The top of the new year is chock-full of resolutions, and for many, the goal is to unplug (even if just for a short time) from the stressors of daily life. That barrage of emails, texts, and social media platforms makes us long for nature's quiet calm. Best yet, you want that refuge to be accessible—aka, you don't have to venture to far-flung ends of the earth to find it. Punta Mita, a 1,500-acre peninsula about 30 miles from the bustling city of Puerto Vallarta, offers both—a serene place to unwind within driving distance of a major airport. Originally home to artists, merchants, and fishermen, visiting the area brings a choose-your-own-adventure attitude that will appeal to all travelers. For those looking to start 2024 off with a bang, here's where to stay, what to do, and what to eat and drink in the area.
Although Punta Mita has a relatively small footprint compared to the neighboring metropolis of Puerto Vallarta, there are still plenty of accommodation options for all tastes, from small boutique-style hotels to beachside family-friendly resorts (The Four Seasons Punta Mita is a great option) to adult-only properties where you can indulge in a little bit of everything. Suppose you're sans kids and looking for a unique experience. In that case, you'll fall in love with Naviva, which offers a high-end, tailor-made, and sustainability-minded resort where you'll stay alongside a maximum of 30 guests at any given point. The goal is for guests to enjoy the expansive yet intimate property like a friend's enviable vacation home. The 15 ultra-luxurious glamping style suites that are hidden within the property were dreamt up by the design firm behind Amangiri's Camp Sakiri— (a favorite amongst the rich and famous)— all of them free-standing tents that blend seamlessly into the natural surroundings, ranging from 1,250-1,700 square feet and many of them with sweeping Pacific ocean views and private plunge pools. Because of the few guests staying at any given time, Naviva's 48 acres feel incredibly exclusive, making the all-inclusive, zero-transaction experience unlike a traditional resort stay. A pool-surrounded by jungle foliage and a private beach are anchored in the middle of the property, while spa pods with treatment rooms and hot tubs span throughout. While Naviva is relatively easy to get to— located just an hour from the airport— it's a quiet refuge that makes you feel like you're a world away.
You're an adult, meaning you can do whatever you want on vacation, but you've probably come to the destination for nature and culture and to enjoy the sand and the surf. If you're visiting December through March, lucky you; Punta Mita is a gathering place and breeding ground for majestic humpback whales—and you can usually see them off the coast at sunrise and sunset. If you like to catch waves or want to try a new sport, the area has been a draw for surfers, with fantastic beaches for both beginners and experienced levels. Marietas Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage and Bioheritage reserve, is worth visiting with abundant exotic birds, fish, dolphins, and turtles.
If you're at Naviva, there's plenty of what you can do and see. Think Fantasy Island: guests can customize their stay any way they please and are encouraged to do so. Naviva's guides take a keen interest in getting to know their guests and can help create an unparalleled experience. Embark on a private guided hike or a morning of birdwatching, and get whisked off to an adventure museum or your favorite local artist's studio. Indulge in treatments or a ritual, like the Mayan sweat lodge, or ask the chef to prepare your favorite picnic for a day on the water. Later, take in a private mezcal tasting in the open-air kitchen or learn how to make your favorite ceviche dish. Your wish is Naviva's command, and they take the task very seriously, only asking for a bit of notice for whatever it is you're up for.
The region, known for its birria tacos, ceviche, and mezcal, has a growing gastronomy scene, with passionate chefs and foodies flocking to the area. Depending on what you're craving, there's a variety of culinary offerings— from street-side taco trucks to incredibly fresh seafood to higher-end dining. For casual fare in the town of Punta de Mita, visit Tacos y Papas and Teresa's Tacos; run out of a tiny corner stand where you'll find freshly pressed tortillas and Mexican dishes made from scratch. Some highlights include the tacos, enchiladas, and homemade avocado salsa. For a higher-end dining option, make a reservation at Bahia, where the beachside restaurant excels in fresh grilled meats, seafood, and veggies and is an excellent option for large groups. If you're staying at Naviva, their open-air kitchen, Copal Cocina, has a daily rotating menu featuring the region's hyper-fresh local ingredients. You're also welcome to order off the menu. Mention your craving for pizza or a burger; the chef will whip one up without hesitation. Want to try Menudo? Consider it done. Never dull, the culinary options span far and wide. Wash everything down with a beautiful selection of wines, tequilas, and native spirits like raicilla, some of which the guides and their families have produced for generations.
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Sara Holzman is the Style Director at Marie Claire, covering runway trends and tracking down the latest finds to buy and wear. When she’s not writing about fashion, she pens about the best places to jet-off to. Over her six years with Marie Claire, Sara has reported on the ever-evolving world of fashion— covering both established and emerging designers within the industry. Sara has held fashion positions at Lucky and SELF Magazine and was a regular contributor to Equinox’s Furthermore website, where she wrote across their style, wellness, and travel verticals. She holds a degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and currently resides in Manhattan. Follow her along at @sarajonewyork.
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