As the late-afternoon sun dips closer to the horizon, I shift my gaze from the calm waters of the Pacific, push my float away from the edge of the Four Seasons Punta Mita’s infinity pool and tilt my head back to follow a dozen or so frigate birds gliding in circles high above me.
At the far end of the pool, a group of resort homeowners is catching up after a six-month hiatus from the property. As their conversation grows more boisterous, I dip my head back into the water and revel in the aquatic silence.
A few hours earlier, many of those same part-time residents were mingling with resort guests around the Nuna Pool Bar, sipping chilled margaritas, enjoying freshly made ceviche and cheering on the action of a handful of NFL games playing on flat-screen televisions mounted above the bar.
Now, as the pastel hues of sunset begin to form out over the ocean horizon, the Four Seasons’ pool and nearby private, white-sand beach are bathed in tranquility. It’s a scene that epitomizes paradise.
Simply put, the coastal community of Punta Mita, set on the Pacific 26 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, might be Mexico’s best-kept secret. And that’s no accident; in fact, a big part of Punta Mita’s charm is that, for the better part of two decades, the development’s residential owners and exclusive resort guests have had “the point” all to themselves.
Unlike Cabo San Lucas and other popular vacation destinations in Central America and the Caribbean – where breathtaking panoramas of azure water and pristine sandy white beaches unveil themselves almost immediately – Punta Mita is more guarded. It’s the beautiful introvert to Cabo’s extroverted charm.
Upon entering the gated 1,500-acre village, nestled on a peninsula in the Riviera Nayarit about 26 miles northwest of Puerto Vallarta, guests will quickly catch glimpses of the fairways, greens and water hazards that comprise the development’s two Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses (more on these later).
But the true splendors of Punta Mita’s exemplary location are otherwise concealed by lush vegetation and strategically routed roads that traverse the peninsula’s interior.
Only when guests arrive at either of Punta Mita’s luxury resorts – the Four Seasons and neighboring St. Regis – or any of its dozen private residential communities are they presented with beautiful views and beachfront properties that exemplify the destination’s appeal.
Punta Mita is likely familiar to avid golfers thanks to the Pacifico and Bahia courses, which opened in 1999 and 2009 respectively.
The Pacifico course is acclaimed for its Tail of the Whale, a 199-yard, par-3 that requires a tee shot over the Pacific to a lush green perched on an offshore island, accessible only by amphibious golf carts and only at certain times of day.
The hole, which, according to the development, features “the world’s only natural island green,” is spectacular; however, both courses either play up to – or along the coasts of – the Pacific Ocean and Banderas Bay.
Such layouts were made possible because Punta Mita’s developer, Dine Development Corp., chose to limit the number of home sites within the community.
While some premium oceanfront real estate was devoted to the golf courses, a swath of oceanfront and beachfront land remained for Punta Mita’s most stunning (and exclusive) residences.
According to Brendan Wood, sales and marketing director for Punta Mita Properties, Dine’s original development plan included the construction of 1,000 residences over multiple decades.
Currently, only 400 homes and condominiums have been built, and it’s possible that the final number won’t reach that original three-digit figure.
“It’s more important to create a meaningful product and maintain that low density than to build a couple of lots in the middle of the golf course that don’t have any ocean views,” says Wood. “People aren’t going to buy a home here if it doesn’t have an ocean view.”
Currently, Punta Mita is home to 14 distinct communities, including the two luxe resorts. When the development is finished, that number will be slightly more than 20, including three additional resorts, some aimed at targeting a younger and more active demographic.
Despite the expansion plans, the abiding residential sense of privacy won’t be impacted, since Punta Mita restricts homeowners from building on more than 30 percent of their total lot.
“If you’re only building on 30 percent of the land,” Wood says, “and factoring in the amount of landscaping that will grow around that building envelope, it’s quite feasible to not even know that your neighbor is close by.”
Residential options at Punta Mita are varied, both in terms of cost and the lifestyles they provide.
At the entry level, prospective homeowners can buy into the Four Seasons’ fractional residence club, securing access to two-, three- or four-bedroom condos starting at $165,000.
Condominiums not affiliated with a resort start at $345,000 and provide, on average, more than 3,000 square feet of total living space.
Within the private villa and semi-custom home category, Punta Mita offers four options, the newest and most unique of which is Porta Fortuna Ocean Residences – 11 home sites that range from $3 million to just over $4 million and, when completed, will offer an average of 9,100 to 9,300 square feet of living space.
These sites are adjacent to the Punta Mita Pier, which Wood says is ideal for homeowners “wanting to take a stand-up paddleboard or kayak off the pier or who want to be the first ones out on a fishing boat in the morning.”
Custom home sites and estates start at slightly more than $1 million and peak at $8 million, though the cost to build those residences can often exceed that initial investment.
There are also architectural guidelines that homeowners must adhere to, such as building with natural materials and using warm tropical colors and earth tones.
“It’s allowing an architect to have flexibility but also maintaining a theme,” Wood says of the design guidelines. “We want to attract great architects and designers who will come here and build something special.”
As someone who relocated permanently to Mexico from the United States, Wood acknowledges that the process is fairly easy.
He also says that those who wish to live in Mexico only part-time can do so as a tourist – the government allows visitors to stay in the country for up to six months at a time – or as a temporary resident, which allows a homeowner to work in Mexico and pay Mexican taxes.
“Think of this place as an emerging market that is opening its door to foreign investment and foreign trade,” he says, explaining that there is now an influx of American brands and businesses setting up shop in Mexico.“But Punta Mita retains its local culture and flair,” Wood adds, “and it won’t lose its identity.”