Sayulita, Mexico: The Ultimate Guide to Nayarit’s Boho Surf Town

by | Last updated Feb 6, 2021 | Mexico | 4 comments

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If you can’t think of anything better than chowing down Mexican tacos, chilling out at boho-chic swing bars, and surfing up waves all day, then visiting the magic town of Sayulita, Mexico is a must! Everything from Sayulita’s white-sand beaches and colorful storefronts to the care-free vibes and diverse foodie scene makes this town a highly-popular location on Pacific Mexico’s coast.

But wait, does Sayulita really live up to the hype? You might be surprised! While Sayulita can be a ton of fun, there’s a lot more to Sayulita than what meets the eye. In fact, the more we visit, the more we realize that Sayulita has a lot of downsides. So since we’ve lived just one town over from Sayulita for the past 2 years, we’ve gotten to know this town a little more since we first arrived.

Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Sayulita, Mexico (or reasons why you should add it to your bucket list!)

Also Read: Top 20 Things to Do in Sayulita, Mexico

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Sayulita, Mexico

Where Is Sayulita + How to Get There

Sayulita is a wildly vibrant and colorful magic town (pueblo magico) located on the jungly coast of Nayarit.

To get to Sayulita, rent a car or take a bus or Uber. Sayulita sits about 50 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta. (You should spend a few days in PV as well!)

Renting a car: A car rental is ideal if you want to explore around and have lots of flexibility to explore the coast and towns after Sayulita. Rentals cost us around $15-20 per day when we book in advance. There are offices for Budget Car Rental in Sayulita if you wish to do a one-way drop-off from PV, but they don’t have good customer service. The best car rental in Puerto Vallarta is Sixt (they have awesome customer service and we always book through them).

Bus: Taking a bus to Sayulita is easy, but not ideal from the Puerto Vallarta airport, as the bus station is located about 2 miles away (Terminal de Autobuses de Puerto Vallarta). Bus tickets from PV to Sayulita cost around $120 pesos per adult. It’s cheaper but really inconvenient to get there as you’ll need a taxi/Uber to get there anyway.

Uber: Uber is the best option for getting from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita fast. Even though it costs more, the time and frustration you save are well worth it. An Uber as of March 2020 will set you back around $600 pesos (around $25-30 USD) for the car (so ideal for 2-3 people).

Local bus (budget option): For those on a shoestring budget, take the local bus (not the big buses) from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita. They’re the green and white ‘Compostela’ buses. It’s pretty cheap (around $50 pesos) to get to Sayulita, but it’ll take around 1.5-2 hours because of all the local pick-ups and drop-offs between Puerto Vallarta and the jungle road to Sayulita. From the airport in PV, exit and cross the bridge over the street on your left.

Tip: Once you get to Sayulita, you don’t really need a car anymore since everything is pedestrian-friendly. Plus, parking in the street can be a hassle unless your hotel/Airbnb has a reserved spot for you.

Where to Stay in Sayulita

From budget hostels to surf residencies to boutique hotels, there’s a place to stay in Sayulita for every type of traveler.

I personally love sustainable accommodation, jungly escapes, and mid-range boutique stays with an eco thumb! But no matter what hotel type you prefer, there’s a ton of good options for where to stay in Sayulita.

ALSO READ: 10 Best Boutique & Beach Hotels in Sayulita

Here are a few suggestions for popular hotels in Sayulita:

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.

Surfing in Sayulita + Best Beaches

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Sayulita is THE place to learn how to surf! Sayulita’s surfing culture is what really made this town grow as a hot tourist destination. The main Sayulita beach is always filled with novice surfers (and also the pros too). The waves in Sayulita are ideal for surfing as they are gentle and rolling.

How to rent a surfboard in Sayulita: Renting a surfboard in Sayulita is easy and budget-friendly. It costs around $20 per day for a standard surfboard rental and $50-70 for a surf lesson.

Surf shops: Sayulita has lots of surf shops to choose from where you can rent a board or sign-up for a lesson. Check out Lunazul (on the beach), Patricia’s Surf School, Sayulita Surf School, or WildMex Surf and Adventure.

