In this Sayulita travel guide I have rounded up all of the key things you need to know to make sure you have an epic time in one of Mexico‘s top tourist destinations, Sayulita. I’ve included the top things to do in Sayulita, where to eat in Sayulita, where to stay, and of course, lot’s of tips and tricks to ensure you have the best time there.
I actually live just down the road in Nuevo Vallarta, so although I have never lived in Sayulita, I know it very well and have many friends that live there. So you can trust my advice. In this Sayulita travel guide I’ve touched on all the things you need to know and in many cases I’ve actually written more in-depth blog posts that I have linked to, so you can just click to learn more.
Personally, I love Sayulita as a place to stay for a few days, weeks, or even months. It has a great vibe, amazing food, lots of yoga, and other holistic activities, like Temazcals and Kambo. And let’s not forget the main attraction that brings in the crowds each year, surfing in Sayulita!
It’s the surf crowd that really impacts the vibe of Sayulita, it’s laid back and easy-going, but also always up for a party!
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that us travelers should be prepared for anything.
Travel insurance has always been high on my list of things to organize before I travel but now more than ever it’s at the top of my list.
I’m pretty sure we have all had travel plans messed up because of COVID and not all insurers covered this. So you need to find an insurer that covers travel disruption due to COVID-19, World Nomads, Safety Wing, or Travel Insurance Master are the ones to go for.
World Nomads is great for incidents that happen prior to your trip, so if you get sick or are unable to travel due to travel restrictions some of their policies will cover that as cancellation cover.
Safety Wing goes the extra mile and covers quarantine outside your home for up to 10 days, they also have a really handy map on their website showing requirements and restrictions for each country.
I also use Travel Insurance Master for some short vacation-type trips as they are cheaper than World Nomads a lot of the time.
If you are doing shorter trips or a longer backpacking trips then WorldNomads or Travel Insurance Master are the best options. If you are a digital nomad or planning travel of at least 6 months then go for SafetyWing.
I couldn’t possibly put anything else at the top on my things to do in Sayulita list now could I? Because of course, surfing in Sayulita is THE thing to do. If you are new to surfing then there are plenty of places you can take surf classes. Personally I always take classes and rent boards from Sergio at Sayulita Surf School, they really are the best. I’ve written a full guide to surfing in Sayulita you can read here. If you already surf and just need board rental, click here to book online for $10 USD per hour.
You probably won’t read about this very special Temazcal ceremony in any other Sayulita travel guide, because it’s brand new! The Aztec Shaman is new in town and I was one of the first people to be invited to experience it. You have 2 options, you can choose to take part in the full ceremony, or you can just do the Temazcal ceremony in the evening. It’s an amazing experience, and I highly recommend doing the full ceremony if you have the time. You can learn more about temazcal’s in Mexico and read my full review of the experience here. You can also book this experience here.
From Sayulita, Islas Marietas is very accessible. You can book a tour from Sayulita, or make your own way to Punta de Mita and take a tour from there. Now just to make you aware, if the Sayulita Islas Marietas tour you are booking costs under $100 USD then they are NOT going to be taking you to the secret beach. They will just be taking you around the islands. Trust me, you want to pay the extra and visit the secret beach. If you can, try to get there early in the morning so you can avoid the crowds. The tour includes a short swim to get to the island, so you do need to be able to swim to do this tour. They provide you with a life jacket and helmet to wear. Click here to read my full write-up of the Islas Marietas tour.
One of my absolute favorite activities that I did with Sayulita Insider on our blogger’s press trip was tequila tasting with Taste of Sayulita. It’s such a fun concept, basically, they come to you in your Airbnb or apartment and they do a tequila tasting workshop with food pairings. All of the tequila is artisanal from small tequila producers in Jalisco and the food is delicious! It was a very fun night. And if you are more of a Mezcal drinker then you can also request a Mezcal tasting. Click here to learn more and book.
This one probably isn’t for you if you don’t have a decent fitness level, as it gets pretty steep towards the end and involves some scrambling over rocks. Personally, I LOVED it and honestly, the photos we took up there were pretty epic. You get such an amazing view of the whole area, it was totally worth the sweat. I would strongly recommend doing this with a local guide though as it’s easy to get lost up there. Better to go with someone who knows where they are going! You can book a local guide by clicking here.
There are so many cute, slightly hidden, beaches in Sayulita. The main beach is always packed full of surfers and swimmers fighting it out in the water and the beach itself can be pretty chaotic. But you just need to walk a little bit to the north or the south of the main beach and you will be amazed at what you will find.
From Sayulita, it’s worth getting out of town and visiting some neighboring places. Some of my personal favorites are Punta De Mita (which has some great surfing beaches), La Cruz (Go on a Sunday for their market, it’s the best in Riviera Nayarit), and Buscarias (which has a cute craft market 7 days a week). All of these places can be accessed by bus, or you can easily rent a car in Sayulita and drive yourself there.
