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Vamonos to Mexico » Magical Towns » Sayulita Beach: Surf, Swim, Eat, Dance, and More

Sayulita Beach: Surf, Swim, Eat, Dance, and More

  • Joel CZ 
  • 12 min read
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Sayulita beach has become one of the most acclaimed spots on the coast of Nayarit.

This small and picturesque beach town is located on Banderas Bay, at the southern end of the state of Nayarit, 41 km apart from Jalisco’s Puerto Vallarta.

Sayulita, which by the way is a Magical Town, it’s a paradise known for good surfing and many other attractions that I invite you to get to know with this complete guide. So stay tuned!

Banderas Bay has become a popular beach destination for its shores and jungle beauty. There are also excellent surfing conditions.

The state capital, Tepic, is 128 km from Sayulita.

To get from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita beach, you have to access the Coastal Highway 200 and then take a detour of about 6 km that leads to the Magical Town.

Sayulita beach & town history

sayulita beach
Source: Patricia Chumillas / Shutterstock.com

During pre-Columbian times, the territory was inhabited by several indigenous ethnic groups, the majority being the Tecosquines.

In 1524 the first Spaniard arrived at the Nayarit coasts, Captain Francisco Cortés de San Buenaventura, nephew of Hernán Cortés, whom the Indians would kill with arrows after his ship was shipwrecked.

Until the 1960s, the town of Sayulita was only a handful of palm houses whose inhabitants lived off the coquito harvest.

In 2015 Sayulita was named a Magical Town.

Around 1965 an incipient tourist activity began with the opening of the La Varas-Vallarta highway.

As the 20th century progressed, Sayulita became a prime beach destination by developing hotels, restaurants, tour operators, and other tourist services.

What is Sayulita’s climate like?

Banderas Bay is a tropical territory with warm summers and cool winters. The average annual temperature is 25.5 °C, with July, August, and September being the hottest months, with the thermometer hovering around 29 °C.

The year’s first quarter offers the coolest temperatures, which vary between 22 and 23 °C (72 and 73 °F).

However, in winter, there can be hot spells of 29 °C and nighttime “frosts” of 16 °C.

Sayulita rains 1,185 mm per year, falling mainly between July and September and slightly less in June and October. Between November and May, there is practically no rain.

Things to do at Sayulita beach

sayulita mexico
Source: Janel Barnes / shutterstock.com

The first thing to do in Sayulita is to get into the best hotel you can afford; the most expensive, of course, are the ones right on the beach, and the prices go down as you get further into town and away from the coast.

I recommend you set aside some time to get to know the town too; then it’s all beach, fun, good food, and sports on land, sea, and air.

On Sayulita’s beach, you’ll find excellent restaurants and facilities for surfing, boating, whale and dolphin watching, bird watching, diving, and snorkeling.

A convenient option for those who favor maximum comfort is renting a golf cart to get from one place to another without walking.

Sayulita Mexico, the Magical Town

sayulita beach
Source: Jose de Jesus Churion Del / shutterstock.com

Sayulita is a picturesque town of modest houses and friendly people whose lives revolve around tourism and fishing.

To feel the town’s pulse, it is a good idea to walk through its cobblestone streets, visit its simple main square with its ever-present kiosk, and admire the small church located on one side of the plaza, which is the spiritual center of the town.

The town is located between the beach and a group of small hills from which you have splendid views, especially at sunrise and sunset.

The green of the exuberant vegetation and turquoise blue waters of the Pacific Ocean and the white and ocher softness of the sandy beaches constitute a postcard worthy of admiration.

Enjoy the beach

sayulita beach
Source: Aberu.Go / shutterstock.com

The land profile of Sayulita’s main beach has in its central part a large blunt arrow that goes into the sea, forming a wide sandy area that draws two beach arches and provides different spaces for the enjoyment of tourists.

In some sectors of the beach, it is possible to take shelter from the inclement sun under the coconut trees, while in others, you will have to resort to an umbrella.

