40 things to do in Sayulita plus how you can support the local community
What I love the most about this small town is the strong sense of being part of the community. I lived in Sayulita for two years and in this list, you will find the best things to do in Sayulita that supports the local community.
Reader Mail: Hi Trisha! Great blog you got here! I am going to Sayulita in a month and I was wondering if you have a list of things to do in Sayulita? I am planning my trip right now as I don’t have lots of vacation days. I saw that you are living in Sayulita and I’d love to get some local tips! Thanks in advance!
– Martha Embree, USA
Dear Martha, thanks for your message!
Now I have more topics to write about. I’ve been really thinking what to write about Sayulita lately so thank you for reaching out! Yes, I do live here at the moment so if you ever come by, I would love to hang out!
Please let me know when you arrive by sending me a DM on Instagram so I can show you around. For now, here are my top things to do in Sayulita. I update them every once in a while whenever I discover something new. Have a great trip and I hope to meet you!
Is Sayulita open?
Mexico is currently accepting tourists from all over the world. Right now, February 25, 2021, there are lots of Americans currently in Sayulita – probably hanging out as digital nomads and living here for a longer period of time. We’re not like Tulum levels though – we do not have that many tourists so you can still enjoy the beaches and the town with fewer people. For more information about Sayulita COVID, read my post here.
The best things to do in Sayulita
#1: Watch the sunset at Carricitos Beach
Carricitos is my favorite beach in Sayulita and I come here every day with my dog, Lola. It’s quite a hike to get there – if you are walking from the center of Sayulita town, it can take you 20-30 minutes depending on your speed. The walk is a canopy forest where you can see hundreds of fireflies during its season (August-September).
Swimming in Carricitos is possible but waves can get really aggressive, most days, out of nowhere. This beach is not necessarily for good swimmers. There are days when the tide is low and everyone can enjoy a dip. However, be mindful of certain conditions. I had a bad experience here when one person I know almost drowned but don’t let this discourage you. Sitting by the beach and bringing beers is your thing if you don’t want to swim.
#2: Take surfing lessons
Surfing is one of the best things to do in Sayulita. In fact, some people come to town only for surfing! When I came here in May, it was the best time to learn as the waves are really low and is perfect for beginners. Most of my friends who tried it the first time were able to ride right away.
These waves are really friendly! There are many surf schools in Sayulita but they are pretty expensive. It can cost up to $35 USD per hour.
In my case, I took surf lessons with a young Mexican guy who works at the beach. He’s not a teacher but he is very good at it so I casually asked him if he can teach me some longboard techniques. Just for fun, he agreed without even asking me for a fee! Of course, I still paid him at a minimum amount but if you don’t want to pay for expensive surf lessons in Sayulita and still want to learn with a teacher, make friends with the locals at the beach.
#3: Private breakfast in a local’s home
During the pandemic, many businesses in Sayulita lost their jobs which pushed them to re-invent the food scene in Sayulita. Sayulita has big eating out culture and when all the restaurants closed, many people longed for those days where they can sit in a restaurant and enjoy a meal.
My friend Macarena, who is a chef from Argentina is one of those people who opened her home to tourists by providing private breakfast. This experience is not only about food but Macarena also shares some insider tips about the beauty of living in Sayulita.
You will get a full-service breakfast at a local’s home – it’s the best way to get to know the Sayulita lifestyle. You can also gain friends along the way with this experience! Best of all, if you want to practice your Spanish, this is one of the best activities!
#4: Don’t spend a lot on airport taxi services!
A lot of people don’t really know that Uber is not allowed in Puerto Vallarta airport so they always end up spending over $100 USD for a taxi service in Sayulita. I am currently supporting a local driver that can take you from Puerto Vallarta Airport to Sayulita for less than $50 USD.
I met him when I first arrived in Puerto Vallarta in 2018. Since then, we became good friends and I always supported his services by advertising them on the blog. He is a real local and you will definitely learn Spanish from him!
#5: Day trip to Monkey Mountain with a local guide
Monkey Mountain is not in Sayulita but it is very close. To get to the trail, it’s about 15-25 minute drive from Sayulita. If you don’t have a car, you can sign up for tours in Sayulita town center – almost everyone offers this tour! A breathtaking view awaits if you finish this hike as you can see most of the Bahia de Banderas at the top.
This hike is for everyone but it is highly encouraged to wear proper shoes as it can get really slippery during the rainy season. The trail is closed every summer especially when there are heavy rains.
Please do not go with anyone who will say they can take you to Monkey Mountain. Unfortunately, a lot of people in Sayulita have not certified Monkey Mountain tour guides. Even if they say they know the place, please be careful and only go with those who are trusted by locals.