You should only surf at the main beach right in front of the town, but there are a few other beaches in and around Sayulita that are worth visiting as well. They are:

  • Playa de Los Muertos
  • Carracitos Beach
  • Playa Escondida (The beach from Bachelor in Paradise)
  • North Beach
  • San Pancho Beach (in San Pancho, about 10 minutes north of Sayulita)
  • La Lancha (Near Punta Mita, about 25 minutes drive west from Sayulita)

Sayulita’s Restaurants / Bars / Cafes

One of the reasons we enjoy visiting Sayulita is because of all the food options. Sayulita has such awesome local Mexican grub as well as upscale international fare. Eating out in Sayulita is just fun, too, because everyone is out having a good time with good food and live music.

Feel free to explore your own taste buds, but here are some of our favorite places for food and drinks in Sayulita!

Authentic Mexican: Mary’s, El Itacate, Yeikame, Los Corazones, Aaleyah’s Nachos & Wings, Alquimista

Popular spots: ChocoBanana, La Rustica, Tierra Viva, La Esperanza, Barracuda, Organi-K

Best bars: Atico Swing Bar, Don Pato’s, Escondido, Don Pedro’s, El Conejo

Cool cafes: Miscellanea Cafe, Alquimista, Mexicolate, Yah-Yah, Casa Gourmet French Bakery

Also Read: 7 Best Breakfast Cafes & Brunch Spots in Sayulita

Shopping + Tourist Services in Sayulita

You don’t want to miss out on Sayulita’s boho-chic shopping scene! Sayulita is loaded with Mexican artisanal decor and souvenirs, plus earthy, bohemian clothing, jewelry, and more. It’s not cheap, though, but it’s possible to find good deals.

Here are some of my favorite boho-chic stores to shop at in Sayulita:

  • Evoke the Spirit
  • Pachamama Boutique
  • R2 Fashion
  • Artefakto
  • Rosemary
  • Manantial…
  • Plus the open-air shops down the street on the way to the beach are so cute too!

If you want to do some souvenir shopping in Sayulita, please visit the Huichol Center for Cultural Survival and Traditional Arts! All Huichol art and jewelry are handmade by the indigenous Wixarika peoples of Nayarit and the surrounding Sierra Madre mountains. Any purchase helps support their livelihoods as well as future projects to sustain and preserve their incredible culture.

ATMs: You can find ATMs scattered around Calle Revolucion and the Plaza Principal in Sayulita. But be wary of free-standing ATMs, some are sketchy. It’s best to use the ATM inside the Intercam Banco opposite the police station as you make your way into Sayulita’s Downtown.

Debit/Credit Cards: Most boutiques (and high-end eateries) in Sayulita accept debit or credit cards. I’ve never had a problem with my Mastercard, although some places don’t accept American Express.

Taxis: The official taxi stand in Sayulita sits on the right edge of the Plaza Principal. Prices vary upon destination, but you can always expect to pay $150 pesos one-way to San Pancho. Punta Mita trips will likely cost you $300-400.

What to Know Before Visiting Sayulita

As I mentioned above, Sayulita is a ton of fun. But like anywhere else, it has its not-so-glorious sides too. Here are some helpful things to know before visiting Sayulita.

Sayulita Mexico - Pueblo Magico | Bucketlist Bri

Best time to visit Sayulita

The best time to visit Sayulita is after the Christmas/New Year holidays when it is less busy. The high-season is always busy for Sayulita, but less so after January. The best time to go to avoid the crowds would be later in the season, at the end of April or start of May. As for the weather, anytime between January-May is great for warm, sunny days! If you can, avoid the hot, humid summers (wet season) from June-September or early October.

Do try to visit Sayulita in time for Day of the Dead celebrations when Mexico becomes (even more) alive and festive with Dia de Los Muertos.

The Sayulita “Sickness”

If you’ve ever heard of the Sayulita “sickness” it’s because back in 2019 the town was constructing a new sewage drain and in the transfer, it busted. In other words, unfiltered sewage drained directly from the town into the ocean (where hundreds of people swim/surf every day).

