Sayulita Mexico Guide: Top Things to Do and Eat [2024]

written by local expert Samantha Fulmer

Sam is short, sassy, and has always dreamed of stepping outside the 9-5 life. She feeds every street animal she comes across. during her travels. She and her wife are currently saving for a campervan so they can hit the road with their three furry friends and travel across North America.

Looking for things to do in Sayulita, Mexico? In this article, I’m going to walk you through the best thing to do in this popular coastal town.

If you love the ocean, chances are you’ve seen pictures circulating on social media from this colorful beach town. It used to be a small fishing village, but its relaxed hippie vibes quickly increased its popularity. 

Needless to say, its colorful streets and surfer breaks caught our eyes which is why my wife Courtney and I just had to see what it was all about.

We spent a week in Sayulita soaking up the sun and eating all of the Mexican food so that we could write the best list of “things to do” so you can plan your trip to Sayulita with ease.

Sunsets, yoga, music on the beach, colorful streets, artisan shops, and of course, surfing! If all these things are at the top of your list then you’ll definitely have to check out Sayulita. 

The colorful streets of Sayulita Plaza

Where is Sayulita?

Sayulita is located an hour north of Puerto Vallarta on the Riviera Nayarit on Mexico’s west coast. This town has an unexplainable charm that has the streets overflowing with hip restaurants, bars, boutique hotels, open-air markets, and tons of surfers. 

Although it only has one main beach (Playa Sayulita), travelers from all over come to check out the surf breaks, chill, and repeat, which is one of the main reasons it has become such a popular backpacking destination! 

Don’t worry, if surfing isn’t your thing or you fell and hurt yourself after catching your first…and last wave like my wife Courtney did there is still plenty to explore here! 

Sayulita isn’t just a beach town. We enjoyed the upscale (but affordable) restaurants, enjoyed cocktails with an incredible sunset view, and even hiked to a “secret beach”. 

Keep on reading to see all the top things to see, eat and do in this “Pueblo Magico” beach paradise. Interested in other Pueblo Magico towns? Check out Sisal, Yucatan.

Want to know more about this country? Check out our article in fun facts about Mexico

Sayulita beach

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How Many Days Should I Spend in Sayulita?

Although Sayulita is a small town, there are TONS of things to do in Sayulita, Mexico, especially if you love the outdoors. I recommend spending at least 4-5 full days in Sayulita so you can see and do everything.

From Sayulita, there are also tons of nearby day trips around the Riviera Nayrit so you can also use it as a base for your travels. What I love about Sayulita is that it is only really 45 minutes to an hour away from Puerto Vallarta which has all the amenities of a city that you would need.

Best Time to Visit Sayulita

Mexico is a destination that is best visited during Winter months. So if you’re looking for the best time to visit Sayulita, I recommend going during the months of December – February. However, with that being said, you can visit Sayulita all-year round.

If you’re visiting Sayulita to check out the many surf breaks, surf season is Sayulita is from November to April. This is when you can see consistent swells come in and is considered the best time to visit for avid surfers or beginners.

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Top Things to Do in Sayulita

1. Go Surfing in Sayulita

Of course, we have to start this list with the most popular activity in Sayulita, surfing of course! Why is this town so popular for surfing? Well, the waves are the perfect size for beginners and experts alike. It has a few surf breaks

Courtney and I did surf lessons and it cost around $40 USD each for a 2-hour lesson. Unfortunately, Courtney only caught one wave. It was her first, and last, as she jumped off the board wrong (how did she manage that in 2ft of water?) and hurt her knee. She sat on the beach looking like a sad puppy while I carried on.

The waves are small and the water is fairly shallow so it is a fun activity to do any time of the day. There are tons of surf companies on the beach that offer services but our favorite was our friend Cayla (caylacrayons on Instagram).

Shoot her a message and set up your lessons! If you already know how to surf you can also rent boards for the day for around $20 USD PP.

Most surfing lessons are held at Playa Sayulita but there are different breaks available, depending on the waves.

Alternatively, you can also book one of the many surf camps in Mexico to get the full immersive experience.

