Sayulita is one of Mexico’s Pueblos Mágicos. There are (currently) 132 Pueblos Mágicos in the country of Mexico, and these are designated by the government as a place with magical beauty, whether a town is rich in culture or history, showcases indigenous art of the region, or has extraordinary legends. Sasha and I are temporarily living in Puerto Vallarta for the winter, and Sayulita has quickly become our favorite weekend getaway.
The moment we drove into Sayulita for the first time, we knew that this would be our place. The vibe immediately slows to a pace of “island time” – after all, this is a surf town! I think the reason I love Sayulita so much is because it reminds me of home on the North Shore of Oahu. It truly is the “North Shore” of the Nayarit Coast! In Sayulita you’ll find a lot of expats and locals alike, with a common love of the water and sunshine. It’s truly got a hippy surfer vibe, and it’s not uncommon to see people walking around barefoot with a surfboard (or coffee) in hand!
We have visited Sayulita and San Pancho nearly every single weekend for the last two months! Below I’ll detail 12 great things to do in Sayulita, including where to eat!
GETTING AROUND & PARKING
Sayulita is located about one hour North of Puerto Vallarta, or 45 minutes from Marina Vallarta. The preferred method of transport in Sayulita (besides walking), is golf cart or ATV. Because the roads are small and narrow (and all cobblestones!), it’s easier to have wide tires. You can rent golf carts once you arrive.
If you have a rental car, there are several car parks within the town, which charge $7 USD (cash only) to park for the whole day. They close between 6 – 8 PM.
12 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN SAYULITA
- Take photos underneath the colorful flags at Calle Delfines
- Purchase locally made crafts at the Hippie Market
- Walk to the Sayulita Cemetery & Playa De Los Muertos
- Take a mosaic or pottery making workshop at Pacha Mama (Wednesdays & Fridays from 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM)
- Take a yoga class
- Get a massage on the beach
- Take a surf lesson or rent a board
- Hike from Sayulita to San Pancho along the beach
- Walk along the beach
- Drive to San Pancho
- Release baby turtles on the beach
- Eat! (Read below to the end for our most recommended cafes & restaurants in Sayulita!)
1. TAKE PHOTOS AT CALLE DELFINES (Colorful flag street!)
This adorable street covered in a canopy of colorful flags, is one of the many contributors to Sayulita’s vibrant color. Also known as “slap street”, legend has it that two men wanted to redesign this street. They were not able to come to an agreement on how to redesign it, so one man slapped the other and local passerby had to break up the fight. This is now known as “Slap Street” or “Calle de los Delfines” (street of the dolphins.) Go early to take your photos, because it is not a pedestrian-only street, so watch your back for oncoming cars or golf carts. Later in the afternoon, this street becomes lined with tables and chairs for lunch!
2. PURCHASE LOCALLY MADE CRAFTS AT THE HIPPIE MARKET
Sayulita is an absolute mecca for hand-made artisan crafts. You can purchase anything from purses to hand-woven blankets, or the famous Sayulita flags made from sticks and yarn, which you’ll see hanging from the stick on the wall in the photo below.
3. SAYULITA CEMETERY & PLAYA DE LOS MUERTOS
Mexicans have a special connection with ancestors who have passed, and they honor and revere them with ornate tombstones, often painted in bright colors and decorated with various ornaments. Some tombs are even as large as small homes!
Continue on the dirt path to the beach, accessible directly from the main part of town in Sayulita.
4. TAKE A MOSAIC OR POTTERY MAKING WORKSHOP AT PACHA MAMA
Pacha Mama is one of my favorite boutique shops in Sayulita. This is where you can find one of the most unique wing wall art pieces I’ve ever seen.
In addition to the artisan markets, Sayulita is filled with cute boutique shops.
5. TAKE A YOGA CLASS
Sayulita is synonymous with yoga and wellness. This town is filled with many outdoor spaces offering yoga, meditation and pilates classes. One such place is above Yah-Yah Cafe, a great place to enjoy breakfast and meet other expats, or work remotely. Another popular place is Paraiso Yoga AC.
