Have you ever heard of a place and been immediately drawn to it for reasons you can’t articulate? For me, Sayulita is one of those places: I just knew it was somewhere I needed to be.
Our bus pulled up to the sleepy surf town north of Puerto Vallarta on a Tuesday afternoon during off season. We walked with our backpacks down a dirt road through the jungle and colorful homes at the edge of town. As we got closer to the center, the bumpy cobblestone streets were quiet aside from locals going about their business. Servers sat fanning themselves at empty restaurants. Brightly colored, vibrant, charming buildings and street art murals decorated the town in the late afternoon light as the smell of tacos hung the air. It was everything Mexican dreams are made of.
While a lot of towns in Mexico I have visited are amazing, they have that feeling of outside influence. The Starbucks on this corner, the McDonalds on that one. Sayulita has nothing of that sort and feels like a quaint, authentic, rainbow gem tucked into the jungle on the Pacific coast of Mexico. And this is why I love it.
The Art and Music Scene
It’s impossible to take a step without seeing some sort of artistic creation in Sayulita. There are local art shops all over town ranging from uniquely hand painted cow skull art, to oversized dreamcatchers and life sized murals. As the week went on, the town truly came to life. By Friday night town center plaza was buzzing with people dancing, kids hula hooping, and live music. That’s one thing there is no shortage of in Sayulita: live music. There are multiple places to see a live band almost every night at bars and restaurants. You will undoubtedly stumble upon drum circles, local musicians, and performers on the streets and on the beach every day.
Surfing!! The wave right out front of Sayulita town is absolutely perfect to learn on for newbs, but still a fun longboard wave for more seasoned surfers. The water is super warm and there are plenty of different breaks in the surrounding areas to explore as well. It’s about $3 US per hour to rent a board right on the beach and a must do!
The Surrounding Jungle
The jungle around Sayulita is unbelievable. It it probably the thickest, greenest jungle I have ever seen and hiking through it is so much fun. The best part is a lot of the jungle walks lead to a hidden beach!
The Hidden Beaches
When you feel like really getting away from it all, there are multiple beaches within walking distance that are much more secluded. To the north, there is Las Cuevas and Malpasos. You walk north on the beach from Sayulita, and turn into the jungle once you hit the stream towards the very end of the beach.You continue on the path deeper into the jungle and eventually veer to the left. You come to a palm covered hill that leads down to a huge secluded white sand beach. There are huge trees right in the sand, perfect for the hottest days when you need some shade. Then there is Carricitos to the south, you walk through town and follow signs to Playa Carricitos which leads you through a beautiful jungle hike. It’s easy to miss the small little sign for the turn down to Carricitos along a wall. You walk down and it opens up to a gorgeous west facing beach–perfect spot for sunset.
I think it’s safe to say Mexican food is a favorite for most. And Sayulita is absolute foodie heaven. Every single restaurant I tried was so so good–I don’t even have any photos of the food because I was very much involved in eating it immediately. Some musts:
- Tacos el Ivan: Al pastor tacos. A little street stand only open at night. Unreal.
- Itacate; A burrito wrapped in melted fried cheese instead of tortilla..still not sure how I didn’t think of this myself.
- Yah-yah cafe: Go-to for breakfast!
- Cafe Espresso: Best coffee by far and great breakfast.
- Yeikame: Favorite place in Sayulita for din. The best.
- Naty’s Kitchen: Awesome local spot for tacos-only open in the day time
- Mary’s: Known for fish tacos!
And so much more! Tip: If a woman on the beach asks if you want a tamale, you say yes.
Sayulita has such a warm, small town vibe to it. Within a few hours we had met so many people we felt like locals and made new friends everywhere we went! Whether it’s people who live there or fellow travelers, everyone is super open and friendly and it’s hard not to meet all kinds of amazing people. We were walking down the beach to dinner one night and were invited to a local’s birthday celebration right there on the beach–helping sing happy birthday and taking tequila shots with a Mexican family. There are friends to be made in the lineup, at your lunch spot, and around every corner! In Sayulita you don’t even need to seek out tequila shots, they find their way to you. Same with the people!