Author’s Note: Don’t make the same mistakes we did when traveling in Mexico, check out our Mexico packing list so you can come prepared and not overpack as we did!

Want to book surf lessons in Sayulita? Check out these surf lessons led by locals!

Surf village in sayulita

2. Take Pictures and Explore the Market

Time to experience the most photogenic street in Sayulita, Mexico. The ever-growing popularity of Calle Delfines, or “Slap Street” is something you just have to experience while you’re in Sayulita. It’s one of the busiest streets during the day as it’s full of restaurants and bars. The street is lined with palm trees that have colorful flags hung across them. 

We went early in the morning to take our pictures. Get there before 9 if you want the space to yourself. Not interested in getting up early or having your picture taken in front of the crowds of people? No problem, as you explore Sayulita you’ll find a ton of colorful streets to have a photoshoot on. 

While you’re walking around and searching for your next photoshoot location check out some of the artisan clothing stores and the local market in Sayulita or wander around Sayulita Plaza.

On Fridays, the local market is even bigger and you can find things from clothes to dog collars, bags, shoes, and other souvenirs. 

The popular _flag street_

3. Go on a Food Tour

Because you’re in Mexico, Sayulita is FULL of incredible restaurants and street eats. Go on a street food tour with a local to discover the best of what this small beach town can offer. This tour will take you to 7 of the best food and drink spots in Sayulita!

4. Attend a Yoga Class

While Courtney and I aren’t good at staying quiet without laughing or releasing strange gases from our bodies without consent (you know you do it too) we know that Yoga is a huge part of the culture in Sayulita.

There are a ton of options in Sayulita. From hostels that offer free beach yoga in the mornings (pay a donation) to full-on retreats that house you and feed you. You should be able to find something that’s perfect for your budget. The Rose Room Sayulita has a beautiful yoga shala right in town! If you’re an avid yogi, keep your eyes peeled as Sayulita is a popular spot for yoga retreats and teacher trainings.

5. Join a Cooking Class in Sayulita

Hands down, one of the best things to do in Sayulita is to join a local cooking class. This particular one starts off with margaritas, palomas then goes straight into making Chilaquiles, Tacos, Enchiladas, and Guacamole.

Whatever you do, come hungry as you’re in for a real treat! Other local cooking class in Sayulita offers hand-made tortillas, Salsa de Molcajetes, and Chile Rellenos. Both are highly recommended!

If you want to find out more about the different types of Mexican tacos, check out our full guide.

6. Hiking in Sayulita

At first glance Sayulita is just a small beach town, but did you know there are many epic hiking trails around? A few of our favorite trails are:

  • Mal Paso Beach
  • Sayulita-San Pancho Trail
  • Cerro del Mono
  • Monkey Mountain

Here’s a link to All-Trails around Sayulita Mexico so you can check out the trail instructions.

7. Hike to Mal Paso Beach

If the sound of hiking to a hidden beach sounds intriguing to you, you definitely need to check out Mal Paso Beach. It’s about 30 minutes from the main part of Sayulita and you can either access it by walking on the main beach (take a right and keep walking until you reach rocks you can climb up and over). If you walk through town you’ll walk along av. del Palmar which is parallel to the beach. 

Walk over the river which is dry during most of winter. Keep following this road all the way until you reach a private condo complex. Then you’ll see a dirt path. Keep following the path into the jungle then you’ll walk over rocks and large boulders, you’ll pass a super private beach house. Keep walking past that and stop for a picture with an incredible view of the ocean. 

Continue on the dirt path which is parallel to a private road and head back down the dirt path back into the jungle. The dirt path will split, the left will take you to Las Cuevas Cove, but continue on straight. You will see a couple of old buildings in ruins and then you’ll walk down a dirt path with a wall on your right side to the beach. 