6. GET A MASSAGE ON THE BEACH
It’s such a treat to be able to get a massage whilst hearing the waves crash, and being in the outdoors feeling the breeze on your body. Our favorite place is Mandala. To get there, go to Patricia’s Surf Shop on the beach, go towards the ocean, turn right and walk two minutes down the beach. You’ll see the purple tents and massage therapists wearing white. They also have sales folks who come up and down the beach offering “masaje!” The cost is approximately $20 USD per person for one hour. This is especially blissful after a surf session!
7. TAKE A SURF LESSON
As you’re walking along the roads near the beach, you’ll be asked from folks in every direction if you want a surf lesson. Because Sasha already knows how to surf, he just rents a board every weekend from Patricia’s Surf Shop (it’s around $7 USD for two hours.) This is a great spot for both beginners and intermediate surfers, and you’ll even see young groms doing tricks on their board! A rash guard is recommended to protect from the sun, and also the water gets pretty chilly after about an hour, especially if you go in the mornings when the waves are cleanest.
8. HIKE FROM SAYULITA TO SAN PANCHO
The Sayulita to San Pancho Hike is approximately 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) and is mostly flat. Be aware of ticks, as they are commonly found in the jungle in this area. Another caution to note is that the last 5 – 10 minutes is on the side of the highway, which may feel unsafe as there is no foot path and cars go pretty fast. The hike takes around one hour each way with an elevation gain of 300 meters (900′). We have not personally done this hike and therefore cannot vouch for the safety, but many folks have done it and you can read reviews on AllTrails.
Another popular hike is Monkey Mountain via Hiquera Blanca, which is 7.5 kilometers (4.5 miles) and offers beautiful views of the bay.
9. WALK ALONG THE BEACH
Walking along the beach is an experience within itself; it’s a terrific spot to people-watch, as a mixture of locals, expats and foreign visitors all frequent the beach. You’ll see vendors walking up and down the beach selling their wares, including blankets, grilled shrimp, candies, wooden kitchen utensils, hand-carved trinkets, jewelry, and more.
10. DRIVE TO SAN PANCHO
San Pancho is just a 15-minute drive North of Sayulita, and I would describe it like Sayulita’s more chill, mellow sister where locals walk around barefoot and roaming dogs rule the town.
11. RELEASE BABY TURTLES ON THE BEACH
Sayulita is where you can watch adorable turtles hatch from their eggs and intrinsically know how to get to the ocean immediately upon birth (boy, why can’t humans be that capable when we’re born?) 😉 Female Olive Ridley sea turtles born on the Nayarit coast, come back to build nests and lay their eggs in the exact same place they were born, perpetuating the beautiful cycle of life. You can learn more about turtle protection programs and participate in this heartwarming experience here.
I saved the best category for last. Below are the best places to eat in Sayulita.
WHERE TO EAT IN SAYULITA
- Miscelanea Cafe – great for breakfast, specialty coffees, lovely calm space with indoor and outdoor seating
- La Rustica – pizza & drinks
- La Empanaderia – empanadas for takeaway
- Organi-K – bowls & smoothies
- Yah-Yah Cafe & Bagels – great expat hangout spot and remote working space
- Tierra Viva
- Wakika – ice cream
- Mexicolate – all things cacao!
Miscelanea Cafe is our #1 favorite Sunday hangout spot and is the first place we go to each weekend morning to start our day. The staff is super friendly and knows us by name now. They serve healthy food from scratch, and beautiful specialty drinks with an artistic twist. Try their dirty chai, where they ground dried herbs into the most aromatic, warm flavor profile.
La Empanaderia is a great place to grab a quick empanada on the go. Grab ’em fresh in the morning!
Organi-K is the perfect spot to quench your smoothie craving. They even have poke bowls! Located on one of the corner streets just across from the market, this is a great place to people watch!
Yah-Yah Cafe & Bagels is further up the hill off the beaten path, so here you’ll find a chill environment filled with expats and young digital nomads working remotely. Upstairs is where you can find the yoga studio!
Mexicolate is where you can find all things chocolate and cacao. They make delicious raw brownies made from pulverized cacao, and are most well known for their enormous cacao ice cream, topped with cacao nibs! You can also purchase a packet of their secret ingredients to take home and make your own cacao drink!
I have a loving space in my heart for Sayulita, and I’m sure you’ll fall in love when you visit as well!
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