Surfing, slow-crashing waves, golden sand, spicy margaritas, colorful streets, art galleries, and boho-chic vibes… Does that sound like somewhere you want to go?! If so, then travel west to the lovely Riviera Nayarit. Here, you’ll find the magic town of Sayulita — Pacific Mexico’s ultimate surf spot overflowing with trendy restaurants, boutique hotels, boho shops, and open-air markets! There is so much to see and do in Sayulita that we are constantly adding items to our Sayulita bucket list!
We have lived on the coast of Nayarit for over 1.5 years now and we visit Sayulita often. And without fail, every time I fall a little more in love with this magic town! It has its downsides, that’s for sure, but it does have a special charm that keeps people coming back. Of all the things to do here, surfing is one of the main attractions to Sayulita. In fact, it’s the prime reason why this town eventually became famous as a popular surfer and backpacker’s destination!
But beyond surfing, there’s plenty more to do in Sayulita on vacation! From eating at upscale restaurants and sipping on a lime margarita at the swing bar to basking in the sun on one of Sayulita’s sandy beaches… Here is my guide for all the top things to do in Sayulita Mexico!
20 Best Things to Do in Sayulita Mexico
Where to Stay
Budget-friendly finds ($0-50)
- Selina Sayulita – Modern and chic hotel with a private pool and palapa located in the center of Sayulita’s bustling downtown.
- La Redonda Sayulita Hostel – A colorful, backpacker-friendly hostel with a community lounge and garden.
- Hotel Vista Oceana – Oceanfront budget-friendly hotel overlooking Sayulita beach.
Best boutique hotels ($50-150+)
- Petit Hotel Hafa – A vibrant Mexican-Moroccan style boutique hotel with a boho rooftop terrace in the heart of Sayulita.
- Aurinko Bungalows – Rustic, airy bungalows in the center of town with discounted surf equipment and an on-site yoga studio.
- Siete Lunas – A luxurious jungly hotel with an outdoor pool perched atop a hill overlooking Sayulita beach.
1. Wake up early for pictures at the colorful flag street (“Slap Street”)
Arguably the busiest and cutest street in Sayulita is the Calle Delfines, or what’s locally dubbed as “Slap Street.” But I just call it flag street! It is a cute restaurant-lined street with hundreds of colorful flags (known as papel picado) strung above between palm trees.
Coming here to walk under the flags is a popular thing to do in Sayulita for first-time visitors. Everyone has to get there picture taken under the flags! Though if you do, you best go early! After 10 am, it will start getting pretty busy as the tourists arrive for a day of sight-seeing and surfing.
So why is this street called “Slap Street” anyway?
According to the locals, this street was once the focal point of a hot debate between two gentlemen who wanted to redesign the street. Unfortunately, they couldn’t agree and tensions rose until one man, in the heat of the moment, raised his hand and slapped the other guy in the face. On-watchers stepped in and managed to calm the two men down. The street would then become popularly known as “Slap Street.” There is a sign at the end of the street explaining the story!
Travel Tip: If you don’t want to beat the crowds, know that there are other colorful, flag-filled streets to take pictures of in Sayulita. I will be detailing all my best recommendations for photo spots in Sayulita in my upcoming Instagram guide (coming soon!)
2. Eat a yummy breakfast at Miscelánea Cafe
Sayulita is home to dozens of boho-chic breakfast cafes and lunch spots, but none are as cute and soul-satisfying as the Miscelánea Cafe. We LOVE this cafe so much and we can’t help but come here multiple times on any trip to Sayulita!
While most people find breakfast at ChocoBanana (a popular place to eat – it’s just in front of the flag street), for us there is no better cafe than at Miscelanea to kickstart our day in Sayulita.
Miscelánea Cafe whips up fresh, wholesome breakfast dishes and lunch plates using local and organic ingredients. Not to mention, their drinks, like their Oaxacan hot chocolate or beet lavender latte, are both super tasty, nutritious, and especially eye-pleasing.
