The Riviera Nayarit, which runs 200 miles from Puerto Vallarta to San Blas, is filled with charming fishing villages and beach side communities. On our most recent trip to Mexico we had the opportunity to explore some of these towns, but one in particular stood apart from the rest, Sayulita. This small town is known for its color, vibrant culture, and simple charm. It is no wonder why Sayulita left us absolutely captivated.
Getting to Sayulita
The nearest airport is located in the resort town of Puerto Vallarta. From there, you can travel to Sayulita by Uber (approximately $30 USD), taxi (approximately $40), private shuttle (approximately $50 USD), or a public bus ($2). You can of course also rent your own car in Puerto Vallarta. Private transportation will take about 45 minute, and the bus will take about 1.5 hours due to the frequent stops.
We have a general rule when we travel that we try to take public transportation when possible. This is for a number of reasons including:
1. Eco-friendly – Buses are environmentally friendly (when compared to other transit modes) due to the fact that they save fuel, reduce congestion, and significantly cut emissions.
2. Budget-friendly – $2 vs. $50. Need I say more?
3. People-friendly – We always seem to meet interesting people when taking public transportation in other countries. Whether it be an expat traveling to their summer home, another travel blogger looking for an adventure, or a local student on the way home, taking public transport allows the opportunity to meet new people and engage in conversation.
To find the buses to Sayulita, exit the airport and take the foot bridge over the highway toward Santander and Tacon de Marlin. There you will see a covered bus stop area. As a bus approaches, you will see the list of stops posted clearly on the windshield making it fairly easy to identify which bus to board. No ticket purchase is needed in advance, just have your pesos ready to pay the driver when he arrives. Busses arrive about every 10-15 minutes.
Where to Stay
Sayulita has become a popular destination among expatriates, particularly those from California and Canada. As such, there are many vacation AirBnBs available for rent. There are also several hostels, eco-retreats, and hotels to choose from.
Villa Amor (hotel) – I cannot say enough good things about this whimsical getaway. The 26 oceanfront villas and studios are uniquely designed around an open-air concept, boasting large verandas, private dipping pools, and beach front views. The thatched roofs and lush greenery create a hidden paradise along the Riviera Nayarit. Furthermore the double infinity pool, massage services, and outdoor yoga studio provide the perfect atmosphere for complete relaxation. For more on Villa Amor, check out our article “Villa Amor: an eclectic getaway along the Riviera Nayarit”.
Petit Hotel Hafa (hotel) – This is one of the most instagrammable hotels in Sayulita with a vibe that is boutique yet bohemian. It is located in the heart of Sayulita, surrounded by charming shops and cafes. Here you can enjoy roof top views of Sayulita and the nearby beaches, only 2 blocks away.
El Studio (Airbnb) – El Studio is located near the central plaza in Sayulita above the shop Révolucion Del Sueño. This apartment has a clean and modern vibe mixed with bohemian accents and adorable cactus plants. You will find complete relaxation on the rooftop with the 360-degree view of Sayulita, an ocean view, and a private salt water jacuzzi.
La ReDonda (Hostel) – This is an energetic, fun, and exciting hostel located one block from the beach. There are shared dormitory style accomodations available as well as a private cabana complete with palapa roof. Your stay includes a number of amenities including personal lockers, hammocks, a grill and a tasty continental breakfast each morning.
Things to Do in Sayulita
Beach adventures – Playa de los Muertos is a small and secluded beach with calm waters ideal for swimming. It is located on the south end of Sayulita where there are fewer people, bars, and restaurants so plan accordingly. When you hear about surfers coming from all over the world to ride the waves in Sayulita, they are all going to Carricitos Beach. The winds are stronger and the waves are bigger guaranteeing perfect conditions for your surf board. Patzcuaro is another beach in Sayulita which is a bit rockier. Although not great for swimming, it is good for exploring with a bit of rock scrambling.
Water adventures – Just take a stroll along the beach and you will see countless agencies selling tickets for all sorts of water-based adventures as well as rentals for surfing and paddle boarding. Just off the coast of Sayulita, you can go whale watching, sailing, deep sea fishing, or even charter a boat to the Marieta islands. For water-based adventures, we recommend Chica Locca Tours.
Land adventures – While Sayulita is certainly known for its surfing and beach-side yoga, this pueblo is also backed by the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains. As such, there are a number of adventures that will take you through the jungles of Sierra Madre including canopy tours, horseback riding, hiking and ATV’s. We had the pleasure of booking an ATV tour with Rancho Mi Chaparrita and we cannot recommend this family owned business enough.
In town adventures– There are plenty of things to see, buy, and taste within the town of Sayulita. Rent a golf cart and explore the pueblo to your heart’s content. When it comes to shopping, there are a variety of boutique shops but you can also find open air markets every day of the week. The largest however takes place every Sunday on a two block stretch of Calle Gaviotas. There you can find street food as well as local treasures including pottery, hand-crafted jewelry, woven blankets and other artisan crafts. Moving on to the topic of food, there are so many amazing restaurants and taco stands to choose from. Some of our favorites are:
- Choco Banana – Aside from their famous chocolate dipped banana, this place offers a large breakfast and lunch menu with a surprising amount of healthy options.
- Burrito Revolution – Come here for hand-made hot off the grill burritos.
- Don Pedro’s – One of the more expensive eateries in town, but it is also one of the best for people watching
- Sí Señor – A more upscale and romantic eatery located along the beach by Villa Amor. I tried a lot of margaritas in Mexico, but this one takes the cake.
- Tacos Ivan – This is one of the most popular “cheap eats” in town. Make sure to try their tacos al pastor.
- Calle Gaviotas Sur Street cart – Located next to Hostal del Centro on the corner of Calle Gaviotas Sur and Calle Jose Mariscal is a street cart selling grilled chicken tacos. For only a few pesos, you can pick up a giant plate, then walk over to the swings at Hostal del Centro’s bar to enjoy your lunch along with a fresh margarita.