If you’re after the local hospitality and charm of a hotel instead of an apartment rental, then you can sharply split your experience two ways. For luxury seekers look no further than the Four Seasons Punta Mita, which rolls along a private, palm-fringed peninsula with its 173 rooms and suites. A clover-shaped infinity pool anchors most of the action as guests enjoy the soft sands below and the two state-of-the-art golf courses nearby. Enjoy a margarita as you float on the lazy river or get the blood flowing on the tennis courts—the large campus means that you’ll never want for activities and creature comforts, and the massive acreage ensures as much of a private stay as you’ll desire.
But the Four Seasons isn’t your run-of-the-mill high-end stay—it earns top marks for its worthy attempts to encourage its guests to interact with the surrounding environment. There’s a cultural concierge on hand to help visitors taste-test the best beachside tacos or find beautiful Huichol tribe handicrafts. The on-site restaurants also incorporate a lot of local flavors into their cuisine.
For something completely different try Hotel Cielo Rojo in the quiet village of San Pancho about four blocks from the sea. With but a handful of cozy rooms wrapped around a tiny stairwell, Cielo Rojo is casual, homey and prim. An organic restaurant on the ground floor promises fresh salads and unique flavors drawn from an international book of recipes, and the in-house gift shop vends handcrafted goods and chic designer wares.
Little San Pancho is quickly becoming the new Sayulita, where both hippies and hipsters flock to white sands and laid back sidestreets brimming with dollar taco stands. The township is home to Project Tortuga, a not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to the protection and prosperity of sea turtles. They often have beachside gatherings when they release the hatchlings.
Floating just off the coast are the Marieta Islands with its puzzling Hidden Beach tucked into the core of one of the mystical islets. Daytrips from the Four Seasons include snorkeling, paddleboarding and an unforgettable whale watching experience during the early months of the year when pods of breaching humpbacks nurture their young in the bay.