As I said, there are dozens of (good!) breakfast places to eat, but for us, Miscelánea is a top-notch place to grab food and coffee and is emblematic of the chic Sayulita style!
Miscelánea Cafe opening hours and address: Mon-Sat from 8 am – 6 pm and Sun from 8 – 3 pm. Location: Ave. Revolucion 34 A (on the right side of the street hidden in a little backyard area).
3. Hit up Sayulita’s sandy beaches
One beach, two beaches, three beaches, four? Of all the things to do in Sayulita, going to the beach is an obvious one! But did you know there are several beaches in Sayulita other than the main beach (Sayulita Beach)? Yep! There are several beaches to discover in Sayulita and they all offer something a little different.
The best easy-to-reach beaches in Sayulita:
Sayulita Beach: The main beach directly accessible from downtown Sayulita. It is often crowded, lined with colorful beach loungers, and is packed with vendors eager to sell their products. It is also where everyone goes surfing (often dozens and dozens at a time!).
Playa de Los Muertos: The “beach of the dead” is aptly named as it sits right off the town’s local cemetery. This beach is a short 10-minute walk from downtown. Just follow the road lining the Sayulita main beach all the way to the left past all the shorefront hotels and villas. Soon you’ll reach the cemetery and down the dirt hill lies the semi-secluded Playa de Los Muertos. There are parking and restrooms for a small fee, along with one food shack for shrimp, drinks, and snacks.
Playa Carricitos: If you were to walk further along this dirt path through the jungle from Playa de Los Muertos, you’ll be on track to reach Playa Carricitos. It is a secluded beach, nice for relaxing off-grid style with no public anything!
Playa Escondida: Ever watched The Bachelorette? Well, you know the private beach where they film all the juicy drama? This is at Playa Escondida in Sayulita. It is not a public-access beach. I contacted them and asked if they do Day Passes, which they do for a $100 USD entrance fee. The pass gives you access to the beach, pools, spa, restaurant, and bars, but all food/spa costs are separate.
North Beach: If you head right from Sayulita Beach, instead of left, then you’ll be on your way to North Beach. It’s the long stretch of sand you see on the right of Sayulita and it’s here where you can take a long stroll or a hike through the jungle to reach the neighboring pueblo of San Pancho. We often hike to Sayulita from San Pancho, and it takes about 1.5 hours. We really enjoy North Beach for its clear waters and quiet beach (there’s hardly anyone). Plus it’s so long and sandy!
4. Surf’s up! Ride some waves (The most popular thing to do in Sayulita!)
Surfing is what Sayulita is most famous for, so obviously it is one of the best things to do here. As soon as you walk out onto the main beach, there’ll be a sea of surfers of all skill levels riding the waves. And there are just as many surf shops in Sayulita where you can rent a board, or even sign up for surf lessons!
Lots of surf guides and shops have set up their own cabanas on the beach, so surfing in Sayulita couldn’t come by any easier. The prices will vary by shop, but you can expect to pay around $20 per day for a standard surfboard rental and $50-70 for a surf lesson.
Here are some good surf shops in Sayulita to rent/take lessons from. Lunazul (on the beach), Patricia’s Surf School, Sayulita Surf School, WildMex Surf and Adventure, among others. If you really love surfing, you should also check out the popular beach of La Lancha.
5. Visit the cemetery & Playa de Los Muertos
The town’s local cemetery, and the beach connected to it, is a sight to see! One of our favorite things to do in Sayulita is to take a leisurely walk from downtown to the Sayulita cemetery.
Here, it’s common to see tombstones colorfully decorated with remnants from Day of the Dead festivities — flags, flowers, candles, and memorabilia of the loved one’s favorite things. One grave is even marked with a surfboard.
Just down the hill off to the right sits a tranquil beach, the aptly-named Playa de Los Muertos. Here you can enjoy a section of the beach with calm waves, ideal for families with kids or for swimming. Sayulita is generally good for swimming, now that the sewage conditions have improved with the new waste facility.
