When we returned from our vacation – bronzed and so relaxed – and everyone asked us how the trip was, I always responded with, “It was absolutely wonderful. Sayulita is kind of like LA, but in Mexico.” And I really do mean this in the nicest of ways. At times, I felt like there was more Mexican culture in LA, which was then confirmed by three things:
- a recent trip to East LA
- the churro man in Sayulita who told us he spoke more español in LA than he does in Sayulita
- and the “market” with its organic greens and small batch kombucha, all complete with post-yoga lululemon ladies, coffee and yoga mat in hand
But in all truthfulness, we loved it. Richie and I would go back again (it was an easy three-hour flight from LAX) but I’m not sure the rest of my family would – they appreciate a more authentic experience. Though no matter what kind of vacation you’re looking for, I think it would be nearly impossible to have a bad time in Sayulita. Here are our favorite spots!
Where to Eat in Sayulita: Let’s start with the food, shall we? We ate really, REALLY well in Sayulita.
ChocoBanana: A popular coffee and breakfast spot. I wasn’t blown away by the food, but grabbing a coffee before heading to the beach to watch the morning waves is recommended. (The chocobanana-flavored coffee drinks are good but sweet!)
Panino’s: A french-ish artisan bakery and cafe that’s a great spot for breakfast or lunch. (Also where I fell in love with mollettes!) They offer delicious coffee drinks and a wide array of breakfast sandwiches and baked goods.
Tacos y Mariscos: These fish tacos were some of the best I’ve ever had (shown left). This lunch spot served mostly seafood…I think, there aren’t really menus.
Cheyo’s Tacos: Tacos y Mariscos turns into Cheyo’s Tacos at night and are both worth a visit. We ordered rounds and rounds of tacos and they’ll grab you cold drinks from the neighboring store which I find absolutely charming.
Burrito Revolution: Often described as “Gringo Burritos” I had read that this place was the place to go for burritos – gringo or not. And while the gringo description was spot-on, the burritos were amazing and everyone was a fan. We went twice during our trip.
Mary’s: This was one of my favorite spots for dinners – so good we went twice! The fish is fresh, flavorful and reasonably priced (around 120 pesos) for a large serving. Order the ajo (garlic) filet or the whole hauchinango, shown right.
Where to Drink in Sayulita: There was a great mix of bars for the spring break-type scene and more upscale spots with mixologist-type drinks and decent wine lists. Something for everyone!
Bar Isla: This beach-side gem was a favorite of ours. It’s tiny and unassuming but they made a great margarita and there are plenty of hammocks for lounging. (By far my husband’s favorite!) It’s hidden in the trees!
Sayulita Public House: A cozy bar with a rooftop (and a great view of the “river”) that is just begging you to play corn hole or cards against humanity during happy hour.
Hostel: Is it legal to say that I love a hookah bar? I’m not sure. The restaurant/bar section of this hostel (literally named hostel) had kitschy decorations and tons of hookah options and the breakfast we had there was pretty good too! You’ll know just what I’m talking about when you walk by.
Hotel Hafa: This wine and margarita bar is connected to a hotel and I loved the vibe. They offer inventive and homemade margaritas that feature flavors like cucumber, chiles and fresh fruit and wine options that go beyond vino blanco o rojo.
Escondido: Another evening/more upscale place that had a great list of cocktails and decent wine selection. It’s perched on a corner of the main square. Competing bands from the bars down the street playing at the same time was our only complaint.
What to Do in Sayulita:
Playa de los Muertos: A smaller and less-popular beach that is just behind the cemetery (hence the name) and it’s quite stunning. It gets busy on the weekend with locals, so go during the week! The fish and shrimp skewers by a local vendor are amazing.
Yoga: Sayulita is a yoga-haven and you’ll be able to easily find classes offered. The studio at Hotelito Los Sueños was beautiful and they offer a lot of classes.
Marieta Islands: You MUST do this! There are a few options on getting there, we went with a fishing boat instead of the catamaran option and I’m so glad we did. We saw a LOT sea life (stingrays, whales) on the way to the island and we were so close to the humpback whales that I was getting a little nervous. (Have you seen Blackfish?!) But then we made it to the protected island – which you have to swim to because the boats have to stay back – and it was just amazing. There are caves and a private beach. Go in the afternoon when it isn’t as busy with the big boats from Puerto Vallarta. Oh, and don’t be scared when you’re on the way home and the swells are so big you think the boat is going to capsize. Sip on some Pacifico and hold on tight.
Stand-Up Paddle Boarding/Surfing: We made a big mistake and waited until our last full day to go stand-up paddle boarding and the waves were so big that the beach wasn’t safe for swimming so we weren’t able to go out. Now we’ll have to go in Marina Del Ray and pretend we’re in Sayulita. I’ve heard from others that the SUP-ing is awesome and its a great place to learn how to surf.
Cooking Class: Since I’m obsessed with food, I tracked down Chef Daniel at Mexotik and we had an incredible time cooking, drinking and eating. We made Aztec Soup with Corn Dumplings, Mahi Mahi in Achiote Sauce with a Papaya Chutney, and an Avocado and Chocolate Mousse. All was absolutely delicious.
Friday Market: If you love farmers markets, it’s worth checking out and if you’ve ever been to one in California, you’ll know what to expect. As “annoyed” as I was, we picked up some food for lunch (from the four locals with stands) and it was great. It was also a hilarious experience for me that makes it into most conversations about Sayulita.
Circo: The circus just happened to be in town during our stay, so obviously we had to go. It was a mix of slightly sad and slightly horrifying…but I’m glad we went.
Where to Shop in Sayulita: There are a ton of cute shops in Sayulita. I was on a mission to find revolucion del sueño but other than that, didn’t do much shopping other than the window variety.
Revolucion del Sueño: A really cool store. The vibe, the style, the white walls and bright colors – I loved it. They had a little something for everyone and we came home with some postcards, necklace and t-shirt. (You can buy online!)
Gypsy Galeria: This store also had a lot of eclectic Mexican folk-art and is a great place to pick up some inexpensive keepsakes and gifts.
Where to Stay in Sayulita: We stayed at an AirBnB house (which we heard there are lots of airbnb places) but there are a number of hotels, resorts, campgrounds and hostels. The house/AirBnB route was really nice because there were six of us and we had access to a kitchen (good for coffee and ceviche-making), wifi and a home base.