San Pancho, Mexico (officially “San Francisco, Nayarit” on the map!) is hands-down the best-kept secret of the entire Riviera Nayarit.
But those who have been or have lived here already know that, and most people visiting San Pancho for the first time come to believe so, too.
San Pancho is an unassuming pueblo located on the Pacific coast of the lovely Riviera Nayarit in western Mexico. You can find it tucked off the main highway about an hour’s drive north of Puerto Vallarta.
Here in San Pancho, you can dine on fresh seafood, bathe in the sun on a long stretch of sandy beach, and take in the tropical mountain and palm tree views from anywhere in town.
Of course, those are all great. But more than anything, the best thing about San Pancho is its eco-conscious, activist-driven community.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links that may earn me a small commission should you decide to click through and make a valid purchase (at no extra cost to you). Thanks so much for your support!
As a travel blogger who has lived in San Pancho, Mexico on and off since April 2018, it’s not easy for me to share with my readers whom I know to be fellow travel-hungry adventurers in search of unique destinations!
That said, this guide is designed to inform you about the town of San Pancho and how you can visit it responsibly.
Let me tell you more about this beloved community and what makes this town so special.
The Ultimate Guide: San Pancho, Mexico
San Pancho is unlike any other place I’ve traveled to or lived in.
But first, where is San Pancho, Mexico?
As I said, San Pancho is a special place, and it attracts a certain special type of people! It’s not like its neighboring pueblo of Sayulita, the chic surfer’s town where the streets and beaches are crowded with tourists.
San Pancho promotes a calmer, quieter, and more down-to-earth and eco-conscious type of tourism. And this is exactly my raison d’etre. More and more, people are searching for San Pancho. And they’re going to find it!
My hope with this ultimate guide is to bring across the essence of this charming pueblo so that when you visit San Pancho—for the first or fourth time—you can make your time here much more meaningful and beneficial for both you and the San Pancho community.
So without further ado…
Here’s literally everything you need to know about visiting San Pancho, Mexico! Please remember to visit us with care. 🙂
Visiting San Pancho for the First Time?
✈️ Find affordable flights to Mexico on KAYAK from $99+
🚗 Rent a car from Puerto Vallarta to San Pancho on Discovercars.com
🏠 Stay at one of my favorite hotels in San Pancho
🎒 Pack water, a cute day backpack, and wear comfy walking shoes (psst… they’re sustainable!)
📸 Bring your SonyA7iii and all-around 24-70mm travel lens
🛡 Insure your Mexico adventures with SafetyWing, the global travel medical insurance for nomads ($40/4 weeks)
🖼 Book with GetYourGuide for fun activities in Nayarit and airport transfers!
*Updates for traveling to San Pancho in 2023*
- Open restaurants have taken sanitation measures.
- Some businesses and organizations will reopen only after the summer/low season (i.e. Entreamigos, etc). Most activity begins again in mid-October and early November.
- Wearing a mask is not required, but optional.
If you’re visiting San Pancho for the first time, here’s a quick overview of what this town is all about.
San Pancho is home to many artists, healers, yogis, muralists, dancers, writers, teachers, musicians, painters, photographers, circus performers… You name it, we got it!
One of the first things you might notice about San Pancho is that it’s full of associations giving back to the community.
From the Entreamigos Community Center to the Jaguar Alliance, Circo de Los Niños, and San Pancho Turtle Rescue, this town oozes community service and activism. (More on these places later.)
Other fun things to know when visiting San Pancho:
- While tourists enjoy the beach by day, it’s the locals who crowd it at night in order not to miss one of San Pancho’s many magical sunsets.
- Food is best served with an agua del dia.
- The Plaza del Sol hosts the Tuesday open-air artisanal market and other events.
- The best spots in San Pancho are off the main street, so go explore a little!
- And oh yeah, free-roaming dogs own this town. 😉
Fun fact: The main street in San Pancho is called Avenida Tercer Mundo (Third World Avenue). If you look closer, you’ll notice all the side streets are named after countries (Pakistan, Kenya, Cambodia, Honduras, etc…).
When is the best time to visit San Pancho?
The best time to visit San Pancho, Mexico is during the dry months from December to May. But, my advice is to skip the holiday crowds and come sometime in January or February.
January through April are specifically the better months to visit San Pancho because the skies are sunny and clear while the days are warm and the mornings/nights are fresh.
It’s also during this time that San Pancho comes alive with festivals and events! There’s something to do and see virtually every week here during the high season.
The low season of San Pancho is during the extremely hot and wet summer months.
Special events & festivals
Here is just an idea of all the events and festivals happening in San Pancho during the high season.
There are TOO many to include here, so I will just name a few. But know that there are many, many more!
La Bodega de Teatro (Jan-April) hosts several shows, plays, mini-concerts, dances, and theatrical skits. Check the entrance board for upcoming events or ask around in town. The entrance fee is usually by donation or only costs around $100-200 pesos.