Sayulita is one of the main destinations in Banderas Bay for surfing due to its excellent and continuous swell.

In front of the beach are comfortable hotels that will be happy to provide you with all the comforts and restaurants where you can relax and enjoy the fresh delicacies of the Pacific.

Is there good surfing in Sayulita Mexico?

Yes, Sayulita is home to some of the best surfing in Mexico.

In fact, most people come to Sayulita to relax and surf, but you can also have a great time if you want to try other activities.

Again, Sayulita’s ocean offers opportunities for all surfers, regardless of how experienced they are.

There are times of more moderate swell, especially in the mornings, when beginner surfers can practice in the best conditions.

As the day progresses, the swell can increase, providing the best setting for more seasoned surfers.

Several surf schools in Sayulita take great care to ensure that beginners learn the basics of the fun sport.

Surfing schools

sayulita beach
Source: Ahturner / shutterstock.com
  • Lunazul Surf School and Shop is recognized as one of the best surf schools in the Bay Area. Their goal is to get you up on the board with a friendly and fun approach; they offer preferential prices for couples and groups
  • Wildmex Surf & Adventure is another well-known school; it is located in front of the mouth of the river, has excellent equipment, and the instructors are very patient with beginners
  • The instructors at Sayulita Dive and Surf are distinguished by their punctuality and knowledge of the ocean

There are many other options for learning to surf in Sayulita, such as Surf It Out, I Love Waves, and Sayulita Surf Day Camps.

Boat activities

Chica Locca is an operator that offers the most fun boat rides around Sayulita and other places of interest in Banderas Bay.

They also take you snorkeling in the Marietas Islands on a perfectly conditioned yacht, and the service is first class.

Ally Cat Sailing Adventures has a beautiful catamaran, and its food and beverage service is highly praised for its musical ambiance.

Dolphins populate the waters of Banderas Bay, and during winter, they are frequented by humpback whales that come down from the icy Arctic in search of warmer areas to perpetuate their life cycle.

In Sayulita, several operators take tourists out to sea, so those passionate about biodiversity observation can admire these friendly species.

The operator La Orca de Sayulita takes you to live the incredible experience of seeing the enormous cetaceans with their calves and hearing them “singing.” Tours last about 3 hours.

Are there good bird-watching opportunities?

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A local macaw – Source: Andres Medecigo Villagran / shutterstock.com

The jungle surrounding Sayulita and the beach are rich in land and sea birds, making it a true paradise for birdwatchers.

In the forests, flocks of green parakeets can chatter loudly while black-necked blue jays display striking colors and elegant tails.

You can do your birding tour with Sayulita Bird or Birding San Pancho.

On the river, herons are always looking for prey; on the sea, frigate birds sail majestically while pelicans keep a sharp eye out for a sardine.

Other ecotourism activities in Sayulita

If you want to go horseback riding or enjoy other ecotourism activities in Sayulita, you must go to Rancho Mi Chaparrita, located on the oceanfront, very close to dowtown.

It has 13 zip lines of varying heights and lengths from which you have lovely ocean views and surrounding vegetation.

Painted Ponies is also close to Sayulita and has horses and ponies on which you can take enjoyable rides through the jungle and along the beach.

You can also take a hike that leads to a lookout point with incredible views.

Where to rent a golf cart in Sayulita?

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Source: Taylor Chance / shutterstock.com

Golf cart tours are all the rage, and Sayulita offers this option.

Town Around, an operator that rents out carts quickly and easily, is located at No. 13-B, Suite 3, on Miramar Street.

The carts run on gas and are much faster than the electrical ones.

You can rent for different periods; if you have never driven one, don’t worry because it is straightforward, and the staff will quickly get you up to speed on what you need.

The cart is comfortable because it allows you to explore the town without walking.

Playa los muertos near Sayulita Beach

This beach is a bit far from the town of Sayulita.

To get to Playa Los Muertos, you have to walk up a hill, get to the cemetery and walk down to where you can see a small sandy area.

