The beach in Sayulita

Two Days in Sayulita: Sun + Sand + Seafood

I almost didn’t go to Sayulita. Everyone I asked about it said it was crowded, too touristy and that there were way too many gringos. I’d been traveling in Mexico for a few weeks and honestly, I was tired of moving around. Did I really want to go somewhere and it not be what I was hoping for? Since I was already in Puerto Vallarta – only a short ride away – and I have travel fomo, I packed my bags to spend two days in Sayulita.

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My Two Days in Sayulita

And I’m so glad I went because I loved it! Sayulita is one of those rare finds – a charming, laid back enclave of surfers, artists and, in general, people just enjoying life. It was a bit crowded. And there were gringos. But cool ones at least. In the end, I wished I had more than two days in Sayulita. So until next time, here’s how I spent my time in Sayulita and a few travel tips.

A cute downtown street in Sayulita, Mexico
Sayulita decorated for Valentine’s Day

Where is Sayulita?

Sayulita is located on the Pacific coast in the Mexican state of Nayarit, not far from its capital of Tepic. This area is also referred to as the Rivera Nayarit for the many amazing beach towns like Punta Mita and Bucerias along the coast.

South of Sayulita, is the Mexican state of Jalisco, which is where Puerto Vallarta is located. It’s just a short drive, or bus ride, away. Guadalajara is also just a few hours away if you are looking for something additional do in this part of Mexico.

How to Get to Sayulita

Since it is on the small side, Sayulita doesn’t have it’s own airport. The closest commercial airport is Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR) in Puerto Vallarta. Once you arrive in Mexico, you can easily travel the 25 miles – approximately one hour or so – to Sayulita via rental car, bus, Uber or taxi.

Traveling to Sayulita With Uber

To get from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita, I took an Uber. I used the app to request a ride and then made arrangements with the same driver to pick me up and take me back to Puerto Vallarta.

Southerner Says: I was told not all Uber drivers would go all the way to Sayulita so check with yours if you want to make similar arrangements.

An Uber to Sayulita from Puerto Vallarta costs about $500 to $600 pesos one way or roughly $25 to $30 USD. It’s not cheap but a taxi would have cost more and a bus wasn’t really an option since I’d already been on quite a few this trip.

Traveling to Sayulita By Bus

If an Uber – or taxi – isn’t in your budget, then a bus from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita is a good alternative. Bus travel in Mexico is a safe, convenient way to save some money and the buses are usually nice.

If you are flying into Puerto Vallarta, once you exit the airport, walk across the pedestrian bridge to the bus stop. The buses that go to Sayulita from Puerto Vallarta are green and white buses and will have Sayulita written on the windshield. Buses run every 20-30 minutes. Just remember it will take a little longer on a bus than in a car because of the stops the bus has to make.

The bus station in Sayulita is on the main road going into town. From there, it’s just about a 5 minute walk to downtown. Bus fare from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita is $50 pesos, which is a little less than $3 USD with the current (2024) exchange rate.

Southerner Says: Download the Rome to Rio app, one of my 5 Essential Apps for Traveling in Mexico. You can use it to check bus routes and schedules all over Mexico. It’s also helpful to have a pair of earbuds on the bus. Trust me on this. These are the ones I always have with me.

On the way to Riviera Nayarit to spend two days in Sayulita
On the way to Riviera Nayarit

Where To Stay in Sayulita

Sayulita has plenty of options for where to stay. You can find pretty much any thing for any budget. There are countless hotels, bungalows, homestays and even a few hostels available. These are my recommendations.

Since it was Valentine’s Day week and since I waited so long to decide if I was even going to Sayulita, I didn’t have a lot of choices of where to stay last minute. Luckily, I was able to snag what was probably a cancellation at MBoutique Hotel and it couldn’t have turned out better.

MBoutique is located just a short walk from downtown and offers five individual rooms in a four story building over a business on the first floor. Because of it’s layout, I would consider it more apartment than hotel but it also has some shared common spaces you usually find in a hostel.

