There are so many amazing things to do in Sayulita. This stunning Pueblo Mágico absolutely stole my heart and I hope this article helps to shine some light on why this is such a special place.
Whether you simply want to beach hop or you want to get active and get hiking, there are truly endless possibilities in this little Pueblo Magico.
I had never been to this stunning town before and after 10 days here, I already decided that I needed to come back. Next time I’ll bring Luke, and maybe also stay for a few months.
All because there is just so much to do in Sayulita and the surrounding Riviera Nayarit.
Where is Sayulita?
Sayulita is a small beach town in the state of Nayarit. The coastal area here is locally referred to as the Riviera Nayarit.
Nayarit is a state on the pacific west coast of Mexico between Jalisco and Sinaloa.
It’s about 30 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta and has some of the most incredible beaches that I’ve been to in Mexico.
How to Get to Sayulita
The easiest and most direct way to get to town is to fly into Puerto Vallarta airport and then to take a taxi up to Sayulita.
You can, of course, rent a car in Puerto Vallarta for the duration of your trip. There are no large rental car companies in Sayulita, so you won’t be able to drop it off once you arrive in Sayulita.
You can also take a bus from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita. If you walk out of the airport, cross over the pedestrian footbridge and then hail the Compostela bus that has a Sayulita sign in the window.
Compostela buses are usually green and white. Some of the newer ones have the Riviera Nayarit logo on it. The logo is a sea turtle with the sea and sun behind it.
At last check, the bus from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita is 46 Pesos (about $2USD). It’s slightly less if you are only going to Bucerías.
To get this bus back from the airport, you wait at a little shaded area outside of the Centro de Salud Clinic on the main road leading into and out of Sayulita.
Getting Around Sayulita
Unless your Sayulita hotel or Airbnb has private parking, I would really avoid driving to Sayulita. The streets in this town are so narrow that it’s often quicker simply to walk.
The only reason I would recommend renting a car while you’re here is if you plan to head off to lots of different locations around Riviera Nayarit like Punta de Mita, San Pancho, and Bucerías.
However, if you plan on spending most of your trip in and around Sayulita, you can simply walk or for places slightly further away, you can rent an electric golf cart.
It’s a very small town and it’s incredibly easy to walk. It takes less than 30 minutes to go from one far end to the other and if you want to spend the day exploring a nearby town, taxis are relatively affordable.
Where to Stay in Sayulita
I recently wrote a huge post about the best hotels and Airbnb options in Sayulita here.
If you’re looking for serenity, be sure to stay to the north side of Sayulita. For the fun and nightlight, stay in the town center on the south side of town.
You can also base yourself in San Pancho, where it is a little bit quieter and where you can also easily access a lot of the same things to do in Sayulita.
Why I Love Sayulita
This video shows you some of the best things to do in Sayulita. I also talk about why I fell so hard for this stunning little pueblo magico.
The Best Things to Do in Sayulita Mexico
1. Hiking in Natikari Rancho Verde
This is one of the best things to do in Sayulita if you enjoy hiking and getting out into mother nature.
The caretaker and leader of the hikes, Katja, is so passionate about preserving this green space and all that resides within it.
She took us on a two-hour hike through the Ranch where we crisscrossed the river (wear sturdy shoes!) and talked about the different plant and animal-life that call this land home.
It was a sweaty hike in the jungle, but it was absolutely stunning and almost entirely untouched. She was actually carving path as we were hiking.
Once we finished with the hike, we headed back to the main building of the ranch where we gorged on fresh fruit and agua de jamaica.
We also tried a local bean called Capomo, or Maya nut in English. It’s a lot like coffee, but without any caffeine in it. They roast and grind the Capomo here and turn it into a powder that you can try while visiting and even buy a jar of to take home with you.
Book a hike with Natikari Rancho Verde here.
2. Enjoy the Beaches
There are so many incredible beaches in Sayulita.
Of course, you have the main beach which you can access from the downtown area of Sayulita, but if you love hiking and you love quiet beaches, then walking to these more hidden spots is one of the best things to do in Sayulita.
