Activities with Kids in Punta Mita

Our kids have a late winter break and don’t go back to school until the second week of January.  We’ve been taking advantage of this and traveling the first week in January which is often a little less crowded than the end of December.  Our daughter’s birthday happens to fall during the first week of January which means she gets to celebrate somewhere fun!

We love Mexico in the winter because the weather is warm, but not hot, and it’s a short flight from California.  We can get to the west coast of Mexico a lot faster than we can get to Hawaii or the Caribbean.  When we are trying to maximize our vacation days, this is a huge bonus!

1. Snorkeling Las Marietas

The Marieta Islands are a very popular spot for snorkeling, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and exploring the nooks & crannies of the islands
The Marieta Islands are a very popular spot for snorkeling, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and exploring the nooks & crannies of the islands

The Marietas Islands are a group of uninhabited islands about 5 miles southwest of Punta de Mita.  Occasionally called the “Mexican Galapagos” because of the stunning wildlife, like Blue Footed Boobies, plus beautiful coral, colorful fish, dolphins & humpback whales that fill the water.  The islands are a National Park protected by the Mexican Government who control the number of daily visitors.

There are a handful of tours operating daily to the islands.  We chose to go with Ally Cat Sailing Adventures which left out of La Cruz Marina near Punta de Mita.  Only a limited number of people can be on the islands at a given time and unfortunately, the large tour boats have lost the ability to take tourists to the famous “hidden beach” which is only accessible during low tide.  Some smaller charter boats can take you there, but we opted for the bigger boat with more amenities & activities for the kids.

Read more about our trip to the Marietas Islands here

2. Sayulita

Lacy picados (decorated paper flags) hang above many streets in Sayulta
Lacy picados (decorated paper flags) hang above many streets in Sayulita

Surfing, shopping, eating….there is a lot to do in Sayulita.  This cute little beach town is an easy day trip from Punta Mita and totally worth it.

Surfing in Sayulita
Surfing in Sayulita

The first time our kids surfed was on this beach in 2014.  Now they were back 4 years later after sharpening their skills in Maui and Cabo.  Because the kids don’t surf regularly, we always sign them up for lessons, this time with Wildmex.  Mike and the kids went out with two instructors for two hours.  They got a lot of individual attention and the instructors were great about teaching to their different levels.

Read all about our time in Sayulita (where we ate, shopped, and played) here

3. Rancho Mi Chaparrita

We spent a day at Rancho Mi Chaparrita just minutes outside of Sayulita.  We started with a zip line canopy tour where the kids rode upside down, raced down duel lines and got splashed with water along the way (which was quite welcome considering how hot it was!).  We sat in on a complimentary tequila tasting and then caught the shuttle into Sayulita for lunch.  We came back later in the day for horseback riding through the jungle and a gallop along the beach! Rancho Mi Chaparrita also has ATV tours and can arrange other excursions like snorkeling, surfing & fishing.

Read about all about our adventures at Rancho Mi Chaparrita here.

4. Meeting Local Artisans with Human Connections

Perhaps the most memorable part of our trip was a day tour we did with Human Connections in Bucerias.  Their goal is to connect local people with international audiences to empower local communities while fostering conversations that shift perspectives and increase understanding.  We spent the morning visiting three local artisans, learning about their trades, and listening to their stories.  I highly recommend this tour if you are anywhere in the Punta Mita/Puerto Vallarta area.

Our first stop was a visit to the Lopez Lopez family who creates beautiful handmade toys.  We learned all about their lengthy process: from raising sheep in Chiapas (in the southern part of the country), weaving fabric out of their wool, to creating amazing animal toys by hand.

Carding wool at the Lopez Lopez home. Human Connections, Bucieras Mexico
Carding wool at the Lopez Lopez home

Just some of the many creations by the Lopez Lopez family.

Handmade animal toys created using the wool from the sheep they raise in Chiapas. Human Connections, Bucieras Mexico
Handmade animal toys created using the wool from the sheep they raise in Chiapas

Our kids with Amelie Lopez who works with her family to make the toys.  We had a guide with us from Human Connections who translated English to Spanish to English between our group and Amelie.  Amelie’s mom (who we also met) spoke a different Spanish language and so Amelie would translate between her mom and our guide who then translated to us!  When their family moved from Chiapas to Bucerias, Amelie and her siblings learned to speak the language, but her parents did not.

Our kids with Amelie in traditional Chiapas clothing. Human Connections, Bucieras Mexico
Our kids with Amelie in traditional Chiapas clothing

Our second stop was to visit Teresa, a jewellery maker.  Her bracelets, earrings, pins, and necklaces were stunning.  I loved the story of how she got her start….she was admiring a bracelet at a booth, but she couldn’t afford to buy it.  So she went back several times to ask lots of questions and slyly watch how they made the bracelets.  Then she went home and tried to mimic what she had seen.  Eventually, she sold some of her own creations and as she got more money, she would buy new designs from other vendors and disassemble them to learn how they had made them.  Now she comes up with her own designs and is very successful with her jewellery.