On Fridays, the organic market comes to Sayulita. It’s a very small-scale version of the Sunday market in La Cruz. It’s worth visiting just for the food. But there are lots of interesting stalls to browse. One thing I would say though is that the prices are very inflated for tourists. It’s probably the most expensive market I’ve visited in the whole of Latin America. The food is well priced in general, but the artisan products are very expensive. This is a general observation for any artisan products in Sayulita though. For example, the blankets I use for yoga in Playa del carmen cost 50 pesos (2.50 USD), in Sayulita, they are $600 ($30 USD). Better to book a flight to San Cristobal de Las Casas if you want to buy Mexican crafts!
Ok so you can’t scuba dive in Sayulita, but there are dive shops that will take you diving. Most leave from La Cruz, so they will transport you from Sayulita to their boats there. From there they will take you to one of the many diving sites in the area. I’ve written a full blog post on diving in Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta you can read here. Word of warning though, don’t bother diving in the winter, it’s freezing cold and the visibility is very bad. Diving here in the winter was the absolute worst 2 dives I’ve ever had. Wait until at least April or May to dive.
Yoga and surfing tend to go hand in hand these days right? Well, Sayulita is no different, there is a very vibrant yoga scene here with an abundance of great yoga teachers and cut yoga studios. I’ve written a guide to yoga in Sayulita that you can read here to find out a bit more about the local studios I recommend. Click here to book a Sayulita yoga class.
OK so confession time. I was on a super strict diet each time I’ve been to Sayulita. So sadly I’ve been unable to try out the best Sayulita restaurants for myself. I did however ask some locals who know Sayulita very well what their favorite restaurants are, and here’s what they said.
It all began when two professional chefs began a journey in a food truck. Little did they know that their journey wouldn’t go past Sayulita. These guys are always friendly and have very high standards when it comes to serving the best ingredients they can find.
If you are looking for healthy food for meat-eaters, vegetarians, or vegans, with tea options, this is your place!
You can’t visit Sayulita without eating a fish taco, especially from This place. They have been a Sayulita treasure for over a decade!
Talking about fish food, Tierra viva is a great option for a seafront restaurant with great seafood and friendly staff.
Last but not least, if you are craving tacos but want to stay away from meat, Naty’s kitchen has vegetarian and vegan taco fillings
If you are a real foodie and are looking for more interesting places to visit while you stay in Sayulita, take a look at these Where to Eat in Sayulita and Best Sayulita Restaurants.
Accommodation in Sayulita can be pricey. One of the best ways to save money while there is to book directly with the property owners or managers. Companies like Airbnb are taking such huge fees and taxes now that owners have had to raise their prices dramatically. So booking direct you can save a good chunk of money! See the accommodation section of this Sayulita travel guide for a recommended property manager contact. I personally recommend booking accommodation with a kitchen so you can save money by cooking.
The street food in Sayulita is really good, so rather than eating out in restaurants each night, eat on the streets.
Always remember to haggle when buying things from vendors at the markets or on the beaches. Most times they will tell you a price more than double the actual price.
If I want something, I will normally ask a few different sellers first to get an idea of the value before starting to haggle. Don’t be an asshole though, be sure to always pay a fair price.
Honestly, in Sayulita you can wear what you want! It’s hot so shorts and vest tops are musts. There are plenty of boutique stores you can pick up cute ‘sayulita style’ outfits if you want to look the part haha. If you go during the winter months then be sure to pack some warm clothing as it does cat chilly in the mornings and evenings. Oh and don’t forget to pack some suitable swimwear for surfing. Check out my top picks below for some inspiration. I also have a full Mexico packing guide you can read here.
Wondering where to stay in Sayulita? Before you go looking for the best Sayulita accommodations on Airbnb it’s worth being aware of a few things.
Firstly, although everything is very close because it’s a small town, it is VERY hilly. So you might find a super cute place and can’t believe how cheap it is… and then you arrive and realize you have to quite literally hike up a massive hill to get to it haha. So my advice is, wherever you are looking, be sure to read the reviews carefully. Unless, of course, you don’t mind the hiking.
Secondly, although Sayulita Airbnb used to be the place to go to book accommodations in Sayulita. The prices over the last year have gone crazy, so where possible it’s much better to book your Sayulita accommodation direct with one of the property managers.
That said, I’ve carefully selected a few options you can easily book on Booking.com if you prefer a hostel or a hotel over a villa or apartment.
I have direct contact with a property manager Eric who has a lot of the best villas and apartments in Sayulita.
If you book direct with him you will save on booking fees and taxes! You can enquire about the properties he manages by completing the form below or sending him a message on WhatsApp. Make sure you mention Claire’s Itchy Feet to get the best deals!
Here are some photos of the villa I stayed in booking through Eric.
