Do you have a car and a few hours to spare? Heading north from Puerto Vallarta on a road trip offers visitors the opportunity to get a sense of what life in Puerto Vallarta used to be some forty years ago. A half-dozen or-so villages can be explored along the way in one serving. And just as in Puerto Vallarta's best restaurants: if you like their offerings, you can always return for more!
Here is a list of the important towns you will pass along the way. Clicking on any of them will provide you with more detailed information:
Your first stop as you travel north from Puerto Vallarta along Carr. 200 Norte is Bucerias, the name deriving from the Spanish buzo, or diver. Even though the town may be small size-wise, Bucerias features a variety of food options, from basic Mexican fare to upscale restaurants. Shopping options are equally diverse. Find a parking spot near the main plaza and take a look at the beach, whose lengthy stretch and calm waters have attracted families for decades.
Just past the Punta de Mita exit, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle is equally laidback, but thanks to the Marina Riviera Nayarit, the town is generating an even stronger draw for those interested in boating and maritime activities. Just north of La Cruz, the small beach of La Manzanilla is a popular destination for Mexican families in search of great seafood, reasonably priced.
When you reach the right-hand turn onto Litibú, don’t take it! Continue straight to the small town of El Anclote in Punta de Mita, where you will find a variety of great beachfront restaurants and a few shops—not to mention several spots that offer kayak and surfing equipment, instruction and rentals.
Drive back to the Litibú turn and take it (a left turn). A long-term development project undertaken by private investors and the government at state and federal levels, Litibú will eventually include a solid infrastructure of roads, schools, five-star and boutique hotels and shopping centers. In contrast, the road between Litibú and Sayulita offers some of the most spectacular views of the lush vegetation present throughout the bay.
A surfing destination of choice, Sayulita is one of those small towns whose charm will more than likely cast a spell upon you. Drive through it, and you’ll be tempted to park your car and spend a couple hours exploring its downtown area, with shopping opportunities galore, or its popular beach, where several surfing operations are ready for you to get your feet wet, pun intended!
As you exit Sayulita, the road will connect once again with Carr. 200 Norte. At this point, you can continue north along the highway for another 10 minutes, which would allow a quick drive through San Pancho, another peaceful beachfront destination, or turn right and head back to Puerto Vallarta. The road between Sayulita and the Punta de Mita exit you took earlier features nothing but lush, spectacular trees and vistas, which is actually perfect. With no other distractions, this is the best time of your road trip to think about which of these spots you’d like to visit again!
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