If Puerto Vallarta, with its charming colonial-Mexico feel, nearby jungles and rich culture, is a favourite, check out some of the town’s less familiar neighbours. From the artsy surf town of Sayulita to the traditional fishing village of La Cruz, the seaside towns to the north of Vallarta each have a unique atmosphere. The mountain villages inland are still reminiscent of colonial times, with life revolving around the church, the town square and the local hacienda.
Why Now: Riveria Nayarit has begun a big tourism campaign. In a few years these unspoiled beaches and hidden towns will be found in every tourism brochure.
Don’t Miss: Visiting San Sebastian del Oeste. The old colonial town about 65 km from Puerto Vallarta only recently got a paved road. This means the little town is stuck firmly in another era: The silver era. Veins of silver were discovered by the conquistadors in 1605. By 1785, with 30 mines and a dozen haciendas, San Sebastian was one of the main silver and gold mining centres in New Spain. Today, San Sebastian has the feeling of faded glory to it. And when you walk down the 250 year old streets, it feels as if you’re the first to discover the secret pathways, stone bridges, soaring archways and ruined haciendas.
Be Sure to Try: Raicilla. Said to be the oldest alcohol spirit known to man, local agave is fermented to craft a tequila-like drink called raicilla. And while raicilla used to be known as a potent moonshine, it’s being rediscovered as a boutique beverage with subtle sweet and smoky flavours that makes it perfect for sipping. You can sample it in local shops, but even better is making a trip inland and visiting one of the distilleries.
Keep an Eye Out for: Local Lucha Libre or Charreada events. If you think Mexican culture is all folk dancing and mariachi music, check out how the locals spend their time.
Lucha Libre is billed as Mexican wrestling but it’s really comic book heroes come to life. It’s hard to even call the luchadores fighters since many of the hitting moves, as well as the sequences of leaps, spins and flips are all perfectly choreographed.
Charreada is traditional Mexican Rodeo-complete with Charros dressed in traditional attire and a brass band to accompany the action. Both sports are held in a variety of small town arenas or fields.
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