3 Ways to See Mexico's Pacific Coast

Secluded coastline and bikable rain forests are just two things waiting for you in Mexico
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Secluded coastline and bikable rain forests are just two things waiting for you in Mexico

Mountain Bike

Ride from beach to rainforest


When deep-winter cabin fever sets in, multisport junkies from Aspen to Asheville head to the tropical terrain of Sayulita, Mexico (one bay north of turista-packed Puerto Vallarta), to beach camp and cruise backcountry singletrack. Warm up on day one with a half-day guided ride to the deserted coves of Malpasos, 15 miles north. Then pitch a tent back in Sayulita on the white sands at El Camarón campground ($4) or shell out a few extra bucks for a coastal palapa ($20). The next day's ride is a wandering epic from the mountain town of San Sabastian through dense rainforest to the coastal colonial town of Las Palmas. ($50 to $150, including equipment rental and shuttles; wildmex.com)

Backpack

Climb an unnamed peak

If the relaxed beach scene is the area's main attraction, the surrounding jungle is its wild-haired sideshow. Just across Highway 200, the Sierra Vallejo, as the steep foothills of the Sierra Madre are known, climb up to namelss summits. The trails here are largely unmarked and often disappear, so the best bet for an overnighter is to scramble up one of the creekbeds (dry from December to May) through primeval jungle to a ridge where you can scout out a flat campsite. There's even a small chance you'll come mug-to-mug with a jaguar. Hikers who want a little more structure on their jungle foray can basecamp on the beach and sign up for a series of guided jungle dayhikes through sayulitalife.com.

Sea Kayak

Paddle secluded coastlines

The Nayarit Coast's long white-sand beaches with their palapa stands selling fresh fish tacos make for idyllic, full-bellied kayak touring. For a quick overnight, paddle out from the beach at Sayulita and head about 3 miles north, past the MTV Cribs-worthy villas perched on Gringo Hill and the deserted beach at Las Cuevas, to the town of San Francisco (known as San Pancho to locals). Stop for lunch and soak in the slow vibe in this Old Mexico fishing village. You'll enjoy the shade of the town square in the midday heat. Then paddle 6 miles north to the campable (and usually empty) beach at Lo de Marcos. Rent kayaks and paddling gear in Sayulita at Rentas El Dorado. (rentaseldorado.com)