#6: Get a private massage at your Airbnb or by the beach
I should tell you this now but massages are expensive in Sayulita. They’re all at $600 MXN ($30 USD) per hour but they are all pretty good. Beach massages might be uncomfortable for some but massage parlors in Sayulita have set up their tents by the beach – I can assure you it’s comfortable and relaxing.
I can recommend a massage parlor by the beach that does deep tissue massage – just get in touch with me and I’ll connect you to them with a special price!
#7: Participate in an Aztec Ceremony
I met this local shaman (whom we call ‘Maestro) in this Aztec Ceremony in Sayulita. A friend of mine invited me to try this ceremony and it was really a great cleanse for the soul!
The Aztec Experience is a pre-Hispanic ceremony for the connection and healing of the emotions, body, mind, and spirit. This is highly recommended to those who are interested in learning about Aztec history in Mexico.
Most of the clients who book this tour are in the wellness industry. This tour is divided into 4 parts:
- Fire ceremony: you will light the sacred fire in order for you to connect with your willpower. This will make you be more aware, open, and involved in the ceremony
- Mitotilizli, the Aztec dance: In here, you will learn a pre-hispanic dance where you will learn how to connect to the 4 elements: fire, water, wind, and earth.
- Copal incense ceremony: The copal ceremony aims to cleanse your bad energy with the copal incense. Here, our guides will lead you through your spiritual connection with yourself and balance your emotions.
- Temazcal, the Aztec sauna: Inside the temazcal, we will do the 4-door ritual where you can go deep into introspection, meditate, exchange words and feelings (current), while learning Aztec chants. Temazcal is said to be good for the body and has lots of physical benefits.
- Tokatiliztli, the Aztec baptism: After the temazcal, you will experience the rebirth into life. Once you go out, you will be baptized with your Aztec name.
- Tonalamatl: lastly, you will get to know yourself more through learning about the aztec calendar plus we will explain the forces and elements present during your birth day. This is why we ask for your birthday (day, month, year, and time) before the ceremony.
#8: Visit the Petroglyphs Sacred Sanctuary
The Petrohlyphs Sacred Sanctuary is a great day trip from Sayulita. It’s not that far, really. A lot of us go here for full moon activities and the tour guide, Juanpa is one of the locals who head this tour. He’s filled with good vibes and rest assured that you’ll get the local experience you are looking for in Sayulita!
This tour is unique, sacred, and magical all at the same time! Juanpa will also take you to “Pila del rey” which is a natural pool right in the jungle! Make sure to bring your swimsuits! Note that there will be no phone signal so this is a great time for you to (literally) unplug.
#9: Tequila or mezcal tasting
David is my bartender friend who I was talking about in things to do in Sayulita #6. He works at Don Pato but in his free time, he also offers private tequila tasting and bartending! Basically, if you are having a private party at your Airbnb, David is definitely the guy to hire. He has years of experience in bartending and his services are affordable.
I recently participated in a tasting myself as I am helping him build his brand. I like supporting locals and David has been my friend for a long time so I am assisting him in his social media game.
#10: Drink hand-crafted beers at Yambak
I am not a beer fan but Yambak is brewing their own beer so when I am not sipping wine at home, I am drowning myself with IPA beers at Yambak! There are many beers to choose from and every quarter, they never fail to reinvent their menu. Just last month, they launched a double IPA and gave it for free to everyone for one hour!
Aside from being the best beer brewery in town, Yambak is also famous for its live music. They bring DJs from all over Mexico every weekend – it’s definitely a party place! The best thing I love about Yambak is you can come here any time – whether you’re in the mood for day drinking or partying at night, this is the place. You can’t miss it – it’s next to the plaza and is always full of people!
#11: Don Pato nightly themed parties
I remember being at Don Pato every day during my first month in Sayulita. This is where everyone ends up at night because something is happening nightly! If you are out of options and looking for something to do after midnight, Don Pato is your place!
- Mondays (Salsa night)
- Tuesdays (Open mic night)
- Wednesdays and Fridays (Rock night)
- Thursdays (Funk night)
- Saturdays (cumbia)
My very good friend David is a bartender at Pato’s. If you’re coming alone, sit at the bar and look for him. He will definitely give you a good time! You can’t miss David because he has a big personality. He also has a tequila tasting independent business which I will share with you later in this post.
#12: Take yoga classes
Sayulita is a yoga paradise. Many yoga practitioners come here not just because it’s a great place to teach yoga but it’s also a big industry here! We have many yoga teachers from all parts of the globe who fell in love with Sayulita and decided to stay here.
While most teachers are foreigners, there are also lots of Latinos who do their yoga classes in Spanish. This is another way to practice your Spanish while you are in Mexico. The words used in yoga are very simple and I always tell my American friends to take their lessons in Spanish!
