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8 Things to Do in Sayulita, Mexico for the Perfect Travel Itinerary

8 Things to Do in Sayulita, Mexico for the Perfect Travel Itinerary

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Tucked away in a quiet little bay about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta is the small surf town known as Sayulita. Tourists and locals alike flock to this town for its consistent smaller sized waves, which makes it perfect for learning how to surf.

When visiting Sayulita, not only will you love the stunning scenery, the vibrant streets full of color are a visual feast for any photographer (or those who just appreciate anything aesthetic).

The small and traditional grid-style Mexican downtown is backed by the hills behind it, leading to the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range.

While this little town does get quite busy, I would describe it as a good busy.

The people and the buzz just adds to the colorful atmosphere and the 50/50 mix of tourists and locals still makes it feel authentically Mexican.

The chic bohemian vibes of this magical place continues to attract more and more visitors every year.

But what I love about Sayulita is that the crowd is a mix of different people who blend together so well.

When we visited, there was definitely a young crowd, but we were also surprised by the number of families, retirees and mid-30 and mid-40s couples enjoying a vacation here.

So it seems that whether you’re an aspiring beach bum, a couple on a romantic holiday or a family looking to have some fun, Sayulita is the perfect place to visit.

Sayulita is known for its eye-catchingly vibrant streets, one of the best places in Mexico to learn how to surf, the friendly locals and their contagious smiles and a growing world class gastronomic scene.

This Sayulita travel guide will take you through an overview of this spirited beach town, the best things to do to fill your itinerary, and recommendations about where to stay.

You might also like: Bucerías, Mexico: A Complete Destination Guide to this Charming Town Near Puerto Vallarta

Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. I only share products that I personally use and love, and all opinions are my own.

Where is Sayulita?

You’ll find Sayulita on Mexico’s pacific coast in the Nayarit state. It’s a little over 45 minutes northwest of Puerto Vallarta on Highway 200 (if you’re driving yourself or arriving by taxi).

You can also get to Sayulita by bus from Puerto Vallarta for less than ten bucks!

If you take the bus from Puerto Vallarta it will take you about 1 to 1.5 hours depending on traffic and time of day. There’s a fixed roof station on Av Revolucion just outside of downtown.

If you’re arriving by bus with your luggage, it’s no problem!

We each had a carry-on size roller suitcase, and this was no problem to roll through town from the bus station to the hotel and back.

It’s a pleasant drive once you get out of the city. Winding roads lead you into jungle-like scenery as you pass cute little rural villages along the way.

colorful paper flags at night in a Mexican town square
Downtown Sayulita at Night

Read Next: 26 Practical Travel Tips for Mexico You Are Guaranteed to Use

Where to Stay in Sayulita

Hotel Peix

My recommendation for the best hotel in Sayulita is Hotel Peix. This boutique 10-room hotel is located right on the beach, in the middle of all the action.

The staff make you feel like family, and all guests are guaranteed beach loungers.

In addition to the lobby bar, there’s a grassy courtyard complete with hammocks and lounge space.

Hotel Peix, Sayulita

Try to get a room on the second or third floor with the balconies facing the ocean. There’s nothing better than sipping your morning coffee with the purple and orange sunrise backdrop!

But I haven’t even mentioned the best part about this hotel!

The rooftop bar is an absolute must. With 360 degree views, definitely visit this place for a sunset cocktail.

Travel Tip: since this hotel is literally right on the beach, there’s actually no direct road. You’ll have to walk to the very end of Calle Gaviota and walk across the beach to the hotel.

a couple poses for a selfie on a rooftop bar overlooking the beach
View from the rooftop bar

Other Great Hotels in Sayulita

A close second is the Petit Hotel Hafa, which is in the heart of all the action. It’s the perfect location for being close to all the good restaurants and shops and only a couple minutes’ walk to the beach.

They’ve also got a great rooftop terrace and colorful decor to make for some epic Instagram posts! Because it’s so close to the fun bars though, it can be noisy at night if you’re an early-to-bed traveler.

Another great option in Sayulita is the Casa Nawalli. It’s the highest rated property on and includes breakfast!