Know that swimming is not possible here as the current and undertow are very very strong. You can wear sandals for this hike as it is easy. If you’re looking for a swimmable beach, Playa Sayulita is your best bet.

sunset in sayulita Mal Paso Beach
Watching the sunset in Mal Paso Beach, Sayulita

8. Trek Up Monkey Mountain

Another popular hiking option and has what is considered the best viewpoint in Sayulita. This is a moderate/ difficult hike and tennis shoes are required for this. You can do this hike on your own from town or hire a guide with MexiTreks (cost around $65 USD PP). 

On your own, you’ll head south from Sayulita heading in the direction of Punta Mita. You’ll find a marker at 5km that goes towards Playa Patzcuaro. Continue on for another 1km until you reach a ranch. After you cross the river the road splits. 

The main road takes you to Playa Patzcuaro while to the left there is an unused road that takes you to a trail leading you to the top of Monkey Mountain. This is a 4-hour hike and it is very hot in Sayulita so bring a lot of water and snacks. 

9. Visit Isla Marietas

The Isla Marietas tour is one of the most sought-after tours in Sayulita and the whole of the Riviera Nayarit. It is a beautiful island with a secret beach. You can take a tour for 6 hours and actually swim into the beach through a cave. 

The videos of this place alone ignited my curiosity but due to so many tourists visiting the government has made it more difficult, and expensive to get to. Book a tour ahead of time as only 100 people are allowed to visit per day. Know that access to the National Park is not available on Mondays or Tuesdays. 

Waters can be rough so if you’re prone to seasickness, bring some Dramamine. The tour moves quickly from the boat ride to getting snorkel gear on and getting to the island.

pic from our Isla Marietas Sayulita tour

10. Go Beach Hopping around Sayulita and Riviera Nayarit

There are several options for beach hopping around Sayulita. Located in Riviera Nayarit, the beaches in the area are absolutely stunning and is a crowd favorite in Mexico. They are often lines with coconut palm trees and have the most incredible sunsets.

If you’re ready to escape the crowds of Sayulita Beach (Playa Sayulita) which is located in the center of town check out one of these others for an adventure! 

One of our favorites is Playa de Los Muertos. It’s a short 10-minute walk from town. Head left and stay on the main street until you see signs for Playa de Los Muertos. You’ll get to pass a colorful cemetery on the way! Once you arrive you’ll be met with locals who will let you purchase chairs and umbrellas for the day for 300 pesos PP ($15 USD). 

They also serve food and drinks and there are restrooms for $5 pesos. Bring cash! Catch the sunset at Carricitos Beach (Playa Carricitors) as it is secluded, quiet, and has killer views. Keep walking along a dirt path through the jungle past the beach to reach it.

Wait, what? Yes, it’s a literal tree that is filled with giant iguanas. Take ten minutes to check out this protected tree and learn more about why they are all over just this one tree. Never touch or feed these iguanas, just admire them from a distance. 

You can find them next to Tierra viva restaurant on the corner of Calle Marlin. This is on the way to Playa de Los Muertos so feel free to fit two activities into one!

11. Whale Watching in Sayulita / Punta Mita

Our favorite activity while visiting Riviera Nayarit! Whale watching season is from mid-December to the beginning of April. You can easily book a whale watching tour and they last around 4 hours. There are several different types of whales you’ll get to experience along with turtles and dolphins! You may even get to see the jumping stingrays! 

Be sure to only book with a company that is focused on the safety and wellbeing of the wildlife, this means low impact boats and never getting too close to the whales.

12. Visit San Pancho

Want to escape the crowds in Sayulita and just go somewhere even smaller, even quieter but keeping that same hippie vibe? You have to take a day trip or spend the night in San Pancho. After Sayulita, San Pancho is another famous seaside town in the Riviera Nayarit area.

It’s about 30 minutes from Sayulita and if you hike over to Mal Paso (secret beach with cave) you’re halfway to San Pancho! We aren’t into the party scene so we were curious to make our way here. It’s north of Sayulita and is 20 minutes by car. 

13. Go on a Biking Trip around San Pancho

If you’re looking for a fun and unique way to explore San Pancho, you can also book a local bike tour which takes you around the best sights, including local farmers markets which sell a lot of artisanal goods.

