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The key to a more adventurous trip in Mexico

Make it a contest to see how many different species of birds the kids can count. On a good day, you might see 120, says our naturalist guide Francisco Nombre, who just happens to hold Mexico’s 2015 title for “The Big Day,” seeing the most different species in a 24-hour period.

People come to San Blas in the Riviera Nayarit region of Mexico from all over the world to see birds, as well as to surf the famous breaks just off the beautiful white sand beaches along the Pacific Coast.

We drink coconut water served up in the coconuts just picked from the nearby trees while Mexican kids play in the sand and water while their parents and grandparents sit under the shade of thatched palapas along the beachfront. We use local hot sauce and drink local beer served up in a bucket filled with ice.

It’s about as memorable and as authentic a vacation experience as you can get, but one not too many American families enjoy. We see Huichol Indian families in colorful costume.

Yes, there has been a recent State Department warning about travel to Mexico. But here in what is a tourist destination — albeit one less busy than Cancun or Puerto Vallarta, we certainly feel safe amid vacationing Mexican families.

When you are in a town like San Blas, or other smaller towns in this region like Sayulita or San Francisco (nicknamed “San Pancho”), which are closer to Puerto Vallarta, you realize how much you are missing if you never leave your all-inclusive resort.

Your kids could be building sand castles with local kids: You could be sampling a local dish like Aqua Chile — fish and shrimp with lime and different kinds of chilies. You and the kids could explore an old ruin or historic fort.

The key to a more adventurous trip in Mexico, or elsewhere, is to research in advance and get the help you need on the ground. Visitors can count on that at the 45-room family owned hotel Garza Canela.

The hotel is run now by a brother and four sisters, one of whom, Betty Vazquez Gonzalez, is one of the best known chefs in Mexico — a reason their Restaurant El Delfin is so well known and respected. For breakfast, we eat mangos just picked from the trees outside; at dinner, the fish is seasoned with the herbs grown in the garden.

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