Welcome to your Ultimate Sayulita Travel Guide covering everything you need to know about visiting the surf town of Sayulita, Mexico. Sayulita is one of the best little gems in Mexico! If you’re reading this, it’s likely because you heard of someone raving about it. To answer the question in your mind, YES, you should go! And this guide will help you plan your trip!
Sayuilta in summation: It’s a small, colorful pueblo magico (“magical town”) located on the pacific coast side of Mexico. It has a chill beach/surfer vibe, and a lot of foreigners live here. It’s fairly affordable, extremely walkable, and best of all, super pet friendly! You will see dogs EVERYWHERE ready to be played with.
When I first heard about Sayulita, I was excited because it was one of those off the beaten path destinations that was fairly accessible via a quick flight into Puerto Vallarta and then an hour car ride to the small town.
Sayulita is a perfect destination for all kinds of travelers: families, couples, solo travelers and more with different kinds of activities, beaches, and things to do.
WHERE IS SAYULITA?
Sayulita is about 40 km (25 miles) north of Puerto Vallarta and found in the state of Nayarit in Mexico. Sayulita Beach is on the Pacific Ocean side of Mexico, south of California.
HOW TO GET TO SAYULITA?
From Puerto Vallarta, you really have 4 options on getting to Sayulita from the airport.
Public Transportation: If you are on a budget, or solo traveling in Mexico, this is by far the cheapest option. The bus from Puerto Vallarta airport to Sayulita doesn’t come directly inside the airport, but it’s close.
To catch the bus to Sayulita from the airport you will need to exit the airport by crossing over the highway via the pedestrian bridge. When you exit the airport turn left and you will see it. Once you cross over the bridge you really can’t miss it.
The bus from Puerto Vallarta airport to Sayulita costs around $50 pesos ($2.50) and takes around 1-1.5 hours. It really depends on traffic and how much the bus stops (it often stops a lot as it’s a local bus). In general, there are busses every 20 minutes and they run from 6 am until 10 pm. The bus line that travels to Sayulita is Compostela, it will have the name written in big letters on the front in green. Not all of the Compostela busses at that stop-go to Sayulita, so be sure to look out for the sign saying Sayulita in the front window. If in doubt ask.
Uber: Uber is available in both Puerto Vallarta (Jalisco) and Sayulita (Nayarit) and is far cheaper than taking a taxi.
You will easily be able to book an Uber from Puerto Vallarta Airport to take you to Sayulita. But the Uber driver will not be able to pick you up inside the airport. Instead, you will need to exit the airport and wait for the driver there. I would exit the airport, turn left and walk across the pedestrian bridge, so you are on the correct side of the highway. You can then be picked up by your Uber driver close to the bus stop.
Taxi: If you decide to just take a taxi from Puerto Vallarta Airport to Sayulita then you actually have two options:
- Airport taxi (and pay anything from $2000 pesos or $100 USD and up) you book the taxi from inside the airport and the prices are fixed.
- Street taxi, cross the highway and flag a taxi down (the price should be around $700 -$1000 pesos. This is your time to negotiate. (Hope you know some Spanish)
The airport taxi drivers are most likely going to speak some English, the drivers you get on the street are unlikely to, but you might get lucky. Either way, make sure you have the address written down so you can pass it to the driver if you don’t speak Spanish. If you flag down a taxi from across the street then you will need to have pesos on you. There are plenty of cash machines in the airport and they are safe to use.
Car Rental: If you are planning to just stay in Sayulita, then this probably isn’t the best option for you as Sayulita is a very walkable town. However, if you plan on doing some exploring in Nayarit then I strongly recommend renting a car and driving yourself to Sayulita. Car rentals start from around $17 USD a day (including insurance) so if there is a group of you this could be a great option.
WHEN TO VISIT SAYULITA?
There is no bad season to visit Sayulita, but depending on what you want from your vacation, there may be better times for you. If you visit after November and before April, it is less humid, but still plenty warm. The town is a little quieter since the main season has died down, but the shops and restaurants are still open. Everything is green and you have a better chance of spotting birds and butterflies that are otherwise scarce.
The rainy season is typically June through October, and you will most likely encounter more tourists and backpackers during these months. It also gets pretty busy around New Year’s, Easter, and Spring Break. However, if you come during late October, you may get to experience Dia de Los Muertos, which is an incredible opportunity to experience authentic Mexican traditions and culture.
WHERE TO STAY IN SAYULITA
Depending on the type of trip you are looking for, there are certain neighborhoods that can be a better fit for your needs. If you have a bigger budget and want to be in the center of it all, stay in the Downtown area. For less expensive and a tiny bit further, but also much quieter, go with North Sayulita. Most affordable is Outer Sayulita, but again, it’s still super close to everything!
Best Luxury Hotels in Sayulita:
Amor Boutique Hotel (most luxurious)
Hotel Villas Sayulita (best for families)
Siete Lunas (best romantic hotel in Sayulita)
*Alternatively, you can check out Air BnB and rent a pretty nice apartment
HOW TO GET AROUND SAYULITA
From personal experience, the best way to get around the town of Sayulita is on foot. The town is very small and to walk from the furthest point on the North end to the most Southern tip of the town is only 20 minutes.
