A Nomad's Guide to Sayulita, Mexico

Located on the Pacific coast in the Mexican state of Nayarit, this small beachside town is a favorite among surfers and travelers interested in ecotourism.


The beach town of Sayulita on Mexico's Pacific coast. Photo © Getty Images/beklaus

Known for its hippie vibe and geat surfing, Sayulita can't really be called undiscovered these days. But this laid-back town in Riviera Nayarit, about 25mi (40km) south of Puerto Vallarta, is still a place where you can hang out with the locals and discover the region's natural beauty. Here are some tips on where to eat, where to go, and things to do in Sayulita.

Tours and accommodations in Sayulita

While there are a few luxury resorts in the area, you'll also find a range of boutique hotels and rustic, eco-friendly lodging, often using solar or wind power. If you're interested in nature and wildlife, opportunities abound along the whole Riviera Nayarit. Go whale-watching in nearby Banderas Bay, or spot crocodiles on a swamp tour. Take a snorkel cruise to the protected Islas Marietas National Park, rich in marine life, or head 2.5 hours north to San Blas and the La Tovara sanctuary, home to some of the best birdwatching in Mexico. Sayulita is also a nesting ground for olive ridley sea turtles – a number of local conservation groups offer guided turtle tours and hatchling releases. (Just be sure the organization is following best practices.)

Food and nightlife

Despite the relaxed atmosphere, the nightlife scene here is lively, with lots of bars and restaurants around town to choose from. Puerto Vallarta is just an hour away if you're looking for something more upscale – but that's not why you came to Sayulita. Here, travelers mix with locals without the bustle experienced elsewhere in Mexico.

Around town you'll find cafes offering delicious breakfasts, local menus featuring tropical Mexican food, nachos, chicken wings, and seafood platters, some of the best burritos in the world, and many beachfront vendors where you can watch the sunset over dinner.

Beaches in Sayulita

Take a quiet walk, play in the surf, or relax on the beaches in Sayulita. Playa de los Muertos is safe for swimming and ideal for families. Carricitos Beach is ideal for surfers, with large waves. Or you can climb on the rocks at Patzcuaro Beach, or hike through the jungle to pristine, secluded Playa Las Cuevas and Malpasos Beach. (Swimming is not recommended at Las Cuevas and Malpasos due to the riptides.)

Festivals and events in Sayulita

Sayulita has multiple festivals and events happening year-round.

  • January 16 to 24 January festivity of Our Lady of Peace
  • February 2 Feast of Our Lady of Tintoque
  • February 16 International Fishing Tournament Riviera Nayarit
  • March 09 Annual Tournament and Table Surfboard Long Remo Sayulita Marzo
  • March 07 to 28 Art Festival
  • April 03 and 04 Electric Beach Festival
  • April 23 to 26 and Mambo Salsa Festival
  • May 3 Feast of the Holy Cross
  • June 17 to 21 International Sport Fishing Tournament San Blas
  • June 29 Battle of Santos in Mexcaltitlán
  • July 9 to 12 Punta Mita Beach Festival
  • July 23 to 25 Fishing Tournament Bahia de Banderas
  • August 6 to 15 Corn Fair
  • September 10 al 13 México Golf Tour
  • September 15 and 16 Fiestas Patrias
  • September 26 festivity of San Francisco
  • October 31 Day of Christ the King
  • November 2 Day of the Dead
  • December 1 to 12 December festivity of Our Lady of Guadalupe
  • December 11th Anniversary of Bahia de Banderas

Getting there

A taxi from Puerto Vallarta airport to Sayulta takes about an hour, and costs between US $60–$80. Alternatively, buses running along the Nayarit line leave every 20 minutes, and also take an hour – Sayulita is the last stop.

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