Going beyond the coastal towns of Sayulita, Punta Mita and San Blas, visitors can experience a number of lesser known towns near Nuevo Vallarta in Riviera Nayarit. Be sure to check out Santa Maria del Oro, Jala, and the Los Toriles archeological site, which will enrich the travelers’ experience of the region with a range of historical and cultural elements
Below are a few other towns in Riviera Nayarit that are spectacular destinations but a little lesser known to the visiting public:
SANTA MARIA DEL ORO
The “Santa María Del Oro” lagoon is located at the west volcanic strip of Mexico, 114 miles from Tepic and 6 miles of the town of Santa María Del Oro. Although located near the Pacific Coast, the lagoon’s position is considered to be of transition, having a climate that goes from tropical to cold, this last one due to the exuberant Sierra Madre Occidental mountains behind it.
Its geological and geographic characteristics together with its mineral composition offer Santa María Del Oro lagoon an excellent water temperature between 82 and 86 Fahrenheit.
You’ll see diverse flora and fauna plus everything from colorful and eye catching birds to white tailed deer. They help to create an incomparable atmosphere of tranquility that makes this place unique; a true hidden paradise. In its surroundings, thermal water wells are found with a high level of minerals that provide healing properties.
The town of Santa María Del Oro was initially founded as a mining town. Its name comes from gold in Spanish – “Oro.” This is a very interesting town all on its own. However, as a tourist attraction, it has another draw; one of Mexico’s oldest churches, the church of “La Asención” that was built in 1594 during the time of the Spanish colony.
The name “Jala” is derived from “Xali” (sand) and “Tlán” (abundance). In Nahuatl, Jala means “where there is an abundance of sand.”
The old “Jala,” a first settlement with inhabitants of Nahuatl origin, is known for carrying magical and mysterious cults. They shared cultural, artistic, and spiritual heritages manifested in their ceramic pieces and hunting elements.
Jala evolved from a small town to a village and then a municipality on February 5th 1918 with the enactment of the political constitution of the state of Nayarit. This municipality has a diversity of historical monuments. Among them, the Basilica of Jala stands out as an architectural jewel of mixed Roman and Gothic style. It was constructed from pink, green and yellow “cantera” (stone quarry) after first breaking ground in April of 1856. Two other constructions are now ruins: the first one was the church of “San Francisco de Asis,” built in 1674 and the second was a Franciscan convent, which closed in 1810.
When walking around the streets of “Jala” you will be invited to gaze at the mystic image of a town that withholds time in its essence. Experience the cobbled stoned streets and old “casonas” that have embraced the stories of old Mexico.
The “Ceboruco” volcano is famous for its diverse landscapes and waterfalls. Since the year 2000, it has been a protected ecological park. The majority of its trees are pines and cedars. The fauna is connected with the environment of the volcano, with a temperature of 51 F to 61 F. This area is populated with the presence of ocelots and abundant white tailed deer along with hares, skunks, raccoons, and a wide variety of reptiles such as turtles and snakes.
Originally from the “Nahuatl” dialect, “Ixtlán” is composed from two words, “Itz-ittztell” meaning obsidian (dark, glass-like rocks) and “Tlán” meaning “the place where it abounds.” The composition “Ixtlán” means “the place where obsidian abounds,” or “the place of the obsidian knife.”
“Los Toriles,” lying south of “Ixtlán,” is the most important archaeological site in northwestern Mexico. It was constructed by “Náhua” groups with “Toltec” influence around 650 BC, corresponding to the post classic Occidental Cultures.
The site has two sections:
The first is the immediate access to this archaeological zone which is composed by the palace of “Tlaloc” in an “L” shape. The pillars that hold the ceiling can be observed along with two staircases. In front of the palace there is a squared altar with four staircases and on its side there is a squared shrine.
At the end of the site, the second section has a large room that belonged to the shamans or sorcerers, having on its side another squared shrine.
Puerto Vallarta is a mystic city that harbors tradition in its plazas, streets and people. It is a city that expresses the color of its culture and natural beauty at every turn.
Located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, where the states of Jalisco and Riviera Nayarit meet, it is at the heart of Banderas Bay. Puerto Vallarta offers the best of two worlds: tradition and the forerunner, making Vallarta a window to the world.
Puerto Vallarta’s beaches are full of endless activities to participate in. Enjoy everything from scuba diving and walking on the golden sand to viewing humpback whales and dolphins in the near distance, or listening to the mesmerizing sound of waves and taking in one of Puerto Vallarta’s unparalleled Mexico sunsets.