Ecotourism activities in the Riviera Nayarit have become a fantastic alternative to the “fun in the sun” product. Now the destination offers new market niches such as Alternative Tourism for visitors who are looking to enjoy nature in a safe and reliable way.
There’s an ample variety of companies in the region dedicated to Adventure Tourism, Ecotourism and Rural Tourism, offering an endless menu of tours for outdoor activities such as hiking, canyoneering, rappelling and even culinary experiences of the traditional, regional kind, thus enriching the tourism offer in the destination.
For this list of the Top 10 Alternative Tourism we’d like to present the best options for the most unforgettable eco-vacation of the traveler’s life.
1 Pipilas Tours
To adventure, and beyond! Pipilas Tours, located in the port of San Blas, has over 50 years’ experience in environmentally friendly marine activities. The company offers sport fishing, whale watching tours, swimming with the whale sharks, birdwatching, scuba diving, surfing, snorkeling and much more. However, camping at Isla Isabel National Park with certified guides is their star activity. Isla Isabel is one of the most pristine places on the coast of the Pacific, and was decreed a National Park in 1980 for its importance as a refuge for marine birds. It also has amazing marine fauna and an incredible variety of reef fish, and is an excellent place for photographers and hikers.
2 La Tovara Cooperative
La Tovara Coop Society, located at the El Conchal pier at the La Tovara National Park, offers boat service for tours of the mangroves and the crocodile preserve, approximately 8 kilometers (5 miles) of natural beauty to admire and enjoy. La Tovara is an eco-reserve located just 3 kilometers (2 miles) from the port of San Blas, and was created by the mixture of seawater and pure spring water that made lagoons and canals perfect for touring. We recommend taking the tour early in the morning, as that’s the best time to see the most birds. At the end of the tour you’ll stop at a natural pool of crystalline water for a swim. Nearby is the crocodile preserve, created by the La Palma Eco-Environmental Crocodile Association. The best time to visit is between November and April.
3 Travesía Cora
Travesía Cora takes the traveler to explore the hidden treasures of Nayarit with their Adventure Tourism, Ecotourism and Rural Tourism packages. It’s one of the few ecotourism providers that will take you through the Cora Canyon in San Blas, with its 2- to 10-meter jumps, three rappel courses down 18-, 22- and 35-meter waterfalls, and, of course, impressive vistas. They also visit the Tenamache Canyon, about an hour and a half away from the city of Tepic, near the town of Real Mineral del Zopilote in the Ruiz mountains, and offer canyoneering, hiking and rappelling in the Ceboruco Volcano and the La Papalota Route, plus whale watching in San Blas.
4 Lo de Perla Jungle Garden
The main objective of Lo de Perla is the conservation of nature in the Riviera Nayarit. This non-profit organization is financed by personal funds and its tours. Alejandro de Perla has created one of the more original places in the destination: an open-air orchid greenhouse in Las Lomas ranch, just five minutes from San Pancho, where the flowers grow on their own schedule in the midst of the jungle in Sierra de Vallejo, misted by the sea breeze. There are over 3,500 native orchids hanging from the trees, as well as thousands of other plants including cacti, bromeliads, and palms, all coexisting harmoniously. Among these are 64 species that are endemic to the state of Nayarit. The tour through this incredible jungle paradise lasts about three hours, and though at first it might seem difficult, it really is quite easy as the trails are well cared for and there are several places where you can stop for a rest.
Experiencias Turísticas Mata is a nature tourism agency located in Boca de Camichín, in the municipality of Santiago Ixcuintla. Among its offerings is a swim with the whale shark, the largest fish known to exist. The sharks are imposing and majestic, leaving the visitor very impressed and grateful for the privilege of observing them from barely a meter away. Other activities include birdwatching along Barra Grade, kayaking, interpretative hiking within the extensive mangrove forest and camping, as well as whale watching.
6 Ojo del Cielo Eco-Village
The Ojo del Cielo Eco-Village is an amazing world of flora and fauna located in the municipality of San Blas, just 25km (16 mi) from the city of Tepic. It encompasses a space of 50 hectares within a tropical forest, where you can enjoy unforgettable landscapes, with waterfalls, natural springs, and unique sensations only nature can offer. The area is home to deer, armadillos, coyotes, ocelots, raccoons, badgers, birds and others, as well as an incredibly diverse flora that includes fruit trees, lumber trees and medicinal plants.
7 Rancho Vallejo
As its slogan says, Rancho Vallejo is a place that’s “Enchanted by Nature,” where it’s preserved, consumed correctly, and its riches shared through the sustainable use of natural resources. Rancho Vallejo began as a Unit of Wildlife Conservation and Management, certified by Semarnat; its first activities weren’t related to ecotourism but to conservation via reforestation, the care of birds, mammals and, in general, all the species of wild flora and fauna located on the ranch. Currently it’s part of a group of 14 ranches dedicated to ecotourism activities located along the “Jaguar Route.” A series of quality services are being offered for visitors via tourism activities out in nature, where it’s possible to balance body, mind and soul. Located on Km 4.5 on the San Juan de Abajo-El Colomo road, also known as the Ojo de Agua de Guajolotes (Turkey Watering Hole).
8 Onca Expediciones
Onca Expediciones is an alternative for nature tourism lovers that operates in the state of Nayarit, and is focused on offering unique experiences on its tours. Adventure lovers have the opportunity to experience cultural and natural attractions, and practice rappel and waterfall jumps. They also organize climbs up the Ceboruco Volcano and walks along the San Blas Route and La Papalota.
Mexitreks is a small business opened in Sayulita by California native Stephen Pomeroy, who arrived in Sayulita in 2007 and promptly fell in love with the magic of this Riviera Nayarit town. Pomeroy is an expert in ecotourism and is a very dependable guide for all the activities his company offers to visitors, including hiking, kayak and canoeing, boat trips, and other water sports. They also offer tours to get to know the local flora and fauna as well as the region’s culture and history. Among the top activities: hiking on the Montaña del Mono, Altavista, San Pancho and Sayulita; kayaking along the coast of Sayulita; and a tour of the Isla del Coral across the way from Rincón de Guayabitos.
This is a proudly local business in Lo de Marcos at the southern end of the beach. It offers the traveler real adventure in extraordinary surroundings. Xplore specializes in adventure tourism and other leisure activities inspired by the outdoor life, such as scuba diving, scuba lessons, sport fishing tours, surf lessons, snorkeling, Stand Up Paddleboard lessons, hiking tours and more. It also boasts a beach club with a camping area, a restaurant and bar.
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