Mexico’s newest tourism destination Riviera Nayarit with holds 192 miles of pristine coast line, starting south at Banderas Bay through the Pacific Coast that forms part of the Sea of Cortez. Dramatic scenes are found where the mountain range of the Sierra Madre Occidental blends with the deep blue of the ocean.
Prepare yourself with clothes and shoes suitable for excursions, because nature has gifted Riviera Nayarit with an impressive diversity of flora and fauna that makes it a worth while adventure to look. Undertake walks through the jungle and the mountain, or in a boat among mangroves that will allow you to observe more than 500 different species of birds and many more natures wonder.
The geographic situation of the state of Nayarit awards several contrasts and eco systems in its territory. It counts with 7 natural reserves that are a delight for the explorers that love nature. Remember when visiting Riviera Nayarit you can explore and discover its charms:
• Marismas Nacionales, an extended estuary in its virgin state.
• The Sierra de Vallejo Biosphere State Reserve, of deep wild vegetation.
• Islas Marias and Islas Marietas, both are Biosphere Reserves declared by the UNESCO.
• Isla Isabel, a coral reef refuge for fish, birds and mammals like sea lions.
If your adventure is through the ocean, the world wide known Bahía de Banderas will give the opportunity between November through April to watch the Humpback Whales. At other seasons also Marine Turtles, Giant Manta rays and many more surprises are waiting for you in its waters.
Finally, very near the state capital is the extent of the Biosphere State Reserve of Sierra de San Juan and the Transversal Neo Volcanic Axis.
Highlights of major natural sites and eco/adventure activities as follows:
• Sea turtles on the coastlines of Riviera Nayarit
The official mascot of Riviera Nayarit, four protected species of sea turtle use the coast of Nayarit as a nesting site, including leatherback turtles, Olive Ridley turtles, hawksbill turtles, and green turtles. The Olive Ridley nesting season begins in June and ends in November. Indigenous to Nayarit, the Olive Ridley is one of the smallest species of sea turtle and is named for the olive color of its heart-shaped shell.
During the summer and fall months, travelers can visit Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde’s marine turtle nursery, located in the San Francisco area of Riviera Nayarit. Turtle hatchlings are released just after sundown, and each Wednesday evening during the nesting season, the organization conducts an educational slideshow at the Costa Azul Hotel followed by the releasing of young hatchlings if available. More adventurous travelers may volunteer with the organization for a minimum commitment of two months to aid with hatching and releasing the endangered sea turtles. For more information, visit www.costazaul.com and www.project-tortuga.org.
Wildlife Connection, an eco tour group based in Marina Vallarta, offers an evening tour to turtle camps in Riviera Nayarit where visitors can participate in the release of baby turtles and complete their experience with an educational lecture about the fascinating world of sea turtles and their conservation. For more information, visit: www.wildlifeconnection.com.
Guests and owners at Playa Las Tortugas are blessed with the rare opportunity to work alongside veterinarians and biologists of Mexico’s National Commission of Protected Areas (CONANP) in protecting endangered Olive Ridley and Hawksbill sea turtles. Sea turtles arrive to this beach between June and December to nest, hatch, and return to the ocean. Personnel of Mexico’s federal environmental department (SEMARNAT the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources), along with volunteers that include students and tourists, patrol the beach at night to harvest and protect turtle eggs and also release hatchlings. On some nights there are thousands of hatchlings to return to the ocean. For many of the hotel’s visitors, going on turtle patrol and releasing the newly-hatched baby turtles is the highlight of their stay. For more information, visit: http://www.playalastortugas.com/index.php/community/categories/topic/sea_turtle_conservation_camp/
• Bird watching & Crocodile Reserve in La Tovara National Park in San Blas
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the La Tovara National Park and mangrove eco-region in San Blas is “one of the most important winter habitats for birds in the Pacific, home to 80% of the Pacific migratory shore bird populations.” A paradise for bird enthusiasts, this ecoregion has the highest concentration of migratory birds and features over 250 species of birds, including the black-bellied tree duck, great blue heron, roseate spoonbill, and endemic birds, including the bumblebee hummingbird and the Mexican woodnymph.
Banderas Bay Tours & Travel offers a special package tour of San Blas with experienced guides who can point out the amazing birds while you enjoy a boat trip through the tangled mangroves and flat wetlands. Included in the package, is a visit to the Crocodile Reserve in El Manantial of La Camelota, where you’ll be able to view baby crocodiles and full-grown crocodiles up close, as well as a tour of the colonial history and fishing villages of San Blas. For more information, visit: http://ttf.com.mx
During the months of January/February, a special event called The Festival of Migratory Birds is held to celebrate the abundance of wildlife and species of birds in Riviera Nayarit. During this Festival, special seminars on birds, bird watching and environmental conservation are offered. Special boat tours of La Tovara National Park are also offered throughout the Festival Visit http://avessanblas.uan.mx for more information.
• Whale watching in Banderas Bay and coastline of Riviera Nayarit
Hundreds of Humpbacked whales visit Banderas Bay each year from November through April on their annual migration from Alaska to Hawaii. Vallarta Adventures’ Whale Watching Tours helps visitors get up close and personal with the humpback whales. The majestic giants raise their calves in the protected waters of the Banderas Bay and Pacific coastline of Riviera Nayarit, where they swim amongst friendly wild dolphins that inhabit the waters year-round. Vallarta Adventures offers a variety of whale watching tours appropriate for all ages and physical abilities, including packages that feature cruising and sailing amongst whales, and snorkeling and kayaking options. For more information, visit: www.vallarta-adventures.com.