Entreamigo’s Annual Fundraiser & Gala (February) is hosted each year at the gorgeous beach-front palapa at La Patrona Beachclub, owned by the Polo team in town. (Yes, San Pancho has its own Polo field and stables!) Ticket sales go toward supporting the children and activities for the next year at Entreamigos.
Entreamigo’s Environmental Fair (March) is a festival hosted by Entreamigos in order to promote environmental awareness and sustainability in the community. There is a dance/music parade down the street all the way to the Plaza del Sol, where tables and stalls display ecological and environmentally-friendly projects, initiatives, experiments, products, and more.
Circo de Los Ninos Fundraiser & Show (March) is the annual fundraiser of the circus school in San Pancho. Co-founder of the Cirque du Soleil created this school as a place for kids to express themselves and create through circus art. The fundraiser show is a stunning performance of around 50 kids in the community who take regular classes here at the school.
San Pancho International Music Festival (Feb-March) is a special event in San Pancho that brings together dozens of artists and local (and international) musicians to perform live for a weekend of fun, music, and community in La Plaza del Sol. There are games, drinks, food, and more!
San Pancho Art & Cultural Capital Festival (December) is a special event that celebrates San Pancho as the cultural capital of the state of Nayarit. There are artistic, cultural, and sports events happening all over town with support from our local businesses and restaurants.
Where to Stay in San Pancho
San Pancho is growing by the day. When we left and came back after 6 months of our Canadian van road trip, we found San Pancho not only grew, but it grew fast! New hotels popped up while others have already disappeared.
As part of my mission to spread responsible tourism, I have compiled a list of the best places to stay in San Pancho that I personally experienced and can wholeheartedly recommend.
Read the compilation article here for more details about each place, or use my quick links below to book your stay at each of these deserving San Pancho hotels and accommodations.
- Best modern + chic hotels with an eco thumb: Marii Hotel Costero, Pal.Mar Hotel Tropical
- Traditional Mexican-style San Pancho favorites: Hotel Cielo Rojo, Hotel Casa San Pancho
- Eco-friendly accommodations in San Pancho: Aldea Bamboo, Maraica Eco Hotel
*Please do not support the illegal hotel/condominiums being built on the public beach of San Pancho. It is called Punto Paraiso and it is robbing a federal-owned public beach and disturbing the natural habitat of the sea turtles. There are many efforts to legally bring down the concrete monstrosity and it is up to us and YOU to bring responsible tourism to this town. Otherwise, San Pancho will no longer be the San Pancho we all love…
Activities & What to Do in San Pancho
Even though San Pancho is a small town of about ~3,000 full-time residents (with that number spiking during high season), it’s somewhat shocking how much there is to do and see here. So much in fact that I’ve written an entirely separate article for it!
Read More: 40 Awesome Things to Do in San Pancho, Mexico
So without going into too much detail here, what are the best activities in San Pancho? Here is just a brief selection of my favorite things to do!
1. Watch a magical San Pancho sunset
San Pancho is famous for its sunsets. If you visit San Pancho you have to stay until sunset and hope it’s not cloudy (although sometimes those produce amazing sunsets as well!).
Bring a blanket to sit on and enjoy the scene. Don’t be surprised if people start to clap once the sun finally dips down below the horizon!
Tip: Check sunset times in San Francisco, Nayarit when you visit. At the start of January, the sunset was around 18:30 pm. In mid-February, it was at around 19:30 pm. So check the time for sunset in San Pancho to know when to catch it.
2. Eat at one of San Pancho’s amazing restaurants
San Pacho has so many good restaurants (read my full article on where to eat in San Pancho). From upscale international cuisine to fresh catch-of-the-day seafood to local Mexican taco stands, San Pancho has something for everyone.
Our personal favorite places to eat in San Pancho are:
- Hotel Cielo Rojo (organic bistro),
- Barracuda (fresh seafood and more),
- Maria’s (Mexican/American),
- La Cerveceria (cozy craft brewery with charcuterie plates, fries, + more),
- El Gallo (local handmade authentic Mexican fare),
- Itzalayasayan (homemade Mexican fusion),
- Ikan Cocina Marina (fresh seafood with a creative touch)
- El Dolce Jardin (pizza garden),
- Bahia Brew Pub (burger bar with craft beer)
- among others!
And don’t miss out on the local carts rolling around town: Dona Teresa’s ceviche tostadas (she now has her own restaurant!), Amanda’s homemade falafel wraps, or the $10 peso churros from the churro couple who whip them up fresh from the back of their truck.
3. Tour/Volunteer at the Entreamigos Community Center
A visit to San Pancho wouldn’t be complete without seeing the amazing Entreamigos Community Center.
This center, now thriving on its pillars of education, sustainability, and community, once was an old, abandoned dairy and mango factory in the 1980s. Fifteen years ago it got its start thanks to a young and curious Nicole Swedlow, who set up a table on the streets of San Pancho where locals could display and sell their art.
