Located on the west coast of Mexico just 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta, this charming surf town has exploded in popularity among North Americans. We can see why.
Big waves. Endless beach. Pom poms. Palm trees. Golf carts. Street tacos. Bright colours. Chill vibe. “Hippy-chic.” Beach vendors. Expensive boutiques. Street flags. Dogs everywhere.
After seven weeks living in Sayulita, we’ve figured out our favourite things to do, and where to eat and drink. Hope you enjoy!
1. Playas Los Muertos
An easy 10-minute walk from town along the water and through the cemetery gets you to a very secluded beach away from the hoards of people and steady stream of beach vendors you often find at the main beach. There are even a couple of little stands selling drinks and snacks.
2. Sunset Beach (Playa Carricitos)
It’s a longer walk past Playa Los Muertos through the jungle and up and down some hills to find this gorgeous secluded beach that is the only place to actually see the sun setting over the horizon. Make sure to leave town about 40 minutes before sunset. We loved picking up one of the cheap and delicous BBQ chickens in town (they come with tortillas, salsa, and lettuce for about 150 pesos for an entire chicken) and packing a picnic for a sunset dinner. This beach is a bit tricky to find the first time, so ideally you’d get someone who knows it to show you the way.
3. Secret Beaches (Las Cuevas and Mal Pasos)
These beaches were the most secluded that we found in Sayulita. Walk to the very end of the north end of the main beach and follow the path along the water’s edge’s/ the rocky side of the large home there. You’ll find a path here, follow it through the jungle for about 15 minutes, and eventually once you’ve made it back down to sea level you’ll take a path to the left that leads to a tiny beautiful beach. Hang there for a while or follow the beach along to the right until you come to a cave opening you can crawl through to get to a long and gorgeous stretch of beach (Mal Pasos). Some days you’ll literally be the only people at either of these! If you’re feeling especially adventurous you can keep walking to the end of that second beach and hike all the way to San Pancho.
4. Turtle Release
Volunteers run the Campamento Tortuguero Sayulita, a preservation project. Around 5:30 pm walk along the main beach toward the north end and keep your eyes peeled for a small fenced in area with little markers coming out of the sand. There should also be a sign marking that it’s the turtle sanctuary (or ask anyone around as it’s a well-known place). A volunteer eventually comes and gives an intro into turtle protection in the area (only 1 % of the little cuties manage to survive), and then everyone gets their own little bowl of baby turtles to release into the ocean at sunset. It’s a majorly magical experience. Stop for a drink at one of the beach bars on your walk back into town.
5. Friday Farmers Market
From 10 am to 2 pm every Friday near the Costa Verde International School, vendors of every type of local organic food and other homemade products come together to put on this amazing farmers market. Whereas a lot of Sayulita feels full of tourists, this place has a very strong local community feel. It’s great! You can go to buy groceries if you’re planning on cooking during your stay, or visit one of the many food stalls for a delicious lunch. There is live music and tables to sit to enjoy your food or just soak up the sights of this wholesome, happy place.
6. Pool Day at Hotel El Pueblito Sayulita
If you’re wanting a break from the salt water and beach vendors, head to this beautiful hotel for a pool day. They’ll likely tell you that you have to spend 300 pesos at the pool restaurant in order to use the pool, but this can be spread across the entire day and starting at 1 pm their extensive 2-for-1 drink specials start. Their wifi is also very strong (unlike many places in town, we discovered), so it’s also a great place to catch up on work or FaceTime friends. The hotel offers rooftop yoga, so you could add that to your visit as well.
7. Villas Sayulita Garden Area
If you’re craving some quiet and tranquility, head to the magical garden oasis at the Hotel Villas Sayulita. The smoothie bar and restaurant serve food until 12 pm, but it’s just simply an amazing space to spend a few hours. On a couple occasions I spent half a day there eating brunch, reading in one of their many hammocks, writing in my journal, exploring the gardens, and even swinging on their swings! You are allowed to stay hanging out in the space for as long as you’d like after they stop serving food. I can’t remember the exact name of the dish, but my go-to meal every time was a delicious breakfast of poached eggs and pesto on homemade bread, served with bacon and hash browns. So good!