If you’re looking for budget options, you can also find this great place for around $35 US per night! It’s even got a 9 out of 10 rating on!

Read More Here: Where to Stay in Sayulita for those Chill Beach Town Vibes (best boutique hotels, best places to stay if you want to surf, quiet options/best options for couples, luxury villas and places with the best rooftop views).

Top Things to do in Sayulita

1. Surf

Surfing in Sayulita is a must do activity. There are several surf & rental shops set up on the beach every day, so any vendor you choose will be fine.

We chose the boys who run Sayulita Surf School because it was right in front of our hotel.

We paid for a lesson which was SO worth it. The instructor came in the water with us for an hour and helped us get the feel for the waves.

After our lesson we were comfortable enough to stay out on the water by ourselves and rented boards to keep learning how to surf the next day!

December through April is the best time to surf in Sayulita.

By this time of year, the storm and rainy season is well-over, and the swells from the north create perfect, consistent waves for both left and right break points.

My best tip for learning how to surf in Sayulita: if you’re standing on the beach looking at the ocean, stay to the left. This is where the sandy bottom is.

If you venture to the right, the waves are bigger, but more consistent. However, there are tons of rocks and its not very deep; so if you’re just learning and fall off your board a lot, it’s gonna hurt!

Sayulita Pro Tip: we saw everyone wearing these water shoes which allowed them to learn how to surf in the better waves on the rocky side of the beach. Next time we visit Sayulita, I will definitely be getting a pair.

Also, I really wish I had a rash guard to protect my skin. It gets rough when you’re just learning, because you’re up and down so much.

They’re over $100 at stores in town, but this top-rated one on Amazon goes for much cheaper!

2. Visit the Secret Beach

Playa de los Muertos is the best beach in Sayulita, especially for swimming. While there were concerns over sewage making its way into the main beach, this has since been cleaned up (as of late 2019).

However, if you’re still not convinced, head to Playa de los Muertos, where it’s secluded enough from the main beach and has its own cove with crystal clear water.

This beach is truly a hidden gem in Sayulita; there were only 3 other people when we visited!

The main beach in town is definitely busy, so I highly recommend a visit to Playa de los Muertos. It’s a quieter and calmer area.

To get there, head west along the beach until you hit the end. You’ll have to step up on to Pescadores road. To get here, climb up the rocks that have been placed to create natural steps.

Follow this road passed a couple nice hotels and you’ll eventually come to a fork in the road, but look for the hand painted signs that have arrows pointing you to Play de los Muertos.

You will walk on the road that takes you passed the local cemetery – slow down on this part. Take a few moments in silence and observe the beautifully vibrant sanctuaries built in honor of loved ones who have left us.

Finding this cemetery was another hidden gem of Sayulita; it was so humbling to see how much love and care the residents put into making their loved ones’ graves so bright, clean and colorful.

As you continue to follow the signs you’ll eventually find the beach! It’s only about a 15 minute walk from the main beach in town.

You’ll pass a couple of quiet beach restaurants, but keep walking toward the water and then head to the right. You’ll see some big rock formations – climb over them!

As soon as you get on top of them keep looking to the right and you’ll see the private calm beach area.

Large rock formations and small cliffs create a calm and inviting inlet. We played around the in the crystal clear and warm water for a couple hours.

Since the water is so clear and calm, it’s the perfect spot to go snorkeling around here. Don’t forget to bring your snorkel gear! Check out this game-changer one-piece snorkel and mask set that includes an attachment spot for your GoPro.

Read Next: The Best Beaches to Visit in and Around Puerto Vallarta

3. Wander Around Downtown Sayulita

You should absolutely make sure your Sayulita itinerary includes walking the colorful streets of this picturesque town both during the day and at night. Just meander around and take in all the beautiful street art, check the markets for unique artisan decor, clothing and trinkets.

You will quickly see why wandering and admiring the streets is one of the best things to do in Sayulita – every few feet you will likely see someone stopped in their tracks taking a picture of something! It’s just that pretty here.

Be sure to find the swing bar and enjoy a drink!