Now, Entreamigos is an eccentric place where community, friendship, and growth unite. Families from the town are able to work full-time alongside their infant children, who play in the internal daycare center. Children can attend daily workshops and activities ranging from art, music, sports, English, tech, reading, and much more while women and men in the community can hold pivotal jobs/roles in the development of the center and the town.
The center boasts a 9,000+ book library, a garden, a communal kitchen, a recycled second-hand shop, an art gallery, a screenprinting station, a glass sorting station, a classroom for movies and presentations, and so much more.
Most striking of all is perhaps its recycling center, which takes in dozens of tons of trash, glass, and recycled material from the community. With over 140 recycling bins across town, it’s thanks to Entreamigos and the community efforts that the town can remain clean (except for some heaps of dog crap) while promoting ecological values to both the locals and visitors.
Note: Please recycle your glass and plastic bottles, beer cans, and recyclables in the Entreamigo receptacles scattered around town for your convenience! Also, please be mindful not to leave cigarette butts on the beach or streets.
4. Spend the day at the San Pancho Beach
La Playa San Pancho (San Pancho Beach) is what most tourists come to see. The beach here is clean (thanks to the community’s frequent beach clean-ups) and is not as crowded as other beaches.
Even if there is a crowd, a 10-minute walk in either direction is enough for you to lounge in the sand in peace with hardly anyone around.
Surfing in San Pancho
While you’ll see dozens of surfers surfing the waves in San Pancho, this isn’t exactly the place to start for beginners.
San Pancho has some serious wave action, and only the more advanced surfers go here. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try it out with a knowledgeable surf guide!
If you head to the left side of the beach you’ll find shore-front surf rentals and surfer dudes ready to teach you a few tricks. Or alternatively, you can book a surfing tour in town or a surf tour that goes to the ever-popular surf beach at La Lancha, near Punta de Mita.
Popular and trusted surf shops in San Pancho:
Beachfront restaurants & chairs
For those who enjoy chips and guac with a margarita in hand at the beach, don’t fret! San Pancho Beach has two beachfront restaurants — La Perla and Las Palmas. Pick a side and enjoy it! Both offer the same quality/price.
Services near the San Pancho beach:
- There are restrooms at both beachfront restaurants ($10 pesos for non-customers)
- An ATM machine is located right beside Las Palmas on the plaza
- The San Pancho Malecon is busy with local vendors and artisans
- Shopping and restaurants are extremely close
Turtle releases on the beach
June to November is the prime turtle season here. And the San Pancho Turtle Rescue and Nursery, headed by long-time turtle guru Frank D. Smith, often receive volunteers to help rescue and release the hatchlings. If you’re here during this time (sometimes the season will spill over through January from late nests), you can witness a release on the beach at sunset.
5. Grab a craft beer at La Cerveceria Artesanal
A special place to visit, with a warm and inviting atmosphere, is the Cerveceria Artesanal San Pancho.
Headed by Wally, originally from Portland, Oregon where craft brewery reigns, the Cerveceria aims to bring San Pancho artisanal Mexican craft beer, food, and fun.
It’s the best place to go with friends for a night out. They’re often hosting the best local live music, too, which leads me to my next San Pancho activity highlight…
6. Listen to local live music in town
Local live music is a San Pancho staple here, and you can find it happening pretty much every night of the week somewhere in town. Whether it’s Open Mic at La Buena Vida on Tuesdays, at El Gallo for Friday’s salsa nights, or at one of the many restaurants in town.
To find live music, use this handy community calendar from San Pancho Life here.
7. Shop at the San Pancho artisanal open-air market
The San Pancho Mercado Artesanal is the town’s local open-air farmer’s market.
It takes place every Tuesday from 10 am – 2 pm and features organic food, artisanal products, clothes, jewelry, handicrafts, and samples from local businesses in San Pancho and nearby communities.
The market comes alive with live regional music from local performers and the atmosphere is generally happy and friendly. It’s a great place to discover and feel the down-to-earth San Pancho vibe.
Shopping in San Pancho
Other than the local market, there are plenty of places to go shopping in San Pancho. All along down the main avenue are shops, which increase in number as you get closer to the beach.
You can find lots of artisanal Mexican crafts and regional products here, such as handmade rugs, jewelry, home decor, clothes, etc.
Below are the best places to shop in San Pancho by category.
While Sayulita might take the crown for best boho-chic shops, don’t overlook San Pancho for shopping. There are plenty of beachy clothes shops here to check out, including:
- Artesanadores (Crochet beach tops)
- Nativa Surf Shop
- Sea & Salt Beachstore
- Santa Madre
- Pancho Vida
- Elote Arte
Mexican Art & Handicrafts
San Pancho celebrates traditional Mexican folk art and artisanal handiwork. You can find authentic Mexican art and handicrafts at the following stores in San Pancho:
- Pancho Jaguar
- Huapango Arte Mexicana
- Elote Arte
- Oaxacan rugs on the street (open-air display, can’t miss them!)
- Tuesday’s Mercado Artesanal
- Luna Layne
Beach & Surf shops
There are just a couple of beach and surf shops in town for boards, surf clothes, and other beachy items.
