Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger

One of the most well-known destinations in Mexico is Riviera Nayarit -- the stretch of coastline that runs north of Puerto Vallarta. This gorgeous stretch of jungle-covered coast includes the popular beach towns of Bucerias, Punta Mita, Sayulita and San Pancho. And while the beaches and resorts of the Riviera Nayarit are among the best in Mexico, there is an entire state that runs inland that is worth discovering.

"Nayarit is a wonderful destination that has a lot of microdestinations inside of it," said Carlos Martinez, promotions director, Nayarit Tourism Board. "It's a great part of the state to have these beautiful sandy beaches and great sunsets, but obviously it's very important to let the world know about what else we have."

The pillars of Nayarit tourism

Inland Nayarit is a microcosm of everything that makes Mexico so unique. It has rugged jungles, towering volcanoes, pre-Hispanic culture, cuisine, Magical Towns and rich wildlife. Of course, the beaches along the coast are spectacular, and the coastline has welcomed, and will continue to welcome, some of the best hotels in the world. But the entire state has plenty to flex, as well. Among the many assets Nayarit has, the tourism board is looking to promote the destination on a few key pillars: Magical Towns, adventure and ecotourism and sustainability.

The four Magical Towns in Nayarit are Sayulita, Compostela, Jala and Mexcaltitan. Everyone knows the bohemian, beachfront Sayulita, but it's the other three Magical Towns that help to give Nayarit a complexity and depth. Compostela, for example, is known for its coffee-growing culture. Many fields around the town are dedicated to growing coffee.

"Earlier this year, we started a sustainability campaign around the four Magical Towns, and we have given the community of Compostela tools focused on the knowledge on how to grow and treat coffee, so that the coffee from Nayarit can thrive," Martinez said.

The tourism board is combining these coffee routes to Compostela with adventure tourism, like rafting, cycling and hiking.

Speaking of routes, the state of Nayarit has more than 50 dedicated "routes" to explore, including coffee and cuisine, beaches, adventure, historic sites and beyond.

In terms of ecofriendly travel and wildlife, San Blas is a prime example of a destination that does it well. The coastal community of San Blas is known for its mangroves and protected areas, which attract birds from all over the world.

San Blas has been an example of sustainable tourism for many years, which is being implemented inland in other parts of the state. "San Blas is a motivator for tourism because of its sustainability," said Martinez. "We are taking seriously the promotion of the inner parts of the state with this kind of sustainable tourism, adventure tourism and niche tourism."

How to get to interior Nayarit

Most visitors coming to Nayarit are flying into Puerto Vallarta and heading toward the coast. But it is extremely easy to reach the interior destinations of Nayarit, also. Travelers can fly into Guadalajara or Puerto Vallarta and roadtrip through beautiful mountain villages before heading deep into the jungle. The other option is to fly via Mexico City into the state capital, Tepic.

Martinez said that the Tepic airport will be expecting direct flights from the United States in the near future, as it is part of the growing plan of the airport. The airport's expansion is part of the overall growth plan of the state.

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