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Excursions (requiring a bus or taxi)
1. Hike to Monkey Mountain
It’s about a 20 minute drive from Sayulita to the trailhead, so we used a guide (Samuel) through Airbnb Experiences – highly recommended. He picked us up in town, provided so much interesting information about the region as we walked, and even brought us snacks and drinks for the top of the mountain. There are other companies that offer guides as well, and we suggest getting a guide for this adventure. You definitely get a good sweat on with this increasingly steep hike, but is SO worth it. The nearly 360 degree view from the top, of jungle and ocean as far as the eye can see, is absolutely stunning. We went at sunset, but sunrise is another popular time. Try to find the secondary viewpoint that is slightly below the top point and hang your feet over the edge.
2. San Pancho
Thought of as the more chill, less touristy version of Sayulita, San Pancho is a super easy half or full day trip from Sayulita. Catch the local bus from the main bus station, and after about 15 minutes you will get off along the highway. Follow the one main street leading to the ocean that is lined with lots of little restaurants and shops that are fun to poke your head into. Bring your own towels and umbrella, or perch up at one of the beachfront restaurants that have lounge chairs you can use for eating or drinking there. You can also walk all the way to the north end of the beach and hardly anyone will be there. It’s an amazing place to watch the sunset. We stayed for a late dinner, but realized transportation back was a bit tricky. Busses only run back to Sayulita until 10 pm, and late night taxis were hard to find, so plan accordingly.
3. Playas Lo de Marcos
A beautiful stretch of beach, a very local feel, and only two small beach restaurants make Lo de Marcos a relaxing day trip. The shallow waters make it a great place to swim. You can get there by local bus, or it’s about a 25 minute drive via taxi.
4. Coral Island & Rincon De Guayabitos
This is a fun day trip if you’re in Sayulita for a longer amount of time and are wanting a change of scene. Take the local bus to Lo de Marcos, then taxi to Rincon, then hitch a ride on one of the many water taxis to Coral Island for the day. Coral Island is a nature sanctuary and has a small beach popular for swimming and snorkeling. You can rent gear on the island, and there is also one restaurant and one food stall selling beer, micheladas, chips, and ceviche. A local favourite here is actually ceviche ON TOP of Doritos! Keep in mind that prices on the island will be more expensive than in town. After spending the day at Coral Island we chose to head back into town to eat, and there are endless choices of restaurants both along the beach and the main street. We enjoyed a BBQ feast at El Rodeo, and would highly recommend their baked potatoes with delicious toppings.
5. La Cruz Sunday Market
You’ll soon find that you see the same crafts and items sold by many of the Sayulita vendors, so if you’re looking for a different market feel and want to get out of town, take a bus (or taxi) to La Cruz between 9 am and 2 pm on Sunday for their local market. It’s right along the water at the marina with live music and many delicious options for lunch. A great Sunday outing!
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1. Mary's Tacos
By far the most unique, large, and delicious tacos in town. On the menu, the delicious shrimp Sayulita taco is the absolute best - two will fill you right up. If you’re not a fan of shrimp, try the Mary taco. Mary’s is also happy to do take-out food.
2. La Rustica
One of the more expensive restaurants in town, but totally worth it to visit for great pizza and salad (the beet one!) if you just can’t eat another taco.
Unreal breakfasts at a very reasonable price - their menu is extensive. Good coffee, too. They are also famous for their bananas dipped in chocolate if you’re looking for something sweet.
4. Pizza Venezia
If you want bang for your buck pizza, look no further. For 100 pesos you get a large pizza with UNLIMITED toppings from their truly impressive list. You can also upgrade to a gluten-free crust! It’s BYOB.
5. Sayulita Cafe
Contrary to the name, it’s actually a really nice restaurant. Definitely get the chiles relleno. We sampled many in town and this was by far our favourite.
6. El Espresso
This was our go-to coffee spot in Sayulita. The nachos are also very impressive as they come with an entire separate order’s worth of guac on top - enough for a meal for two.
7. La Fogonera
Across the bridge and beside the baseball field is a little food truck that makes some of the best gringas (kind of like quesadillas but with cheese fried on the outside) in town. They always have good electronic music playing and a little seating area.
8. Carnitas Prieto's
Our favourite bang for your buck tacos in Sayulita. At lunchtime they serve pork tacos for 15 peso each. Have fun experimenting with their large variety of garnishes.
9. Mama Mia’s
The best gnocchi I have ever had, anywhere in the world. It was so incredibly light that it practically melted in my mouth. If you’re really wanting to indulge, order the gorgonzola prosciutto version – it’s DECADENT.