- Santa Madre
- Sea & Salt
- The San Pancho surf shop on the left of La Cerveceria brewery
As for souvenir shops in the typical/touristy sense of the word, there’s only one and it’s called San Pancho Souvenirs. Otherwise, the Mexican art shops I mentioned above make great places to find souvenirs or special keepsakes from your time here.
Liquor, Convenience, & Mini Markets
As for the other types of shops in San Pancho, there are a few you might find useful during your time here.
Mini markets: El Indio and Emiliano’s are two mini-markets on Calle America Latina where you can find veggies, fruits, and some canned goods. We like to get our fresh produce at the market on Tuesdays when we can, otherwise, we grab them at Emilianos and then stack up on canned goods at El Indio. You also have a couple of markets near the highway and hostels in San Pancho, just in case you’re staying on that end of town.
Convenience stores: As for gas-station types of stores, there are two. The Kiosko in the center of town, and the Oxxo at the entrance of San Pancho are just off the highway. You can get all the typical drinks/snacks/services here.
Liquor stores: For mezcal or tequila, head to the La Selecta – Artesanal Mezcal Tequila y Raicilla shop on the left as you go down the main street (it’s on the left before the park). It’s also nearby the Kiosko where you can purchase beer. El Indio also has shelves and shelves of wine, mezcal, tequila, and other spirits.
Tourist + Medical Services in San Pancho
San Pancho Hospital: has both general and emergency services. It’s located on Calle Africa 10. I’ve been a couple of times, painfully, and although wait times can be extremely long, the personnel have always been friendly.
Veterinaria San Pancho: In case you need a vet while in town, Julio and America are the local vets here and you can find them at their new location in town on Calle Pakistan. Their contact number is +52 322 156 5977.
ATMs: There are just a handful of ATMs in town, and sometimes they don’t work. So bring extra cash with you just in case. The best ATM (cheapest fees) is at the hospital. There are also ATMs inside the Kiosko and El Indio markets. Plus, there’s one on the plaza in front of the beach, and a few pharmacies have them inside their stores as well.
Taxi Stand: To get a taxi from San Pancho, go to the Parque de la Hermandad across from the Kiosko in the center of town. Prices are normally $150 one-way to Sayulita and $200 for Lo de Marcos.
Health & Wellness in San Pancho
Wellness, health, and self-care are all integral aspects of local San Pancho life. There are so many opportunities to get involved. For example, you can take pilates, meditation, or yoga classes (among many others).
As I mentioned, healers and yogis speckle this town, so it’s extremely easy to find a service or class just for you.
- Yoga & Pilates: Check out El Estar, Pal.Mar, and the Pilates studio on Tercer Mundo.
- Meditation & Healing: El Estar also offers meditation and a variety of therapies and massages.
- Massages: Angelical Spa, El Estar, Pal.Mar, and individual massage therapists around town.
San Pancho Associations & Centers
Finally, to close off this ultimate guide to San Pancho, I want to highlight a few of the civil associations and non-profits that truly make this town so special.
Here I will mention a few so you can support them during your visit to San Pancho. 🙂
Entreamigos Community Center — The educational + environmental community center for children and adults.
San Pancho Animales — Group of dedicated San Pancho residents who raise money to spay, neuter, and rescue sick, injured, or abandoned cats and dogs in the community.
Circo de Los Niños de San Pancho — Non-profit Circus Arts School dedicated to promoting youth development through circus arts.
San Pancho Turtle Nursery & Rescue — The local San Pancho turtle rescue is dedicated to the protection and conservation of marine turtles. Check for volunteer opportunities and baby turtle releases on the beach.
Alianza Jaguar San Pancho — Civil association working to promote jaguar preservation in the area.
Birding San Pancho — A non-profit organization dedicated to training and educating about bird and habitat conservation by integrating education, community development, and science with local eco-tours.
La Bodega Teatro San Pancho — Cultural center and non-profit in San Pancho offering events on theater, dance, music, visual, and performance arts.
Colectivo San Pancho — An independent community arts collective promoting artistic personal and cultural development.
LILHA Residencia — Art residency and multi-disciplinary center designed to enhance creativity and artistic development.
SOS San Pancho — Civil association dedicated to promoting environmental awareness and the environmental and community’s well-being in San Pancho.
Batala San Pancho — An Afro-Brazilian Samba Reggae percussion group for the community, by the community, and the newest of 45 Batala’s around the world.
San Pancho is a place to experience, not just to visit! My hope is that this lengthy guide can give you a deeper sense of what this community is all about.
Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to practice sustainable and ethical tourism. Please be mindful when you travel!
Lastly, if you’re still reading this then thank you so much for your support! I would especially appreciate your thoughts and feedback in the comments below! My aim is to keep this guide updated over time as much as possible, so please let me know if a business has since closed down.
Please feel free to reach out with comments or questions!
