Playa Las Tortugas, Playa Platanitos and San Blas: Hidden gems on Mexico’s Nayarit Riviera: Hidden gems on Mexico’s Nayarit Riviera

articles Beaches Travel & Destinations

Christina Stobbs

Photo gallery: Playa Las Tortugas
Photo gallery: Platanitos

Beautiful beaches abound all along Mexico’s Nayarit Riviera. Here are two more gorgeous hidden gems and a historic beach town.

Playa Las Tortugas

Playa Los Tortugas is an exquisite five-mile stretch of beach on the coast of Nayarit in the still unspoiled area of Boca de Chila. This portion of the coast is often referred to as Costa Tortuga — Turtle Coast — and, as the name implies, this coast is a specially designated area to protect endangered sea turtles.

Worth exploring? Yes!

Playa Los Tortugas is an exquisite five-mile stretch of beach on the coast of Nayarit in Mexico © Christina Stobbs, 2012
Playa Los Tortugas is an exquisite five-mile stretch of beach on the coast of Nayarit in Mexico © Christina Stobbs, 2012

The pristine beach of Playa Los Tortugas is one of the most beautiful and romantic on the Nayarit Riviera. The sandy beach is framed by coconut palms along its full length and is perfect for walking and beachcombing for pretty seashells. During low tide the shallow waters at the northern end of the beach extend for several meters from the shore and are perfect for a fun-filled frolic in the waves and also for body boarding or skimboarding.

If you want to get away from it all, Playa Las Tortugas is a super choice. There are a few residences on the beach, but no restaurants or facilities, so when you visit, bring along an ample supply of drinking water, a picnic lunch and enough snacks to last the day. The beach does not offer much shade, so bring a sun umbrella, a sun hat, plenty of sunscreen and protective clothing.

As this heavenly beach is surrounded by mangroves and estuaries, mosquito repellent is also a necessity. The sand on the beach can be hot, so bring flip flops to walk across to the more comfortable receding tide line of the beach.

Half of the fun and adventure of visiting Playa Tortugas is the scenic drive through several small Mexican towns. Head north along Highway 200 and, at Las Varas, take the turnoff for San Blas.

The drive to Playa Tortugas will take you on a journey of its own, leading you through the Mexican pueblos of Zacualpan, San Isidro, Ixtapa, and through the very scenic area of Boca de Chila.

The winding country roads where cattle roam freely is rich with lush green hills and vistas of the surrounding countryside, groves of mango trees and estuaries teeming with wildlife, most notably birds.

This area is also the site of a sea turtle sanctuary, which protects three species of sea turtles that nest in this area, including the hawksbill, olive ridley, and leatherback turtles.

Note: The drive from the point where the sign for Playa Tortugas is located is best navigated with a high-clearance vehicle. During the rainy season, four wheel drive is an absolute necessity to navigate the muddy, and sometimes flooded roads.

Playa Platanitos, the Beach of Bananas

The name “Playa Platanitos” translates to “Beach of the Bananas,” and the beach is just as sweet as its name implies.

The name "Playa Platanitos" translates to "Beach of the Bananas," and this Nayarit Riviera beach is just as sweet as its name implies. © Christina Stobbs, 2012
The name “Playa Platanitos” translates to “Beach of the Bananas,” and this Nayarit Riviera beach is just as sweet as its name implies. © Christina Stobbs, 2012

Playa Platanitos is located in a small cove, and the calm clear ocean waters provide for some good snorkeling along the rocky shoreline at its south end. The beach itself is sandy, the shore slopes gradually, and the waves are gentle — making it perfect for swimming.

Several restaurants are located on the beach, serving traditional Mexican fare and fresh seafood. The specialty of restaurants here is pescado sarandeado, whole, marinated fish grilled over mangrove or mesquite wood, but all of the whole fish entrees are terrific. The local ceviche is very tasty and so are the micheladas!

If you are seeking peace and solitude, visit this beach on a weekday.

You will find the sign for Playa Platanitos about twenty minutes north of the Playa Las Tortugas sign. The road leading to this hidden gem is paved, making the beach easy to access.

It is definitely, worth exploring!

San Blas

Spend the day at Matanchen Beach and Playa Las Islitas in historic San Blas.

I’ll tell you a little secret… San Blas is not full of no-see-ums! True they come out in abundance at dawn and dusk during certain times of the year. But their bites are easily avoided with a few precautions, which include staying inside at dawn and dusk, or slathering up with a good dose of insect repellent. Covering up with loose clothing also works very well.

The beaches of San Blas are uniquely beautiful and resemble the South Pacific of yesteryear.

Matanchen beach is broad, flat and sandy. The beach experience here has a different feel, seemingly more exotic, perhaps because the seascape is enhanced by the vista of the mysterious mountains across the ocean waters. The waters are warm, shallow and suitable for swimmers and non-swimmers.

There are several quaint, palapa-style restaurants that line the beach, all serving simple, appetizing fare that revolves around seafood. The pricing is exceptionally affordable and the portions are generous.

Park yourself in the shade of one of the beach-side thatch-roofed restaurants on Matanchen beach and feast on local Nayarit cuisine. When you are sufficiently sated, enjoy a siesta in one of the many available public hammocks. When you are feeling sufficiently rested, go for a swim in the warm, calm ocean waters or rent a kayak and explore the coastline of Matanchen Bay and the hidden coves of Playa Las Islitas situated at the north end of the bay.

It’s very likely that you may just decide to stay a while!

The Riviera Nayarit is a treasure trove full of little gems and if you are seeking idyllic beaches and an adventure in the heart of the jungle of the Riviera Nayarit, you will enjoy these trips, which will leave you with wonderful memories of your explorations of Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit. Enjoy!

Published or Updated on: September 23, 2012 by Christina Stobbs © 2012
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