The pipe didn’t get fixed for a matter of days, and the timing was just all wrong. It happened during Semana Santa – Mexico’s Easter break and one of the busiest weeks of the year when locals and internationals flock to the coastlines. Within a matter of days, there were people getting sick all over Sayulita. It was a nightmare for many vacationers who had to spend the remainder of their time in Sayulita inside.

And that’s not even the worst part! The worst part is that the new sewage system was stupidly built without calculating Sayulita’s growth. Yep, the new system only has the capacity for Sayulita’s sewage for about 3 more years because Sayulita is growing at too fast a rate.

The sewage system has since been fixed and no untreated sewage is now draining into the river bed or ocean. You can check Sayulita’s health updates for more information here.

Overtourism in Sayulita

Sayulita’s growth exploded in the early 2000s, and it isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon. Much like Tulum on the east coast, Sayulita is growing too fast for its own good. Enormous hotels are being constructed and destroying the coastlines, garbage lines the streets at night, and the noise pollution only seems to grow as bars, clubs, and drunk party-goers stay out later and later.

Visiting Sayulita is definitely nice, don’t get me wrong. But too many people are not practicing responsible tourism and instead are leaving the Sayulita locals to clean up once they’ve gone.

Crowds

If you’re coming from NYC or somewhere where it’s always busy, then Sayulita might not seem crowded to you. But for me, it feels quite crowded! There are always lots of people on the beach including many beachfront vendors who approach you to sell food, souvenirs, beach blankets, and more.

People line up to take a picture of the famous ‘Flag Street’. Restaurants sometimes have long wait times. It all feels very touristy and very crowded to me. If you prefer a town with a slower pace and down-to-earth vibe, then staying in San Pancho might be a better option for you.

Also Read: Ultimate Guide to San Pancho, Mexico – Riviera Nayarit’s Best-Kept Secret

Enjoy Visiting Sayulita Mexico!

Like with everywhere else in the world, just be a mindful traveler when you visit Sayulita. There are so many reasons to visit Sayulita — relaxation, beaches, surfing, margaritas, boho shops, Huichol art!

Let’s keep what makes Sayulita, Mexico alive and magical. Please help preserve Sayulita’s local culture and traditions while supporting local businesses when you visit. 🙂

Is visiting Sayulita on your Mexico bucket list? Drop me your questions and thoughts below!

 

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4 Comments

  1. Joshua

    “ including many pushy vendors trying to earn a living.” This hurt me to read. Instead of supporting these “boho chic” boutiques that are probably run by non-Sayulita Natives, maybe we should support informal and microempresas that actually make up over 50 percent of Mexican economy

    Reply
    • Bri

      Hey Joshua, thanks for pointing that language out. I completely agree with you, and what I meant to highlight is that, although the vendors on the beach can be pushy, they are just trying to make a living. I see tourists all the time be so incredibly rude to Mexican vendors and that insensitivity pains me. So I’m sorry if you felt like I wasn’t being sensitive to the locals. I definitely am someone who wants to support the local Mexicans and indigenous who sell on the streets or beaches. That is often the only way they can earn a living and support their families. I will update the article to reflect this, but I did want to leave and respond to your comment here. I appreciate you taking the time to bring this to my attention, and choosing not to be rude. I do my best to blog respectfully and advocate for responsible travel, but sometimes need to review my articles more carefully to ensure just that. Thank you! All the best. x

      Reply
  2. Nishie

    Holy crap.. now I know everything I need to if I ever come down there, fingers crossed ?

    Reply
    • Bri

      Hehe thanks Nishie! Hopefully one day!!

      Reply

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Hi, I’m Bri! I’ve been slow traveling around the world in search of new adventures since 2013. I have lived in 8 countries on 4 continents including Nepal, Mexico, Colombia, and parts of Europe! I created this blog to inspire others to live a life of adventure, seek out meaningful experiences, and to travel slowly and mindfully. Join me on this journey and let’s tick off our bucket lists! Read my story here.