More Nayarit travel inspiration here:
- 13 Cutest Beach Towns & Destinations in Nayarit, Mexico
- 50 Unforgettable Things to Do in Riviera Nayarit
- 10 Best Boutique & Beach Hotels in Sayulita
- Top 20 Things to Do in Sayulita, Mexico
- What to Do in Tepic, Nayarit in a Weekend
- The Ultimate Packing List for Mexico (+ Free Printable)
Hey Bri, Thanks for the great write up. I visited San Pancho and Sayulita in the past, but this time we are only staying at San Pancho, nine nights in early/mid June. Hoping you can share some knowledge with us.
I know it’s the beginning of the rainy season, but what can we expect in terms of weather?
Are shops/restaurants open in early/mid June… not only in San Pancho but in neighboring towns?
I’m a surfer and love the wave action. My wife, not so much. In case the waves are too big in San Pancho for her to feel comfortable, what’e the closest scenic beach to SP that is better for swimming.
Thanks for the pro tips!
David from Santa Cruz
Any other tips/ suggestions for the time of year we are visiting?
Hi David! Happy to hear you are returning to San Pancho, it’s such a wonderful community/destination to visit. You can expect quite hot, humid weather in June. Shops and restaurants will be open, but possibly with limited hours since it’s the off-season. However, note that the “off-season” is slowly disappearing in San Pancho due to its increase in popularity. You should still have options. Sayulita will be pretty much fully operational as usual, with fewer closures (if any) because it’s THE town everyone visits. The closest beach for smaller waves after San Pancho will be Sayulita or possibly Lo de Marcos. For swimming/scenery, I prefer Lo de Marcos; Sayulita is crowded and the water quality right off the beach where the surfers go is not the best. San Pancho will be lovely, hot, quieter (but not too quiet) in June, great for exploring around without (hopefully) too many crowds. I hope that’s helpful and that you enjoy your time!! Xx Bri
Carl William Seltz says
This is such a great blog, thanks for all your recommendations! My wife June and I are coming to San Pancho for the month of February, taking a chance on a new place for a month. Is it pretty safe to walk streets in San Pancho after dark? I did subscribe to your blog and the Community facebook site. Can’t wait to get there!
Hey Carl! That’s wonderful, I’m sure you both with love San Pancho (most people do!). It is safe to walk in SP after dark, yes. The little downtown is alive. That said, I wouldn’t walk far outside of town, but we always felt safe getting to/from our rental which varied across the years we were there (10-20 min walk from the beach). I hope that helps! Have the best time!
Bill Hakins says
Hi Bri, great articles with lots of information. San Pancho sounds wonderful, lots of opportunities to volunteer and love the idea of living in harmony with nature and our fellow humans. Sounds like it has a great art community and we love live music. We’re looking forward to our move to somewhere on the Pacific coast early this year, we’ll definitely check out San Francisco!
You said it all, Bill! It really is a wonderful community. I think you’ll love it!
Beautiful pictures and content. Resonates with my soul. Would you share the FB group that you recommend again for San Pancho. John from Vermont.
Many thanks for your kind words, John! The FB group is San Pancho Communidad Collectiva
This is a great resource of information for San Poncho, which I will be visiting for the first time next month. Do you know where the bus from Puerto Vallarta drops you off and if they were taxis there? thank you so much in advance.
Great to hear, Michelle! You’ll love it. The PV bus drops you off on the highway at the entrance to San Pancho — aka at the bus stop across from the Oxxo. You can find the Oxxo on maps and then see how far of a walk it is into town. It takes about 20-25 minutes to walk from there to reach the beach. There are taxis, but most of them hang around the park in the heart of San Pancho. One might be straggling around the highway, and things may have changed since, but we always walked!
Nick G. says
This is great, Bri. We’re considering San Pancho for a winter break (and possibly extended winter stays in the future) but wondering about transportation from airport in PV. Is there reliable bus service from PV airport to San Pancho? Are there other means that you recommend?
Reliable is iffy! We used to rent a car and drop it off in Sayulita, then take a taxi back to San Pancho. I’m not sure if that’s still possible, but otherwise, the bus is pretty reliable! It just takes 2x the amount of time. But we did it plenty times and it’s reliable enough, lol!
Beth Italia says
I’m about to book my stay in San Pancho for end of October. What is the weather like around that time? Also is it common for people to rent cars and go to other villages around nayarit? I will probably want to go to other beaches to swim in calmer waters. Are there any you might recommend? Also any places good for snorkling? Thank you for your post. It has so much information. I will use as a resource.
Hi Beth! The weather will be nice, much cooler than the hotter months but maybe still rainy from the leftover hurricane season. Yes, I’d recommend getting a rental car — for calmer beaches/waves, you’d like Lo de Marcos! Snorkeling is probably the best in the Banderas Bay around the islands off Punta Mita and Puerto Vallarta.
So happy to have stumbled into your blog. Would you know if there’s surf in San Pancho late August to September?
Hi Kat! Yes, there is 🙂
Thank you for all this excellent, detailed information! It makes me so excited about my upcoming stay. Could you share Karina’s email with me too? I’m looking for a rental from Nov-March(ish). Gracias!