If you don’t have a problem walking around graves during vacation time, it’s worth going to this beach, which is especially good for swimming in calm water.

The richness of the fish ensures a unique snorkeling experience.

You can even take advantage of a visit to the cemetery to appreciate the simplicity of the locals’ offerings to their dead.

Tour the Islas Marietas

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Source: Joshua Serrano Crisosto / shutterstock.com

The Marietas are two uninhabited islands of volcanic origin called Isla Larga and Isla Redonda, located in Banderas Bay, near the coast.

Tours depart from Sayulita and other beaches in the bay to visit the islands and their surroundings, rich in marine life.

The intense tourist flow to the ecologically fragile islands has reached 100,000 visitors per year, forcing environmental authorities to restrict access to protect the ecosystems.

A few operators have been authorized to take tourists to the islands, whose waters are so clear that you can see 10 meters deep.

The islands are a refuge for the beautiful blue-footed boobies.

Local handicrafts and gastronomy

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Colorful Huichol bracelets – Source: Amanda Chang / shutterstock.com

If you want to take home a souvenir from Sayulita, the galleries and craft stores offer shawls, chaquira jewelry, Cora and Huichol pieces, and basketry.

The star dish of Nayarit coastal cuisine is zarandeado fish, in which a good piece of fresh fish, such as snapper, is marinated and grilled over a charcoal fire and served on banana leaves.

In Sayulita, they prepare this specialty very well, and shrimp, octopus, and lobster in all its forms.

You can enjoy other seafood delicacies in Sayulita: shrimp aguachile, seafood soup, and fish cracklings.

What are the best hotels in Sayulita?

If I had to choose, these three would probably be on my list:

  • Casablanca is a beach hotel that is one of the best in Sayulita. It has a beach, pool, palapas on the sand, and the facilities are very well maintained
  • Playa Escondida is a nice little hotel with rooms arranged at different heights on the side of a hill. It has all the services, making it an ideal place to disconnect and rest away from the hustle and bustle
  • Amor Boutique Hotel, located in front of the beach on Pescadores Street, has rooms practically overlooking the ocean, so the first thing you will see when you wake up is the blue sea

Other lodging options

  • Villas Chulavista, a hotel located at Saturno 21, has an outdoor pool and solarium
  • Hotel Don Miguel Plaza is conveniently located downtown at Avenida Revolucion 48, has a solarium, and accepts pets
  • Villas Vista Suites, located at Calle Gabriel Rodríguez Peña 30 Oriente, is a rustic-style accommodation about a 15-minute walk from the beach
  • Hotel y Suites Los Encantos, at Miramar 13, has a fully equipped kitchen in each studio, is 3 minutes from the beach, has a saltwater pool and a whirlpool tub

Best restaurants in Sayulita

The best time to eat fresh seafood is by the ocean in one of the picturesque establishments on Sayulita beach.

  • If you want to have a delicious seafood meal in a casual atmosphere and at reasonable prices, one of the best options in Sayulita is Marisqueria Estrella de Mar, located on Avenida del Palmar Norte
  • The highest praise, though goes to shrimp tacos, ceviches, fish burgers, and marlin quesadillas. Don Pedro’s Restaurant’s lobster is highly acclaimed, and so are its seafood pizzas
  • Mary’s Restaurant serves traditional Mexican cuisine in generous portions and at very convenient prices
  • La Rústica Sayulita serves exquisite pizzas, both classic and seafood, and Italian dishes
  • Yeikame is very Mexican, from tasty beans to rich chilaquiles
  • Mamma Mía is a wine bar that offers Italian delicacies with fresh pasta and very good seasoning
  • If you are in the mood for ice cream in Sayulita, you should go to Wakika Ice Cream Shop, which specializes in mango and the aphrodisiac yaka

And, of course, you will see tons of little joints and cafes all over town (my favorite cafe is Choco Banana in the main square, it’s been my preferred breakfast place for over 20 years).

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