La Costa Incognita: Pacific Mexico

Punta Mita

   

Even though the condos and malls of Puerto Vallarta are just 45 minutes south, the rocky coves of the Punta Mita peninsula, at the north end of the Bay of Banderas, are visited only by surfers, lobster fishermen, and mountain bikers. There used to be an ejido here, a little farming and fishing community of palapas and pangas, but the Salinas administration kicked everyone out, closed off the only road, and began soliciting bids for development. The peso devaluation put everything on hold, however, so for now the area is as pristine as nature intended. You can drive as far as El Aclote Beach, off Mexico 200 beyond BucerŒas; from there you'll have to walk a few miles along the beach to get out to the point. The best surf break is near El Faro, the Lighthouse. For snorkeling, there are protected coves where the beach is shaded by wild fig trees; swim out 30 feet to mingle with octopuses, lobsters, and rockfish. Or head out with Oscar de Dios of Bike-Mex (322-3-1680; www.vivamexico.com), a mountain bike touring company based in Puerto Vallarta.

A singletrack skirts the entire coastline of the point, starting off on a flat plateau of flowers and grass and winding down through a scrubby jungle canopy to the beaches and mini-coves. It takes four to seven hours to do the entire tour ($100 per person includes transportation from Puerto Vallarta, a good front-suspension bike, helmet and gloves, sodas, and lunch), stopping occasionally to jump into the water. The return trip is a 20-minute ride back to El Coral, a restaurant on El Aclote Beach where the bike support van parks.
For now there are no hotels in Punta Mita. The easiest (and least expensive) solution is to stay in Puerto Vallarta. One clean, basic choice is the Hotel Posada Río Cuale, downtown next to the river (doubles, $16; 322-2-0450).

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