For dinner, we really enjoyed Emiliano’s. Av Revolucion seems to be a little quieter and attracts more of the 30-something crowd. Whereas Calle Jose Mariscal is a little busier with a younger crowd.

Also, everyone here rents golf carts to cruise around in! There are probably more golf carts than cars or motorcycles. I’d say if you’re staying in town for more than a couple nights, a golf cart might be a nice break when you start to figure out where everything is.

Related Post: Where to Find the Most Instagrammable Places in Bucerías, Mexico.

Otherwise, everything is definitely walkable, as the downtown is really only a few square blocks in size.

Tip: I would recommend bringing enough cash with you for your stay here. There are plenty of ATMs in front of all the shops, but we found several of them to be empty.

Remember, there’s always the risk of card skimmer devices in busy towns like this one.

4. Shop for Handmade Souvenirs

Lining the cobblestone streets of Sayulita are tons of unique artisan shops. From art galleries to handcrafted goods, the shopping here is fantastic.

Find yourself a dreamcatcher, jewelry or a hand-painted clay pot to bring back home. Checking out all the shops is a perfect thing to do when it rains in Sayulita, too.

5. Visit a Hippie Farmer’s Market – Mercado del Pueblo

Only on Fridays from November to April will you find one of the best markets in Mexico. Fresh fruit, authentic goods and live music make for a fun couple of hours.

This is the place to purchase fresh coffee beans or an array of plant-based meals. And if you love dogs, this place is pet friendly and many of the locals have their furry friends hanging out.

Image courtesy of Riviera Nayarit Visitors & Convention Bureau (Riviera Nayarit CVB)

6. Hike up Monkey Mountain

For incredible views of both the mountains and the ocean, hike up Cerro del Mono, also known as Monkey Mountain. It’s a 45 minute hike, but absolutely worth it if you’re looking for the best place to watch the sunset.

This hike is located in between Punta de Mita and Sayulita. It’s a little tricky to find, so the best way to experience this incredible hike is by tour. Head into the jungle on this guided tour where you get to learn about the history of the area and all the flora and fauna along the way.

The panoramic viewpoint at the top is one of the best hidden gems in Sayulita that not many tourists know about yet.

Image courtesy of Riviera Nayarit Visitors & Convention Bureau (Riviera Nayarit CVB)

7. Find a Great Breakfast Spot

There are tons of great places to enjoy a scrumptious desayunos. One of the most popular places is the ChocoBanana, located smack dab in the middle of downtown Sayulita. We had a great meal there, but there’s a spot off the beaten path I would highly recommend.

It’s located in the courtyard of Hotel La Morada. The breakfast is cooked fresh, outside, right in front of you. The menu is different each day as they usually only offer 2 or 3 choices.

When we visited we enjoyed eggs cooked inside homemade blue corn tortillas. Highly recommend! This romantic courtyard restaurant was one of our favorites in Sayulita.

Other Things to Do and Places Worth Visiting Outside of Sayulita

San Francisco is another small surf community about a 5 minute drive north that’s reminiscent of Sayulita before it became as popular as it is today.

Locally known as San Pancho, it’s a great day trip destination to escape the crowds.

Image courtesy of Riviera Nayarit Visitors & Convention Bureau (Riviera Nayarit CVB)

Hot Springs and waterfalls! In a little under two hours (driving time) you can experience some really unique hot springs in the middle of the jungle.

Search for the El Molote Hot Springs. It’s a bumpy and rustic road to get there, so head to any of the local tour companies and hire a guide.

There are dozens of small cement pools that fit 1-2 adults and the hot thermal water fills each pool separately. A local favorite, for a good reason!

As Sayulita becomes more and more popular every year, it’s no doubt that this is one of the trendiest places to visit in Mexico right now. From the perfect waves that beckon surfers from all over the world, and the chill vibes that summon wannabe beach bum travelers, Sayulita is becoming a bucket list destination for many. Make sure you visit this magical town soon!

P.S. If you love Sayulita, you will LOVE Holbox Island. It’s basically the Sayulita of the Caribbean side of Mexico! It’s a car-free sandbar island with the same type of beach bum vibes and all the colors and thatched-roofs you can handle!

Check out some posts about Holbox here:



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