Hey Julia! I’m so glad! Could you pop me a quick email? I’ll send it over asap : )
Hello! Thinking to come for 6 months with my 4 year old (I work online). Would it be easy to find a school for him?
Thanks so much your article has been so helpful and made me wait to come!! X
Hi Rosa! Yes, I believe so but I am not sure what the entrance process is for new kiddos. I would check out the schools there, then find the contact and give them a call! Lots of internationals with kids, though, so shouldn’t be much of a problem I’d imagine. xx
Kate Timmins says
Absolutely wonderful read and makes my heart sing! We are from New Zealand and pondering a move to Mexico, can you enlighten us on how easy it is to live there? Many thanks, Kate
Aww, thanks Kate! Glad you enjoyed it. 🥰 It is fairly straightforward, a bit of a slog to get the paperwork if you decide to get your Temporary Residence Permit (for stays beyond 180 days) but nothing a few appointments will take care of!
Great info! Heading to San Panchos today. Thank you!
Hi Bri, thank you for your informative blog. I currently live in Australia and am trying to find somewhere to move to in Mexico. San Pancho sounds like it is ticking a lot of boxes but I am just wondering about how dog friendly it is? Are there off leash dog areas where they can run and play? My dog is a very high energy working breed so I need to make sure I move somewhere that offers an amazing life for her, too. Are dogs allowed on the beaches at all? Are there parks or trails we can explore together? Thanks!
Hi Christina! Yessss, San Pancho is VERY dog-friendly. In fact, it’s kind of pup paradise 😅 The beaches, town, and restaurants are dog-friendly. She will have a wonderful life there 💛 There are some hikes between the beaches of San Pancho and Sayulita and you can take your pup along as well
Considering do a solo trip in mid-june (low season) to destress. Bad idea?
Great idea!! As long as your hotel has AC lol — it’s a quieter but lovely time to be in SP.
Bueno Dias Bri!
Thank you for this post! Would you be able to pass Karinas email to me? My partner, baby and I are looking for a long term rental starting in September ! Muchas Gracias!!
Hey Cameron! Thanks for reaching out — let me shoot you an email. 🙂
Ihor Gowda says
Easy to find gluten free food in San Pancho?
It’s possible — yes!
Amy Wilson says
All of this information is great! Would you have any restaurant recommendations for an extended family of 10 that is still eating outside due to COVID? We will be visitng in late February. Thank you!
Hey Amy! Thanks! Oooh. For a family of 10. I would suggest the Bistro Organico inside Hotel Cielo Rojo. It’s outdoors while being inside the property and they’ve got a long bench table that would fit 10 comfortably. The food is amazing — organic and delicious! There are other places down the main Tercer Mundo ave, as well, with outdoor seating. La Ola Rica, Mr. Ribs, Kokonati, all of them have outdoor seating so you shouldn’t have trouble finding a place to accommodate you. I hope that helps! Have an amazing time in San Pancho for me. xx
Stella cowelll says
Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii! I have been to San pancho 2 almost 3 times and was wondering if you have ever tried El pocas tacos. If you havent i reccomend it. Also if you do go let me know if sineye still works there! Its ared taco shop.
Ooh, not sure if I have tried them! Thanks for the recommendation!
Its amazing i go there every night im there!
Antonio Mena says
I’m pondering relocating in Mexico and have been a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of being so far away from home alone and searching for a rental at the same time that I’m trying to handle everything else involved. So I’ve been trying to look for this ideal location that I have in my head and your article has provided me with someplace that checks most of my boxes. Like a few other readers I’m looking for something like a 1 bedroom rental close to the heart of town. I’ll join the FB group you recommended to start but am wondering if you might be able to point me in the right direction. I prefer not to use big companies like Airbnb.
Thank you again for an outstanding article.
Hey Antonio! Many thanks for reading my guide to San Pancho! Happy to hear about your plans. I think you’d love it. It’s a gorgeous place to live. For rentals, you’ll definitely have the most luck searching/posting/asking in the FB group I suggested. If you don’t, let me know, and I will send you the contact info for our trusted landlord. Her name is Karina, she is from San Pancho, and she rented to us several times. I also just published a guide explaining how we find apartment rentals overseas, if that helps as well. Thanks, and happy apartment hunting!
Hi Bri. LOVE your site and these blogs on San Pancho. They are incredibly helpful and nice to support local.
I am heading to San Pancho in a few days and considering an extended stay in again later this year. I would super appreciate connecting with your trusted landlord Karina. Also what is the best way to get from the airport to San Pancho if I don’t rent a car? Thanks so much
Hi Caroline! Thank you so very much for reading my guides to San Pancho! It’s a place very near & dear to my heart. I will send you Karina’s contact by email! The easiest way without a rental car is by bus. 🚌 I probably should write another post for this lol. There are two buses, the big ones that cost around $60-70 pesos pp and the cheap green ones that the locals take. The big ones go straight past SP and will drop you off at the entrance of the town. The local ones will take forever and first stop in Sayulita, and then go to San Pancho. I know that’s not so precise atm, but you can find the big buses stop from outside the airport. Exit and go left toward the pedestrian bridge. Cross it, and wait on the other side. A bunch of taco shacks and a bus stop is there. That’s where the bus will pick you up! — if things haven’t changed🤞
This has to be Caroline from Austin! 😉 My daughter Chonie told me all about San Pancho. I’m leaving for Punta Mita this week and can’t wait to see the area. I love this blog!
