There are so many things to do and see in Sayulita in Mexico that 4 days really doesn’t seem enough. For us, it felt like we’d only just touched on the beauty of this location before having to pack up our bags and fly away once more.
If you are able to come to this semi-secluded spot, we would say you are making a great decision. We say semi-secluded, as there are still tourists everywhere, however, this place has a stop on turning it into a resort mega-town (like it’s neighbour one hour away – Puerto Vallarta) so you feel more like you are in a small sleepy beach town than tourist hot spot.
With all of this being said, we tried to pack in as much relaxation as we could over our 4 day stay to fit the vibe, though we ended up finding some amazing things to try and experiences to do… here are some that perhaps you can try if you end up visiting.
Surfing: You can’t really come to a beach town and not try surfing, and as Australians we felt slightly ashamed that this was one of the first times we had actually tried it. To try and get ahead of the game, we decided to splash out (you have to as a backpacker every now and again), and get a lesson on the main beach in Sayulita. We stumbled upon Lunazul Surf School, and after twisting their arm a little bit were able to join another individuals group so that the cost for our lesson would be reduced to 40USD (it is 60USD on your own, 50USD if you have 2, and then 40USD for groups of 3-4).
With the policy of the school to only have a maximum of 4 per group, it felt very personalised towards getting us to stand up on the board. Eduardo, our teacher, ran us through the basic steps for paddling and standing up whilst on land before we made our way out into the small beginner waves to try our luck. With Eduardo’s expert advice, only a short while into our 1.5 hour lesson all of us were standing up and enjoying ourselves – a successful mission!
The great thing about Lunazul is that after your 1.5 hour lesson, you get to keep your board for another hour. They also supply lockers and rash shirts for all, even if you are just renting a board for an hour.
Secret Beaches: Okay, so maybe not all of them are secret, but with the amount of people you’ll see at them you’ll think they are private.
Of course the main beach in front of Sayulita is usually busy, to the point that us nomads wanted to find somewhere a bit more secluded. We firstly came across Playa de Los Muertos or the beach of the dead. This is accessed by walking out of town (left as you face the ocean), through the Villa Amor until you reach the cemetery. The beach gets its name from this very cemetery, so continue through on this path and you will reach the water. Despite only being a 10 minute walk, you will usually only find a handful of people here swimming and sunbathing – perfect!
Our next find were a lot more ‘secret’, in that it required a jungle hike to reach them. This really felt like a bit of an adventure, and the beaches that we reached including Playa Las Cuevas and Playa Malpasos were deserted – we saw 2 other people the entire time we were there. To reach these gems (that are linked by a short hike, or at low tide, a rock cave), take a right on Avenue del Palmar and follow it out of town and continue on it until you reach the jungle. Follow the path (ignoring the beach on your left) through a fallen tree, past the rock driveway, and then try to keep left on paths until you reach some stairs. Take these down and voila – your own private beach for the day!
Campamento Tortuguero Sayulita: This is the ‘turtle camp’, or more specifically the turtle nursery that has been set up as a non-profit in Sayulita. The people that run this organisation find where the turtles lay their eggs, and take them to their nursery (on the beach) so that they can safely hatch and be released into the ocean. They do this as Sayulita has a problem with poachers, who want the eggs for more sinister reasons.
Between June and December at sunset, the organisation allows the public to come and watch and participate in the release of any turtles that have hatched. We went down to see hundreds of mini hatchlings waiting for their turn to waddle down to the water, and were able to release a few of our own!
This truly was an amazing experience and if you are in Sayulita between June and December we would recommend coming down even just to watch. We were humbled by how small these creatures were, how many may not survive, and the power of the ocean in taking them away.
The FOOD: You can’t go past the food in Sayulita, especially as this was one of the first places we visited in Mexico. Everything was new for us, and as lovers of all types of food we were in awe at the selection of choices before us. If you want to try traditional Mexican food, go no further than these selections:
- Naty’s Cocina: This humble kitchen run by many ladies offers a wide range of food options between 9am and 4pm, as well as lovely fruit juices. You will find yourself paying around 13 peso for a taco (we recommend Pollo Mole – delicious), and between 10-20 peso for a juice depending on the size.
- Yeikame: A great little restaurant that is family run, we ended up coming back here the following night to try the homemade ice-cream (made by papa). All options are delicious and authentic!
- Burrito Revolution: Being right next door to Yeikame, it is hard to give this a miss. The obvious choice are the burrito’s, especially if you make them ‘super’ which adds a few more ingredients, including guacamole.
- Mary’s: This restaurant isn’t number 1 on Tripadvisor for no reason – it is amazing here. Make sure you try the different flavours of margarita whilst enjoying the nachos or tacos.
- Street vendors: Don’t be afraid of the street food, we could write an entire post just on the amazing options that were presented to us. We tried it all (and came out just as healthy as before), and would say that some of our favourites (if they are still there) include the macaron guy, the pineapple empanada man, the Argentinian empanada man (with the orange bag), and the bakery truck.
Yoga at Villa Amor: There are many places in town to try out yoga, with different classes being offered depending on the time of the year. Rach was lucky enough to try a Viniyasa class hosted by Janalyn Rose in the amazing Villa Amor. To read more about it, check out the article by her coming soon.
Dia de Los Muertos: We were fortunate enough to be in Sayulita both for Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos (or Day of the Dead). The fact that we were in a smaller town made everything feel more personal for the celebrations, with constant night activities in the main plaza alongside intricate shrine setups that each family had seemingly painstakingly created for lost loved ones.
On Halloween, we witnessed hundreds of children in the streets dressed up and looking for Candy. Having some left over from a previous portion of our trip, we gave away treats to smiling children and enjoyed the night on one of the main streets.
For Dia de Los Muertos, we spend most of our time in the main square watching performances on a stage, as well as taking in different ceremonies of individual families remembering lost ones. It really was amazing to see all of the locals and the efforts they had put in for this day. If you are fortunate to be in a smaller town in Mexico as we were, be sure to immerse yourself in the culture. Eat the street food, dance with the locals, and drink cervezas into the early hours!
As we have said, these are only some of the things that you can experience in Sayulita. There are many other activities we couldn’t take in, including other water-based activities including fishing, kayaking, and sailing.
Whilst in town, we stayed at La Redonda Sayulita – a small quaint hostel one block from the beach. The staff are quite friendly and the rooms adequate, but we would recommend looking around as there are other options that may be more spacious and private (there are no private rooms at La Redonda) that may suit you better. Enjoy!