From your hometown to the remote jungles of the Amazon, every place has its own unique culture and tradition. Traveling to Riviera Nayarit Mexico, you’ll be surrounded by the vast Sierra Madre mountains that reach down into the Pacific Ocean and of course by warm Mexican culture. Mexico is a large and diverse country made up of 32 states. Learning about and experiencing Nayarit culture and traditions will enrich your travels and give you a greater appreciation for this beautiful land.
Artifacts from as far back as 7,000 years ago show people living along Mexico’s west coast all the way down to Nicaragua, each group with their own culture and tradition. As people began to farm and settle down, large towns and even mines began to develop, and different groups of people lived in harmony for the most part. However, the arrival of Spanish conquistadors brought brutality and terror to the mountains. Tepic Nayarit was the first city founded in the region by the Spanish in 1531, and today, it’s the state’s capital.
Many of the people who make up Nayarit today can trace their heritage back to both indigenous groups and to Spanish immigrants. However, there are still small villages of indigenous people who preserve Nayarit culture and traditions. One of the biggest groups is the Huicholes. They worship over 100 gods and seek spiritual guidance through peyote ceremonies. Their villages are small and located deep in the Sierra Madre mountains, but in bigger cities like Nuevo Vallarta and Tepic Nayarit, you can easily spot them in their brightly embroidered Nayarit traditional clothing. Many galleries and boutiques have a variety of their local art and handicrafts: statues, paintings, and jewelry made of vibrant beads and fabric and depicting natural elements and animals.
Today, one of the most popular areas of Nayarit is the coast, where sleepy surfing villages and major resorts are nestled between the verdant mountains and the crashing waves. Here, Mexican culture is very laid back and less formal than in the cities. You can easily spend a whole afternoon with your toes in the sand and a drink in your hand, watching the surfers ride the waves.
A part of Mexican culture throughout the country are local fairs. Each town has a patron saint, and their fairs fall on their saint’s day and last for at least a week. The Feria Nayarit, or Nayarit Fair, takes place in the two weeks leading up to Easter. This is one of the biggest Nayarit traditions, featuring concerts, rodeos, livestock exhibitions, vendors, and plenty to eat and drink. Families who have moved away return to Tepic Nayarit each year from around the world to be a part of the annual fair.
While Day of the Dead is practiced throughout Mexico and Latin American countries, it’s one of the beloved yearly Nayarit traditions. Families will build altars to commemorate their loved ones with photos, their favorite items, and candles that will guide their spirits to return to the land of the living for a single day. On Day of the Dead in Nayarit culture, families will gather at their loved ones’ graves to clean them and retell stories of their family. People will wear Nayarit traditional clothing and often paint their faces like the famous catrina skeletons. While the holiday’s name might sound spooky to some, this part of Nayarit culture and traditions is just as bright and joyful as the rest.
Food is an important part of any area’s culture and tradition, and it’s one part of Nayarit culture visitors love to savor. Since Nayarit is a coastal state, it’s no surprise that fish, shrimp, and even octopus are commonly found in local dishes like tacos or fresh ceviches. If you order other staples like quesadillas, sopes, or tamales, fruit-flavored water is a refreshing treat to balance the spices of authentic Mexican cuisine.
On your next trip to Mexico, dive into the vibrant culture and experience some of the Nayarit traditions that combine ancient practices with modern vitality. Whether you get to watch a live performance of traditional dances, eat a variety of local cuisine, or pick out a piece of Nayarit traditional clothing or jewelry to take home, embracing the local culture will make your vacation an education and memorable experience.