Make your Mexico vacation the best it can be with these top things to do in Sayulita Mexico and be sure not to miss anything.
If you’re planning to head to the Riviera Nayarit for your next vacation in Mexico, you’ll not want to miss the gorgeous little town of Sayulita. Situated right by the beach, it’s the perfect mix of beach, surf, sunsets, nature and boutique shopping. Sayulita also has some of the best restaurants in the area.
Located just 40 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita is a world away from the beach-front mega-resorts and the Malecón tourist traps. It’s a lovely little town full of gorgeous little beaches and sandy coves, modern cafes and so many incredible boutiques, galleries, cafes and restaurants. It really is the perfect place to spend a few days or even a few weeks or months.
In fact, if you discovered that Puerto Vallarta is not for you- which I recently did, make sure to head straight for Sayulita and neighbouring San Pancho.
*This ‘things to do in Sayulita’ post contains affiliate links meaning I might make a small profit if you choose to book at no extra cost to you. This helps me to keep providing you with top quality content for free.
From the airport: You’ll first need to fly to Puerto Vallarta International airport. From the airport, it’s about 40 minutes to Sayulita.
To get to Sayulita from the airport, the best option is Uber, so make sure you’ve activated roaming or bought a local SIM or eSim ahead of time. The taxi drivers like to charge an exorbitant amount so avoid them. We paid about 600 pesos ($30) to get from Puerto Vallarta airport to Sayulita.
Ubers aren’t allowed into the airport so you’ll have to meet your driver outside the airport. As you exit the terminal building, turn left and walk the length of the arrivals building. You’ll see a pedestrian footbridge you’ll need to walk over to meet your driver on the other side of the highway.
From Puerto Vallarta: From Puerto Vallarta, you can take an Uber straight to Sayulita or you can take a bus.
You can catch a bus to Sayulita from outside the Walmart/Sam’s Club on the main highway going North. The bus will say Sayulita on the windshield.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Sayulita is during the winter, November- March. At this time temperatures are at their coolest- a comfortable daily average high of 78°F/26°C and there are clearer days and little rain. This is also, however, the most expensive time to visit and it’s the most crowded.
The summers on the Riviera Nayarit are extremely hot and rainy and hurricanes can pass through the area from July until October.
If you don’t mind the heat, you’re on a budget and want to see fewer people around, then the shoulder season months of October, November, March and April are also a good idea.
It’s also a good idea to visit Sayulita during the week rather than at the weekend if you can. At the weekend, many locals might travel to Sayulita from Puerto Vallarta making it even more crowded than usual.
Where to Stay
There are so many amazing places to stay in Sayulita. We stayed in a little Airbnb outside the centre but I also highly recommend the following properties and boutique hotels.
Casa Dos Chicos – An incredible tropical, 4 bedroom villa sitting in the treetops above Sayulita. From here you have incredible views of the surrounding areas. The unique villa accommodates up to 10 people and comes with a heated infinity pool and rooftop hot tub, barbecue and daily housekeeping and concierge service. Check availability and book here.
Don Benito Boutique Hotel – A super cute boutique hotel right in Sayulita town- Minimal, tasteful design with lovely balconies, a pool area surrounded by cacti and great staff to match. Check availability and book here.
Siete Lunas – Located minutes from Los Muertos and Carricitos Beaches- the best beaches in Sayulita- this beautiful boutique hotel offers beautiful, large, open rooms with palapa roofs and endless ocean views. The perfect place if you’re looking for beach time and peace and quiet. Check availability and book here.
Where to Eat
Anchor Cafe – Hands down my favourite cafe in all Sayulita, a visit to Anchor Cafe at least once during your stay in Sayulita is a must. It’s best at breakfast time where you can dig into extraordinary portions of banana bread french toast, vegan chia pudding topped with a frozen smoothie and creamy avocado toast on homemade sourdough.
Organi-K – With a line down the street most mornings, this cafe/restaurant in Sayulita has the best coffee in town if you like yours strong. They also do amazing açai bowls, avo toast (but if avo toast is what you’re after it’s better at Anchor Cafe or Miscelánea), smoothie bowls, sandwiches and poke bowls.
Miscelánea Cafe – Miscelánea Cafe does breakfast, brunch and lunch with so much vibe and aesthetic. There are many delicious breakfasts and brunch classics it’ll take you ages to decide. Go for gluten-free pancakes, eggs, chia oats, yoghurt bowls, fruit bowls or local breakfast classics like chilaquiles.
Things to Do in Sayulita
Sayulita may be small, but there are so many things to do in this charming little town. To make the most of your stay you’ll want to stay at least 2 full days but I highly recommend 4 days or even more to really make the most of it.
