de Mita’s location is ideal. Whether you just want to relax on the beach or participate in a few nearby adventure activities, there’s a little something for everyone in the area. Here are a few of the major hotspots:
Sayulita: 15 minutes north of Punta de Mita is Sayulita. The town is world-renown for its surfing, but also one of our favorite places for paddle boarding, shopping, bar hopping, and going to the weekly farmer’s market.
San Pancho: Head another 15 minutes down the road past Sayuilta and you’ll arrive at San Pancho, a place we could see ourselves calling home one day.
Puerto Vallarta: About one hour south of Punta de Mita is Puerto Vallarta, a bustling hub for tourists, but also where the international airport is. The drive from the airport takes you along splendid coastline, with great views looking out into the Bay of Banderas.
Marietas Islands: A small group of uninhabited islands only 15 minutes off the coast. These islands boast an abundant amount of marine life, making them a popular destination for scuba divers and snorkelers. You can also find the Blue Footed Booby here, amongst a large array of other birds.
We know we said we would let you discover for yourself all the other reasons to love Punta de Mita and the surrounding area. But, spoiler alert, we can’t resist from giving you a bit of a teaser right now. Think: sea turtle nestings, surf competitions, incredible sunsets, all the guacamole you could possibly consume, indigenous cultures, music/film/arts/tequila festivals, Cirque du Soleil style shows and so, so much more!
Which part of Punta de Mita most appeals to you? Have you ever heard of Punta de Mita before?
A huge thank you to Casa de Mita for inviting us into their hotel. All thoughts and opinions are, as always, our own.