- Los Muertos: This is one of the easier beaches to walk to. Simply head out of town to the south. You’ll pass Si Señor restaurant on your left and then you’ll see a cemetary also on your left. When you see the cemetery, the beach will be on your right. Here is the Google location.
- Carricitos: This is definitely one of the more strenuous walks to get to a beach, but you’ll be almost guaranteed to have it to yourself if you come for the sunset. You can walk there from the main town. Simply head towards Si Señor restaurant and keep walking until you see what looks like an unfinished house. You basically walk through the place where there should be a door. Here is the location on Google.
- Malpaso: This is without a doubt my favorite beach in Sayulita. Walk out of town to the north on the road that is closest to the beach (but not on the beach). The road will end and there is a dirt track with a chain across it to keep cars from going down it. The trail will take you straight to the beach. I’ve also heard of people getting to Malpaso by simply walking all the way down the beach to the north and then climbing up and over the rocks, but this isn’t exactly the safest route. Here is the location on Google.
- Pazcuarito: The hardest to get to which of course makes it one of the best. You’ll likely want a golf-cart to get yourself here unless you want to walk for about 30-45 minutes each way. If you’re happy to do that, then simply follow the road that leads to the beach here. It helps to take a local with you who knows where they’re going because otherwise, you may end up in a private housing estate. There is no Google location for this beach, but it’s past Carricitos along the same jungle paths.
3. Check out the Incredible Food Scene
There are SO many amazing restaurants. (blog post to come soon!)
For such a small town, Sayulita is packed to the brim with incredible food options. They have great cafes, healthy smoothie options, seafood options to die for, and late-night tacos that will blow your mind.
A few of my absolute favorites that you don’t want to miss?
- Organi-K: This healthy cafe makes incredible juices, fresh smoothies, and the best poke bowls I’ve ever had in my entire life. They also have really great coffee. To top it all off, they also source almost everything locally and focus on sustainability in all aspects of the business. Highly recommend for healthy breakfasts and lunches.
- Tacos de Pastor Diaz: I am a self-proclaimed pastor taco snob. Living in Mexico City means I have 24-hour access to amazing tacos de pastor, so I usually find it a little bit dry or bland in other parts of the country. However, Tacos de Pastor Diaz is without a doubt making some seriously good pastor, perhaps the best I’ve ever had outside of Mexico City (sorry Puebla!). It’s located in the main square across the street from Yambak Brewery.
- El Itacate: For a bit of a gourmet taco, get yourself to El Itacate. The namesake menu item, the Itacate, is a meat-filled cheese tortilla of sorts. The cheese is melted on the griddle until it’s crispy and then it’s filled with the meat or fish of your choice. I preferred their simple rib eye tacos which were cooked to perfection. The shrimp tacos were also marinated in chilis and cooked on the barbecue until just right. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.
4. Go on a Sunset Sail
When by the beach in Mexico you’ve got to get yourself out on the water. Whether you charter a yacht for the day out of Punta de Mita or you get yourself on a sunset booze cruise, there are several different options.
We took a sailboat tour with Magic Charters. They have a stunning wooden sailboat that fits about 6-8 people.
We left around 4:30 from Sayulita to get on the boat and enjoy the sunshine with a few beers (we brought our own). They provided us with snacks, water, and coconut water to keep us hydrated while we dehydrated.
The captain sailed us out across the Banderas Bay and we anchored for about 15 minutes. While anchored, we got to jump into the ocean and cool off after sunning ourselves for the afternoon on the boat.
Watching the sun dip below the horizon while swimming in the ocean is pretty special. Then we hopped back on the boat and headed home.
Book a tour with Magic Charters here.
5. Go Scuba Diving
Whether you’re a seasoned diver or you want to learn for the first time, there are dives of all different levels near Sayulita.
One of the main dive and snorkel areas of Sayulita is Islas Marietas and if you head out with Oceano Adventures like we did, then you’ll definitely be able to see this incredible marine park for yourself.