I’ve written a detailed guide on how to get to Sayulita that you can read here. But in brief, the closest airport to Sayulita is in Puerto Vallarta. Guadalajara is another option, but it’s 4-5 hours drive, longest by bus. So not really an option for most people.
From the airport, you can rent a car, book a driver, take an Uber or a taxi, or take the bus. All are good options and it’s very safe, so you really don’t need to worry about that.
Once you are in Sayulita the options for getting around are walking (which most people do), renting a bicycle (can get a bit bumpy with the cobbled streets), renting a golf cart (yes really), or renting a car.
If you want to leave Sayulita and explore Nayarit more then renting a car is a great option as the buses can be a little infrequent.
Ok so this really is the sticking point for most people. The WiFi in Sayulita sucks. I’ve even had entire days there with no cell service. When this happens the ATMs and card readers also don’t work so if you don’t have cash, you’re screwed. For most people the WiFi is passable, For me working on my blog and answering emails is totally fine, But if I want to do a zoom call or upload a video I’m screwed!
There are some coworking spaces where the wifi is better, but they are often cramped, one of them my friend refers to as “the dungeon”, he has to go there a few times a week to upload videos but said working there is too depressing.
If you can’t survive without solid wifi then you are going to have to look for a place with fiber optic. I can tell you now, to get fiber optic in sayulita costs upwards of $100 USD per month and you need special equipment. So you are going to pay top rent for those apartments that have it. It is probably also worth investing in a personal wifi device as a backup for when the wifi fails, as it happens so frequently.
If you are worried and wondering, is Sayulita safe, you don’t need to. Honestly Sayulita is super safe, you really won’t have any issues here. Of course, don’t be flashing your cash or leaving your bag unsupervised. That’s just asking for someone to come along and relieve you of it. So, yes, Sayulita is safe.
The only time I wouldn’t advise you to visit Sayulita is during August and September. During those months the heat is intense and the rain is crazy. During the winter months, it cools right down and it’s great for hiking and just enjoying the area. Surfing and watersports can get chills as the sea temperature drops.
The best time to visit Sayulita is from March until May, in my opinion. These are the best months to visit as it’s still pretty cool but the sea is warming up.
As Sayulita is a popular destination with Mexican tourists, mostly from the cities, during holiday seasons like Christmas and Easter (Semana Santa) it can get very crowded. So avoid these times if you can and instead visit the cities.
PIN FOR LATER!
Where would we be without the trusty Lonely Planet Mexico book?!? It really is the best all-around guide to Mexico. The only issue I ever have with these books is that often the information can be outdated, but if you want to really explore Mexico, not just the tourist trail version of Mexico then get this book on your Kindle. It’s oftern free if you have a kindle unlimited subscription.
It’s all about the food here in Mexico. Especially in Oaxaca, thought of as the culinary heart of Mexico. This Mexican cookbook is the first true introduction to Oaxacan cuisine by a native family, each dish articulates their story, from Oaxaca to the streets of Los Angeles and beyond.
The book showcases Mexican “soul food” serving up 140 authentic, yet accessible recipes using some of the purest pre-Hispanic and indigenous ingredients available.
As much as I don’t want to perpetuate Mexico’s reputation as a county full of cartels, drugs, and danger. It can’t really be ignored, and I know many people are interested in learning more. So I’ve included Midnight in Mexico on my list of books to read. It’s a true crime book written by a Mexican-American journalist and migration lawyer. It’s about as close to the truth as you can get. Being. journalist here in Mexico is one of the most dangerous arrears you can have. But Corchado is known for never shying away from the truth reporting on government corruption, murders, and the drug cartels of Mexico. In 2007, Corchado received a tip that he could be their next target, he had twenty-four hours to find out if the threat was true…
Are you even alive if you don’t know who Frida Kahlo is? If you are a Friday fan then this is the perfect fictional accompaniment to your Mexican vacation. Especially if you will be visiting Mexico City.
Using several of Frida’s notebooks as inspiration acclaimed Mexican novelist F. G. Haghenbeck was inspired to write this touching fictional account of her life. Through the book, you are taken on a magical ride through this imagined life of Freida
An old, but a goodie! This one is for all of you lovers of romance novels! It’s described as:
“A novel of passion, food, and magic, Like Water For Chocolate is a romantic, poignant tale, touched with moments of magic, graphic earthiness, bittersweet wit – and recipes.”
Forbidden love, family obligations, and seduction by food… what more could you ask for in a novel!
I must confess, my friend Mexico Cassie wrote this book. That doesn’t mean it’s not a bloody brilliant guide to moving to Mexico, because it is. As someone who moved to Mexico there was so much of this book that resonated with me, even though I moved here myself, without a family.
She goes in to great detail about the visa application process and some other notoriously tricky things like trying to buy a car or find a good school for your kids.
If you are considering a move to Merida, or anywhere in Mexico actually this is a great read!