10. El Conejo
This is a new, rather chic, mezcal and tequila bar with good happy hour eats and drinks.
11. Villa Amor
Definitely pricey, but the most amazing setting in town. If celebrating a special occasion, arrive after sunset and sit at one of the romantic oceanside tables. The chefs come out with a big platter showcasing the local fish and meat of the day. Or just go for a great cocktail and enjoy the view if you don’t want to break the bank but still want the experience.
Casual little fast-ish food spot that has a solid choice of western burgers and sandwiches if that’s what you’re craving (or are nursing a hangover). We loved the bacon and guac burger. Their tomato and mozzarella salad is also amazing as a side.
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Tiny spot with great electronic music and delicious cocktails all made with fresh fruit. The watermelon margaritas are my favourite. They also have happy hour 2-for-1 drinks from 3 to 6 pm that is not to be missed!
If you love ginger, this place is a must for any of their homemade ginger beer-based cocktails. So fresh and with big chunks of real ginger. Fun music, tables outside, and you can even play beer pong if you want to sharpen your skills.
The garden setting and cool tropical vibe is the definite draw to this place, and if you’re a craft beer lover you should check it out. They also serve a limited selection of wine and some food.
The besssst local spot! There’s a reason it’s on most travel blogs. Get to know the staff and they will treat you like family. They have the cheapest beer and shot deal in town. Their house tequila is excellent (tastes like vanilla). But just sip it like a true Mexican instead of shooting it. You can also buy bottles of it to take away.
5. Su Casa
If you hit it on a good night it's a lot of fun with live DJs and dancing. BONUS: For our friends from home, if you are a fan of “shafts,” head across the street to the corner store and grab the all-in-one canned coffee. Bring this back to the bar and they’ll whip you up some shafts.
6. Cocos Bar
This late night beach club is where everyone ends up on a Friday night. It gets busy around 12am. With fun Mexican music, it’s a great place to admire the amazing dancing skills of the locals. It’s also a good place to meet younger expats living in Sayulita and other travelers. For those of us from more northern climates, it’s pretty cool to be able to be barefoot at a club with the sound of the ocean in the background!
7. Don Patos
This is the spot that stays open latest in town. An often very packed, multistoried club that usually has live music on one floor. There is also a foosball table if your liquid courage has you wanting to take on some of the locals who take their game VERY seriously.
8. Don Pedro's
Skip the (expensive) food and head here on Monday nights for salsa dancing. The entrance charge is 100 pesos each and there is an amazing salsa band and instructors. There are some really good dancers who provide prime people watching, but all levels are welcome.
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Arrival in Sayulita
If you fly in through Puerto Vallarta, pre-book an Uber from the airport to Sayulita. After your flight you’ll enjoy the air conditioned trip that’s about a 45 minute drive and is cheaper than a taxi. Uber isn’t allowed to enter the airport itself, so when you leave the airport walk out and to the left, over the pedestrian bridge, and down to street level where you’d meet the car. If you’re price conscious, there is a public bus that leaves from the airport to Sayulita and costs less than 50 pesos. As with any airport in Mexico, don’t fall for the pushy salespeople that harass you within the airport itself.
Note: Uber operates in Puerto Vallarta! But not Sayulita. You can take an Uber from PV to Sayulita, but may not be able to book one back. Don’t worry, the local bus makes frequent trips to the airport and is very cheap.
Sayulita is FULL of street and beach vendors. You can often get a much better price if you haggle, so go for it!
Although Sayulita is definitely walkable, it is a lot of fun to rent a golf cart to cruise around in for a day.
My favourite spot for yoga was at Hotelito los Sueños. It has the largest offerings of classes, best facilities, wonderful teachers, and best prices. I did a monthly package even though I only had three weeks left in town because it was so reasonable. BONUS: the hotel also offers a delicious vegetarian rooftop buffet for 150 pesos (it finishes at 11 am), which is definitely worth doing after yoga or on a day of its own.
Dia de los Muertos
We were lucky to be in town for the big Day of the Dead celebration on November 1st and 2nd. For multiple days the main square is completely decked out in the most beautiful wash of colour as families build elaborate altars honouring their loved ones who have passed. Stores and restaurants all around town have their own altars as well. We did a midnight procession to the nearby cemetery, complete with mariachi bands and large paper mache figurines. If you’re planning your trip around this time of year, definitely try to make it work to be there for Day of the Dead!
Have the best time! Check out our highlights video here.