The rooms are huge. With beds and pullout sofas, most sleep at least four people with plenty of space to not feel crowded. Room 3 was my favorite. As far as the bathroom goes, I was happy to have a huge bathtub to relax in. It was exactly what I needed after traveling around for a few weeks.

Each floor has a large shared full kitchen and living area. I didn’t spend any of my 48 hours in Sayulita cooking but it was nice to have that option. MBoutique would be a great place for families or groups traveling together for someone wanting to do a long term stay.

Besides the common area, MBoutique has a nice rooftop with a Jacuzzi that all guests are allowed to use. There are also beach umbrellas and beach chairs available to take to the beach with you. The only real downside to the hotel is that there’s no elevator so it’s a little difficult to get bags up to the top floors, especially if you are traveling solo.

The next time I visit Sayulita, I’ll definitely consider staying closer to the center of town to try something different. Both Amaia Boutique Hotel and Hotel Peix look amazing and Hotel Peix is right on the beach. For the budget minded – Sayulita also has plenty of hostels and affordably priced accommodations.

Homestays are also very popular in this area of Mexico. I met several people that were renting houses while visiting Sayulita. This is the perfect solution for a girls trip, a bachelorette party or even a wedding. Check out VRBO for the best homestay options or use the map below to browse a variety of homes and hotels in Sayulita.

Where to Eat in Sayulita

Sayulita maybe small but there are so many wonderful restaurants in town. You’ll find a mix of authentic Mexican restaurants and newer, trendy spots. The location on the coast means amazing a lot of amazing fresh seafood too. Ask about the fresh catch of the day and for sure have some ceviche.


I’m a huge fan of breakfast but I don’t always want to get up early on vacation. So I love a breakfast all day spot. Those kinds of places make my heart happy. In Sayulita, Café el Espresso was my go-to for that. You can order anything on their breakfast menu all day long. The breakfast sandwich was delicious and so was the coffee.

If by chance, you need to get some work done or just want to catch up on your social media, the restaurant has free WiFi and outlets. It’s an easy place to spend a morning or afternoon, since they also serve lunch and dinner. If you are in a hurry – they have a to-go window for smoothies, coffee and take out.

Whenever you’re in Mexico, make sure take advantage of the plentiful, fresh fruit. Throughout Sayulita, you’ll see juice stands everywhere. There’s no better way to start your day than with a healthy fresh squeezed juice.

If you are new to Mexican juices, my favorite is a green juice or jugo verde. Typically make with celery, cucumber, orange juice and a little lime, some places use with nopales – or cactus – and even parsley or other greens in the mix. It’s the perfect pre-breakfast drink or the perfect thing if you just don’t feel like eating but want a little something.

Lunch + Dinner

When I arrived in Sayulita, I had just finished up a boat tour, so I was famished. Once I got settled and walked through town, I noticed Emiliano’s right away. It has a cute bar out front – perfect for solo diners. Anther notable thing was that it appeared there were a lot of locals eating there. That’s always a good sign and something to look for when picking out a restaurant in a new destination.

Thinking about giving it a try – I was sold when I found out the catch of the day was mahi mahi or dorado in Spanish. That just so happens to be my favorite fish to eat in Mexico. Generally, fish in this region is prepared a la plancha or on the grill. My grilled mahi was marinated in a garlicy, ginger sauce and served with rice and beans. It also came with some tasty guacamole. My two days in Sayulita was off to the best start.

The Uber driver that took me to Sayulita was familiar with the area and recommended a restaurant called El Costeño. So for my second night in town I decided to give it a try. El Costeño claims to be the oldest restaurant in Sayulita. In fact, there’s a sign that says if you come to Sayulita and don’t eat here, then you didn’t really visit Sayulita.

Located on the beach, with a few tables right in the sand, it’s a good spot for an early dinner and to watch the sunset.

Once again, I ordered mahi mahi. This time, it was prepared with garlic and red peppers – a regional specialty. The fish was excellent but the sides were just so-so. Nothing like the night before. What I liked the most about the was the location right on the beach.

