Punta Mita is a place that crept up on me by surprise, and engulfed me. Don’t get me wrong, the stunning vistas and beaches I’d seen in pictures filled me with dreamy notions of a beautiful escape. What I didn’t expect, however, was how deeply the beauty of the place and people would resonate with me.
At a mere three and a half hour flight, Puerto Vallarta just makes sense for residents of the San Francisco Bay Area. But most do not venture past Puerto Vallarta proper, or the lavish resort-laden playground of Nuevo Vallarta. Punta Mita is about an hour north of the airport via taxi at the northern tip of Banderas Bay. You pass through through several small towns, and lumber through lush, hilly terrain, and questionable roads with endless speedbumps, with glimpses of the ocean and sunlight filtered through the trees.
Upon arriving in Punta Mita at Rancho Banderas All-Suite Resort, by Marival, it was clear that despite the title “resort” being attached to the name, we were going to experience something very different. Instead of the sprawling, commercialized, over-the-top all-inclusives of my previous experience, we were given something far superior: an intimate boutique atmosphere, a truly personalized small hotel experience. Not to mention, our ocean-front suite had panoramic views of a stunning Punta Mita beach, which we had to ourselves most of the time. The hotel staff knew us by name and room number by our second meal at the restaurant.
Great service in this type of accommodation is generally a given, but Rancho Banderas brought something more. We saw many people greeting hotel staff as old friends. Many return to this warm spirited corner of the world yearly, and are treated as family. I even saw a woman who had just arrived greet one of the beach vendors with open arms, inquiring about how his family had been! This is something I have never seen on various trips to Mexico, where visitors typically shy away from beach vendors, or are intimidated to buy from them. It was an intimate kind of community that I was privileged to have been able to experience.
The warm waters of Banderas Bay as experienced at Playa Las Destiladeras, and the 180 degree views from our terrace would have honestly been enough to pacify my urge for sweet escape, but naturally my active and adventurous side needed a release as well. Islas Marietas have long been on my list of places to experience, and I was thrilled that, weather and ocean conditions permitting, we would be on the first catamaran of the day to the islands, and the first to make the swim onto the Hidden Beach (via Vallarta Adventures).
Hidden Beach is the result of erosion on the Round Island of the Islas. Erosion created a hole in the island, and a cave system that created a surreal beach inside of the island itself. The swim itself was likely 150 meters or so, and wasn’t the easiest swim (I’m a previous competitive swimmer), so I wouldn’t recommend it to those who don’t consider themselves strong swimmers. I was glad to be among the first to set foot on the beach, as it quickly became crowded. The rest of the excursion was comprised of excellent snorkeling, and a speedboat ride to a beach only accessible by boat on the Long Island. The excursion definitely quenched my adventure thirst!
Overall, the only change I would have made to this trip would have been to give Punta Mita more of my time. I came to this corner of the world with relatively low expecations, and left with my heart resonating with the need to return. If you are searching for a secluded romantic getaway with a splash of luxury, awash with natural beauty, look no further than Punta Mita.
The Tom Bihn Synapse 25 & I overlooking Playa Las Destiladeras, very sad to leave.Where is your favorite romantic destination in Mexico?