To me a vacation isn’t truly one unless there is some time spent in the ocean (or at least a pool, preferably a salt water one!). After spending a few days with the family in Querétaro and then heading out to Guadalajara to do all things tequila, it was time for some real relaxation ocean-side. For this part of our adventure, I wanted Josh to see a real Mexican beach town – we are not talking about the typical resort stuff that most people visit.
My favourite beach town in Mexico has always been Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca. I love it because it has a few different beaches, you can walk to most places so there is no need to rent a car plus it is safe and quiet. Given that Guadalajara was nowhere near PE, we opted to head somewhere that we could reach by bus. We quickly decided to travel to Sayulita in Nayarit: the perfect little beach and surf town located on the Pacific coast. Sayulita was close enough to bus there, plus we could snag a cheap flight back to Toronto from nearby Puerto Vallarta. The plan was set.
Getting to Sayulita from Guadalajara was not as direct as I had hoped. I did a lot of Google searching and forum posting but no one could tell me how to get directly to Sayulita without begging a bus driver to drop you off on the highway. We decided to play it safe and took a Primera Plus bus to Puerto Vallarta meaning, we took the bus right past the Sayulita exit. As I said, we decided to play it safe. If we ever travel this way again, we will be a little more brave, promise. As always, the first class bus was amazing – assigned seating, snacks, movies. This is luxurious travel, even if you are spending 5 1/2 hours on the bus! 🙂 When we arrived at the bus station in Puerto Vallarta, we grabbed the only cab waiting and asked him if he would take us to Sayulita. The man was kind enough to do so and charged us a mere 400 pesos ($32 CDN) for the 45 minute drive.
I knew that Sayulita would be small but I did not realise just how small it would be and despite it’s size, it had everything that you could need. The best way to stay here is to rent an apartment. Let me tell you: there are plenty to choose from! I must have emailed over thirty different places to see about availability and rates. I wanted us to stay somewhere that was close to the Centre and the beach and that also had wifi. After a great initial interaction, we chose to stay at Casa de las Hijas.
The streets in Sayulita are not labelled the best so we had a little bit of a tough time finding the house (thanks again to that very patient taxi driver!) – the above left photo is the street that the house is off of. Yes, that’s a street! We ended up having to call the owner, Angel in California from our Mexican cell (dubbed the Mexicell) to confirm that we were on the right track. But once we found it and had carried our luggage up to the apartment, we were very pleased. I had wanted us to stay in a typical Mexican apartment and with all of the tiles that this casita had – just look at the dreamy bathroom – I felt like it was pretty good. The cost for the apartment was only $400 USD for six nights. Score! To reserve the booking we had sent a $200 money order to the owner, Angel, before our trip and on our second day there, the building manager came by to collect the rest.
After we arrived, we quickly dropped off our luggage and took the five minute walk to the Centre to find food. Angel had recommended the multi-level Sayulita Fish Taco & Tequila Bar. The tacos were great, the margaritas went down too easy and a persistent butterfly came to visit.
We ended up eating dinner here again on one of our last nights and sat on the top floor so we could see all of the happenings in the main square.
Sayulita is a pretty town and I loved wandering around taking photos of all of the nooks and details. There are also some great shops here where we may have picked up an item or two.
Sayulita is a surf town and while we didn’t surf it out while here, I really did like watching everyone ride those waves.
And while watching the surfers, we enjoyed a Corona or two on the beach. Beaches in Mexico are great, if you get into their system. If you are planning on spending a few hours there, it’s best to get lounge chairs with an umbrella. That sun is hot! Typically there is a guy who rents the chairs for the day and he is often associated with whatever restaurant is behind said lot of chairs so choose a spot where you want to eat as well. We paid 150 pesos to use the chairs for the day and it was great to be in that shade – and to have someone there to get you food and beers. Another great thing about Mexican beaches is that there is always someone coming by who wants to sell you something. Yes, it can sometimes be annoying but often it’s just convenient, especially when the icecream guy shows up!
