Enjoy a refreshing twist on resort travel

I emerged from the ocean, a trail of blood clouded the water and a flap of skin dangled from my finger, resembling day-old sashimi. This certainly wasn’t my first time to surf, but the cause of my injury was definitely a kook move at best. But, let’s come back to that later. Being an avid surfer and enthusiastic traveler, I jumped at the opportunity when presented with the task of paddling into some of Riviera Nayarit’s finest waves. I was to be a guest of the W Punta de Mita resort for three bliss-filled days, and my itinerary would consist of guided small-group surf sessions, toothsome meals and plenty of time to relax on the hotel’s sparsely populated beach. This was going to be an incredible opportunity, and I had always fantasized about surfing in an exotic location.  

Being an avid surfer and enthusiastic traveler, I jumped at the opportunity when presented with the task of paddling into some of Riviera Nayarit’s finest waves.

On the first day, I met up with my fellow journalists a few hours before sunset-all from different areas of the globe and all with varying skill levels of surfing. I could sense the excitement on everyone’s faces. The beginners were eager to try the sport in such a pristine location, while the more experienced riders were ready to mark off as many different breaks on their bucket list as possible. After some light snacks and chit-chat, we met up with our instructors from Punta de Mita Expeditions. We divvied into groups based on skill level and were outfitted with the appropriate gear. Along with our guide, Sergio, I went with the more experienced group on a short walk down the beach to the spot where we were to paddle out. The waves were far from ideal that afternoon, but the weather and water temperatures were incredible. Everyone managed to ride a few waves, but the highlight of the day was getting to view a blood-red sunset which mirrored off of the ocean’s surface until disappearing behind the nearby Marieta Islands.

I woke the next morning to find the sun already baking the resort’s sandy beaches, and, after a light breakfast, everyone met at the beach to go with our designated groups. I was with Sergio again, ready for another challenging day, but we had only been out on the water for 30 minutes before my aforementioned incident occurred. I was paddling to catch a wave and saw it was going to close-out (meaning the wave breaks all the way across, leaving a surfer no shoulder on which to execute a ride) a little too late. My board went over the crest of the wave in front of me and instead of simply kicking the board out from under my feet to safety, I decided to try and grab the rails to pull it back towards my body. Now I’m not sure if it was my pruned hands or an insufficient amount of wax, but I couldn’t apply enough pressure to stop the board as it surged forward. The next thing I knew, one of the rear fins sliced its way, with surgical precision, up the side of my right, middle finger. I immediately felt pain, and subsequently, saltwater stinging my wound. This caused me to let go of the board-ironically what I was trying to avoid in the first place-and why I felt the need to put the safety of a cheap rental board before my own body is beyond me.

I managed to ride back to shore and walk back to the surf shack. The guides were true professionals and administered some much needed first aid to my wound while helping me feel better by cataloging other surf-related incidents they had witnessed while at the resort. It was an awful start to the day, but with a scheduled visit to the resort’s Away Spa that afternoon, I tried to ignore the throbbing pain as best I could. After touring the spa, I met with my masseuse and was led to a room with an incredible view overlooking a jungle-laden grotto. My tension disappeared as quickly as the time, and just as I was about to settle into a light coma, my masseuse rang a low-toned bell letting me know my session was finished. From there, I was taken into a peaceful common area where the sound of a gentle fountain eased me back into consciousness. Just as I thought the experience couldn’t have been better, I received an ice cold tequila shot. That evening, the group was treated to a truly special meal at the resort’s conceptual MESA 1 restaurant at a one-seating-per-night table situated in the middle of a spring-fed lake overlooking the coast. The seven-course menu was as perfect, if not more so, as the ambiance, and each course and wine pairing were so well thought out that I wished the staff, with overflowing trays in tow, would never stop coming out.

On the morning of my last day, I decided to tape up my finger and go out on the water again. The surf was small near the hotel so Sergio suggested we kayak around a nearby point and visit a more consistent break called Punta Burros. Everyone thought it sounded like an excellent idea, so after a short ride we pulled the kayaks up onto the nearest beach and paddled out with our surfboards. Our timing couldn’t have been better; the waves were punchy and consistent, and there were only a few other surfers out on the water! Personally, I was thrilled I made the decision to go out, because, in addition to having some of my best rides of the trip, I was able to see a plethora of brightly colored fish and a curious 40-50 pound sea turtle up close.

That afternoon, as I ate at the resort’s smartly reimagined vintage Chevy-turned food-truck-cevicheria, I reflected on what a special destination this was, and the cut on my finger would turn into a small souvenir-one earned the hard way, which you form a close bond with and don’t easily forget.