Spend Time on the Beach
You are on the blissful Riviera Nayarit after all with the Pacific Ocean in front of you!
Sayulita has four main beaches nearby including the one in town (Playa Sayulita) which tends to be the busiest.
You’ll find the best beaches in Sayulita slightly outside town, yet they are still perfectly walkable. Most beaches have restaurants/beach bars or beach clubs on them where you can grab a drink or something to eat as well as a lounger and an umbrella.
If you prefer to bring your own drinks and/or a picnic and just lay on a towel in the sand- there are plenty of opportunities for that too.
Due to the waves which are great for surfing but not so great for swimming, many of Sayulita’s beaches aren’t the best for swimming. Waves are high and currents are strong. If you’d like to swim make sure to head to Los Muertos beach which has the gentlest waves and a cornered off area for swimming.
The best beaches are:
- Playa Escondida/Carricitos – The best beach to come for sunset. It has one restaurant but generally, this is quite an unspoilt, gorgeous beach. Definitely bring your own snacks/drinks for a sunset picnic.
- Los Muertos Beach near Punta Sayulita – A small, palm-fringed, cove beach with yellow sand and turquoise water. The best beach in Sayulita for swimming. There are two bars selling drinks and basic Mexican food.
- Playa Malpaso near San Pancho – For a wild, off the beaten path experience, Malpaso Beach is a trek up the north end of Sayulita beach all the way to the end and over a headland. It’s an adventure in itself that’s rewarded by a pristine, wild beach with no infrastructure. There really is nothing here but pure nature. It can also be reached by taxi or from San Pancho.
Go Boutique Shopping
Sayulita is a great place to shop unique, boutique and local and you’ll see all the gorgeous boutiques as you explore.
Most of the pieces you see are made locally and many of them are also from local Jalisco designers that combine local culture, history and traditions.
In Sayulita, you’ll be able to find a wide range of boutique stores which include stores selling jewelry, clothing, art, home decor, swimwear and surf apparel. I highly encourage you to walk around and explore them all but there are some of my favourites:
- Evoke the spirit – A gorgeous, unique concept store selling clothing, unique jewelry pieces and home decor. Evoke the Spirit was created by New Yorker Brittney Borjeson, who calls Sayulita home for 10 years now. The pieces you see are designed but Brittney and made by local Huichol artisans. They beautifully combine Huichol traditions with modern designs and taste. You won’t want to leave without buying something.
- Revolucion del Sueno- A colorful boutique selling unique prints, bags and other lovely decor/home items. It’s definitely worth a peek.
- Artefakto – Beautiful pieces from different artistic communities around Mexico. Lots of art to check out here including homeware, bags, hammocks etc. It’s a great way to support local communities all over the country.
- Manyana- A stunning home decor and clothing boutique with a minimalist style and Japanese aesthetic. Gorgeous ceramics and clothing pieces.
- En Plural Concept Store- Unique clothing designs from a local Guadalajaran designer. There’s also one in San Pancho which is larger and also sells art prints.
- Zafiro- Gorgeous jewelry with heavy use of gemstones.
- SayulitaSol- lovely gold and silver plated, handmade jewelry
The Pacific Coast of Mexico has some of the best surf in the Americas, especially for beginners and intermediate surfers. Here, beaches and tides allow for a lot of whitewash if you’re trying out surfing for the first time or consistent waves for those that have some board time under their belts already.
There are many little surf shops and schools from where you can get surf lessons near Sayulita’s main beach. You can also rent boards from the same surf schools.
If you’re in Mexico during whale watching season you’ll not want to miss the opportunity to go whale watching, especially if you haven’t yet been.
The whale watching season in Mexico is pretty short and only lasts from December to March each year but during this time it’s almost guaranteed to see humpback whales in Banderas Bay. To see the whales, you’ll need to go out on a boat as part of a tour or you can also rent a luxury boat for a day trip on the water.
It’s a good idea to do your research before committing to a tour company. You’ll want to look for a skipper who cares about the whales and knows how to approach them without scaring them off.
Catch a sunset at Carricitos Beach
One of my favourite beaches in Sayulita is Carricitos Beach. It’s located over the other side of the headland towards the west of Sayulita town. It’s about a 20-minute walk from Sayulita town but the road is a little hilly. You can also get here by motorbike, ATV or golf cart but by car, it’s a little difficult due to the narrowness of the road.
Carricitos Beach is the best for watching the sunset directly over the ocean (it faces directly west). The beach is quite wild still- there is only one property and restaurants directly on the beach while the rest is fringed by vegetation and palm trees.
There isn’t much to buy here so bring all your own snacks and drinks and come for sunset. It’s the perfect end to a lovely day in Sayulita.