However, for those who don’t want to walk, I would suggest renting a golf cart. They are MUCH easier to drive and park in comparison to an actual rental car. You can rent them for about $50 USD/day. (Pricey, I know, and thats why I recommend walking)
Driving is fairly simple as the roads are well maintained, easy to navigate, and each beach & activity has clear signs so you won’t get lost!
THINGS TO DO IN SAYULITA
- Sayulita Beach
- Playa de los Muertos
- Carracitos Beach
- Playa Escondida (The beach from Bachelor in Paradise)
- North Beach
Explore Downtown – The colorful downtown area is what draws people in to Sayulita from all over the world! Since it’s one of Mexico’s “Pueblo Magicos” (translation: Magic Town) the government regulates a little bit of what it looks like. Which means the upkeep is on par, and it’s very aesthetically pleasing. Here you’ll find many stalls selling (overpriced) souvenirs and trinkets, you can grab a bite, or just wander around.
Go on a Hike – There is a ton of greenery in Sayulita with its Jungle coastline, so why not go explore and take in some amazing views on a hike. While you don’t necessarily need to book a guide for your hike, I would recommend that you do as they will give you a lot of insider information and history about Sayulita that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to find out on your own. Plus, if you’re lucky, they will take you to a hidden beach. I used EcoHike for my tour and my guide Alejo was nothing short of amazing.
Learn to Surf – Sayulita is most famously known for its surfing and while there are plenty of surf schools on the island that can teach you how to surf (or shops to rent surfboards for those who are already pros), I’ve found the cheapest way to do this was to look on Air BnB experiences. The platform allows vetted individuals to list their skills online and offers real reviews.
Go Mountain Biking – If you’re wanting to challenge yourself like you never have before, this is the activity to do it. Mountain biking may quite possibly be the hardest thing I’ve ever done (and I played in the NFL). I literally flipped over my bike the MOMENT I got on it. But nevertheless, despite my hurt pride, I crossed it off of my bucket list and it was still an amazing experience. And yes, for those wondering, I did finish!
Take a Spanish Class: Although most locals also speak English, it’s very helpful if you can learn some Spanish. Besides, why NOT speak two languages?! Learning some Spanish will also help you get better deals, befriend locals, get insider tips, and show your appreciation for being in their country! You can take Spanish classes for just $25!
Take a Boat Tour: Everyone knows my stance on tours, however, slow but surely, they are starting to win me over. Chica Locca is an amazing tour company that I would highly recommend. They can pretty much customize an entire weeks worth of activities for you. The staff is very attentive and makes the tour an unforgettable experience.
WHERE TO EAT IN SAYULITA
One of the main reasons I enjoyed visiting Sayulita is because of all the food options. Sayulita has some pretty delicious authentic Mexican food as well as upscale international fare. Not to mention how alive the town comes at night. Good food, good music and good vibes.
El Itacate: This restaurant is an absolute MUST when visiting Sayulita. It has amazing tacos for a low price and their holy grail, the itacate. An itacate is a meat filled burrito wrapped in fried cheese instead of a tortilla. Heaven sent!
*They have some pretty tasty vegetarian options as well
La Rustica: Arguably my favorite restaurant in Sayulita. I believe I ate here 3 or 4 different times. Located just a few steps off of the main plaza, this modern, open air eater specializes in wood fired pizza.
A few of my favorite dishes:
- El Costeñito Pizza (pomodoro sauce, mozzarella cheese, shrimp, bacon, baked onions and fresh cilantro)
- Deep fried shrimp served with homemade habanero aioli and fresh parmesan cheese (I could eat these by the dozen)
Si Señor: An upscale seaside restaurant offering some of the best dinner views in all of Sayulita. Guests can enjoy ocean-to-table seafood caught daily by local fishermen. This is the only place you want to take your significant other for a night they will never forget.
WHAT TO PACK FOR SAYULITA
Sayulita is a warm and windy destination so it’s best to pack lightweight casual items.
Swim Attire: It’s no secret that you’ll be spending a good amount of time on the beach, so swimwear is probably the most important thing you are going to want to bring.
Hat: Sayulita can get HOT. So no matter if you’re tanning at the beach or just walking around, you’re going to want a hat to keep the sun off of your face
Sunscreen: You don’t visit Sayulita to be in the shade, so sunscreen will be imperative. Please choose a reef-friendly sunscreen that protects sea life by avoiding usage of certain chemicals.
Comfortable Sneakers: You’ll be doing a good amount of walking and exploring, so you’ll want a solid pair of shoes that you can move around in.
Water Filtering Water Bottle: Mexico is full of unsafe drinking water and unless you want to buy bottled water the whole time, which is not only expensive but bad for the environment you should invest in a filtering water bottle. They are great not only for travel but also for hiking in the outdoors.
Plus why wouldn’t you want to double filter your drinking water even if it is safe to drink?
Waterproof Bag: This is another great item that you are going to want to have, especially if you plan on doing any whale watching or boat tours. You can keep all your belongings in it so they stay safe and dry. This comes in handy when you are getting on and off the boats. They also allow you to have more hands for bordering the boats, which is much safer.