14. Go Scuba Diving in Sayulita

When in Sayulita, surfing isn’t the only water sport you can do. While most dive trips are technically outside of Sayulita town, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing, especially if you’re an avid fan of cave swim throughs.

The editor of this blog ventured out to nearby town, Punta Mita with @divewithfrankie and had an absolute blast! Alternatively, if you prefer to scuba dive around the stunning Marietas Islands, we recommend checking out this dive tour.

Scuba Diving
Editor of this blog, scuba diving in Sayulita

15. Rent a Beach Umbrella in Playa Sayulita

After you’ve had your share of activities around Sayulita, hands down, one of the best things to do is to sit down with a coconut or cold beer in hand while relaxing under a beach umbrella. There are many people renting umbrellas and they range from 300-350 MX a day.

Most umbrella vendors have a restaurant attached to it so you can order some food and cervezas for the day.

16. Get a Massage

One of the best things about being in Mexico is how affordable everything is! While in Sayulita, we recommend getting a massage from either Nirvanna Spa or Sayulita Holistic Bodyworks.

The best part is you can also arrange for a home service so once you’re done with your massage, you can relax with a glass of wine while looking at the sunset which is exactly what we did!

17. Rent a Golf Buggy in Sayulita

While Sayulita is 100% walkable, you can also opt to rent a golf buggy to drive around the area. Everyone in Sayulita drives a golf buggy and we must admit, it is a fun way to get around! They rent for $50 USD a day and comes in handy when you don’t want to walk.

Where to Eat in Sayulita

There are a ton of delicious restaurants packed into this tiny seaside town. Here are some of our favorites:

Recommended Breakfast Places in Sayulita

  • Organik: Healthy smoothie options along with poke bowls for lunch. It is fresh and was our go-to spot.
  • The Garden Bar & Cafe by Selina: An incredible hostel that is also a co-working space. If you need a reliable internet connection this is the place to go! They serve a great breakfast as well! 
  • Miscelanea Cafe: Fresh, healthy, local food and great coffee.

Lunch Places in Sayulita

  • Marys: Cheap but delicious Mexican food. The portions are massive! From tacos to empanadas this place does it right.
  • Barracuda: A bit pricey but has some of the best tacos in the city! It’s located on the street with all the colorful flags.

Dinner/ Drinks in Sayulita

  • La Rustica: Amazing Italian food. More pricey. Pizza and pasta are so good you have to check it out. They also have some great cocktails!
  • Loro Cafe: Ramen in Mexico? Yes, do it. It’s amazing and super affordable.
  • Cava: Small dive bar with a ton of Mezcal options. We had some amazing cocktails here.
Mexican food in Sayulita

How to Get to Sayulita, Nayarit

Although Sayulita is a small town, the Riviera Nayarit encompasses a few towns along the coast. Wondering how to get to Sayulita? Here are a few of the different ways.

Sayulita is located an hour from Puerto Vallarta which is where the closest international airport is located (PVR). Flying into PVR is what most travelers do, from there you have several options for getting to Sayulita, most of which you can book straight from the airport and can range from cheap to pricey depending on your budget.

Uber from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita

Uber is widely used in Puerto Vallarta and it is our preferred choice. You can get an Uber for about $24-30 to Sayulita but you have to exit the airport by taking a left once you’re outside and look for the orange overpass, use this and go across the street and order an Uber here.

This way you have made it past all of the aggressive taxi drivers in the airport trying to get you to pay for an overpriced (in our option) taxi.

Don’t let them know you are getting an Uber as they will try to confuse you and say it’s illegal when it isn’t. If you don’t have phone service outside of the free airport Wifi you can purchase a SIM card from Telcel in the airport for $10 (ATT & Verizon work in Mexico at no extra charge). 

Know that Uber is not typically used in Sayulita so this will not be a reliable option for getting back to Puerto Vallarta, however, you can always take the name and number of the driver into Whatsapp and see if they would be willing to drive you back.

Take the local bus

Buses from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita cost around $46 pesos ($2.50 USD) departing every 20 minutes and it takes between an hour to 1.5 hours as it does have frequent stops. 

