Located in the neighboring state of Nayarit, the tiny town of Sayulita, Mexico has an outsized profile on the Banderas Bay…and for good reason. Although Sayulita is located about an hour outside the city itself, it is extraordinarily popular among both local residents and incoming visitors for its distinctive bohemian spirit and prime swells for surfing. In fact, many visitors who experience Sayulita when considering a move to Mexico immediately decide to make their homes there.
The 4,000 member community of Sayulita is made of chiefly of locals, expats and plenty of surfers thanks to the consistent tidal break near the mouth of the local tributary river. It has a very similar climate to Puerto Vallarta, with temperatures remaining in the 80 degrees Fahrenheit range year-round.
The town has a small central square where most of its bars and restaurants are located, and small family-owned establishments dot the unpaved streets leading up the hills out of town. Of course, Sayulita’s most popular attraction is its beautiful main beach, which extends over a mile across the Banderas Bay with powdery golden sands.
Travelers can reach Sayulita by taking one of the regional routes departing from outside the Walmart and Sam’s Club complex located in Puerto Vallarta’s Marina neighborhood. These buses provide convenient transport to the area for 35 pesos (about $2 USD as of December 2016) and drop passengers off in the outskirts of town, whereby they can make their way down to the thriving central zone.
Buses traveling to Sayulita will be clearly marked with their destination, and routes that do not serve nearby Punta Mita offer a much faster trip. Incoming visitors can also access Sayulita by taking a taxi. Fares for taxi service can range from 500 to 900 pesos depending on whether a city cab or dedicated airport taxi is hired for the ride from Puerto Vallarta.
Sayulita is more than a small coastal town, it’s also a cultural epicenter. There are a broad range of dining options locally, from traditional Mexican offerings to Italian restaurants, breakfast spots, and more. Organic markets and other specialty stores are prevalent in the village, and finding rare international products is much easier in Sayulita than in many other coastal towns in Mexico. Sayulita is also home to multiple art galleries, reflecting the strength of the local creative community.
The main beach is a destination for both visitors and Sayulita residents, allowing them to enjoy fresh caught seafood, watersports including paddle boarding and boogie boarding, and an unlimited supply of brilliant Pacific sunshine. The warm water in the area is excellent for swimming as well, and a favorite activity among savvy locals is hiking along the picturesque, palm-lined trail north of this area landmark to reach the untouched hidden beach favored by Sayulita veterans.
Sayulita is also home to a dense jungle environment, and there are a few places in town where visitors can rent horses to explore this untamed backdrop at their leisure. Visitors can even get a bird’s eye view of this verdant slice of wilderness with a zip line canopy tour. More than most other beach towns in the area, Sayulita mimics Puerto Vallarta’s characteristic blend of convenience, diversity and accessibility for incoming visitors.
Travelers who prize a laid back pace of life and a strong sense of community are naturally attracted to Sayulita. There is a strong local culture of interactions between locals and visitors, and the town is filled with social meeting zones where new connections can be forged. The main beach has a large outdoor party every Friday night, and Sayulita is one of the few municipalities in the Banderas Bay area that allows beach camping, and travelers wishing to enjoy panoramic views of the incredibly clear and starry nights that adorn this small fishing village will find no better perspective.
Young (and young at heart) and adventurous visitors will get the most out of a move to Sayulita, as the surprisingly active town presents no end of interest for those who enjoy getting out and being social. Surf enthusiasts will also find Sayulita a natural choice, as the village is celebrated worldwide for its ideal conditions and there is no shortage of places in town to rent a board or refine your technique with expert guided lessons. Busier streets in the area can be relatively noisy, but for those with a celebratory spirit, Sayulita offers a range of worthwhile revelries.
Although Sayulita is substantially outside the city itself, the tiny village continues to attract new residents from around the world. Best of all, the town is just minutes from downtown Puerto Vallarta and a few hours from the nearest major city of Guadalajara, presenting long term visitors with an array of international travel options as well as a fairly centralized location. When looking for an area of the Banderas Bay to call home for a few months—or forever—be sure to take a day trip of discovery out to this uniquely charismatic fishing town…you could end up falling in love!