Is solo female travel in Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico safe? YOU BET IT IS!
For years, this small Mexican town has been visited by many female travelers across the world, especially Canadians and Americans. The increase of direct flights to Puerto Vallarta International Airport (closest airport to Sayulita) has made it easier for travelers to access this beautiful coast of Mexico. There are direct flights from Vancouver, Montreal, San Francisco, San Diego, among others. These flights are often less than $300 USD (2-way) so many people from the north choose Sayulita as a vacation destination.
I grew up in a coastal town in the Philippines so I don’t really feel different in Sayulita. I’ve been here for 8 weeks already and loving every minute. Unlike other Mexican cities that I’ve stayed in for a long time (Mexico City and Guadalajara), the small size of Sayulita makes my stay here very comfortable. For example, in Mexico City, I stayed in the Guererro neighborhood and wouldn’t dare walk there at night by myself. In Sayulita, everything is walkable and is pretty safe. The locals are used to having foreigners around.
I did have a bad experience being hustled by the police. One night, my friends and I decided to go skinny dipping in the main beach of Sayulita. I get cold easily so I didn’t go with them. I stayed behind and watched all of their things. 5 policemen came flickering their flashlight on my face and my friends. Apparently, skinny dipping is not allowed in Mexico. They said there are appropriate beaches for that but not the main beach.
My friends did not speak any Spanish so I had to deal with the police. They insisted to bring my friends to the police station and pay 2,000 Mexican pesos (about $100 USD) each for the offense. If my friends refuse to pay, they will be detained at the police station for 24 hours. Both ways don’t work for us so I told them how we can go forward without going to the police station. Obviously, they wanted money for it so I made the best deal possible: instead of paying 2,000 Mexican pesos per person, the policemen were happy to accept a 600 Mexican pesos bribe for the “offense.”
I am from a poor country, too, and I don’t usually bribe police officers but they did not relent in this situation. I was also put in a place where they wanted to go out and drink with me just to get it over with. The other officer was looking at me like he wants to grab me anytime but I kept my cool. I force myself to stand tall in instances like this. This way, it becomes very obvious to them that they are not allowed to touch me or talk to me in a manner they prefer. I always had the upper hand when dealing with men like this.
Other than that, there wasn’t a time where I felt harmed in Sayulita. That instance is from our own doing anyway. I will not have that encounter with the police if my friends were not doing something “against the rules.”