The restaurant also claims to have the biggest margaritas in town. According to my server, the margarita is 6 liters and has at least a whole bottle of tequila in it. Of course being solo, I didn’t order one but I saw a couple of tables sharing one and they are ginormous. Probably the biggest margarita I’ve every seen.

  • El Costeño
  • Open till 8:30 pm
  • Cash and credit cards accepted

One more place that I heard good things about but didn’t have a chance to go is Mary’s Restaurant. They serve authentic Mexican food and fresh homemade tortillas. A must for my next visit.

Sayulita Nightlife

Sayulita also has quite the nightlife. And the party went pretty late. There are several options for bars and dancing. It just depends on your mood. Also don’t be surprised to see dogs in the bars. In fact, dogs are allowed pretty much everywhere in Sayulita it seems.

For live music and dancing, Bar Don Pato seems to be pretty popular. At least it was on the Wednesday night I was there. The genre was Spanish rock that night but there was a DJ that played urban Latin music with some Salsa and Cumbia thrown in.

How much is beer in Sayulita? Expect to pay a little more for here than you would in Puerto Vallarta. As long as you stick to domestic Mexican beer, it’s still cheaper than in the U.S. A Pacifico is about $30 MXN or roughly $1.50 USD

If a crowded bar is not your thing, Aria Lounge just around the corner from Don Pato. It has live music but in a more relaxed, chill atmosphere.

  • Aria Lounge
  • Tapas + music
  • See website for hours
  • Cash + credit card

What To Do in Sayulita

Since the 1960’s, Sayulita has been a surf town. The beach is on the northside and that means it receives consistent waves and swells perfect for surfing and learning to surf. The main beach in town has several places to rent surf board and stand up paddle boards. If you are new to either of those or have always wanted to learn, Sayulita is the perfect spot for that.

Part of my two days in Sayulita was spent visiting Islas Marietas National Park located off the coast of Nayarit. You could arrange a similar tour by going to Punta Mita (instructions in my post) or checking with local tour operators in town. You could also hire a private guide. Just make sure you hire someone reputable because the rules for visiting the Marieta Islands are a bit tricky.

One of the best things about Sayulita is you can do as much or as little as you like. If you like, there’s no pressure to do anything else but just sit on the beach. With several spas in town, it’s the ultimate setting for relaxing Or you could choose to have a massage on the beach or in your hotel. Even better.

As you wander through town, you’ll notice that Sayulita is a very artsy community. Galleries, jewelry stores and shops selling local handmade items are plentiful and so fun to wander around in. There are also several open air markets where you can buy traditional items made by the indigenous Huichol people. Sayulita is THE place to buy woven bags and the ever useful Mexican blanket.

If you are interested in volunteering while visiting, Sayulita Animals is a dog rescue group that I learned a little about while I was there. Through donations, they offer free spay/neuter clinics, provide foster homes and educate the community about the homeless pet problem in many rural areas of Mexico. Check their website for opportunities to volunteer, foster or even adopt. 

When’s the Best Time to Visit Sayulita?

Honestly, there’s really not a bad time to visit the Pacific Coast area of Mexico and Sayulita is no exception. High season is mainly when the rest of North America is experiencing winter. So generally, November through May is the busiest time. The weather in February, when I was there, was perfect with nice mild temps and low humidity.

Crowds increase during March and Spring Break. Then, Semana Santa or Holy Week, the week before Easter is busy. That’s a big travel week for local Mexicans too.

Rain and hurricane season, which is middle and late summer, is low season. However, you can find some awesome deals on lodging then. The further you get into summer, rain chances increase and so does the humidity.

Getting Around Sayulita

Once you’re in Sayulita, it’s easy to explore the town on foot. Personally, I feel like you get to know a place better by walking. You’ll also see a lot of people using golf carts and ATV’s to get around. You’ll see plenty of places around town to rent them. If you are in town for a few days, then I definitely think renting one is a good idea because it would you a chance to explore some of the surrounding areas outside of town and some of the harder to get to beaches.

