Riviera Nayarit is a 320-kilometre stretch of Pacific Coastline in Mexico. While its resorts are popular with tourists, much of its beautiful wilderness remains untouched. Today, outdoor enthusiasts looking for a fun Mexican vacation flock to the Riviera Nayarit for endless days of adventure. Whether it is zip lining through endless green jungles and waterfalls, watching baby seas turtles scramble down the white sand beaches or swimming in the aquamarine Pacific with dolphins, there is an adventure waiting for you in Riviera Nayarit...

Canopy Zip Lining

zipCreativecommons.org/Betty Snyder

Zip lining across the jungle canopy is a great way to experience the ecological beauty and emerald mountain forest of the Riviera Nayarit from a different angle. While there are zip lining parks all over the area, many visitors head to the renowned Canopy Adventure Park. Using state of the art technology and highly qualified experts, visitors are taken through the lush canopy on 25 different line set ups. Travellers are treated to beautiful short hikes in between the zip line set-ups, so that they can take in the exotic birds and giant tropical trees from every angle. For those who don't mind getting a little wet, there are five different waterfalls within the park for zip-liners can slide on through. It is the ultimate refresher on those hot Mexican summer days.

ATV Excursions

Adventurers zip through muddy jungle roads, splash through rivers and navigate across various farmlands and plantations for an adrenaline-pumping adventure. ATV excursions are becoming increasingly popular in the area, so each day more and more ATV tour guides are popping up. A few tours combine ATV excursions with canopy zip lining. The company ATV Excursions offers an ‘Amphibian ATV Adventure’ that takes riders on a super powered eight-wheel ATV that can handle any complex terrain. After an adventure in the mud and the grime, ATV Excursions offers a great tequila tour.

Deep Sea Fishing

fishingCreativecommons.org/Ed Bierman

The Pacific Coast has some of the best deep sea fishing in Mexico. Two world fishing records have been set in Riviera Nayarit, one for a 100-kilogram Wahoo that doesn't normally grow above 50 kilograms, and the other for a 331-kilogram massive marlin.

Now the region is set to host the International Marlin and Tuna Fishing Tournament for the next three years, which has helped the area become known as an international deep sea fishing Mecca. As the climate and sea conditions are usually favourable, professional sport fishermen and amateurs who would like to try their hands at landing that giant swordfish flood the area to enjoy the sport.

As the fishing season is year round, visitors will find no shortage of charter boats that will take out fishermen of all levels of experience. Once a boat is chartered, fishermen can expect to reel in prevalent local fish like Bass, Pargo, Roosterfish, Mahi-Mahi, Swordfish and Wahoo. However those seeking some of the prize trophy fish like Sailfish, Giant Tuna and Striped Marlin can charter special boats in the area.

Whale Watching

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Every year from mid-December to the end of March visitors in the Riviera Nayarit area are treated to one of the most spectacular whale watching experiences in the world. This poplar seasonal attraction draws crowds of both conservationists and curious visitors to watch the majestic humpback whales as they crowd Banderas Bay and stretches of coastline along the Riviera Nayarit.

Whale watchers come from far and wide to watch them do breathtaking breaches and magnificent jumps that leave an unforgettable impression. Prepare to get a little wet though; these animals can weigh up to around 45 tons. That sheer amount of weight can generate a lot of splash action.

Surfing

surfingCreativecommons.org/Thomassin Mickael

Many people are surprised upon arriving in Riviera Nayarit to find out that the area has some high quality point surf and reef breaks that have been thrilling surfers for years.

The most popular place to learn is what is known as "The Cove", which is located in the southernmost bay of Punta de Mita Point. The area gets shallow at low tide, but when high tide comes in it has some of the best breaks around. There are about five different competing surf shops in the area that are all more than willing to teach new visitors.

The downside of The Cove is that it is well known. During peak months, the beach swells with tourists who want to try their hands at surfing, which means there is some stiff competition for the waves. The Punta Burros and Sayulita areas are much the same as The Cove. They have great breaks, but can get busy fairly quickly.

For some less crowded waters, surfers should head out to Matenchen Bay. This secluded little beach has earned quite the reputation for surfers in-the-know for having one of the longest ride-able waves in the area. Surfers can easily ride the waves for a solid kilometre and enjoy wave pitches and peels all along the way.

Swim With Dolphins And Sea Lions

Many Pacific bottlenose dolphins have made their home along the coast of Riviera Nayarit, and you can sometimes hear them laughing from the beach.

Sadly, due to the growing fishing business in the area, some of these dolphins get injured and are sent to one of the many dolphin programs in the area. There they are rehabilitated to go into the wild. Many of these facilities open their door to visitors who want to swim with these clowns of the ocean.

Dolphin Signature Swim, Dolphin Encounters, and Dolphin Kids are just a few of the local programs that allow visitors to get in the water and play around with these creatures. Getting to feed, touch, play, cuddle, kiss and swim a dolphin is certainly an experience like no other. Some programs even offer a "Trainer for a Day" program so that travellers can learn about caring for these creatures.

Like dolphins, there are also a whole slew of sea lion facilities that open their doors to visitors. Travellers can get in the water to get scratchy whisker kisses and hugs from these mischievous creatures.

Sea Turtle Release

turtleCreativecommons.org/Steve Jurvetson

Before all the resorts, back when Riviera Nayarit was a secret slice of paradise, the major draw of the area was the abundance of sea turtles. The Olive Ridley sea turtle still uses the protected beaches of Riviera Nayarit to lay thousands of eggs each year. Come hatching time, hordes of these adorable little baby turtles take to the beaches on their slow and dangerous journey to the sea. These little baby turtles move slowly, making for easy prey to birds and local iguanas.

As this turtle is a protected species, many turtle farms have taken to harvesting the eggs, hatching them and then releasing the baby turtles safely into the ocean when the time comes. This provides safety to the young turtles and a great educational experience for visitors. During turtle hatching season, travellers take to the beaches to watch and try to protect thousands of these little guys on their long journey to the sea. They can also visit places like Sea Turtle Adventures or Baby Sea Turtle Release to hold one of these squirmy little guys, carry it to the ocean themselves and watch it disappear into the great blue ocean.

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