By: Juliana Pires Johnson
Summer is just around the corner, and as we dream of those beach escapes, we are taking you on a journey through our favorite spot in Mexico, located on the state of Nayarit, a 45-minute drive from landing at the Puerto Vallarta Airport, heaven on earth, also known as Punta Mita.
Punta Mita has been a celebrity favorite location for years, and given all of the new developments taking place, its clear that tourism is not slowing down. Providing you with the perfect blend of ocean and jungle (opposite to Cabo’s more desert-y vibes), with an average 345 days of sunshine annually, you can customize your Punta Me-Time (yes, we did that) to suit your mood.
Keep in mind that some COVID restrictions are still in place, which means that some of the restaurants and activities are exclusive to hotel guests at this time. With that in mind, we will focus on the properties and their individual offerings as a key player to your overall experience as it will determine the beach/ pool you lay out on, the food and service you will receive all day, the exclusive activities available to you and so much more.
Note that peak travel season is December – March and the best deals can be found during the summer, where the weather is hot and humid.
STAY AND DO
THE FOUR SEASONS (fun fact Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment is the owner)
This is our 10/10 resort recommendation. If budget is not an issue, stay at The Four Seasons. This is the priciest property of the bunch but it is justified. Its location is the most beautiful and somehow the 177-room property feels private and personalized. Staff is incredibly welcoming, hospitable and efficient. When you download The Four Seasons app, you can connect with concierge 24/7, who will make everything possible. Throughout the years, when we return to the property, our waiters and bartenders welcome us as old friends, remember our favorite foods and drinks, and makes us feel back at home. The property also offers multiple room villas for families and groups as well as residences, if you’re in the market for a perfectly positioned and managed vacation home.
The service at the beach is spectacular. You can rent a day bed for a daily fee of $75 a day or lay out in one of the gorgeously positioned lounge chairs. Throughout the day you will receive complimentary popsicles, drinks, cool towels and more as you lunch by the beach. The same is true at the multiple pools in the property.
Other stand out features include:
Lazy River – This family friendly “lazy river” is located at a far corner of the property and is so much fun for all ages. You can grab a pool tube and effortlessly float with the lazy current, drink in hand. For the adults, you can float with your boozy beverage and pre-order most as you go on another 9-minute loop… and for the kids, you can race the river with your friends, play with the tubes, floats, and eat, river-side.
Coco Loco Stand – Located by the beach, the Coco Loco stand offers you boozy coconut water. Fresh coconuts are opened and mixed with your choice of tequila, rum (a fresh Pina Colada, anyone) or vodka!
Tequila + Mezcal Tasting + Blends – This is our DO NOT MISS. The 2-hour tequila tasting and blending class is so special. During it, you get to learn all about tequila – its history, how it is harvested and the differences between each type. Afterwards, you create your own blend using a mix of blanco, reposado, añejo and extra añejo. You then record your exact blend (by name and number) in their blend book so you can order bottles at any time in the future, while immediately taking home your own 1L blend, included in the class price. This activity costs about $170 a person (depending on exchange rate) but is worth it, especially because you get to take home your all-time favorite tequila ( the one you made!)
Sea Turtle Release – Another must is the sea turtle release experience where you learn all about sea turtles and then have the opportunity to release some into the beach at sunset. There is a cost associated with this experience, so please contact The Four Seasons for more.
Churro Cart – Perhaps my husband’s favorite part of the property is the Churro Cart – La Churrrerita -, located outside Dos Catrinas restaurant, where you can order yours to go (the best we have ever had) with a side of the most delicious chocolate and dulce de leche dips.
THE ST. REGIS
Neighboring The Four Seasons is The St. Regis, managed by the Marriott Group. The resort feels classic, authentic, traditional and also homey. The property feels smaller and offers less to do than The Four Seasons but boasts a beautiful beach, wonderful restaurants right on the sand, and two pools. Service is exceptional but its more for those who just want to come to lay by the pool and beach and enjoy some classic Mexican fare. Rates are friendlier than at The Four Seasons, but the perks reflect that.