I was a little bit nervous to dive again since I haven’t been for almost five years, but we did a quick refresher to make sure we were all comfortable with the equipment.
Frankie, the divemaster at Oceano Adventures, was so calm and kind. He was patient with those of us that haven’t dived for a while. He was also incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about this area of the country.
We swam along with the volcanic islands and saw so many colorful fish. There were tons of pufferfish. There were huge fish and tiny little fish. Some people saw turtles and others in the group saw eels.
Of course, it depends on what time of year you visit as to what you will see. I went in October and visibility was fantastic, the water was warm, and the turtles were out to play.
They also offer PADI courses here and after spending some time with Frankie I think he would be an awesome instructor to take your open water with.
Book a dive with Oceano Adventures here.
6. Learn About Bird Conservation at Ser Su Voz
There are so many amazing businesses in Sayulita that are not only trying to give back to the community, but make it better.
The people at Ser Su Voz are some of those people.
One of the most powerful things to do when visiting Sayulita is to go to the bird sanctuary run by expat Tracie. Just outside of the main part of town, about 15 minutes walk, is a sanctuary that is trying hard to rehabilitate birds and trying even harder to stop bird poaching in this part of Mexico.
Unfortunately, many people still believe that it’s ok to buy wild birds as pets. Many of these birds have been caught with nets, taken from their natural habitat, and had their wings cut so that they cannot fly.
I saw first hand what a wild bird who cannot fly tries to do. It climbs up a tree and it jumps. Many of these birds can’t even survive in captivity because they do not understand that they cannot fly.
Visiting Ser Su Voz is not only a way to better understand how they are helping, but also to better understand how you can help. Tracie asks that people bring nuts, seeds, and local fruits as a payment for your visit.
Alternatively, you can donate to the project via PayPal.
You can read more about the project and learn about how you can visit the bird sanctuary on their Facebook page.
7. Take a Day Trip to San Pancho
San Pancho is a smaller beach town just to the north of Sayulita. It takes about 10 minutes to get there and is easily accessible by taxi in either direction.
One of the biggest draws to San Pancho is that the main beach is a little bit nicer than the main beach in Sayulita. It’s also a much quieter place in regards to tourists.
If you want to spend the day enjoying beach-front restaurants and swim in a very calm ocean, this is one of the best places in the region to do it.
There are small boutiques for shopping and some seriously beautiful art galleries to explore.
The town has a similar vibe to Sayulita in the fact that there are no large chain stores or restaurants. It’s all locally-owned spots with a heavy focus on sustainability.
The thing that I really loved most about San Pancho and that makes it perhaps an even better place to base yourself is that it’s so much quieter.
8. Take a Yoga Class at the Rose Room
Taking a yoga class with Audra at the Rose Room in Hotelito Los Sueños was without a doubt one of my favorite things to do in Sayulita. If I had more time, I would have taken several more classes with her.
She has a way of speaking during the class that both relaxes you and pushes you. She is funny but also focused on helping you improve your yoga practice.
Her classes are usually about 75 minutes. The Rose Room where the classes take place is open to the elements, so you get the heat but also the natural breeze.
Thanks to the quiet location of Hotelito Los Sueños, all you can hear are the birds and the wind through the trees as you go through the yoga practice.
I truly can’t wait to get myself back to Sayulita in a few months and take more classes with Audra.
Drop-in prices are 200 Pesos per class (about $10USD). But if you plan to take several classes, you can pay for weeks at a time.
Learn more about yoga at Los Sueños and classes available here.
9. Watch the Baby Turtle Release
One of the most well-known things to do in Sayulita is to visit the turtle project and watch them release the baby turtles into the sea.
Much like the birds I mentioned above, there used to be a terrible problem with turtle poaching in Sayulita.
This program, which you can learn more about on their Facebook page, is completely run by volunteers.
They monitor the beaches between 10pm and 7am to make sure no one comes to try to steal the eggs (crazy that this has to be done!).
Then, every other day during the turtle season, you can come at 7:30pm to see the turtles that have hatched be led to the ocean safely.
10. Do a Craft Beer Tasting
Who knew such a small town could have such a great craft beer scene?