The sand in Sayulita was pretty magical – everything shimmered like gold (it’s actually flecks of fool’s gold!).
There are two beaches in Sayulita that you can walk to: the main one that is close to the Centre and Playa Los Muertos. We went to Playa Los Muertos a couple of times because we liked how quiet and secluded it was. As the name indicates, this beach is beside a cemetery To get there, you walk along the coast, past some fancy hotels until you see the cemetery. Walk right through and there is the beach.
Even though it’s quiet here, there was still a lifeguard on duty. There was also a chihuahua here one afternoon which I found to be the most hilarious thing. It’s a chihuahua on the beach in Mexico!
Every morning we stopped at Cafe el Espresso so I could get my morning fix. I loved the dog that they would make in the cappuccino’s froth. Too cute.
Bar Don Pato is a great place to go in the evenings for some live music and drinks. We went there one night and it was great. One recommendation would be to not drink too much as the spiral metal staircase leading up to the bar would not be too pretty to fall down on at the end of the night.
The Burrito Revolution had great burritos!
Basically every night that we were in Sayulita, we would stop at Aaleyah’s for a night cap as it was on our way home. We got to know the people who ran the bar. The one night there was a birthday celebration and they had a band playing on the street. I swear that the man in the yellow shorts was David Letterman, or at least his brother. I drank a lot of Micheladas here.
On one of our last nights here, we found this tiny bar whose only seats were swings hanging on the sidewalk. There, we had this awesome craft beer called Wika which is made in Tepic, the capital of Nayarit. I had never seen it before in Mexico. It was delicious and I wish that we could have brought some home with us to Canada.
Beers are on the street are mandatory in that kind of heat! Going in April when we did seemed to be a great time to visit Sayulita. It was just after the Easter holidays when a lot of Mexicans take vacation. It was also just before the hot summer season when a lot of the establishments shut down for the season. It’s simply too hot.
Despite being basically in town, there was a lot of wildlife around our casita. I loved the tiny lizards that we saw everywhere, including inside the apartment. Josh wasn’t so sure of them, even after I promised him that they wouldn’t crawl on him while he was sleeping. There was a large iguana that we saw everyday as we hiked up the hill home. But the coolest were the Chachalacas. I love birds and it took me a few days to try to identify just what these wild things were. Every morning and evening they would come by and sit in the trees.
The whole point of renting an apartment was that we could save money by cooking for ourselves. We really enjoy cooking and eating well. While there is not a large grocery store in Sayulita, there are lots of smaller ones that have all food things in stock. I loved that we could buy any number of eggs that we wanted – you don’t have to buy them by the dozen here. I also loved that there was always fresh avocados. Every morning Josh would make us a great breakfast and then we would have a late lunch/early dinner at one of the many awesome restaurants that Sayulita has. My favourite meal in Mexico is breakfast so on our last morning here, we decided to go out for that meal.
Josh’s friend had recommended to us Tropical House Bistro which was located on the other side of town from our apartment. It allowed us to see another neighbourhood and the food was dreamy. I ordered my favourite – the chilaquiles – and it was amazing! Chilaquiles are basically corn nachos (called totopos in Mexico) covered in green or red salsa topped with fried egg and cheese. Josh managed to replicate the recipe pretty well after we got back to Toronto. This is reason #148502 why I love him.
On our last night in Sayulita we had a romantic dinner on the street and stopped at Aaleyah’s afterwards for a drink or two. We took it easy as the next morning we were getting up early to take a taxi to Puerto Vallarta where we would spend our final day in Mexico. When we got back to the casita, we were met with this little guy – a scorpion – waiting outside of the bathroom.
Josh, “What do we do?!” *slightly freaking out
Me, “Well first, you get the camera.” *always a photographer
I took the photo and them promptly scooped him up in a towel and threw it outside. Perhaps he just wanted to give us a nice send off in Sayulita! Regardless, this part of our Mexican adventure was awesome. It was relaxing and quiet and filled with lots of laughs, naps, good food, drinks and kitchen dance parties.