While trendy Sayulita and ever-popular Puerta Vallarta are in the limelight for tourists, there is a sleepy but hip little town in Mexico that is leading the Mexican Riviera in sustainability efforts.
San Pancho (San Francisco) Nayarit Mexico is forging the way forward in ecotourism and is located just around the point from Punta Mita one bay away from Sayulita and in the lee of the Sierra de Valajo.
In 1992, the Grupo Ecologico de la Costa Verde, A.C. created the first marine turtle nursery for Olive Ridley and Leatherback turtles on the coast to combat the pressure on the local marine turtle population from human impacts on their nesting habitat. Poaching, tourism, and development had reduced the population to two hundred nesting turtles on the beaches yearly, sparking concerns of potential extinction. The founders, along with volunteers, protect nests in the now several nurseries; many of those left behind are removed by poachers. Because of their efforts, poachers remove 6% of the nests, an impressive decrease from the 95% poaching rate of the 1980s. Since those first years of the project, the nesting turtles have dramatically increased in number, and the Group recorded 1,165 nests in 2013.
San Pancho is also home to entreamigos, a community learning center for local children and families. Entreamigos began as arts and crafts classes on the street in front of a store for local art, a one-woman operation by Nicole Swedlow. It now occupies a sustainably renovated warehouse and its offerings include a library, a computer lab, a recycling program, a re-sale shop, an organic community garden, eco-design workshops, arts, sports, and other community events and programs.
“Enjoy in a timeless paradise.” – San Pancho slogan
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