The best of them all is Yambak Brewery (in my humble opinion).
Yambak is the Maya word for orphan, something that the owner felt pulled to as a traveler and wanderer.
The head brewer is from the local area and spent a little bit of time learning to home-brew while living in Atlanta, Georgia.
He’s almost completely self-taught and is now churning out some of the best IPAs that I’ve had south of Tijuana.
On Mondays, you can take a tour of the brewery with the head brewer and learn all about how they are making their beers. Any day of the week you can go for a tasting which includes a flight of four different beers of your choice. I highly recommend the Pale Ale, the IPA, and the Black IPA.
11. Learn to Surf with Sayulita Surf School
Learning to surf has been something I have wanted to do for years and years.
I have avoided it mostly because I hate being bad at things and I used to be somewhat afraid of the ocean after two years of living in Australia. There are so many things to be afraid of in the ocean in Australia and it took me a long time to shake that fear.
So when I had the opportunity to take a surf lesson with a few other bloggers that I was traveling with, I was excited to finally get into the water with a few other beginners.
Sayulita is one of the best surf towns in Mexico, so it was a great place to quite literally dip my toes in.
It was so much fun. It was hard. And as I expected, I wasn’t great at it. But that was part of the fun of starting this journey.
I took a lesson with Sayulita Surf School. It’s a totally family-run business. The two guys who run the lessons are Mexico champions and continue to surf in different competitions whenever they can.
Their kids and cousins help out in the water and have been surfing since they could stand up.
It costs about 750 Pesos (about $35 USD) to take an hour lesson (although we surfed for an hour and a half). Then you can rent the beginner boards for 150 Pesos for an hour and a half.
So another day of my trip, I rented a board and went out with just a few friends and it was even more fun, although I caught fewer waves than I did during my lesson.
I’m excited to try again when I can get back to the west coast and probably take a few more lessons!
Learn more about how you can book a lesson with Sayulita Surf School here (you can basically just show up at their tent on the beach and take a lesson any time you want).
12. Visit Islas Marietas
One of the most sought-after things to do in Sayulita, and indeed in this region around Puerto Vallarta in general, is to take a trip out out to Islas Marietas.
Islas Marietas is a protected bio-zone which is made up of several volcanic islands in the middle of the bay.
One of the biggest islands is a bird sanctuary and home to the Blue-footed Booby. There are only a few places in the world where this bird lives, so to see if up close was pretty special.
I went to Islas Marietas with Oceano Adventures to dive with them. However, there are a lot of ways that you can go if you don’t want to go diving.
Oceano Adventures also do snorkeling trips that take you out to Marietas where you can even swim under the cave and see the Hidden Beach (Playa Escondido). The Hidden Beach is a tiny little beach in the middle of the island and is only accessible by swimming through the cave.
If you want to take a catamaran tour, this option with Get Your Guide is a great option. It includes standup paddleboarding, kayaking, as well as snorkeling around the islands (but does not include a visit to Hidden Beach).
If you do want to go to the Hidden Beach, just know that it is significantly more expensive because you have to pay an additional fee to the national park in order to visit.
This Get Your Guide tour takes you on a fun boat tour and it includes a trip to Hidden Beach. It includes all of your snorkeling equipment. Depending on the season, you may also see dolphins and whales. Book that tour here.
There are so many amazing things to do in Sayulita that you don’t want to miss out on. I spent a week exploring this incredible town and I could have easily spent a week more hiking and beach hopping (and surfing, too!).
Thursday 29th of October 2020
Laura, you're living your life to the fullest! I love reading your blog. I've been working from home since March, and your blog keeps me sane. I start my day with a cup of coffee, your blog, and a big smile on my face! I'm planning on moving to Mexico City next year, and your Mexico City section is just amazing and very helpful. Greetings from San Diego! xx
Thursday 29th of October 2020
Thank you so much Natalia! It means a lot to me that you've made my blog a part of your day! And how exciting that you are planning a move to Mexico City! Feel free to let me know if you have any questions as you plan your move :)