There are lounge chairs for rent on the beach, plus paid parking and bathrooms, along with a small food shack for snacks and drinks.
6. Shop Sayulita’s boho shops & art galleries
Though I’m not your average shopper, shopping is a popular thing to do in Sayulita because the boho-scene here is crazy chic! I know a lot of people enjoying shopping on vacation. If that’s your case, then you’ll love shopping in Sayulita!
Tons of cute boho stores filled with crochet swim tops, dreamcatchers, and flowy beach skirts line Sayulita’s colorful streets. My favorite shops to visit all have this type of earthy, boho vibes; they are Evoke the Spirit, R2 Fashion, Artefakto, Rosemary, Manantial (just to name a few!) and the open-air shops down the street on the way to the beach are so cute too!
You’ll also notice the plethora of stunning art galleries in and around Sayulita. Most of the art galleries feature Huichol art, beaded work, sculptures, paintings, jewelry, among other crafts. The Laughing Jaguar is kind of a mix between a shop and a gallery, featuring Mexican artwork and home decor. They even have pet collars stitched with native Huichol designs and colors!
7. Sip a margarita in style at the Atico Swing Bar
There’s no place that makes me feel like I’m in Sayulita more than the hip Atico Hookah/Swing Bar. It’s here where you can test your balance on a swing while juggling a drink in your hand. (It’s harder than it seems!) I really enjoy coming to Atico’s simply for the atmosphere.
Atico is set in the heart of Sayulita amid one of the busiest streets. During the day, it’s quite relaxed. At night, the place comes alive with music and maybe even a little dancing. It’s all open-air, so you’re immersed right into the vibrant night scene typical of Sayulita. You can also smoke hookah here, but we always just come for drinks and music! The margaritas are all good, strong, and rimmed nicely with either salt or a spicy mixture.
8. Stroll through the open-air Hippie Market
The Sayulita Hippie Market is more touristy than local now, but it is the place to go to get a decent deal on Mexican handicrafts. It is an outdoor market found just before the bridge going into downtown Sayulita.
Walking around the market is a fun thing to do in Sayulita, and a good way to see the art and crafts of the region. It is open everyday so be sure to take a stroll around the neighborhood!
Tip: Other markets in Sayulita are the Mercado del Pueblo (Friday mornings) featuring artisanal goods and crafts, and the Sunday-only Tianguis (meaning open air) market near the beach (Calle Gaviotas) which features handmade artwork and handicrafts from locals of the native Huicholes of Nayarit.
9. Grab an icy treat at Wakika or Mexicolate
Most people visit Sayulita for the sun and the beach, and nothing pairs better with a beachy vacation than ice cream! There are two delicious places to go for icy treats in Sayulita: Wakika or Mexicolate.
Wakika Heladeria serves up homemade ice pops and ice cream with all flavors and colors. It’s on the right side of the plaza, just next to La Rustica pizzeria.
Mexicolate features an icy smoothie of native cacao chocolate with banana, organic peanut butter, and dates. No extra sugar is added, just pure goodness and wholesome ingredients! You can find the tiny Mexicolate hole-in-the-wall shop on the opposite end of La Plaza Principal, just in front of the church.
10. Hang out in Sayulita’s colorful Plaza Principal
Speaking of La Plaza Principal, it’s here at the heart of the town where lots of events and things to do in Sayulita occur daily. You can find native Huichol art stands, food stalls, a ton of restaurants lining the plaza, art galleries… You name it!
There are lots to do and see in Sayulita, and at the center of it all sits this Plaza. For instance, you can take your photo of the Sayulita colorful sign, hang out under the gazebo, or even join the local Millenials on their skateboards under the trees.
11. Go whale watching (seasonal)
Whale watching in the Bandera’s Bay off the coast of Nayarit is one of the best things to do in Sayulita, Puerto Vallarta, and beyond! Large whales travel thousands of miles from the icy waters up north down to the warmer temperatures in the Bahia de Banderas.