Hey Shannon! Bri here, not sure about Caroline! 😅 Hope you enjoy Punta Mita and San Pancho!
Pat Piazza says
Thank you , will be in San Pancho in mid Jan. Very helpful information.
Thanks, Pat!! Hope you have a great time x
emily nelson says
Hi! Great article! I’m wondering if you have suggestions of how to find long term rentals for a family of 5?
Hi Emily! The best way to find housing in San Pancho is to join the San Pancho Facebook group (San Pancho Communidad Participativa) and post asking about housing/rentals. You’ll find something rather quickly!
amazing article ! i want to my family to san pancho as soon as i can get out of canada… is this a family friendly place to live ? i want to come here because my son is into circus however i also have young kids and the waves seem dangerous!
Oh yes — San Pancho is family-friendly for sure. Yeah, the waves are big, but some days are calmer and if you go all the way to the left of the beach the waves are smaller. Depends on the season, too. But families love it there! I can highly recommend the circus school. Took aerial silks there and loved it.
I am looking for a place to retire in Mexico and San Pancho has caught my eye. I
don’t surf, however and I am wondering if there ar any swimmable beaches in San Pancho?
Hey Laurie! San Pancho is swimmable at times — but it depends on the season and the day, really. The far left of the beach is the most swimmable, with smaller waves, but it’s not calm like you will find in Sayulita. I hope that helps! x
I’m considering spending April 2022 in San Pancho. The community organizations you described sound wonderful, and I’m curious what you might suggest for short-term volunteering opportunities for someone who doesn’t speak Spanish very well. I’d love to be able to contribute to the community in some way while I’m visiting!
Hi Cat! San Pancho is a great place to be in April! I would start at Entreamigos for sure — most of the staff speak and use English daily since there are so many non-Spanish speaking visitors. That’s where I started out volunteering from April to July! They can always use the help. x
Great article, thanks for the insights. I am curious on your thoughts about swimming in San Pancho. I spent a month there some years ago and seem to remember it being a tough swim spot with big waves and riptides. How do you find this aspect of the town as I really like to swim and play in the water but don’t like to contend with currents? And are there any local online notice boards for finding long-term rentals in San Pancho?
Hey Tisana! Thanks so much for reading my guide to San Pancho! I would hesitate to say San Pancho is ideal for swimming — the only place on the beach I felt safest while swimming is on the far left. Otherwise, the waves are rough and can get big like you said. I wouldn’t necessarily put it as a “con” though, but it isn’t particularly relaxing when you are constantly having to watch your back for a big wave lol. 🌊 For local housing, I would recommend you join the San Pancho Facebook group (Communidad Participativa) — most tenants post there. If you’re already there, you can also check inside the Entreamigos community center/ask around, or sometimes restaurants will have little postings up. Lmk if you have any more questions about living in San Pancho! x
Lynn Murphy says
Hi Bri, thanks for all the great info. We are hoping to stay Sunday Jan 9th for one night in San Pancho and would like to eat some great vegan food and find a hotel/room with an ocean view before heading to Punta Mita the next day. Please email me if you know of a good hotel or room with a view of the ocean. We are looking for a winter retirement home in a environmentally conscious neighbourhood.
Hey again, Lynn! Let me get back to you about the hotel room with an ocean view. Maraica is the closet eco hotel with an ocean view, but it’s not right on the beach. There are some right off the beach along the main street in town that have some great views. As for vegan cafes, you’ll find what you’re looking for! Our favorite was Burrito Piñata 🙂
We’re thinking of coming in February. It sounds like there’s not much choice in grocery shopping. Are there any supermercados nearby?
Hey Steve! February is a great month to visit. There aren’t any supermercados in/near San Pancho — the closest is in Nuevo Vallarta on the carretera to PV (Mega Soriana). The fresh market on Tuesdays in SP has some fresh farm produce, but if you’re looking for conserves, plant-based foods, international imports, etc., it’s better to drive (or take the bus/taxi) to Mega.
Jason Rivera says
Hi Bri, we visited San Pancho right before the pandemic and can’t wait to go back in February. It truly is a magical place and thank you so much for sharing all this information. It’s my favorite place on earth.
