It may be a hard name to pronounce, but it’s a joy to visit! La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (or simply “La Cruz”), a mere half hour north of the bustle of Puerto Vallarta, offers a restful alternative to the glitz of Vallarta and a glimpse of a typical fishing village, with its fair share of good restaurants, fun shopping and a vibrant music scene.
In La Cruz, cobblestone streets shaded by large trees lead to the charming town square alongside a tranquil waterfront, where local fishermen mend their nets and tend their pangas, rubbing elbows with a recently-constructed world-class marina with slips for 400 boats, a seaside promenade, repair shop, outdoor theater, restaurants and more.
Life in this rustic fishing village still meanders at a leisurely mañana pace. Still small-town Mexico to be sure, but with the marina and related amenities, along with luxurious residential communities that are springing up around La Cruz, the town increasingly caters to North Americans who have already discovered it. La Cruz also has some excellent restaurants to select from.
La Cruz is an easy drive from Puerto Vallarta along Carr. 200 Norte. After passing Bucerías, take the clearly-marked Punta de Mita exit. You will reach La Cruz less than five minutes later. Public transportation departing from Puerto Vallarta (at Walmart in front of the Maritime Terminal) is also available.
Culture: Arts, Music, Cuisine
La Cruz has developed a reputation as a destination for musicians from all over. Most restaurants boast live music at least some evenings, from guitarists to karaoke, folk music to jazz jams and everything in between. One exceptional venue is Philo’s, where couples dance to salsa one night and rock the next. Ana Banana Bar & Grill is another popular spot for live music fans.
An increasing number of restaurants in La Cruz is continuously raising the bar as far as culinary experiences are concerned. That said, there is a number of traditional seafood restaurants worth visiting, not to mention the original “Tacos on the Street” eatery on Huachinango St., where folks are encouraged to bring their own bottles of wine to enjoy while eating delicious, no-frills tacos. (They now have franchises in Punta de Mita and Sayulita as well.)
For decades, a large number of cruisers have chosen to drop their anchors in and around La Cruz, resulting in a tightly knit community. The previously-mentioned Philo’s is a popular meeting place. Many use the docks of Marina Riviera Nayarit or choose to just drop anchor in front of the marina entrance; there are usually more boats moored here than any other place in the bay, chosen because of easy access to the beach and town.
Neighborhoods & Neighboring Regions
Most restaurants and points of interest are located on the main access road into town and by the marina, with a handful of exceptions located on the highway. Away from the marina, on the opposite side of the highway, several homes, hotels and condominium developments take advantage of the elevated view provided by their hillside location, offering their guests a remarkable view of Banderas Bay.
Just before La Cruz, the small town of Bucerías is another popular small town, and very much worth the visit while you are there.
Landmarks, Sights & Activities
- The Sunday Farmers’ Market at La Cruz draws crowds every week, 10 am to 2 pm, with a variety of hand crafted items, organic produce, arts and crafts, live music, and much more. It is located on the Marina, next to the Fish Co-op. For more information, please visit Cooperativa Huanacaxtle’s website.
- Aside from a spectacular boardwalk, the Marina Riviera Nayarit at La Cruz also hosts and organizes a number of film screenings and other events on their outdoor amphitheater, Xiriki, frequently advertised on their Facebook page.
- Definitely, explore some of the fine restaurants in La Cruz, but save an evening for the Tacos on the Street.
- Walk along the Marina boardwalk and enjoy the sunset. Stop for a drink in the lounge above the yacht club and enjoy the view.
- Visit the Sunday Farmers’ Market at La Cruz; the largest in the region with usually more than 100 booths. Its conveniently located by the fresh seafood market, so you can pick up fresh fish, shrimp and lobster while shopping the food and handicraft booths. Its located right at the entrance to the dry dock facilities entrance – look for the signs on the main street/highway. There’s also a couple of good restaurants beside the seafood market.
Marina Riviera Nayarit
The newest marina in the region is Marina Riviera Nayarit, which has more than 340 slips ranging in size from 31’ to 400’. The marina has a dry marina as well as working docks for in-water repairs and fuel station. The marina features the largest marine travel lift on the Mexican west coast; a 150-ton lift for up 32-foot beams. It provides specialized mechanic service, 110, 220 and 440 power outlets, pump-out service, 24-hour security, laundry, yacht club with business center and VIP lounge above the yacht club with great views of the marina and region.
La Manzanilla, just north of La Cruz, features quiet waters, shallow surf for 100 feet or-so, and great beachside palapa eateries that entice all. Its a popular beach, very popular during long weekends or holidays, for both locals and people traveling in from around the region. The Alamar Beach Club is also quite popular, and a good place to get away from the crowds. It has a wonderful restaurant and bar called Sandzibar.
Where to Stay
Aside from a couple of bed & breakfasts and a few home and condo rentals available directly from their owners, there are not many lodging options at La Cruz, presently. However, Bucerías features a number of hotels along the beach.
La Cruz has been a favorite for homeowners for many years, especially when Puerto Vallarta started getting a little too big for some, and people started heading north for towns such as La Cruz or Bucerias. But real estate development has caught up here, too, with a number of large developments as well as a brand-new marina facility.
La Cruz has plenty of character and reflect the strong culture of Mexico. If it’s Mexico you are looking for, you’ll find it here more so than in neighboring Flamingos or the North Shore. The area has strong markets for both homes and condominiums on the beach, hillside and in the town. La Cruz has some newer developments offering more modern homes, but most new real estate development in both La Cruz is in condominiums. The new Marina Riviera Nayarit adds a whole new dimension to this region with a state-of-the-art marina that will, in the near future, feature a Malecon, shopping and real estate opportunities built around it.
Regular Important Events
- For a special visit, come to La Cruz during its annual fiesta. Every year for the nine days leading up to May 3, the day of La Santa Cruz, patron of construction workers, La Cruz church bells toll and the town is full of life. The streets teem with mechanical rides, roller coasters and stands with games for grownups and children, as well as a variety of food and desserts. The town rocks with firecrackers, and the night of May 3 a beautiful display of colorful fireworks illuminates the sky.
- Some of the events that form part of the annual Nautical Extravaganza every March, take place in La Cruz, making it an ideal time to visit.
- Weekly Farmers’ Market on Sundays.