Sayulita is a wonderful, quaint surf village in the state of Nayarit Mexico. I fell in love with it the first time I visited and have since been there 3 times! Because it is so small, there isn’t a ton of information on the major travel websites. I’m sharing my experience with you today so you can plan ahead and make the most of your trip.
The nearest airport is Puerto Vallarta. It’s about a 45 minute drive to Sayulita and part of it is a winding road where a lot of people drive like maniacs, even by Mexico standards. They cross over into the other lane and pass slower vehicles on blind turns! It’s crazy! For that reason, I’d recommend booking an SUV rather than taking a tiny taxi. You can find them at: www.sayulitalife.com/viptransportation. Transportation service is included with some of the house rental packages.
Where to stay:
There are tons of lovely houses for rent on sayulitalife.com. I prefer the ‘Gringo Hill’ area. The view is spectacular, and it’s a quick walk, or golf cart ride into town. You can rent golf carts online, or in person when you arrive. I would not recommend getting a rental car. You really won’t use it, and driving in Mexico sucks! If you’d prefer a hotel, Villa Amor (hotelvillaamor.com) is the nicest one.
Where to eat:
There are only small local quick mart style stores in Sayulita. I would recommend stopping by a larger grocery store on your way in. The Mega D (funny name!) is really nice, and has a great selection. You can pick up water, snacks and whatever else you might need during your trip. The best restaurant in town, by far, was…
Yeikame: They have fresh, handmade blue corn tortillas that are a must try! Each dish we tried was delicious. I had the mole enchiladas, which were rich and flavorful with an authentic sauce. My husband had the fish chicharrones, which he thoroughly enjoyed! They were perfectly crunchy and not fishy at all. This restaurant was the most memorable because you could really taste the time and care they put into making authentic dishes.
O’ Restaurant: Is in the Villa Amor Hotel and has beautiful waterfront seating. I had the fresh Red Snapper, which is a local fish. I would highly recommend getting the red snapper if you see it on any menu in Sayulita. It is extremely fresh and O’ served it with fresh veggies and a wonderful risotto.
Things to do:
1. Shopping: There are some great local shops that sell bikinis, jewelry, pottery and decorative souvenirs. There are also street vendors that sell the standard tourist trinket type stuff. Feel free to barter for a lower price! Just keep your offer reasonable and be willing to haggle. Don’t forget to remember the exchange rate.
2. Activity tours: We went on an ATV jungle tour with Mi Chaparrita (www.michaparrita.com). They have a variety of other activities such as zip lining, snorkeling, surf lessons and horseback rides.
If you plan to do the ATV tour, be sure you are comfortable and have experience driving one. The trails have some pretty treacherous terrain, if you’re not an experienced rider, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. Also be prepared to get very dirty. You have to ride with a bandana over your nose and mouth to keep the dirt out. Don’t wear expensive sunglasses. You will be covered in dirt throughout the ride. Lastly, wear sneakers or boots. In order to shift, you’ll need to push a lever up and down fairly hard with your left foot. This is nearly impossible to do in the wrong type of shoes.
3. Beach: Playa Los Muertos is a more remote beach than the main, crowded beach closer to downtown. You can catch some rays, go for a swim and avoid the tourist commotion of the main beach. You will also pass by the cemetery, which is one of the most beautiful, colorful cemeteries I’ve ever seen.
4. Wine/Tequila/Mezcal Tasting: There is a wonderful modern tasting room/shop, called Sayulita Wine Shop. You won’t find them online, but they are near the town square. They had a wide variety of wine as well as regional craft tequilas and mezcal.
Do’s and Don’ts to know before you go
Do talk to the locals. They are friendly and helpful. A lot of people speak English, but learning some basic Spanish won’t hurt.
Do explore the food sold by street vendors. This is a fun way to try something new and authentic!
Do bring cash with you. A lot of the smaller restaurants, shops and street vendors don’t take cards.
Do exercise caution. Sayulita is generally safe, but avoid walking around alone in quiet areas at night. Use the safe in your room for valuables when you’re out, and be sure to lock up all the doors and windows when leaving.
Do wear proper footwear. The streets are the rocky cobblestone type. There are potholes, and the sidewalks have random steep ledges and drop offs. This is not a good place to wear any sort of heels. It’s also not a place to go barefoot (except at the beach). The streets are rather unclean.
Don’t use outdoor ATM’s. There are a lot of problems with people’s information being stolen from these. If you need to, find one that is indoors and locked up at night.
Don’t expect accommodations and amenities to be like they are in the United States. All of the houses I’ve stayed at in Sayulita are very nice, but be prepared. They are often an open concept with exposure to the outdoors. It’s normal to find bugs and lizards inside. Because of the humidity, things get rusty, and wood swells. Doors and gates don’t always close properly. Lastly, and this is a big one: you can’t flush toilet paper down any toilets there. You must discard used toilet paper into a trash can. Their sewer system can not process paper!
Don’t drink the water, use it to wash produce, or to brush your teeth. This was the hardest thing for me to get used to. At home, I often brush and floss my teeth in the shower. You can’t do that here!
Don’t be disrespectful. People get wild in Mexico, just like they do in Las Vegas. They get drunk and act like there are no rules on vacation. Crossing the street without caution, being rude to the locals or being drunk and disruptive are all bad ideas. If you wouldn’t do it in your hometown, don’t do it here.
Happy & Safe Travels! I hope you enjoy Sayulita as much as I did.