San Pancho (or San Francisco), Mexico
San Pancho or San Francisco Nayarit (not California)
San Pancho, also known as San Francisco, Mexico, is a great place to experience nature, culture and adventure! The beach at San Pancho is part of the Nayarit Riviera, which is about 25 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, and provides the opportunity for an abundance of either relaxation or adventure.
San Pancho Beach
San Pancho, which is just a few minutes drive by bus or taxi from the Puerto Vallarta International Airport, is an old fashioned, attractive Mexican village situated between jungle and the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains alongside a long stretch of clean and fresh Pacific coast. The golden, fine sand invites you to sit all day and stare at this wonderful and peaceful part of nature.
The beach also offers a variety of activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, standup paddling, boating and sailing. The Sayulita waves, which have made San Pancho a traditional surfing spot since the 1960s, are the perfect place for beginner, intermediate, and advanced surfers. Peak surfing season begins in December and ends in April, though great waves can be found year round here.
If adventure suites you better than relaxation, or you’re just ready to spice things up, then you can come alive by trying the horseback ride along the waterfront. For inexperienced riders this may be a little uncomfortable, but the dashing wind against your face and the haze of the cool sea mist is definitely worth the ride.
The town has also attracted the wealthy, so while you're on the beach you can spend some time admiring the enormous and unique mansions that surround it. Also, if Polo is your sport then check out the exclusive polo club of San Pancho, called La Patrona. Every year they host national and international polo tournaments.
San Pancho's Abundance of Wildlife
Whales migrate to the San Pancho coast area every year for feeding, so this is the best time to try and do some whale watching. There are boats for hire that will take you to see the whales eat, play and leap! A wide variety of dolphins, Bryde’s whales and Humpback whales also inhabit the waters of Riviera Nayarit during the spring and winter. The comfortable weather conditions in Riviera Nayarit make it suitable for tourist to venture out into the sea to see these gentle giants of the ocean. The official whale watching season starts from December 15 through March 31.
There is also a variety of land animals and birds to be seen. Taking a tour along the river and through the mangrove swamp will allow you to enjoy more wildlife sightings. These swamps are known for their excellent variety of bird sightings. Tours include renting canoes or taking a walk along the river.
Art in the Quaint City
San Pancho is also known for its artistic and musical events that take place throughout the year. The famous Haus der Kunst gallery, renowned for its exposition of amazingly talented artists, moved from Guadalajara to San Pancho recently. There are also live musical events in local restaurants year round, and it’s the ideal place for people who enjoy art, photography, writing and yoga.
Where to Stay
After reading so many great things about San Pancho, I know the next question you’re asking is “Where can I stay in San Pancho?” There are the more rustic options, like beach bungalows, but if you are looking for more amenities then variety of resorts are a must visit! The five resort hotels, The Grand Luxxe, Grand Bliss, Grand Mayan and the Mayan Palace are connected with miles of beautiful wooden trails, which includes over a mile of beach access. It is complete with a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, fitness centers and nightly entertainment. For relaxation is offers luxury spas, salons, and high-end boutique shopping. Anything you can want to eat is available as well with over 37 world-class restaurants and bars. For the kiddos there are pools, an Aqua Park with a Lazy River and activities for the whole family.
While staying at the Vidanta resort you'll have adventure just a short car ride away in San Pancho!