Once upon a time, Sayulita was a remote surfie hangout on a hidden beach with just a handful of fishermen’s huts. Today, Sayulita is home to a throng of ex-pats and left-of-field Mexican hipsters from Guadalajara or Mexico City who have protected the village from high-rise resorts and developed its town square into a foodie haven.
There are no Starbucks or McDonalds here, but just old-fashion butchers shops, hole-in-the-wall cafes and courtyard restaurants. The street stalls are safe, and mouth-watering too. Here smaller is better, slower is better -- but that doesn’t make this village tranquil. Quite the opposite, Sayulita also has a pumping nightlife. But if you aren't up for all that tequila and singing with mariachis on rooftop terraces, the jungle offers a great barrier with several eco resorts, each offering their own personal version of Mexico.
Sayulita is often called the jewel of Riviera Nayarit, Mexico’s smallest state that begins on the outskirts of Puerto Vallarta. From the Puerto Vallarta airport it’s a matter of taking the local bus from outside the city’s main Walmart (ask the taxi driver at the airport to take you there for a couple of dollars) or a taxi the whole way (about 45 minutes). Read on for more dish of what to eat and where to stay.
Eat Street Food
Central Sayulita is formed by a compact loop around its town square and a couple of main streets, but the stroll might have you salivating at the wafting smell of fresh, handmade tacos, hot chilies, sweet tropical fruits, and seafood. Organic fanatics and young chefs from across Mexico and around the world seem to have set up niches in Sayulita.
One of the first and most famous eateries to visit is the original Fish Tacos, a fairly smart but still rustic restaurant in the main square. The second best fish tacos in Sayulita probably come from one of the local ladies flipping from a street stall.
In the mornings you'll want an organic smoothie from one of the hole-in-the-wall juice bars like Orangy, run by a Mexican/British couple who are always concocting new blends of unusual fruits. Espresso coffee machines are all over Sayulita, too. For a good Australian flat white and huge breakfast that will remind you of Bondi, try Chocobanana in the town square.
Stay at Haramara Retreat for Yoga
Haramara Retreat focuses on the third major activity in Sayulita (after surfing and eating): yoga. It is located on 12 acres between the sea and jungle just outside of town. The luxurious resort was purposefully built using traditional construction techniques. Each room is housed in a private standalone thatched hut which opens up onto a lush jungle. The rooms are luxurious, but there is no electricity anywhere in the resort except in the restaurant and yoga studio.
Stay at Villa Amor for a Jungle Retreat with the Family
Like in many of Sayulita's hotel properties, there are no generic resort-style frills at Villa Amor, but it's just a hop, skip, and a jump to the town centre and looks over the main section of the beach from its perched position on a cliff backed by jungle.
Despite the romantic name, it’s very family-friendly. Your kids will probably end up building sandcastles with the local kids on the beach below or else you can enroll them in surf classes and other activities offered on the beach and watch from your balcony.
Stay at Playa Escondida for a Romantic, Secluded Stay
Playa Escondida is a jungle recluse created for couples. The villas are set in wild jungle and much of the property is covered by banana trees.
Some rooms have kitchens so you can buy your own fresh food and cook at home some nights. (Sayulita boasts several fruit and vegetables shops that also sell herbs, creams, and handmade tacos, and there is also an old-fashioned butcher's shop where all the meat is local, free-range, and fresh).
This resort also has plenty of tranquil pools to enjoy, including infinity-edge pools and a spa pool that is located in a very high and private spot.