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5 Nights in Punta de Mita, Mexico

I love everything about Mexico - the culture, the food, the people. We've visited Tulum, Cancun, Mayakoba, Holobox, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, and Puerto Aventuras over the years. We can't get enough of the warm hospitality, alluring beaches, and wonderful cuisine the country offers.


One of the perks of living in San Diego is its proximity to the many coastal towns of Mexico. On this memorable trip, we took a two-and-a-half-hour flight from San Diego on Alaska Airlines to Puerto Vallarta. We then picked up our car rental from Enterprise and then made the easy forty-five-minute drive south to Punta de Mita just in time to watch the sun paint the sky as she retreated for the day.


Below is what I consider a perfect five-night itinerary in Punta de Mita, verified by yours truly. We had a flawless balance of relaxation and exploration and ate some of the most delectable meals possible. Feel free to steal my travel plan to begin creating your magical memories. Also, before I get started here are some important tips to guide you when traveling to Punta de Mita:


  • If you plan on leaving your resort, which you absolutely should, rent a car. Driving here is safe and having a car makes everything easier.

  • All bills have a 10% service charge included, and no additional tipping is necessary.

  • Many of the restaurants below are located in high-security properties so carry ID at all times.

  • Make dinner and excursion reservations in advance, things do book up here.

  • The sunsets in Punta de Minta are breathtaking, make sure to catch them daily.

DAY ONE:


The check-in process at the Conrad Hotel, the beach town's newest five-star resort, was quick and extremely welcoming. This luxury hotel boasts every amenity you can ever dream of while on vacation: tennis courts, pickle ball courts, a gym, a spa, four restaurants, an adult-only pool and also several family pools (one with a water slide), daily yoga on the sand, beachside service... this place is the perfect escape.



The rooms are spacious and most notably have expansive balconies with eye-catching views. Additional touches like artisanal welcome chocolate, aromatherapy linen sprays, unlimited on-demand bottled water, and handmade crafts laid thoughtfully at turn-down service, all make the room a perfect retreat at the end of an already glorious day.



Once settled in, we headed to dinner at Codex, the hotel's fine dining restaurant, on a complimentary chauffeured golf club. This restaurant is extremely well-rated and is recognized as one of Mexico's top two hundred-fifty best restaurants. Upon entering, we were greeted by a staff member who asked our family to unite holding hands as he blessed us via what seemed like an indigenous tradition. I found this to be a very thoughtful way to welcome guests. Although we were disappointed by the chef's gastronomic attempts, we were in awe of the stunning setup. There are tables on the sand, some even tucked into trees, all romantically lit by tiki torches. The kitchen hits it on the nail aesthetic-wise- the food presentation is thoughtfully prepared to deliver a minimalistic beauty that is impossible to overlook. However, overall we ate our only disappointing meal while in Mexico at Codex. Perhaps the kitchen was having an "off day".


pros: striking setting, polished service, well-made cocktails


cons: portions are small and extremely overpriced for what is just decent food


must order: we tasted six items on the menu and the only one I could recommend is the soft-shelled crab



Watching the sunsets while vacationing in Punta de Mita should be a ritual in your vacation planning, they will take your breath away.



DAY TWO:


Our first full day at the resort was dedicated to planting ourselves on the property and relaxing as much as possible. I suggest you do the same once you get here.


Breakfast at Arbol is the perfect way to start the day. The indoor buffet has an endless spread of cheeses, yogurts, breads, pastries, waffle stations, and an array of hot foods and even an additional outdoor buffet focused on Mexican fare with a chilaquiles station, a manned quesadilla station, an eggs-your-way station, fruits galore, and local sweets. We all left satiated.



After a full meal, we plopped at the adult pool and stayed there all day. There wasn't any reason to leave when we were spoiled with the sound of ambient music playing, the crashing of nearby waves, a hot tub, a swim-up bar, and even a ceviche cart that pulled up to our seats for an on-demand fresh snack.



