On a blue-sky afternoon, you can almost hear the beads of condensation rolling down a chilled michelada glass. A small group of visitors lazes on palapa-shaded loungers; in the distance, a foursome walks the wet ribbon where sand meets the Pacific; and two twentysomething hippie types giggle from their hiding spot in a nearby lifeguard tower.
Welcome to the busiest section of beach in San Francisco, Mexico.
One hundred ninety-two miles of golden, rain forest–fringed coastline string together little pearls of slow-paced beach towns like this one. The less-developed Riviera Nayarit stands in stark relief against more frequented Mexican destinations such as Puerto Vallarta and its megaresorts to the south or Cancún, with its all-inclusives, on the country’s east coast.
Nayarit, on Mexico’s west coast, has flirted with fame from time to time for its appeal as a surf destination, for shout-outs from poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (“The Bells of San Blas”) and Mexican rockers Maná (“En el Muelle de San Blas”), and for its historical significance. It’s said to be the birthplace of Mexican culture. The Aztecs built ringed streets on Mexcaltitán.
But somehow, Nayarit has stayed largely off the radar, giving vacationers the chance to know a quieter Mexico, as well as work on their tans. The region offers a beach town for every taste. Here are 3 to consider.