If you are comfortable with speaking a little Spanish and don’t mind carrying all your luggage with you across the highway outside of the airport using the pedestrian bridge (it’s orange you can’t miss it) then this is the perfect option!

Know that there isn’t storage under or above the bus so if you have a ton of luggage this may not be the best choice. 

The bus name is COMPOSTELA and they are typically green and white. Simply look for the name “Sayulita” on the dash of the bus. Be sure to only get on the bus that says Sayulita! If you want to take the bus back to Puerto Vallarta from Sayulita the bus stop is located next to the Salud Clinic on the main road before heading into Sayulita. The fair is also $46 pesos.

Rent a Car from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita

A lot of travelers choose to rent a car and drive themselves to Sayulita. This is a great option as it allows you the freedom to come and go as you please, and the good news is that there are a ton of options at the PVR airport for car rentals.

Once you make it through customs you will see signs that lead you to airport shuttles that will take you directly to the car rental area. 

Know that prices online will say you can rent a car for $10 a day BUT you also have to pay a mandatory $25 insurance fee on top of that $10 price so it does add up. If you don’t mind the cost and want this opportunity to check out other beach towns around Sayulita then this is a great choice.

Private Car / Shuttle

f you don’t have a strict budget and just want the fastest and most comfortable way to Sayulita without having to walk or plan or drive, then private transport is your best bet. Once you land you’ll see signs and airport employees that can help direct you to an area where you can book a shuttle or taxi. 

Know that this can be a little overwhelming as locals will swarm you all at once offering their services. You can also book online and there will be a driver with a sign and your name on it waiting for you. Just know that this option will cost around $80-90 USD one way.

Sayulita village

Want more tips on Traveling to Mexico? Take a look at our Guide to  Mexico Travel!

Getting Around Sayulita

Sayulita is a small town, making getting around super simple. You can walk pretty much everywhere or if you want you can rent a golf cart and cruise around in style for about $50 USD a day!

Where to Stay in Sayulita(Best Hotels and Vacation Homes)

Sayulita is a small town that is extremely popular during the high season (December-April) which means that it is very important to plan your accommodations ahead of time. Courtney and I didn’t do this, don’t be dummies like us as we went to Sayulita during a major Mexican holiday and prices were double their normal cost. 

Tom and Anna in Sayulita Plaza

Budget Accommodations in Sayulita ($15-50 USD)

1. Selina Sayulita: This is the most popular hostel in Sayulita and for good reasons! It’s modern, has a pool, surf lessons, yoga classes, and it’s located in the center of downtown Sayulita a block behind the beach. 

2. The Amazing Hostel Sayulita: Located outside the main part of town. Has a pool, offers Spanish lessons, and simple accommodations.

3. La Redonda Sayulita Hostel: Lounge, garden, and has backpackers staying here. 

Boutique/ Luxury Hotels ($60-200+ USD)

1. Siete Lunas: Located in the jungle past Playa de Los Muertos. Incredible villas with an outdoor pool that boasts an incredible view of the ocean.

2. Sayulinda Hotel: Rooftop infinity pool (rare find), patio, and lounge area. Lots of travelers stay here and it’s located in the central part of town.

3. Onda Surf Hotel: Located outside of Sayulita in Punta de Mita but 100% worth the stay. Courtney and I wanted to stay here so bad as the hotel is made from shipping containers that have been transformed into rooms! This place books up fast so if you want to try and snag a room plan ahead.

If you prefer to stay in private rentals, check out our full article here:

view from our sayulita hotel

So there you have it! Our complete overview on the best things to do in Sayulita, including tips on where to stay, where to eat and more. Looking for other articles related to traveling in Mexico? Check out our Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide here for all the info you need on this LGBTQ+ friendly beach town.

Headed to Mexico? Check out these articles:

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Things to Do in Sayulita | Looking for things to do in Sayulita, Mexico? Here is our full article featuring 10 of the best things to do in this incredible city! #sayulita #sayulitamexico #mexico
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