This stretch of Pacific coastline -- with jungle-covered mountains tumbling into the turquoise ocean -- provides a breathtaking setting for world-class adventure traveling and exquisite relaxation that is distinctly Mexican in flavor. From Mazatlán through Puerto Vallarta and curving down to Manzanillo, the coast promises and provides a diversity and array of experiences awaiting discovery.

Puerto Vallarta, with its traditional Mexican architecture and gold-sand beaches bordered by jungle-covered mountains, is the second-most-visited resort in Mexico (trailing Cancún). The original town center of Vallarta maintains a small-town charm despite its sophisticated hotels, great restaurants, thriving arts community, active nightlife, and wide variety of ecotourism attractions. Mazatlán may be the best resort value in Mexico, luring visitors with excellent fishing, a historic downtown, championship golf facilities, and new residential developments. Manzanillo is surprisingly relaxed; even though it's one of Mexico's most active commercial ports, it also offers great fishing, diving, and golf. And along the Costa Alegre, between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, pristine coves are home to unique luxury resorts that cater to travelers seeking seclusion. With a little ingenuity, one can discover traditional villages such as Barra de Navidad and Melaque, which have almost totally escaped commercialization. Quite distinct from the well-known resort towns, they offer a glimpse into the energy and spirit of coastal Mexico outside of traveled tourist corridors -- easy-going, friendly, and relaxed.

Puerto Vallarta's unabated growth has continued northward into neighboring Nayarit. With 185 miles of coastline, the Riviera Nayarit, as marketing wizards have aptly named it, offers spectacular geography, recreation, and biodiversity. Birdwatchers marvel at the hundreds of species that flock to the region, a collision of jungle and tundra habitats. Small sacred surf spots dot the coastline, including the beginners break in (what used to be) sleepy Sayulita. Bucerías, a fishing-village-turned-snowbird-capital, offers charming strolls and an expanding selection of quality restaurants. Next door, exclusive Punta de Mita sets the gold standard for luxury accommodations and activities. Majestic vistas, world-class golf courses, a burgeoning sailing community, and thrilling adventure sports round out this gentle and rich slice of Mexico.