Is Sayulita Safe?

Like many tourist destinations, Sayulita isn’t exempt from petty crime and theft but that’s true of just about anywhere. Sayulita is still one of the safest places in Mexico. Visitors should take the normal precautions they take when traveling anywhere. Don’t flash money and jewelry around and don’t keep all your cash in one place.

Females and especially those traveling alone, should be aware of their surroundings. Keep an eye on your drinks. Never accept mixed drinks or shots from strangers and don’t overindulge. I was alone in Sayulita but I walked around at night from downtown to my hotel and didn’t feel unsafe.

Is it Safe to Swim in Sayulita?

After reading warnings about the quality of the water in the area, you may be wondering if it’s safe to swim in Sayulita? After undergoing a major sewer infrastructure overhaul, Sayulita appeared to have fixed the problem and was no longer dumping waste water into the water.

But according to local online sources, one of the pipes broke and is once again contaminating the water. One of the local adventure surf companies has suspended operations in Sayulita as of February 24, 2024 and posted this YouTube video online.

Money Tips For Sayulita

Just like everywhere else in Mexico, pesos are the currency in Sayulita. In all my travels, Sayulita is the only place I’ve ever had a problem exchanging pesos to dollars. This is most likely because it was Valentine’s Day and it was crowed. All the ATM’s ran out of money. Here’s a few things to keep in mind about your money in Sayulita.

To get the most out of your money, exchange your pesos before you get there. Cash is king and many places don’t take credit cards. The evening I arrived in Sayulita, the change houses or the cajas de cambio, had closed and the ATM’s ran out of money.

A lack of cash normally wouldn’t have been a problem except since Sayulita is so small, many of the restaurants don’t accept credit cards. Even when the change houses opened the next day, I got a pretty bad exchange rate for my dollars and the ATM’s were still out of money.

If you are paying with cash then use pesos. Sometimes I see people asking if it’s okay to pay in dollars. In a small town like Sayulita, it’s not. All the difficulty I just mentioned about exchanging money is what a local has go through when you pay with dollars. Just don’t do it.

It’s also good to keep some change and small bills in pesos, on hand. When you exchange money at a bank or when you get change from a store, ask for some monedas. If you only get bills from the ATM, then use them somewhere to get some change. You never know when you might need change for a tip, a bathroom or even federal property like a bus station.

Like many small towns in Mexico, credit cards aren’t widely accepted in Sayulita. Both restaurants where I ate dinner, except only cash. It’s also common that even if a place does accept credit cards, many times there’s no option to leave a tip on the credit card. If you don’t have pesos, that means someone misses out on a tip. Don’t be that traveler. Always keep coins on hands and peso bills for tips.

Two Days in Sayulita

So, was Sayulita worth visiting? Absolutely! Even though I changed hotels and had to travel, those two days in Sayulita were so fun and relaxing and totally different from Puerto Vallarta. In fact, it was one of the most fun times I had on my entire Mexico trip. It was easy to meet people, hang out. and just enjoy being. It was the perfect getaway and I hope to visit again.

See you on the road!

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  1. I’m in Punta Mia right now. I drove into Sayulita today and only stayed one hour. How did you get those photos without any trash? It was packed with people and dirty. I’ve travelled all over the world during my life so I’m used to “third world” countries. Mexico in general is much dirtier than the 70s and 80s. Sayulita is dirty with trash and expensive.

    1. Oh no! That breaks my heart to hear. It was very clean when I was there. How unfortunate. I just think that Mexico has had such an influx of visitors during the pandemic. It’s so sad because we are hearing terrible stories from a lot of places this year. Graffiti and feces in national parks, obnoxious tourists in Puerto Rico and other tourist problems. I’m so sorry you had that experience. It definitely can ruin a destination. I do agree it is more expensive than many other places I’ve been to in Mexico. That’s why I tried to eat at more non tourist places. Those trendy restaurants charge more

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