PC: La Orca de Sayulita
There are many tours available, in all the cities around, so you can also take the opportunity to go whale watching in Sayulita!
The whale watching season in Nayarit is from mid-December to the end of March/beginning April. Tours typically last a whole morning or afternoon, or around 4 hours. You can get the chance to see Blue Whales, Humpbacks, Grey and Sperm Whales, and not to mention lots of dolphins!
Make sure to book with a company that respects the wildlife and environment by using low-impact boat vessels and following the best safety and protection procedures. La Orca de Sayulita is one such company that puts conservation first.
12. See live iguanas in The Iguana Tree (A cool thing to do in Sayulita)
El Arbol del Iguana – The iguana tree in Sayulita is a totally free thing to do and all it takes is just meandering your way to the tree to witness large, live iguanas hang out in their natural habitat.
They thrive in the tree-tops and often are seen scaling power lines, buildings, and tree branches. Sometimes they jump from one branch to another like a squirrel! Watch your head! These guys are a sight to see. If you visit the tree, please don’t intervene in their space. Take photos from a distance and don’t feed or approach these beasts. Just let them do their thing!
13. Learn the macrame craft with a macrame workshop
Macrame, among other handicrafts, are popular in this region. You’ll see tons of macrame wall hangers, planters, macrame dream catchers, macrame rugs, pillows, and even bags or some clothes. Macrame is so much fun to learn and Sayulita offers a workshop in town!
I have personally worked and learned from Eva, the macrame workshop leader, before. Learning how to make macrame is an incredibly fun thing to do in Sayulita beyond just lounging at the beach or slugging down tacos and beer.
14. Go salsa dancing at Don Pato’s (Best thing to do in Sayulita at night)
Where Sayulita seems like a calm, sleepy pueblo in the early mornings, Sayulita at night becomes like a wild party alive with music and sprawling bars and clubs. One of the most well-known bars to go to in Sayulita for dancing, drinks, and music is at Don Pato’s.
It’s also here where you can go salsa dancing on weekends and especially on Monday nights! There’s also Don Pedro’s near the beach but they require a cover charge. If ever Don Pato’s is full, you’ll easily find another bar not far away with live music and drinks.
15. Chill out for dinner on the rooftop at El Conejo
Eating out in Sayulita is one of our favorite things to do, especially seeing as we spend most of our time eating in San Pancho. The restaurants in San Pancho are delicious, but since we live here the restaurants and bars in Sayulita just change it up a bit for us.
With that said, we love to seek out the hidden gems of places to eat whenever we travel. Oftentimes, what you see on Tripadvisor doesn’t best represent what is actually the BEST in town. So one day, we did a little scouting around and came across a restaurant called El Conejo, which is now our favorite place for dinner and drinks in Sayulita!
They are a chic Asian-Mexican fusion bar with rooftop airy seating and a cozy ground-floor interior. The drinks are made with love and care (I loved my margarita!) and the food is equally as satisfying and delicious. Best of all, it’s fairly priced. It’s not overly priced.
For example, we got 2 sushi platters with 10x rolls, a plate of 3 gyoza dumplings, plus two-for-one classic margarita (for two people) — and all for less than $30 USD (including tip)!
16. Go sea fishing off the coast
Although we haven’t tried it ourselves (yet), apparently fishing in Sayulita is one of the best outdoor activities to enjoy another view of the sea. There are TONS of local fishing boats and fishermen taking their boats out, so fishing tours are available!
You can also cast your line in from the west side of the beach near the rocks. The fishing in Sayulita is good and that’s where lots of the fresh catch of the days come in at. I’ve seen local fishermen carry a line full of fish back from the beach a few times in Sayulita and loads of time from the beaches of San Pancho.
17. Take a day trip to Puerto Vallarta
If you made it to Sayulita, it’s likely because you flew into the international airport at Puerto Vallarta and took a uber or bus from there. But don’t overlook Puerto Vallarta as a tropical destination!
