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Discover San Pancho Mexico: TOP 12 Things You Must Do

  • Joel CZ 
  • 8 min read
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Although it has grown a lot in recent years, San Pancho, Mexico, still retains its quaint atmosphere of a small, relaxed town where everyone knows and cares for each other, making it a safe destination.

There are now more hotels and houses for rent, restaurants, cafes, and even an organic market awaiting your visit.

Believe me, this is a little hidden gem in Nayarit, with incredible beaches and many attractions worth discovering.

Where is San Pancho, Mexico?

San Francisco (in the State of Nayarit), also known as San Pancho, is north of Sayulita, about 7 minutes away and 50 minutes from Puerto Vallarta.

It is a small community surrounded by jungle and hills that reaches the shores of the Pacific Ocean, so a day will be enough to get to know it and marvel at its natural and cultural attractions.

Although its long and wide soft sand beaches with good waves are its most popular attraction, here is a list of 12 unmissable activities to enjoy in San Pancho.

12 top things to do in San Pancho, Mexico

san pancho mexico
Strolling through San Pancho, Nayarit – Source: Ananda Moon / flickr.com

1. Get to know the town

About 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta, after passing Bucerías and heading towards Tepic, keep an eye out for the crossing to the coast that gives access to San Pancho.

It is a charming place of little more than 1,500 inhabitants, where most Mexican village traditions are preserved.

You can ride a horse and chat with the locals for any reason and coexist with the more modern customs of beach sports and gourmet food.

Strolling through the cobblestone streets of San Francisco in search of a good coffee or delicious chocolate is something you can’t miss.

2. Enjoy the beach at San Pancho

san pancho mexico
Source: riverrustic / flickr.com

San Pancho beach is the reward the Pacific offers after going to the coast through the beautiful town.

It is long and wide enough to accommodate many bathers on the sandy beach without being too narrow.

You may want to read: 15 Best Beaches in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

The sand is light-grained and smooth, and the surf is good for beginners.

You can also dive or just lie in the sun watching the landscape in which the mountain’s green competes in intensity and beauty with the blue of the sea.

3. Try the delicious food

If you want to try authentic tacos and birria, in the town of San Pancho, there are several stands where you can enjoy these Mexican delicacies.

For beachside dining, any selection of seafood is guaranteed to be fresh, and the locals claim that their huachinangos (red snapper) are the best in Banderas Bay.

The town also has highly praised a la carte restaurants, such as Maria’s, La Ola Rica, and Bistro Orgánico.

4. Do yoga or relax at a spa

If you’ve arrived in San Pancho Mexico with some muscle tension, put your body in the expert hands of one of the local specialists in relaxing massages.

They offer hot stones, polarity therapies, and other treatments that will leave your neck, back, and limbs feeling like new.

I recommend Angelical Spa, which combines the professionalism of its therapists with a very well-cared-for atmosphere.

Your visit to San Pancho could also be the occasion for you to start experiencing yoga’s physical and mental benefits in one of the town’s yoga centers.

5. Enjoy a cup of locally grown coffee overlooking the mountains

San Pancho is a postcard of a blue colored ocean side and greenery on the mountainous flanks of the Sierra Madre Occidental on its way down to the Pacific.

In some of the mountains of Jalisco and neighboring Colima and Nayarit, there are excellent coffee plantations.

In the Bay of Banderas, innumerable cafes use the best beans from the Pacific coffee belt and other regions of the country, such as Veracruz.

Sitting in a terrace cafe in San Pancho to enjoy this beverage while observing the surrounding mountains is both a gastronomic and spiritual experience.

6. Meet San Pancho’s environmental groups

The tourist stream that travels to observe the animal and plant life of other regions and countries is growing.

Unfortunately, the sustainability of ecotourism is threatened by the extermination of species.

Why would I go to the Mexican Pacific to observe turtles if there are hardly any left to see?

That is why it’s essential to know and support the activities of local groups that, under the radar and with little support, work to preserve biodiversity.

In San Pancho, groups work to protect the jaguar and several turtle species.

7. Whale watching

One of the most regular visitors to Banderas Bay is the Humpback Whale.

They have the advantage of not having to make reservations and stay in the endless space of the bay and the infinite ocean.

These striking cetaceans, which can reach 16 meters long and 36 tons in weight, always arrive in winter, between December and March, when the bay’s temperature is ideal for their reproduction.

Tours depart from San Pancho to see the humpbacks at a reasonable distance, guaranteeing good observation and safety.

8. Try the local fruits and vegetables

san pancho mexico
Fresh local fruits at the local markets – Source: jack satta / flickr.com

Almost all towns in Mexico, beach, and inland, very touristy or less touristy, have a tradition, almost an obligation, to plant and harvest much of what they eat.

Even in the deserts’ less fertile areas, Mexican farmers pluck some fruit from the earth.

Farmers in San Pancho are in the minority, but they produce some delicious fruits, among which mango, pineapple, and papaya stand out for their sweetness and lemon for their delicate acidity.

Taste San Pancho’s fresh fruits and enjoy a shot of Tequila with a fresh lime wedge.

9. Take a fishing tour

Another recreational activity you can do in San Pancho Mexico is a fishing excursion.

Don’t worry if you are inexperienced; the instructors can prepare beginners step by step in the art of fishing, from bait placement to rod handling skills when something is biting.

You may want to read: Top Fishing Destinations in Mexico: Saltwater & Freshwater

If you are already an experienced angler, you may just want to wish yourself luck and hope you catch an excellent piece for dinner.

Unless you prefer to throw it back in the water after taking a selfie with it.

10. Meet with friends

The “meet with friends” program is a private, playful and educational initiative based on volunteer work aimed at teaching San Pancho’s children the recycling of materials and self-sustainability.

Children learn, have fun, and proudly show their work on this site in downtown San Pancho.

Language classes and other cultural events are also held there. They will gladly accept your contribution.

 11. Observe nature in San Pancho Mexico

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The great Kiskadee bird is typical of San Pancho – Guy Lacroix / flickr.com

Walking tours depart from San Pancho to get to know the surrounding nature.

There is an interesting diversity of birds and other species around the town’s lagoon and in the mountains.

You can admire blue herons, squirrel cuckoos, orange-headed parrots, and other rarities you will probably never see in your hometown.

Don’t worry if your eyesight is not what it used to be because binoculars are provided.

12. Live a new “cocoa” experience

Cocoa and its transformation into delicacies is another Mexican tradition.

It is said that the emperor Moctezuma had to drink about 20 cups of cocoa a day to leave his harem moderately satisfied.

Mexico produces good cocoa in Tabasco, Chiapas, and Guerrero.

These fruits are used by many artisans who make both traditional and contemporary wonders.

In San Pancho Mexico, an artisan house called Mexicolate has achieved a magnificent understanding between tradition and modernity, offering some products worth tasting.

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