3 Days in Paradise: Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

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Between Colleen’s Icelandic adventure, Jaime’s journey to Norway and my promise (fingers crossed, haha) to my husband to never leave him alone with the children again, we called on our friend Sonya, from Parlor Diary, to spend a few days in Mexico relaxing by the beach, courtesy of Iberostar Playa Mita. Isn’t she the best to be there when we need her? Here she is with the inside scoop on the ultimate family vacation in paradise. Take it away Sonya…

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The video promoting Riviera Nayarit begins with “I can’t get this place out of my mind…” It’s easy to understand why Visit Mexico would promote this beautiful state on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Riddled with gorgeous beaches and majestic mountains, a visit here is likely to stay with you for quite some time.

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During my stay in Riviera Nayarit, I was invited to stay at the brand new all-inclusive resort, Iberostar Playa Mita. A chain based out of Spain, Iberostar owns ten hotels in Mexico, but this is their first offering on the Western coast. Iberostar, the 5-star “Premium Gold” destination,  offers deluxe family-friendly accommodations. Kids will love the ocean front beach, pool, splash park, playground, and youth activities. Parents can take advantage of drop off at the kids’ club, babysitting services, spa, gym, entertainment, and multiple options for dining and cocktails. Iberostar Playa Mita proves that family fun and luxury can coexist.

Read more about my visit to Iberostar Playa Mita in Riviera Nayarit after the jump…

The journey from the airport in Puerto Vallarta to Iberostar Playa Mita gave hints of what lie ahead. The landscape is decorated with the Sierra Madre Mountains, palm trees, small towns, and the sea.

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Guests must offer proof of reservation to pass through the gates, insuring maximum security. At reception, we were greeted with welcome cocktails in the resort’s stunning entranceway, before being whisked off to our ocean front rooms via golf cart.

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The room offered a king bed and seat/daybed, perfect for a small family. The view from the private balcony of the ocean was magnificent and there were nice details, like a drying rack for wet bathing suits and dual capable outlets.

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Wifi was spotty within the resort but worked like a charm in my room. Staying in my room was the problem…

Iberostar Playa Mita offers a multitude of activities including a variety of water sports from kayaking to windsurfing, a gorgeous infinity pool with a swim-up bar, fitness and dance classes, entertainment, spa services, gym, and a 18-hole Greg Norman-designed golf course that is adjacent to the property. I started my trip right with a quick dip in the ocean before meeting for drinks at the hotel’s gorgeous rooftop bar, Sea Soul, before dinner.

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My first full day in Mexico started with some exercises overlooking the ocean, followed by breakfast at the El Nopal buffet. The choices were overwhelming, with enough options to please any palate, including a variety of fresh tropical juices.

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Mid-morning, our group met for a tour of the resort. We had a chance to check out all of the gorgeous views,

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special event spaces – like this wedding gazebo overlooking the sea,

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and intricate design details like thatched roofs,

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landscaped walkways,

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and cozy resting spots.

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The kids splash park,

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playground,

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and kid’s club

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had me missing my family terribly! Luckily, there were non-stop fun activities to distract me from their absence.

After the waves proved to be too choppy for kayaking, we split up to enjoy the afternoon however we chose. I made a dash for the salsa lesson that was about to start and managed to drag half of my fellow travelers with me. They paid me back by nominating me to partner with the instructor. Too. Much. Fun.

Hot and sweaty from all that dancing, I took a dip in the pool and had cerveza at the swim up bar because, you know, it was there.

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Before getting ready for happy hour and dinner, I made a pit stop at Spa Sensations for a fantastic pedicure. I may or may not have fallen asleep in the massage chair. I’ll never tell.

The crew met for drinks in the lobby and then enjoyed a delicious meal at the steakhouse called La Bahia. The evening ended with a fun show at the theater and a little dancing at the adjacent disco.

The following day, more new experiences awaited outside the resort. Thanks to the tourism board of Riviera Nayarit, we were treated to an amazing day exploring the area. We first took a short drive around Banderas Bay where we were picked up in small boat with a couple guides from Vallarta Adventures.

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After transferring to a larger boat, we sped off for the Marietas Islands, while being prepped for a snorkeling excursion.

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I was a bit nervous when our guide told us we’d be swimming though a cave to a hidden beach in the center of the island. Never one to pass up an opportunity for a new experience, I tossed my jitters aside and went for it.

Upon arriving at the island, we were instructed to hop off the boat after being given goggles, a life preserver, and flippers (which are much harder to maneuver than I had thought…) As a group we swam to the mouth of the cave, and I had my first opportunity to try out my snorkeling gear. It took a minute or two to get used to breathing to the tube but once I did I was stunned. The entire peaceful underwater world was there for my viewing and it was fascinating!

In single file, we swam through the cave to a small beach in the middle of the island. There were smaller tunnels throughout, which some of my braver travel-mates explored. Meanwhile, I soaked in the beauty of the island and spied on crabs hiding in the rocks. After traveling back through the cave, we were offered more time to snorkel and this time I saw beautiful brightly colored fish, schools of tiny fish swimming in unison, and beautiful underwater caves and rock formations. Just as we headed back the boat, I was stung by a jellyfish on my neck. Um… ouch!

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I spent some of the boat time recovering from the pain while the rest of the group explored another island beach. When we returned to shore, we were treated to amazing Mexican seafood feast on the beach at Mariscos Tino’s, complete with a round of tamarind margaritas. Is there a word beyond delicious? I may need to invent one after that meal. Everything was seasoned and cooked to perfection. We were approached by several vendors during our lunch, offering their wares. It seemed somewhat unusual at first but a few of us ended up getting some steals, including me!

We headed to coastal fishing town Sayulita to soak in a little local culture.

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Our first stop was to Galeria Tanana where we saw stunning artwork of the Huichol tribe, who are native to the area. Their artwork includes beautiful beadwork, embroidery, and intricate yarn paintings.

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It was fascinating to watch this artist at work.

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We made the short trip back to the resort after a little shopping to prepare for our final evening meal and one last sunset over the ocean.

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I woke early enough on my last day to catch the sunrise over the mountains, determined to make the most of my last moments in paradise.

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I had an amazing time. Just as the video I referenced at the start of this post promised, I can’t get Riviera Nayarit out of my mind. I can’t wait to go back with my family. I know they will love the scenery, activities, and culture as much as I did. Iberostar Playa Mita is gorgeous resort and the customer service was impeccable. But you know what made my trip truly special?

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New friends!

Thank you to Iberostar Playa Mita hosting this fabulous and relaxing Mexico adventure.

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8 Comments

Jacinda

Hey Amy-
It was a hosted press trip so we didn’t pay for travel/lodging but we were not paid to write about the trip. We added another mention to make this clearer. Thanks!

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