Once it was a quiet little fishing village. Now Sayulita’s a bustling tourist town known for its beachfront surf and sandy shore. After Ben and Chica continued on down the coast, we had a couple days to kill before Dane’s brother, Rhett, and his buddy, Chris, would meet us here to catch some waves and consume copious amounts of fish tacos and cold cervezas with us. So that we wouldn’t be tacoed and touristed out before they arrived, we decided to explore the surrounding area. After some scouting, we found the areas a short drive North or South made our time in Sayulita even better and, after the guys arrived, we ended up splitting our time between these places and the busy little surf town.
We started off exploring the south end where dirt roads and riverbeds lead us down to remote beaches where no tourists go to visit. After having lunch at a picturesque rocky beach with waves lapping up, we pushed on to check out the nearby surf breaks with nice rights a friendly expat told Penny about.
At one of these spots we found this goofy dude had been touring around with us…
We took down the coordinates of the surf breaks we liked and continued winding down the coastal highway until we found a hotel with a small area for campers just north of Cruz de Huanacaxtle. We stopped in and set up base camp for the coming days, nestled between a French and a Swiss couple who had made this place their home for the winter.
The guys had rented a house in Sayulita and, with only a week of vacation, we knew they’d want to pack in as much as possible. This would mean last call and first wave. So when they touched down, there was no time to waste. They piled in the van as we tossed them each a cold one which had been chilling in the fridge, on cue for their arrival. After navigating through Puerto Vallarta rush hour to the house they’d rented in town, we quickly ditched their luggage and headed into town for dinner. We threw around ideas for the week to come and, having just explored the surrounding areas and surf breaks, had loads of ways to fill their week. Over several cervezas, we very loosely scheduled an adventure-packed itinerary.
So, here are our top picks to make the most of your visit to Sayulita:
Next to Baja, Sayulita is Northern Mexico’s hotspot. While there are waves lapping up right out in front of the restaurants and surf shops, there are other great breaks within a 30 minute drive North or South of the busy beach break out front. While most surf shops offer rides to these locations, you can likely grab a seat on the bus if you don’t have your own wheels. Lucky for us, we had the right rig for the job!
From North to South, here are our favorite surf spots:
Lo De Marcos: North of Sayulita, a small town with little tourism but a great left point break and restaurant on the very South side of the beach. Lots of local surf it but be mindful and you’ll have a great time.
San Pancho: another booming little surf town North of Sayulita with surf, stores, restaurants, etc.
Anclotes: also known as “mini Malibu”, this is a reef break with nice rights at a sandy beach right next to a modern tourist strip with restaurants, shops + more. You can rent boards here, book spear fishing and boat tours here.
Burros: our favourite surf beach close to Sayulita is a short jungle walk in from a parking area adjacent to a hotel. With a nice right and left, this is a popular spot but we never saw it very busy. It’s mostly sandy but has some reef and rock.
But, hey, if surf isn’t your thing, don’t worry, Sayulita’s got you covered!
Fill your belly with some great Mexican cuisine. There are loads of restaurants, and new ones to try are opening up all the time. These two are our all-time, can’t-miss favourites:
- Sayulita Café Casa del Chile Relleno: our all-time favourite place for dinner out in Sayulita. Their infamous Azteca Molcajete dish can’t be beat. I’m salivating just thinking about it.
- Naty’s Cocina: tacos con todo! If you’re craving tacos, this place has it all with fresh salsas, licuadas and picantes to keep you coming back day after day. Make it here before they close at 3!
If you make it to Lo De Marcos, don’t miss dinner at Tomatina. It’s hands down the best place to eat in Lo De Marcos and some of the best food we’ve had in all of Mexico. Chef Alejandro is well known for his amazing pizza but be sure to try his other dishes. He puts a lot of heart into his menu and will not disappoint you!
Make some time to hike to Playa Malpasos, everyones “secret beach” just North of Sayulita. You can make it to this tranquil beach paradise on your own two feet if you continue past the point on the North end of the beach. You will catch glimpses of beautiful beaches, free of tourists, then hike through the jungle and slip through a cave before arriving at this little paradise.
Bring a dry bag for your electronics in case you catch high tide through the cave or an afternoon thunderstorm rolls in… or both like the last time we were there! Climb the point, race the waves and or…
Find a coconut for each player, and a small nut to use as the pea, and you have yourself a beachside bocce game. Simple and awesome.
Go for a paddle.
If the swell isn’t on your side, trade in your surf board for a paddle board and check out the beach to the South of Sayulita. It’s a great spot for coconut bocce and there’s lots of sealife to check out along the way. Here there’s often someone selling fruit, pipas frias (chilled coconuts) or fresh mussels. Pack a few cervezas and you’ll be set for an afternoon.
Of course, while you’re in the village there are loads of stores to see and beachfront chairs to rent for soaking in those golden rays. Check out Penny’s favourite store, Evoke the Spirit, for unique contemporary work from local artisans (it’s on Calle Jose Mariscal near the town square). Meander through the street market, try the street food and buy your groceries early in the morning for the freshest produce.
In the evenings there’s always something going on. Next to the zocalo you can find live music at Don Pato’s or a great DJ at Yambak Bar, just below. Find a dance party at a small bar on the beach, salsa at Don Pedro’s, or, take it easy and enjoy that golden sun set.
Then, if you’re looking to go a little deeper into Mexico, consider a visit to San Sebastion Del Oueste. It’s a small, colonial town in the mountains, less than two hours from Sayulita if you have your own wheels or rent some. During our last visit to Sayulita before setting out on this adventure, we rented a vehicle with a group of friends to get here. The road up and entire area is beautiful, the people kind and the air crisp and cool. While you’re here, don’t miss the amazing food and courtyard ambiance of Montebello’s Italian Restaurant. We contemplated making a trip up the mountains again just for another helping of their lasagna.
During our visits to Sayulita we’ve done a lot of things, but, the most rewarding thing we did was find our pup, Wyatt. It was a bit of a search for us to find the right little guy to join our lives but with the help of Sayulita Animals and JEEP, in Las Penitas, we did.
Of course, we can’t recommend that everyone adopt a dog, even though there are so many that need homes, but if you are ready to commit to loving, training and taking care of a furry family member, these people will do everything they can to help you do so. And, getting your new buddy home is a lot easier than you think, especially if you reside in North America. So, if it’s something you’ve been wanting to do, enrich the life of a Mexican mutt! They will enrich yours more than you can ever imagine.