Note that the beach at The St. Regis is a lot rockier than at The Four Seasons so tougher to get into to swim.
You can rent snorkeling, paddle board and other diving gear at the beach and explore the ocean.
Dining is a huge highlight at the property, mainly at Mita Mary. This super fun beach side restaurant, shaped like a boat, offers fresh grills with fish caught just off the coast and delicious authentic fares (and some of the best margaritas in town). It’s perfect for a late lunch or early dinner to enjoy sunset at the beach, and a bit more casual than the others in town. This is where you can also sip on the famous Mita Mary Bloody Mary, which we talk about in our Sunday Bloody Sunday story.
Carolina restaurant is also a top-tier culinary experience, awarded the AAA Five Diamond Award, highlighting the best of Mexican cuisine by Chef Jesús Delgado Durón. We don’t visit every time we come to town as it’s a bit more formal and intense (multiple courses, multiple tastes) and we like the more relaxed beach vibes, but for the foodie, it’s a must at least once.
CASA DE MITA
This boutique hotel is the hidden gem of Punta Mita, in our opinion. With only 8 rooms, it’s also a perfect location to come with a big group of friends, family, organize Bachelorette/ Bachelor Parties, intimate weddings and rent out the entire place as your own, with exceptional service built in. Most of the rooms look towards the ocean and have their own character and flair (all-inclusive of your must-have Wi-Fi, TV, minibar, etc).
Oh, did we mention its all-inclusive?
They have an outdoor pool with swim up bar and a few tables adjacent, overlooking the ocean for dining. You can also book dinner there if you aren’t staying at the property, based on availability and the menu will change daily, based on the chef and ingredient selection and come with your choice of appetizer, entrée and dessert, read to you by your attentive server.
DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT
THE CONRAD PUNTA MITA + W PUNTA MITA
The Conrad felt like Las Vegas/ Arizona and more of a group conference Spring Break situation. We felt like we crossed customs but were still in the US.
The W is a great, lower priced option to the ones listed above (still luxe resort, though!), but wouldn’t make our top 3!
DOS CATRINAS at The Four Seasons – Our favorite place to dine. The restaurant downstairs serves authentic, fresh Mexican fare and upstairs is their bar (where you can also more informally dine) which features live Cuban Music most evenings. Their chicharrones guacamole, beef tongue and soft-shell tacos are our favorites.
BAHIA at The Four Seasons – This is the more formal beachfront restaurant at the property. Serving more refined Mexican cuisine. We tend to order the catch of the day, caught daily by the property either adobo style or plain grilled. Their baked sweet potato side is also to-die-for.
MINA (FORMERLY SI SEÑOR) – The most fun, authentic off-property beach-front restaurant. The staff is lively, the décor is bright, and they serve incredible margaritas (their spicy cucumber is a star). They also serve a tableside guacamole (spice to taste) with the best chips. We love the carnitas, chille relleno and their fish of the day tacos. A must visit for a lively, good time!
SUFI (dinner) + SUFITO (waterside lunch spot) – Sufi is a classic, more classic dinner experience overlooking the ocean. Their home-made bread is irresistible, and we actually love their wine list. Their tortilla soup is famous and a must, no matter the weather. Sufito, their sister restaurant, just next door, recently opened and is a more casual option, right on the beach, perfect for lunch and cocktails.
MITA MARY at The St. Regis – As we mentioned in our review of The St. Regis, this is a gorgeous, delicious, relaxing dining option. Lunch or dinner, it’s a must. We do love watching the sunsets here – it makes for the most gorgeous photos while you’re dining on the freshest seafood.
PUNTA MITA ADVENTURES – You can book activities (ziplining, hiking, etc.) through this company, connected to all hotels.
SAYULITA BEACH DAY – make sure to step outside the bubble if only for one afternoon to visit the bright streets of Sayulita. The vibe of the town is very chill with plenty of local artisanal shops and easy restaurants to grab a bite at.