Villa Paradise is the onetime vacation compound of a major Mexican industrialist transformed into a surprisingly affordable hotel (from $75 per night). The white-washed Moorish palace look-alike has a full-floor penthouse suite that can accommodate up to six revelers and a private plunge pool. The waves—and charming town of San Pancho—are barely a five-minute walk away.
Boarders and hippies are the typical guests at Villa Amor (from $110 per night) in the surf town of Sayulita, Nayarit's beachside bohemia. The hotel’s 33 villas—ranging from one to three bedrooms in traditional Mexican or contemporary condo style—are scattered along the Pacific and jungle-covered hills. All have ocean views, but larger units include private pools, verandas, and even full-size kitchens.
The St. Regis just opened a new resort last month on the swank Punta Mita Peninsula. It's set on Banderas Bay, with 120 rooms spread over 22 beach-front acres. The exteriors are traditional adobe and red-tiled roofs; inside is white furniture, indoor-outdoor baths, and wood-beamed ceilings. It is the priciest resort in Nayarit; 2009 rates start at $555 per night and include butler service.