Take a Day Trip to the Marietas Islands
The Marietas Islands are a unique set of islands off the coast of Punta Mita in the Banderas Bay. The islands form part of a National Park and are a UNESCO Heritage Site and home to countless sea bird species, fish species, manta rays, sea turtles, whales and dolphins. Due to the area being protected, underwater life thrives making it a popular place to come snorkelling.
To visit the Marietas Islands you’ll have to take a tour unless you have your own boat, but even then you’ll need a permit to access them. Boat trips leave from Punta Mita, Sayulita or Puerto Vallarta.
You’ll want to make sure your tour includes some whale watching, time for snorkelling and swimming and also a trip to the Hidden Beach/Love Beach, a gorgeous hidden beach that’s only accessible through a cave.
There are countless tour operators who offer this tour but unfortunately, many of them are sub-par. Much of the tours are very commercialised and gimmicky, they can get very crowded and even tours that consider themselves to be ‘eco-friendly’ allow garbage and cigarette butts to fall into the water unnoticed.
If you prefer taking a tour that’s more focused on wildlife, nature and the environment rather than the party make sure to check out this one and this one as they seem to be the most responsible. Before signing up for any trip make sure to ask for an itinerary breakdown, tour group numbers and environmental responsibility initiatives.
There’s nothing quite like a stretch or yoga session in the morning or right after a morning surf. Luckily there are many yoga schools and centres that offer a full schedule of morning classes that you can drop into during your visit.
Paraiso Yoga is one of the best in Sayulita that offer unique passes to make sure you’re still flowing during your time in Sayulita.
They offer a 7-day unlimited yoga pass for one or a 5-day yoga pass for a couple. They have many more monthly rates and pass options to suit your needs and a monthly schedule of yoga with both morning and evening classes of a variety of different yoga styles.
Wander the colorful streets
The streets of Sayulita are filled with wonderful street art, colorful buildings and interesting boutiques and corners with locals selling trinkets and fresh fruit in wheelbarrows.
There really is no better way to get a know a new place than simply walking around. Make sure to look out for the wonderful street art, boutiques mentioned previously and don’t forget to take your Instagram photo at ‘Slap Street’, or Flag Street- you’ll no doubt see it on your way around- it’s one block of Calle Delfines.
Take a Day Trip to San Pancho
San Pancho or San Francisco Nayarit is a small town just north of Sayulita. While over the last few years Sayulita has developed at an alarming pace and become more and more commercial, San Pancho still has a very grassroots, community air about it.
It’s less of a party town and more of a slow, conscious connection type of place. If you’re looking for somewhere to travel slow and to connect to the local people and life by the sea then San Pancho is the place for you.
There are so many local boutiques and businesses to explore here as well as some incredible restaurants. San Pancho’s beach is also beautiful so it’s worth coming here for a day to soak up the sun and the unique atmosphere.
Spend a Day at a Local Day Spa
For those wanting to relax on a deeper level, you’ll be pleased to know that Sayulita does have a handful of great day spas where you can relax, indulge in some luxury body treatments, massages and even facials.
7 Spa – A reputable yet affordable day spa minutes from the main beach. Come here to indulge in massage therapy, including Thai massage, cupping therapy and unique facials including a spirulina enzyme mask that gently exfoliates leaving the face feeling soft and supple.
Nirvanna Day Spa– Another great option for hot stone massage, massage therapy and other spa treatments.
Take a Trip to Punta de Mita
If you’re looking for a few more luxurious options, you’ll want to perhaps base yourself in Punta de Mita. Located on the headland between Sayulita and Puerto Vallarta, Punta de Mita is Nayarit’s most exclusive area.
It’s difficult to just drive there and explore as the whole area is gated and guarded but you can get in if you’re staying at the St Regis Punta Mita Resort or the Four Seasons Resort or if you come to dine in their restaurants. After lunch, you can explore the property and the beach, which are some of the nicest in the area.
Hang out in Sayulita’s Plaza Principal
Sayulita’s main plaza is full of local life, culture and is a fantastic opportunity for relaxing and people watching.
You’ll no doubt come across the Central Square at some point during your time in Sayulita and you might even take a photo at the giant ‘Sayulita’ sign, but this square is always alive with life.
Take a seat on a shaded bench to avoid the midday sun and relax amid the hustle and bustle. You’ll find many local Huichol families here selling souvenirs, a lovely little church to poke your head into and you can even play with some of the friendly street dogs or improve your Spanish by talking to the locals.
Enjoy the Nightlife
If you’re a nightlife person, you’ll be pleased to know there are many places to party in Sayulita.
