Is Sayulita worth visiting? ABSOLUTELY! My name is Trisha and in 2018, I went for a short visit to Sayulita and ended up living here! I thought I’d just be staying for 2 weeks but I ended up living in Sayulita for 2 years! Mexico gets a lot of bad press in terms of safety so I get why people are very hesitant to visit Sayulita.
The truth is, this is the best destination in the state of Nayarit. It’s truly a magical place to spend your vacation in, especially since it is fit for all travelers. Whether you are a solo traveler, couples, families with kids, here are the top reasons why you should visit Sayulita.
1. Sayulita is a beginner surfer’s haven
Many tourists come to Sayulita without even intending to learn how to surf. Once you are here and start to hang out at the main beach, you will see how easy it is to ride the waves as this is a learning beach. There are waves all-year-long so it’s always fun to surf in Sayulita.
There are also many nearby surf beaches for intermediate to expert surfers. They are often a 15-30 minute ride from Sayulita and it’s always easy to hitchhike. Many surf schools here offer day trips to the best surf spots like La Lancha, San Pancho, and Punta de Mita.
2. Sayulita is safe
We are aware that Mexico gets a lot of bad press when it comes to safety but Sayulita is super safe! You can walk here at night without any problems. For most of us who live here, we already know everyone so you’ll definitely feel at home.
I also guarantee that if you stay here for longer than 2 weeks, you will definitely become friends with everyone! If you go to the main beach, you will see everyone just leaving their bags on the shore. Some of my American friends wondered why we do this. But it’s simply because none of us will dare steal from each other.
There was even a time when a foreign visitor wrote to me on Instagram saying she lost a bag on the beach. What happened was she forgot her bag and a local picked it up. The local then contacted me and the foreign visitor was able to recover her belongings!
3. Sayulita has a close-knit community
One of the contributing factors to Sayulita’s safety is that we all know each other here. If something happens, the whole town will know it in seconds. Last May, a big corporation wanted to privatize a public beach in Sayulita (Playa de los Muertos) and of course, the Sayulita community did not allow it.
The locals marched to Playa de Los Muertos every day to protest. The case was even taken to the court of laws of the Bahia de Banderas and we were able to find a lawyer to represent us pro bono.
In the end, we won the case and the construction stopped! The only downside of having a close-knit community is not having privacy. A small town like this will know everything and anything about you, especially if you’re not keeping a low profile.
4. Sayulita is family-friendly
As soon as you arrive in Sayulita, you will see the local life immediately. There is no divided world between locals and tourists here as it is a small town. Children play at the plaza til the wee hours of the morning, more often than not unaccompanied by their parents.
You won’t have to worry about your kids crossing the streets. Sayulita streets are so narrow that cars always only run at 10-20 km. We are very mindful of pedestrians as there are not a lot of gutters to walk on. Everyone literally walks in the middle of the street!
5. People are very friendly
Once you’ve been here for more than a week and have been out and about town, you will realize how you will feel like you know everyone in town. There are no boundaries here when it comes to familiarization especially if you’re a social butterfly. Everyone will recognize you in an instant!
Even if you’re not as social as many, you will still feel very welcomed by the locals. The Mexican culture is all about hugs, kisses, and holas so make sure to holler back! Here’s a challenge: when you’re walking the streets, try to say hello to someone you don’t know and let me know how they responded!
6. Sayulita has the most vibrant nightlife in Nayarit
Yes, we do! Nightlife in Sayulita has somehow become a tourist activity. It is one of the reasons why young people from the USA and Canada (who got sick of Tulum and Cancun) have re-routed to Sayulita. The party never stops here and there’s always something happening from Monday to Friday!
Puerto Vallarta has a big party scene but in our area, we are the only ones who have this kind of nightlife. People who live in San Pancho, Bucerias, and Lo de Marcos come here to party. Even some of our staff members who are already living in Puerto Vallarta find it more comforting to party in Sayulita than in PV!
7. Sayulita has lots of beaches
One of the factors that draw tourists to Sayulita is that we have lots of beaches within walking distances in town. It’s not like other Mexican beach towns where you have to rent a car just to go around and explore beaches. Here, you’ll have all the beaches in one place.
Sayulita’s main beach is the most popular but I recommend other beaches which are in the jungle such as Patzcuarito, Carricitos, and Los Muertos. Most of them will require a little hike but we believe it’s not something you cannot do. You don’t need hiking shoes so don’t worry! These jungle treks are super easy even your kids will enjoy them!
