Snuggled up to the Pacific Ocean and cradled by the tropical forests of the Sierra de Vallejo mountains, pretty Sayulita is less than an hour’s drive north of Puerto Vallarta. Surfers found their way to this tiny village in the 1960’s and spread the word about the miles of golden beaches and perfect waves. Since then, Sayulita has become a popular getaway for Canadian and American visitors and the town has upped its game in response.
Arts and Crafts
Walking around Sayulita is like strolling into a rainbow. Tiny storefronts painted in vivid hues of pink, orange, blue, and yellow stand shoulder to shoulder along the streets, their windows bursting with crafts of all kinds. The sheer variety of cheeky Day of the Dead figurines, handmade leather bags and shoes, ocean-themed jewellery and rustic pottery in all shapes and sizes can transform a mundane shopping trip into an art walk.
Be on the lookout for the inspired multicoloured designs of the local Huichol community known as the “Peyote People”. They use the hallucinogen in traditional sacred ceremonies. The stylized images in their vivid yarn paintings and beaded figurines represent their deep spiritual connection with God and the natural world. Secluded Huichol villages only opened up to western influences in the 1970’s when roads finally reached them. Support for their communities and spiritual practices comes from the sale of their artwork.
Fun loving Sayulita
Images of hearts are everywhere in this town of 5,000 souls. The friendly locals keep their hearts on their sleeves and keep smiling even when the population doubles during events and festivals.
In early February, the town hosts its annual Festival Sayulita, a celebration of cinema, spirits, music and lifestyle programs. There are screenings of over 60 international films; tasting nights featuring local craft beer, wine and Mezcal; group yoga and a fun run. The weekend ends with fireworks after the Concert Jungle Live music festival.
When the party’s over, the fun continues. Hikers will find plenty of leafy jungle trails to explore. Take a four-hour hike up Monkey Mountain for panoramic views of Sayulita and the blue Pacific. Get out of town with horseback riding, ATV and mountain biking tours or attain inner peace at a yoga retreat.
If you find the main beach in Sayulita becoming a little too crowded, walk to nearby Playa de los Muertos for swimming, surfing and stand-up paddle boarding. For surf lessons, surf camps, snorkelling tours and hiking, Wild Mex can arrange for the perfect day trip for the whole family. They also have small group tours to Marieta Islands National Park to see grey whales in the winter and rare blue-footed boobies, seafaring birds with bright blue feet. The National Park allows a few lucky people to navigate the waves under a sea arch to the hidden Beach of Love every day.
Sayulita Travel Tips:
Sayulita has a small but vibrant food and beverage scene. For beachfront dining and dancing, try Don Pedro’s. They have an international menu and salsa and flamenco nights from October to April. For casual dining, Burrito Revolution brings it, with huge veggie, fish, steak and breakfast burritos plus Mexican favourites tacos, quesadillas and ice-cold beer.
Where to stay:
The Riviera Nayarit has a wide range of hotels from all-inclusive resorts to rental condos, all within driving distance of Sayulita. Locals list accommodations on the Sayulita Life website. For an all-inclusive family luxury resort, the Gran Velas Riviera Nayarit, an AAA 5 Diamond property in nearby Nuevo Vallarta, offers lavish suites with sweeping views of Banderas Bay, five gourmet restaurants, a Kids Club and a Teen Club.
There is no bank in town, the ATM has bandito rates, and many businesses do not accept credit cards. Bring cash (US dollars or pesos); exchange your Canadian dollars for pesos before you leave or at a bank in Puerto Vallarta. Avoid the airport exchange kiosks.
There are two English speaking doctors in town. Pediatricians, clinics and hospitals are nearby.
Zika virus is active in the area and carried by mosquitos. Mothers-to-be should check with a travel specialist before travelling here.
Only swim where there are other people around. Children and inexperienced swimmers should wear lifejackets when they are near the water. Secluded beaches may have riptides.
For more information visit: Riviera Nayarit
The writer was hosted by the Riviera Nayarit CVB. As always, her opinions are her own.