Just walking down the main streets at night, you’ll be able to see restaurants whose tables spill out onto the street and food truck bars set up on various corners. One of the best ways to get a feel for the nightlife is to just walk around and see which places look inviting that night.
Some great options to check out for nightlife:
- Cava– a nice little bar with some of the best cocktails in Sayulita- make sure to try the tamarind margarita.
- Latitude 20- Good place to meet other travellers/nomads with great live music in the evenings.
- Bar Don Pato – Lively bar on the Central Square.
Hike to Malpaso Beach
It’s often true that the best things in life take a little more effort. The same rings true for the beaches in Sayulita.
If you want to find some of the best beaches in the area while also getting a bit of a hike into your day you’ll want to check out Malpaso beach.
Malpaso beach is one of the wildest, raw and unspoilt beaches in the area. It lies just north of Sayulita, right between Sayulita and San Pancho. To get there isn’t easy (nor is it difficult either)- that’s why this beach is one of the least crowded and if you make the effort to get there you’ll probably have it all for yourself.
To get to Malpaso beach go to Sayulita’s main beach and keep walking north past all the hotels and resorts. When you get to the end, take the path that leads you over the headland and into the jungle. You’ll come out on the other side onto Malpaso beach where you can spend the day playing in the waves and enjoying nature in its purest form.
There are no services here so make sure to take all you need for the day; water, drinks, snacks, fruit, towel etc.
Join a Yoga and Wellness Retreat
With wellness travel becoming more and more popular each day- yay!- there are now quite a few options for yoga and wellness retreats in the Sayulita area.
If you’re looking to get the most out of the Nayarit Riviera while also improving your practice and building new relationships with like-minded individuals, the Haramara Retreat might be for you.
The retreat space is simply beautiful featuring simple group accommodations, luxury, rustic, private cabins, a palapa roof yoga shala and a community area. It’s located on the hillside in the heart of the jungle with beautiful ocean views.
Haramara retreat runs various yoga and meditation retreats, both group and personal retreats throughout the year and you can check their website here to find out more about their upcoming retreats.
Read more: 11 Best Yoga Retreats in Mexico in 2022 which includes many other retreats in the Sayulita area.
Take a Day Trip to Puerto Vallarta
If you’re staying in Sayulita for a while and you want to explore further- especially if you’re looking for bigger and more commercial stores- head to Puerto Vallarta for the day.
Here you’ll find a wide range of activities from shopping, to exploring the marina, to walking along the popular Malecon at dusk.
Other things you won’t want to miss in Puerto Vallarta are to explore the old Centro and Romantic Zone, Playa Los Muertos and its unique, sailboat-style pier as well as the beautiful Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Cathedral. All this can easily be done in a day.
Hike Monkey Mountain
Just south of Sayulita, there is a small mountain or hill called Monkey Mountain. I’m not sure if there are many monkeys up there -we didn’t see any.
Monkey Mountain is perfect for those wanting to add a little hike to their trip or to get out of town to explore the surroundings a little more. It’s not the best hike you’ll ever do but the view from the top of the surrounding jungle and the ocean is fantastic.
The best time to go up is for sunset or golden hour, just make sure to bring a head torch to light your way on the way back. If you’re in Sayulita during whale watching season (Dec-March) keep your eye open for whales.
To get to the trailhead you’ll need to drive or get a taxi. Taxi drivers will know where it is, just mention ‘Cerro del Mono’ and they will take you to the trailhead.
Hike to Playa de los Muertos
I say hike but it really is just a quick walk over to Playa Los Muertos.
Located just to the west of Sayulita’s main beach, Playa Los Muertos is a lovely, small beach surrounded by rocky outcrops on either side which protects it from the giant Pacific waves. For this reason, it’s the best beach in Sayulita for swimming.
Surrounded by coconut palms and gorgeous vegetation arrive early to choose the best spot. Then order a few margaritas or sparkling waters and you’re ready to relax.
Facilities are pretty limited at this beach- there are two makeshift bars serving drinks and some snacks but don’t expect too much.
On your way to Playa Los Muertos you’ll pass right by Sayulita cemetery, so make sure to get a glimpse of the flamboyantly decorated space especially if you’re here around the Day of the Dead (Nov 1st).
Get a Massage
To truly relax and make you feel like on vacation why not start your trip with a massage?
There are so many places to get a massage in Sayulita, at a private spa or even right on the beach. You’ll no doubt see plenty of places to get a massage in Sayulita and you might even be offered a massage when walking down the beach.
Are you ready to tackle all these amazing things to do in Sayulita? Let me know all your questions and comments below.
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Rentalcars.com for quick and easy car rentals worldwide
Booking.com for great deals on hotels
Agoda also for great deals on hotels
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