Travel Thursday: Experiencing Nayarit’s Luxury, History, & Hospitality

Photo by Hans-Jürgen Weinhardt on Unsplash

I don’t have the traveler’s gene. Travel wasn’t something that was instilled in me from a young age. My family vacationed, but we didn’t travel. Trips to Florida, Myrtle Beach, Las Vegas (a place my parents and 10 of their friends visited yearly) were the norm, but a trip to Italy to see where we come from and where our ancestors grew up? Nope, never even an option in my parents’ minds. I am 100% Italian, in my mid-forties and have never been to Italy.

I have tried to remedy that in my adult life, but time, finances, opportunity all come into play and have never aligned. And then we had that big blip called COVID-19 that stopped the entire world in its tracks.


Since the world reopened, Robby has tried to ramp up the travel opportunities and get some more stamps on his passport. And living in South Florida, I didn’t need to go too far to enjoy breathtaking landscapes with stunning locales – I just headed south of the border. 

Mexico Tourism Thrives with Many Options

Just a quick, inexpensive, and easy flight from so many parts of the United States, Mexico offers so much for so many. The country has long been a favorite destination for American travelers for ages, from Cancun going spring breakers to queer partiers hitting up Puerto Vallarta (First Time in Puerto Vallarta? Here’s What to Do!) to elite status travelers taking in the sights of Mexico City (Travel Thursday: Destination Mexico With The Goals Of Indulgence & Tranquility), a thriving metropolis of almost 9 million people. Without a doubt, Mexico is where tourism is at. 

Last year I personally was lucky enough to travel to Merida – an up and coming area vying to be the next Puerto Vallarta (PV) for queer destination weddings (Travel Thursday: Could Merida, Mexico Be Your Destination Wedding City?). And just recently I took a trip to explore yet another region of the country, Nayarit. Let me just say once again my expectations were surpassed… and then surpassed again. 

Nayarit Will Be Where You Visit Next

The recipe for a world-class LGBTQ+ destination is simple. All you need are fabulous hotels, beautiful beaches, exquisite dining, electric nightlife, gorgeous scenery and, of course, an inclusive energy. Enter Mexico’s State of Nayarit, a destination that exceeds in these areas and beyond. It’s a place practically tailor-made for LGBTQ+ travel. In fact, Nayarit has been catching the eye of LGBTQ+ travelers for a while now. It is one of the many states in Mexico that officially recognizes same-sex marriage and has always been a champion for inclusivity, including a unique Huichol (indigenous) ceremony, with a Marakame (a person who is an intermediate between the living the spirit world) who “unites the souls”.

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Where to Stay

One of the crown jewels in Nayarit is the Vidante Nuevo Nayarit-Vallarta, a sprawling compound of FIVE exquisite hotels to choose from. We stayed at The Grand Mayan and grand is an understatement. It’s clear to see why Vidante was named as one of the Top Hotels in Mexico and Top Hotels in the World by Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards.

Each morning, I was mesmerized at the view from my balcony, just sitting and gazing and thinking how really beautiful the world we live in is. (cheesy I know but that’s how I roll.) With over 40 – FORTY – restaurants and lounges to choose from, Vidanta Nuevo Nayarit-Vallarta gives guests the opportunity to dine however they like. The food, the light show, the surroundings – all top notch. You don’t ever need to leave the site to explore different cultures and regions and tastes of Mexico. 

The compound might have been too sprawling for me. Leaving for a day trip can be quite a mission. Lots of trams and wondering which building the pool is at or which gym is open today. Better to stay on site and explore Vidante! 


The crown jewel of this trip for me was the day we spent at two different amazing resorts. The W Punta De Mita, it was one of the best hotel experiences I have had the pleasure of having. At that beautiful mosaic tile walkway – GORGE!  Our day at the W  was a day I will never forget as the pool, the spa, the environment, simple elegance yet warmth and relaxation.

We also checked out the St Regis Punta Mita. Immediately, we felt welcomed and more importantly, SEEN as queer travelers. As we both know, queer travelers have a different set of needs and wants and the St. Regis confidently met and exceeded all our wildest fantasies. In their own words, 

“At St. Regis Punta Mita, we believe in the power of love and romance in all its shapes and forms. Our Unparalleled Love experience offers an exquisite stay full of memorable moments of connection. Immerse yourself in an atmosphere of authenticity and joy, and create lasting memories with your loved one.”

Our farewell dinner on the beach – breathtaking and a memory that still stays with me today.


(insert photos from W Punta De Mita)

W pool toast
Dinner on the beach at St Regis


Nayarit History and Culture

Outside of the hotels, Nayarit is awash with culture and history while stepping forward into the 21st century. There is only so much you can squeeze into a day, but boy did we push the boundaries on that as were lucky enough to visit two areas of the state – San Francisco and Compostela. 

The history of San Pancho – as San Francisco is lovingly called – is able to be read on the walls of a compound near the beach. With images painted in acrylics, with colorful personalities and sprinkled across landscapes of this destination, San Pancho i considered the “cultural capital” of the state of Nayarit, thanks to the numerous initiatives carried out here to promote culture and education.


One of my loves is to be at the beach, on the water and being able to dine oceanside, and Don Pedro’s hit every button for me. A staple in Sayuliata for since – wait for it – 1994, Don Pedro’s was founded by two cousins, Damien and Nicholas, who set off from Los Angeles on a surf and culinary adventure. Don Pedro’s has been voted “Best Restaurant” in Sayulita for three years running in the Voter’s Choice Best of Sayulita Awards. The fresh mini churros station with chocolate sauce was a huge hit with our group! 

Other highlights food wise include dinner at Tuna Blanca by Thierry Blouet (@tunablancamita, @thierryblouet) very romantic!, and Camahuer, rated #1 among Compostela restaurants.


As if that were not enough, Compostela Nayuarit is home to several fantastic traditional festivals. Get to know this charming city, whose main economic sources include fishing, agriculture, and tourism. Some of the best times to visit is during November and December since this is when most festivals and parades are held. Be sure to just take some time and stroll through the historic center as the streets are beautiful, populated with locals selling original handicrafts made from tobacco leaves on several corners. Don’t forget to stop by the Santo Santiago Apostle Parish Church, the Municipal Presidency, or the House of Culture. If you want adventure or to enjoy nature, go to Punta Custodio Natural Park.

Of course, the LGBTQ+ community is welcome beyond just the beaches in the state of Nayarit. The state capital, Tepic, for example, has a small but active gay scene, with several gay bars, as well as an annual Pride march held every June.

Speaking of adventures, we went to a volcano, an actual volcano. The Ceboruco Volcano or Volcán Ceboruco is an inactive stratovolcano that is part of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt in the state Nayarit, in western Mexico. With an altitude of 2,280 meters, it is the 7th highest of Nayarit.


Located in an area which is covered with several other volcanoes, Ceboruco offers great hiking opportunities through lush forests with plenty of interesting fauna and flora to observe. It isn’t such a demanding hike up to its crater so it can be visited as a pleasant dayhike from the village Jala, which lies at is foot (Instagram: #ceborucovolcano/).


I wish I could talk more and more about Nayarit and the trip of a lifetime but I already exceeded my word limit. I hope to get back to Nayarit in the very near future and hope to see you there, Instincters. Safe travels!

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