48 Hours in Sayulita, Mexico

I have to admit I was hesitant to visit Sayulita. It seems every week I see someone posing with brightly colored pom poms or some other prop that screams I’m in Sayulita. But on a recent trip to Puerta Vallarta, the proximity to Sayulita made going there a no brainer. What I found was a total surprise and I really enjoyed myself more than I thought I would. Usually tending to stay away from trendy, I found Sayulita to be a real Mexican beach town tempered with surfers, artists and yes gringos, but cool ones.

Sayulita is the kind of place where you dance till three in the morning on a random Wednesday night with people you’ve never met before. Sayulita is the kind of place where they allow dogs into the bars. Sayulita is the kind of place where you smell marijuana all day long. Sayulita is also the kind of place that mourns the people who just died in the bus crash down the road. Welcome to the Sayulita I saw. I’m so glad I took a chance and went. It was a great experience!

Streets of Sayulita


Sayulita beach


“Welcome to work” Cantina


Music and dancing on the beach


Beautiful street art


Street side dining


Decorations for Valentine’s Day


Work with a view


Surf school


One of the cute streets that leads to the beach

The closest airport to Sayulita is Puerto Vallarta (PVR). Sayulita is only 40 km or 25 miles from Puerto Vallarta so it’s easily accessible by car, bus or Uber. You can use the Rome2Rio app for the bus schedule. The bus station in PV is very close to the airpoort.  You can go also in a Uber. I made arrangements with one Uber driver to take me and pick me up. In traffic it takes about an hour from Puerto Vallarta and should cost $500 to $600 MXN. Roughly $25 to $30 USD one way. You might be able to go in a taxi but it would cost a lot more than Uber. Once there you can walk, ride an ATV or golf cart. Rental agencies are all over the place. I walked the whole time.

I stayed at M Boutique Hotel located on the main road into town. It’s about a ten minute walk to town and I felt very safe walking day or night. The hotel has five rooms located over a business. Each floor has a shared kitchen and living area. Because of the layout I would consider this more apartment than hotel but with some features of a hostel, only nicer. I stayed in two different rooms. Number one and number three. Number three had a huge tub. The only bathtub I had the entire time I was in Mexico. There was also a rooftop with a jacuzzi that anyone could use. But warning, there is no elevator. Umbrellas and chairs available were available in the common area for you to carry to use at the beach. If you are going to arrive late, make arrangements since the business downstairs handles check ins. The bus station is nearby as well as an Oxxo (convenience store).

There are many other lodging options in town. I also talked with a lot of other travelers who used AirBnb and they were very pleased.

I had some of the best seafood of my entire trip in Sayulita. Everything is extremely fresh and tasty.

Breakfast- Café El Expresso has a great coffee and an awesome breakfast sandwich. So good I went twice. They offer free WiFi (huge bonus) and while you can get a table or sit at a bar, there’s also a walk up window for coffee and smoothies. Walking around you will see a lot of fresh fruit stands for juices and smoothies. Don’t miss a chance to taste some of the best fruit you’ve ever had.

Dinner- I recommend  Emiliano’s and El Costeno. Both of these were places were excellent for seafood. I spent roughly $150 MXN or $10 USD for a really good dinner of fish, sides and beer.

El Costeno is located right on the beach and is said to be the oldest restaurant in Sayulita. It’s a great place to watch the sun go down. They also claim to have the biggest margaritas in town. Six liters and at least, a whole bottle of tequila. They do close a little early for Mexico, 8:30 pm. So make your plans to go and see the sunset.

As always in Mexico, there is plenty of street food and taco stands. On the corner of Calle Marlin and Calle Jose Mariscal, the corner of the center plaza, there’s one taco stand that had excellent tacos and super nice cooks.

For live music and bar options in town, Don Patos seems to be the most popular. At least it was on the Wednesday night I was there. The genre was Spanish rock that night but once the band finished, there was a DJ that played Urban Latin music with some Tropical and Cumbia. Beer was very reasonably priced. About $30 MXN or roughly $1.75 USD for a domestic beer.

Don Patos setting up for the night

If dancing and a lot of people are not your thing, Aria Lounge, just around the corner had live music in a more relaxed, chill atmosphere.

“Every time you say no straw, there’s one less straw in the ocean. Order your drink #withoutstraw”

Part of my time in Sayulita was spent visiting Isla Marieta National Park. You could arrange a similar tour by going over to Punta Mita (instructions in that post) which is just a thirty minute ride away. Not quite as far as Puerto Vallarta.

However, there is plenty to do in town. It’s a great place to relax and just do nothing. If you are just going to hang out, the main beach in town has plenty of options for renting beach chairs and umbrellas. There are several spas in the area as well. If you feel more adventurous there are also plenty of places that rent surfboards and stand up paddle boards.

Sayulita is also home to a lot of artists. Something easily noticable from the street art around town as well as the many galleries that offer everything from traditional and local art to jewelry, paintings and pottery.  There are several open air markets where you can score those pom poms among other local things.

If you would like to spend some of your time volunteering, Sayulita Animals is a rescue group that I got to know a little about while I was there. With donations, they provide spay/neuter clinics and foster homes for unwanted dogs. Check their website for opportunities to help or adopt. 

One thing I cannot stress enough is change your money before you get there! The evening I arrived the cajas de cambio or change houses had closed. I had limited funds because I did not want to walk around with a lot of cash. I was really nervous about having enough money for dinner. Even when the cajas opened the next day I got a terrible exchange rate. So change your money before you go and carry enough with you.

Also while I was there, the ATM’s and the banks ran out of money. I’m assuming because it was Valentine’s Day and it was very busy. But this could pose a problem because most restaurants in Sayulita do not take credit cards. I didn’t run into that issue anywhere else in Mexico, like I did in Sayulita. I also found in smaller towns in Mexico if you can pay with a credit card you can’t leave the tip on the card. So have change and small bills at all times! Most of the time at the cajas or banks you have to ask for moneda or coins.

If you go let me know how you spent your time in Sayulita. If you like this article please save it.