Sure, it’s not as small and quaint as the magic town of Sayulita, but Puerto Vallarta offers so many things to do in the way of food, hotels, daytime activities, adventures, and nightlife. We went ziplining in Puerto Vallarta and had a blast. We always go watch movies in the amazing cinema theater with reclining seats and dinner service. And we always go for fast wifi and good coffee in the Zona Romantica.
There is also a hike we did up to the hill behind downtown that completely took our breath away! We could see the entire PV coastline from up there. So, with all that said, why not consider going back to Puerto Vallarta for a day trip from Sayulita?
Tip: You could combine your day trip to PV either at the beginning or end of your stay, that way it coincides with your arrival and departure dates. Plus, I always like being in Puerto Vallarta early whenever I’ve got an outgoing flight. Since traffic between the jungle from Sayulita and PV can become so dense, it’s best to get there way in advance. Or else, you could be stuck on the highway trying to leave Sayulita. (Especially during the holidays, so keep that in mind.)
18. Explore the charming pueblo of San Pancho
If you are completely Sayulita’d out, then I have the perfect mini-getaway for you. Take a day trip from the crowded streets of Sayulita and go relax next door for a golden sunset in our charming pueblo of San Pancho (San Francisco, Nayarit).
San Pancho is home for us, so it’s hard for me to share as a travel blogger. But people are finding it, and I want them to find it through me so I can relay the strong sense of community and eco-warrior values that hold this town together.
So here it is: San Pancho is not Sayulita. At least we all hope it’s not! San Pancho isn’t the place to come party or stay out late, throw your trash, or not give a crap about your impact.
San Pancho is a community-driven, sustainably-minded town full of artists, yogi’s, healers, teachers, painters, dancers, musicians, protestors, chefs, writers, photographers… The list goes on. <3
This town has a loving, talented community with an authentic, homegrown organic-hippie vibe. You can tell the community here holds deep love and respect for the local Mexican culture. So, if that sounds like something you could be into, then please come visit and support our local businesses!
19. Tour the picturesque Islas Marietas
Las Islas Marietas is one of the most popular things to do in Sayulita and in all of the Riviera Nayarit. Everyone wants to go see the islands which form an archipelago in Bandera’s Bay.
The photos and videos of this place are certainly inspiring, but over-tourism has made it expensive to visit. I haven’t yet been, because each time I check the tours are full.
Only ~100 people are allowed to visit the National Park per day. So if visiting the Islas Marietas is a must-do adventure on your bucket list then it is wise to book well in advance!
20. Celebrate a Mexican holiday (One of the best experiences to have in Sayulita!)
Last but not least on this Sayulita bucket list for things to do is… Celebrate a holiday or festival in Sayulita! Sayulita has the infrastructure to host amazing events and the town becomes alive with colorful flags and Ojos de Dios strung across all the streets.
In 2018, we were extremely lucky to have been here to celebrate the Mexican holiday of Dia de Los Muertos otherwise known as Day of the Dead. This colorful, exceptionally emotional and vibrant holiday was so special to experience in Sayulita. While many people say, “Go to Mexico City for Day of the Dead!” we thought spending and celebrating in a small town such as Sayulita was definitely the way to go. It was super intimate, raw, and just breathtaking.
You can read all about our Day of the Dead experience in Sayulita to learn more about this holiday and see if it’s something you would like to plan your vacation around.
Final Thoughts on What to Do in Sayulita Mexico
There is no shortage of things to do in Sayulita for short or long-term stays! Every time we get to visit Sayulita we always end up doing another activity or finding another hidden gem.
So here’s my last piece of advice: When planning your trip to Sayulita, join a Facebook group or check out local events happening at restaurants or around town! There are some great festivals like the Boho Fest that happen sometime after the holidays around mid-January to mid-February.
Are you adding the colorful pueblo of Sayulita, Mexico to your bucket list?! If you’ve already been, what was your favorite thing to do and see here?