Although peeling ourselves away from the pool was no easy task, it was time for lunch at Mesquite. Eating here was well worth the effort of entering the vertical world again. Every bite was sensational- the ingredients were of the utmost quality and the seasoning in each dish was simply perfect.


pros: seaside dining with a fantastic menu, dishes perfectly prepared


cons: none


must order: tuna tostada, chips and guacamole, lobster roll, and the wagyu wonder bowl (grilled and sliced wagyu, carrots, black bean cream, queso ranchero)



After a meal like this, a walk along the coast was in order. Strolling with our feet in the water brought exciting adventures like spotting a nearby estuary with a nesting crocodile and a local employee warning observers to stay away (yikes!). There were also unmonitored jewelry stands and manmade huts, all amidst the picturesque backdrop of the mountains and sea. Unlike most resort towns, this stretch of sand is mostly untouched and undeveloped.



After a luxuriously lazy day, and a little late-afternoon nap, we got ourselves together for a magnificent dinner at Carolina, the only AAA Five Diamond Award dining experience in Punta de Mita, located in the St. Regis Hotel Punta de Mita. The restaurant provides a Mexican culinary journey via a four-course, six-course, and ten-course tasting menu; we opted for the six-course experience, which proved to be one of the most unforgettable meals. Each plate arrived with meticulous attention to detail in its presentation, works of art delivered throughout the meal. However, it was the resulting flavors created by the combination of the freshest elements, unique Mexican seasonings, and the incorporation of ingredients from both sea and land, along with a balance of both raw and masterfully grilled dishes, that make Carolina worthy of a spot on everyone's bucket list.


pros: a six-course meal was well-paced and completed in just two hours, the kitchen is flexible with a table selecting different tasting menus, consistently outstanding dishes


cons: none


must order: the six-course tasting menu brilliantly highlighted the chef's range of talent: ceviche kampachi over fried seaweed, beef jerky stuffed with avocado mousse, plantain croquette with oaxacan cheese on top of a chili sauce and cheese emulsion, lobster tartar with yuzu and fermented conch, grilled lubina, dried age rib eye with date relish and caramelized onion, and a chilate inspired dessert with cacao, rice and raw sugar



Of course, make sure to tuck the sun to sleep...




DAY THREE:


Today was spent with explorations and adventures. I highly recommend taking a full day to explore the nearby coastal towns of Sayulita and San Pancho, both are just a quick drive from Punta de Mita.


Begin your day with a casual breakfast at Casa Paraiso Restaurante Bar in Sayulita. This open-aired roof-top restaurant is part of a well-kept hostel. The food is fresh, inexpensive, and comes with fresh-squeezed orange juice and a coffee or espresso drink of your choice.



After breakfast, head to Rancho Mi Chaparrita for an incredible horseback riding tour through a lush jungle that leads to a spectacular secluded beach. No riding experience is required, although reservations are so make sure to book in advance. This excursion is a highlight of our trip. I'll never forget the scene before me when the jungle suddenly opened up onto the sea. This experience is as close to paradise that you'll ever get.


Following our magical horseback ride along the coast we parked our car and walked the colorful streets of Sayulita. You'll easily note why so many expats have made this city their home. There are endless restaurants, bars, and shops all lining heavily trafficked narrow roads. The vibe in this hidden gem is laid back although you'll find some high-end, luxury retail shops dispersed throughout. The beach was packed with people - interestingly most of them were locals. You can easily spend three nights here but strolling the streets for a day will give you a taste of this charming surf town.



All that walking made us hungry for lunch, and Kahlo was a wonderful choice. It's no surprise that this Mexican restaurant is so well-reviewed. Just looking at the pictures of our meal here makes me crave another visit The ingredients are so fresh, and the combination of the high-quality components of each dish leads to ecstatic flavors.


pros: there are designated servers who take just your drink orders - cocktails are taken very seriously and the kitchen makes one of the spiciest hot sauces that I have ever tasted


cons: none


must order: the tuna tostadas mixed with sriracha sauce and peanuts are otherworldly


After all that delicious food, another walk was in order. This time, we drove to San Pancho (aka San Francisco) to soak up the local culture. San Pancho is a rather small town yet this tropical nugget of a city is packed with color and charm. As of now, it remains overlooked by many tourists but I have no doubt it will soon be a popular destination site.