8. Sayulita is close to the Marietas Islands
The Marietas Islands is a protected site by the Mexican government. I’m sure you’ve seen this on many Instagram posts about Nayarit. Here, you will find the blue-footed booby. You can only find these creatures in the Marietas and the Galapagos Islands.
There is a daily limit for people coming to the Marietas but if you want to join our local trips with Sayulita fishermen, give me a ring and I will definitely recommend the most local and sustainable Marietas tours.
9. Sayulita has a very laid-back lifestyle
As a surf town, the lifestyle here is very slow. People are not in a hurry, we don’t even have a sense of time here. More often than not, we don’t even know what day it is! The beauty of this lifestyle is that we take it day by day. Everyone just goes with the flow without planning!
Of course, there is a downside to this laid-back lifestyle. Since people do not have a sense of time, expect everyone (not just the Mexicans) to be always late. Sometimes even more than an hour late! This applies to everyone, even to those who are in the service industry. You just need to get used to it but we encourage you to impose being on time for all the people you’ll transact with. We need some lessons about punctuality!
10. Sayulita is a really small town
With just 2,000 inhabitants (locals and foreigners), Sayulita is one of the smallest towns in Mexico. You can walk the entire town within 20 minutes from north to south. The layout is really simple: plaza at the center, northern neighborhood, and southern neighborhood.
You can definitely rent a car in Sayulita but I must warn you that our streets are very narrow. Our normal mode of transport here is golf carts and ATVs. If you are a fan of walking, then Sayulita is for you! Everything is within a 5-minute walking distance from the plaza, wherever you want to go.
11. Sayulita is not popular yet
Most Americans and Canadians only go to Puerto Vallarta without visiting Sayulita. I find that a shame since Sayulita is only less than an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta. I also feel like PV and Sayulita are two different worlds despite their close proximity.
Many people who come here fall in love with our town instantly. We have lots of second, third, and fourth-time visitors and we know when they’re back since we are a small town. It’s really easy to monitor who comes and goes. I’m sure your friends only know Cancun, Tulum, or Playa del Carmen but if you fancy shying away from busy southern Mexico, give Sayulita a try!
12. There are many day trips you can do from Sayulita
Here’s a tip: make Sayulita your base in Nayarit. This is the best location to drive to the nearby small towns of Nayarit like Los Ayala, Rincon de Guayabitos, and Chacala. You can also easily explore the south (Vallarta) and visit some of its iconic beaches such as Mismaloya, Yelapa, and Boca de Tomatlan.
When you are already staying in Sayulita for more than a week, you will feel the need to do day trips (just to explore other towns). This is what we call the Sayulita fever. Sometimes, you just need a new ambiance and I get that. I just want you to know that you have an option to change your environment while making Sayulita your base.
13. Sayulita people are tree huggers
The Sayulita community is one of the strongest teams I’ve ever seen in my life. Here, people come together for a greater cause and are very serious about making Sayulita a pueblo verde (green town). Lots of locals are involved here with environmental projects.
We have a certified bird sanctuary. Despite the size of the town, we have one of the biggest recycling centers. We also do turtle release every day. If you decide to come, I hope you will participate in our environmental endeavors.
14. Sayulita has fiber-optic wifi
Alright, let’s be clear about this: fiber-optic wifi in Sayulita is uncommon but we have cafes, co-working spaces, and restaurants that have decent wifi. I’m not talking about the regular Telmex connection but through the years, foreign wifi companies have helped in improving infrastructure in Sayulita.
Many digital nomads wonder if Sayulita is the best place for them and honestly, I can’t really give general advice since everyone’s workload on the Internet is different. As for me, I have fiber-optic Internet (a bit costly at $100 USD per month) and with the level of my video uploads, I find it sufficient enough for my work. It’s 100 MBPS!
15. We have Tequila!
Just a little history lesson: tequila is from Jalisco. Mexico is the only country in the world that is allowed to produce tequila. Since we are literally at the border of Jalisco and Nayarit, tequila tasting experiences have been very common here. We have lots of locals who do these tours and I’d love to introduce you to them!
If you can’t visit Tequila, Jalisco (the town is literally called tequila), make sure to have a taste of real tequila in Sayulita. Mind you, our tequila in Mexico is way different from that of your country so I think that you need to know what real tequila is when you visit us.