Another interesting thing Teresa mentioned was that she used to walk up and down along the beach trying to sell her bracelets to tourists.  However, she always felt uncomfortable trying to push her bracelets on people and so she began to sell from a stand in the market.  She also said that sometimes tourists don’t understand the bracelets she’s selling are in fact handmade and time-consuming to make.  Often they will try to negotiate with her and are unwilling to pay a fair price (many think she is selling bracelets made in China and adding a markup).  Having met Teresa and heard her story, it gives me a new appreciation for all the street vendors I see and all the work that goes into creating their products.  We love bringing home gifts from all the places we visit and the ones we picked up during our Human Connections tour have an extra special meaning.

Teresa demonstrating how to make a bead bracelet. Human Connections, Bucieras Mexico
Teresa demonstrating how to make a bead bracelet

Our last stop was at El Barco, a loncheria, owned by Nallely & Omar.  As we sat in the restaurant enjoying our meal, Omar explained how he launched his business, what types of meals he prepares and who his usual customers are.  He also runs a cooking workshop for tourists right out of his restaurant.

Our final stop was a delicious lunch at Loncheria el Barco. Bucieras Mexico
Our final stop was a delicious lunch at Loncheria el Barco

It was really fun to connect with local artisans, learn their stories and see a side of Punta Mita that we otherwise wouldn’t have.

Where We Stayed in Punta Mita

Los Veneros

We have been to Punta Mita several times and always stayed at the Four Seasons.  It’s a great hotel and we loved it, but this time I wanted to stay somewhere different.  Through our Inspirato membership, we were able to get a 3 bedroom villa with a private pool at Los Veneros.  We had access to 2 other pools, the beach and we could use the spa/gym at the W next door, plus all the restaurants.

Our private pool at Los Veneros. Punta Mita, Mexico
The private pool at our villa at Los Veneros
Ringing in the New Year in Punta Mita. W. Los Veneros, Mexico
Ringing in the New Year in Punta Mita
Lunch on the beach. W. Los Veneros. Punta Mita, Mexico
Lunch on the beach at the W
Beachfront pool at Los Veneros. Punta Mita, Mexico
Beachfront pool at Los Veneros
The beach at Los Veneros. Punta Mita, Mexico
The beach at Los Veneros
The beach at sunset. Los Veneros, Punta Mita, Mexico
The beach at sunset
Sunset swim at Los Veneros. Punta Mita, Mexico
Sunset swim at Los Veneros

We have always loved all the properties we stay at through Inspirato.  While our villa and the amenities were very nice at Los Veneros, I’m not sure I’d stay here again.

  • It was not a hotel which in and of itself was not a problem.  We don’t always stay at hotels, in fact we like villas because we have more room for us to spread out.  However, in this case, many of the villas around were occupied by large groups who were loud.  During the day we didn’t mind hearing music, talking and people having fun.  But on several occasions, loud music would turn on at 11 pm and go until 4 am.  It could have been the fact we were there over New Year’s week, but in any case we didn’t like it.
  • The W was a fine hotel, but maybe a little too young & hip for us.  It had a little more of a “party” feeling to it which we went with, but wouldn’t be my first choice of hotel type.  We tend to like our hotels a little more on the quiet, relaxing, and family friendly side.

Four Seasons Punta Mita

The next time we’re in Punta Mita, I think we’ll stay at the Four Seasons again or give the St. Regis a try.  The Four Seasons Punta Mita was the first luxury hotel I ever stayed at when Mike and I were dating.  He actually won a trip for 2 in a raffle at work and so we went.  When we were planning our honeymoon a couple of years later, my only requirement was that we had to stay at another Four Seasons property (we went to Four Seasons Nevis).  It was the Four Seasons Punta Mita that set my hotel standard pretty high.

Where We Ate in Punta Mita

Rosa Mexicana, Punta de Mita – Authentic Mexican cuisine served at tables outside (and guacamole prepared fresh at our table!) with beautiful ocean views.  They also had a live band serenading the tables which I normally don’t love, but these guys were so entertaining the whole restaurant was really into it.

Tuna Blanca, Punta de Mita – A feast of fresh, organic ingredients and the traditional cuisine found at the Mexican Pacific coast. Tuna Blanca is elegant, yet relaxed.  Our table was outside on the sand with a great beachy vibe.  The kids kicked off their shoes and ran around on the beach while we finished dinner.  Our concierge must have alerted the restaurant it was our daughter’s birthday because they brought out a mini-surfboard covered with dessert and sparklers flaring.  This was definitely our family’s favorite meal.

Frascati Ristorante, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle – I thought it was unexpected to find a cute little Italian place on the harbor in La Cruz.  The restaurant is on the second floor and we sat by an open window with views of the harbor and all the lights.  The food was surprisingly good for an Italian restuarant in Mexico!  Our kids enjoyed the calamari and pizza.

Don Pedro´s Restaurant, Sayulita – Located right in front of the beach area in Sayulita, underneath a big palapa this is a great place to enjoy a nice casual lunch or dinner by the beach in Sayulita.

Venazu– this restaurant is at the W and we ate here our first night.  It was an easy 5 minute walk from our villa at Los Veneros.  Outside seating and a surprisingly delicious taco station set up that night.  We each ordered a couple to start (they were tiny) and then kept ordering more!

What did I miss? What should we do next time? Where should we eat? Stay?  Would love to hear your feedback in the comments!

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