September 27, 2021

What Does Punta Mita Mean?

The breathtaking coast of Banderas Bay is home to one of the most charming and paradisaical towns in the Mexican Riviera: Punta Mita. Spanning over 1500 acres, this world-famous peninsula is encompassed by three stretches of crystal turquoise ocean and unspoiled golden beaches. Many consider Punta Mita to be the most luxurious gated community in Latin America as it attracts thousands of A-list celebrities, multimillionaires, and elite travelers all year round. Don’t miss out on the getaway of a lifetime at our Punta Mita luxury villas and the chance to live like a king among the world’s rich and famous.

However, there’s a lot more than meets the eye at this tropical destination. Aside from glitz, glamour and indulgence, Punta Mita is steeped in fascinating history that dates back to 2000 BC. To ensure travelers make the most of their magical getaway, Personal Villas has compiled an overview of the town’s rich local culture, origins and traditions. Check it out:

The history behind Punta Mita’s name
Did you know that the region surrounding Punta Mita is home to around 20,000 Native Huichol Indians? Not only are the Huichol people direct descendants of the Aztecs, they are also the only living pre-Columbian tribe in North America. Community, rituals and religion have always played a central role in the Huichol Indians’ culture, as well as a belief in the importance of a symbiotic relationship with nature. For this reason, many territories hold deep spiritual significance for the tribe. One such place is Punta Mita, which was believed to be a sacred sanctuary for spiritual healing.

The name, Punta Mita, comes from the Aztec word “mictlan” which beautifully translates to “gateway to paradise”. No matter where you’re from or what your origins are, we can agree that the meaning behind Punta Mita is extremely apt, given the town’s idyllic charm and blissful natural setting. Luckily, the incredible cultural heritage of Mexico’s indigenous people has been kept alive and is widely celebrated today through art, history and philosophy.
huichol people punta mita
Indigenous influence on modern day Punta Mita
During your stay at our luxury villas in Punta Mita, don’t miss out on the bevy of art and culture activities that preserve and pay homage to Huichol traditions. Thanks to the migration of roughly 4000 Huichol Indians from the Sierra Madre mountains to more urbanized areas, the past 30 years have rightly seen a major development in the integration and inclusion of their culture in Punta Mita’s tourism sector.

If you happen to take a day trip to Punta Mita’s larger neighboring town, Puerto Vallarta, you’ll come across numerous art galleries and artisan shops specializing in Huichol crafts. Both the Huichol Gallery and Tierra Huichol shop are well worth a visit. Prepare to be spellbound by the gorgeous ornaments, paintings and statues on sale!

The tribe’s artwork is characterized by vibrant colors and the use of materials such as yarn, beads, wax and paint. Each piece tells its own legend, which acts as a way to preserve their past and channel their sacred knowledge from one generation to the next. Recurring themes include connection with the natural world, religion and spirituality, and the four elements (fire, earth, air and water).
If you’re looking to buy unique souvenirs during your getaway, authentic Huichol artwork makes for the perfect gift. No matter whether you purchase a simple bracelet or a large sculpture, these pieces are highly collectible as each is handmade using traditional techniques that have trickled down the ancestral tree. Investing in this artwork is also a great way to contribute to the Huichol community as it forms a major part of their economy.
souvenir punta mita
Huichol Village Tour
For those who consider themselves history buffs, perhaps a more immersive experience is on the cards. In Puerto Vallarta you can sign up for a full-day excursion into the stunning Sierra Madre mountains and relish the chance to experience the region’s immense natural beauty first hand. The route includes a couple of stops in some quaint local villages unscathed by mass tourism, offering travelers an authentic glimpse into the local way of life. After a delicious breakfast in the Mexican fishing village of Rincon de Guayabitos, the tour ascends into the lush mountain jungle and winds through historic landmarks and a sugar factory, before reaching the final destination: a little Huichol village!

With a population of 130 Huichol Indians - or “Wixáritari” in their ancient language - the village has successfully preserved the native culture in every aspect of community life. Upon arrival, the locals will welcome visitors with a ceremony initiated by the Marakame, aka the tribe’s leader and highest ranking member. Afterwards, you’ll have the once in a lifetime opportunity to visit the Cali-Huey (temple) to witness traditional dances and music, of which the Huichol Indians kindly allow guests to take photos. Keep in mind that these rituals are sacred to the locals, so ensure to be respectful and courteous at all times. Before heading back to Puerto Vallarta the tour group has the chance to purchase artwork, jewelry, handicrafts and beadwork right from the source. Overall, the Huichol Village Tour is undoubtedly one of the most unforgettable cultural experiences you can enjoy in Mexico.

Looking for more? If you fancy another outdoor adventure, take a hike up the Careyeros Mountain and spend the day exploring the 2000 year old Aztatlán ruins. These sites are believed to be early - yet advanced - astronomical observatories and ceremonial settings. Not to be missed.
huichol art punta mita
Conclusion
Among the exclusive beach clubs and fine-dining establishments of Punta Mita lies a fascinating indigenous culture that has helped shape this tropical peninsula into the magical getaway destination it is today. The Huichol Indians’ humble and noble way of life, as well as their beautiful artwork, form an integral part of the Riviera Nayarit communities. Whether you visit a Huichol art gallery, partake in a workshop or embark on a tour to meet the native population, you’ll be guaranteed an educational experience to cherish forever.

Examples of Huichol culture can be found across Punta Mita, including Personal Villas’ very own vacation rentals. The design of some of our Punta Mita luxury villas has been heavily influenced by indigenous architecture and the interior features showcase the beauty of the region’s native cultures. Make sure to choose the “gateway to paradise” as your next holiday destination and don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team!
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