All that sun and food caught up with me and I indulged in a nap before dinner (this is a vacation after all!). Before leaving the hotel property for our last meal of the day, we paid homage to the sun. The sunsets in Punta de Mita are breathtaking.



Dinner at Dos Catrinas at The Four Seasons proved another excellent choice. The restaurant is an open-aired, stylish spot in an expansive, modern setting. The food and drinks are spot on. The kitchen gives Mexican cuisine a little flair with unique touches like a homemade BBQ sauce on grilled corn.


pros: located on a gorgeous property, a churros stand awaits in front of the restaurant for a sweet post-dinner treat, a bustling atmosphere


cons: none


must order: the signature beef talyuda dish, so good




DAY FOUR:


We started our day with another delightful breakfast at the hotel, changing the environment a bit with a nice table in the lobby. One of the things I especially love about the Conrad Punta de Mita is all the nooks you can hide in.



The adult pool was crowded today so we splurged on a cabana which spoiled us with the most secluded, decadent day in privacy with no one around to judge our chronic horizontal positioning. With your cabana rental, you'll get a complimentary light, healthy snack, and a cooler packed with water, juices, and sodas. But what makes the cabanas at The Conrad especially worthy is their well-shaded seclusion. I could have spent the night here.



As my readers know, I love to eat, and food is the only thing that will get me off my poolside lounge chair. We love the food at Mezquite and opted for another lunch here enjoying the ocean view with our feet in the sand. The highlight of today's meal was the San Pancho sandwich with grilled fish, guajillo chile-lime mayo, and coleslaw.




After lunch, we strolled back to the pool. Eating, relaxing, eating, relaxing... my way of shamelessly perfecting laziness. Oh how much I needed this getaway.



My daily late afternoon naps were probably the most permissive gift to myself in a long while along with watching the sun close out the day every evening. These were mandatory treats I gave myself, adding to my ultimate vacation pace.



The food in Punta de Mita is quite outstanding, and every time we thought we found our favorite restaurant, the next was even better. Hector's Kitchen is set in one of the most attractive settings you'll come across. Seating is under a romantically dimmed palapa that incorporates wood and water elements throughout the decor. The mood created here is elegant and tropical and the food is fantastic.


pros: if you've had enough Mexican cuisine, the culinary team creatively prepares dishes from many regions


cons: hard to find, it is actually behind the Kupuri Beach Club; also the property is heavily secured so give yourself an extra few minutes to get through security


must order: the roasted beet salad was so exquisite that we ordered a second helping (hummus, mixed greens, quinoa, caramelized sunflower seeds, grain mustard vinaigrette, edamame, and feta cheese); the truffled sweet potato tortellini over a broccoli puree with madeira reduction and caramelized pecans; braised shortribs with mushroom risotto and port sauce



DAY FIVE:


Although I thoroughly enjoyed my daily dose of chilaquiles each morning, on day five I decided to stick to fresh juice, yogurt, cheese, and a customized omelet at the omelet station to start my day off right and light. All this eating has finally caught up with me!



After breakfast, we met our guides at Riviera Mita Tours for a private boat tour of The Marieta Islands, a group of uninhabited islands with so much surrounding wildlife they are known as "the Galapagos of Mexico". We spotted wild dolphins, blue-footed booby birds, brown-footed booby birds, and tons of brightly colored fish while snorkeling. Highlights of the excursion were a visit to a stunning nameless island encircled by aqua waters followed by a swim to the famous Hidden Beach. This beach is well-protected with coastal guards on site ensuring that no more than one hundred sixteen visitors can attend each day. Accessing Hidden Beach requires you to swim approximately two hundred feet into the hidden gem. Imagine a beach in the middle of a cave with a massive opening glaring at the sun and sky - this is a perfect example of nature's unrivaled works of art. Note that the islands are only accessible Wednesdays - Sundays so plan accordingly.