Hi Jason – how nice! We were probably in San Pancho at the same time, then. It really is a special place filled with special people. Hope you have a great time and take care, x
Jeffery Jenkins says
Your guides and blog posts are wonderfully detailed. We have visited Mexico City, Tepoztlán (I highly recommend La Villa Bonita, a boutique resort with cooking classes), Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca (City) and day trips from San Diego to Tijuana and Rosarito. Your itinerary for the Yucatan will be very useful for a planned trip in December to the Yucatan peninsula; although we’ll probably pare down the list to spend more days at each stop. Thank you for pointing out the Xcaret parks feature abusive live animal shows/experiences. Before reading your blog, I was thinking of Hotel Xcaret as a luxury all-inclusive splurge due to the descriptions of the restaurants and included park admissions. 😞
I may have to pester you for a link to your blog about the lake area in Mexico if my back button doesn’t find it for me.
Hi Jeffery! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. How wonderful that you’ve been able to visit those places. We have yet to discover Oaxaca at all and we can’t wait to go one day. Thanks for taking note of the Xcaret parks dolphin attractions. They’re so popular, but unfortunately not so sustainable or even ethical (in my opinion). I imagine you could still go and just not take part in those activities if you’d still like to benefit from the park. Otherwise, I would recommend going swimming, snorkeling, or diving in Akumal to see huge sea turtles in their natural habitat. 😊 Also, here’s that guide to the Montebello Lakes in Chiapas – I think that’s the one you were referring to! All the best, x
Anika Weissbach says
I was wondering this whole time if there’s such a place in Mexico that is not over crowded with tourists, and you’ve shown me! Thank you so much for sharing such a great list of information. I’m contemplating of visiting during Summer (Jul/Aug), you’ve mentioned that it’s rainy season, do you think it’s still worth it to go? Also, just wondering what’s the restriction at the moment in regards to COVID?
Hi Anika! Thanks so much for reading and reaching out! It’s hard to say regarding the rain – but know that it will be very hot and humid (luckily you have an ocean to cool off in, but still, make sure to book a hotel with AC haha). We were there in July and August one year and found that it rained more in August and September than in July. But yeah, it’ll be low season so it won’t be crowded. Also, there aren’t any restrictions right now to enter Mexico and San Pancho, as far as I know, is pretty much open. I hope that helps! Happy to answer any more questions! x
Hi Bri, a fabulous insight into San pancho, we visited twice last year for the day, and fell in love, we have been staying in PV for the past 15 years, if you don’t mind us asking, what would be the best way to find a decent rental 1 bedroom with kitchen for 2/3 months..when you look online it’s all the main big rental companies or Airbnb, can you suggest anything…a huge thank you in advance for any help.
Regards Kelly and Dave. X
Thank you so much, Kelly! I just received your email and followed up there. Xx Let me know if you need anything else
Hi! I was wondering if when you were there in August/September if restaurants were still open in San Pancho? We were thinking of spending some time in both Sayulita and San Pancho and just wanted to make sure San Pancho isn’t totally a ghost town and unlivable. Thanks!
Just realized that the first commentor on this post was also a dave haha. I am not that person
Hey Dave! Yes, San Pancho has really grown since I moved there in 2018/2019 and now you’ll find restaurants still open even during the low season. It can get quiet, but not as quiet as it used to be. Still plenty to enjoy!
What a well organized, well written, and all around worthy blog. Thank you for the helpful information. I look forward to visiting the community center next week sometime. What a charming community of people. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to visit.
Ahh thank you SO much, Nicole! I am thrilled to read you enjoyed my guide to San Pancho. The town and its people have a special place in my heart. I hope you have the best time! Please enjoy it for me 💛
I just moved to San Pancho for 3 months, possibly longer and your post is the best I have located to date. Thank you so much. I plan to follow all the links in it about San Pancho to help me acclimate to my new home. I picked it for the same star-struck charms you mention. All the best.
Aww, hi Silia. Thank you so much for your sweet comment! It made my day 🙂 Hope you enjoy your time in San Pancho to the fullest and do let me know if anything has updated or changed! Kindest, Xx
Some of your pictures are amazing! Thanks so much for the tips as well – I am adding this to my bucket list now!
Thanks Katie! It’s easy when the place is so beautiful itself lol!
I had never heard of San Pancho, but you really make me want to go 🙂 It seems to be a very special place from what you’ve said and all your pictures. I would love to watch the sunset on the beach and eat in those amazing restaurants.
I’m sure you would love it! It’s a VERY special place indeed. Living there was wonderful and we miss it already!
Hi Bri! Thanks so much for all the info! I’m dying to go to SP in January and work online for a few months, but I’m worried about not having reliable internet. I need to Zoom for 4-5 hours at the evenings. That’s it. Do you think San Pancho can be it, or am I just kidding myself?
Maya from rainy Seattle
Hello Maya! That sounds like a wonderful plan. I think you could do it — just depends on where you live to be honest! We’ve had shitty wifi and good wifi in San Pancho. Some places have fiber optic/Sayulita satellite internet. Any leads for accommodation so far? x
Wow! San Pancho looks absolutely amazing and right up my alley. Your blog posts from Mexico truly introduced me to all of these amazing places I need to go to in the future. Also, all of the food looks delicious and I love how it’s very creative. 🙂
Yay, so glad to hear that!! I love sharing about Mexico and really hope to inspire more people to explore there! Thanks Taylor : )