Sayulita, Definitely on the Map
Sayulita used to be a beach bum’s destination, a funky, low-rent, peaceful alternative to Puerto Vallarta, which is 45 minutes to the south. A surfer’s hangout. The winter retreat of the savvy migratory Canuck. Today this idyllic little town on its own lovely bay has an ever-increasing fan base.
To put it mildly, Sayulita is hot.
Surrounded by jungle that surges up into hills behind town and headlands overlooking the sea, Sayulita is still small and unassuming, but getting more sophisticated every day. The price of land and homes has skyrocketed.
The centro is still small, with restaurants, internet cafes and notary publics surrounding the plain plaza. Short streets lead to the main beach, where a half dozen businesses rent surfboards and Boogie boards, and sell Sex Wax and flip flops. Barefoot peddlers on the beach nonchalantly organize surfing and fishing expeditions; the pangas are pulled right up onto the sand. You want to go, or no? Either way, no worries. Aquí todo es tranquilo.
Right off the main beach is a consistent swell that’s great for beginning surfers and long boarders. On the south side of the bay near the graveyard, the beach at Playa Los Muertos is studded with rocks and boulders. Other beaches north and south of town await those with transportation (including skiffs at the main beach) or the wisdom to hike there during the coolest hours of the day.
Supported by a rising tide of tourists and ex-pats are restaurants in a range of price categories. The casual Chocobanana and Si Hay Olitas are as popular as ever. Don Pedro’s has many years as the town’s premier full-service, fine-dining spot on the beach. Restaurants catering mainly to gringos close in low season, when many retirees head home, chased off by biting bugs and humidity or simply the desire to see family or discover new vistas.
On a recent stop in Sayulita, I saw a family of four gabachos looking about as lost as a pod of whales at a square dance. They were dressed to the nines, the ladies with hats matching their well-pressed sundresses. I don’t know why they were in the tiny town plaza, but they kept looking around as if expecting to get “Punk’d,” or abducted by aliens. Perhaps they had been lured here by the ever-increasing hype. Like the rest of the Riviera Nayarit---the coastline between San Blas and Nuevo Vallarta---Sayulita is not as glamorous as some tourist folks and developers make it out to be.
Sayulita is casual, sandy, sunny, beachy, beautiful: yes. But not for everyone. Although increasingly sophisticated in services and food, thank the goddesses that it still has some rough edges.
For more things to do as well as hotels and restaurants,
check out our Sayulita Travel Guide.
SAYULITA LOCAL LISTINGS