#13: Camp at Mal Paso Beach
Accommodations in Sayulita are really expensive so camping is a popular option. One of the beaches that people frequent for camping is Mal Paso Beach, about a 30-40 min walk from the Sayulita main beach. It’s peaceful and beautiful – you’ll definitely enjoy it especially during the bioluminescence season! If you plan to do this (for real), make sure you bring food because there’s literally nothing there – no tent rentals, no porters, no food stalls – just nature and the sea that you can enjoy by yourself.
SEE ALSO: IS SAYULITA SAFE FOR SOLO TRAVELERS?
There have been a few reports of theft on the trail but nothing really heavy. Just make sure that you don’t go there very late or if you want to spend the night there, bring some locals or be with a group of friends.
#14: Cooking classes with Daniel
Daniel is a local chef and one of the original families in Sayulita. I’ve worked with Daniel a lot and I know how good he is in the kitchen. He can definitely come to your accommodations to do the cooking class for your group.
In this Sayulita cooking class, you will learn how to make some of the most popular dishes from Mexico like chile relleno, enchiladas, and frijoles fritos. Daniel is a certified chef but decided to go on his own path instead of working for restaurants. This experience is highly recommended!
#15: Take a picture at the famous selfie street
Right next to the plaza is the famous selfie street and is on top of the list of the best things to do in Sayulita. People who visit town always take a picture here as it is iconic to Sayulita (and all the pueblos magicos of Mexico). Don’t miss the spot as the photos always look so good here!
#16: Spend an afternoon at Los Muertos Beach
Next to the Sayulita main beach, Los Muertos Beach is a favorite. People always come here to spend a whole afternoon drinking micheladas and lounging by the beach. Sayulita is a very family-friendly town so you will see a lot of kids on this beach especially at the weekend. There are food and drinks vendors here so don’t worry about getting hungry.
At the beginning of the pandemic, a hotel wanted to privatize this beach. The community of Sayulita rallied for 2 weeks for this project to shut down and luckily, we still have Muertos to enjoy today! If you want to know more about what happened to this case, you can watch this video. It’s in Spanish but English subtitles are available.
#17: Stay in my Airbnb! *WINK*
Come in. You’re invited. I used to host in my private home but since COVID started, I have to be a bit mindful so I just made my other house a Digital Nomad accommodation in Sayulita where I installed a 100 MBPS fiber optic wifi. I am currently building an office space within the property. It’s always a shame that digital nomads leave Sayulita because of our poor Internet connection.
This can house 3 people but I think 2 is very comfortable. It has a courtyard, airconditioning, and a private space for parking. If you saw my Airbnbs through this blog post, please let me know via Instagram DM so I can give you a discount! Looking forward to meeting you! If you’re not a digital nomad and Internet is not important during your vacation here, you can check my Sayulita Airbnb guide where I discussed the areas, prices, and my favorite stays in town!
[Update, 04 July 2021]: My Airbnb is not available at the moment but if you’d like me to help you find the best accommodation in Sayulita, just get in touch and we’ll figure something out!
#18: Eat seafood: the best of Nayarit
Sayulita might be a small town but we have lots and lots of food options here. From Mexican cuisine to Western, we surely have it all! Situated in the Bay of Banderas, the most common food in Sayulita is mariscos (seafood). Many people come to this area to have a taste of the best seafood in the country. We are located on the Pacific Ocean so expect to eat lots of seafood in Sayulita!
#19: Sunset and beers at Camaron
Camaron is located at the Sayulita main beach where everyone goes for sunset. Order a beer (around $1.50 USD) and enjoy their beach bar setting while watching the sunset. Camaron’s bar design (pictured above) is super pretty so make sure to take your pics, too!
#20: Day trip to Islas Marietas
Islas Marietas is not exactly in Sayulita but there are a lot of tour companies that offer day trips to the famous Mexican islands. Tours normally cost $100 USD but I did this tour myself. I went hitchhiking to Punta Mita from Sayulita which I found very easy because a lot of cars always travel this route. From there, I was able to get a tour for $25 USD but this doesn’t include entering the secret beach.
In 2004, the Marietas Islands were designated as a world heritage site. My former landlord is a fisherman and I help him promote tours to the Islas Marietas. If you want to support a local tour, get in touch with me and I will connect you to him! He’s really amazing and speaks good English. I am totally vouching for his Marietas tours!
#21: Go on a fishing trip with a local fisherman
Fishing is the main livelihood in Sayulita so many locals here depend on this industry. Fishing trips in Sayulita is usually done with a panga, a modest-sized, open fishing boat that is common all throughout Latin America. This is rated as the best activity in Sayulita for families so it’s for everyone. Bring all the gang!
#22: Try over 50 mezcal types in Cava
A small mezcaleria in Sayulita, Cava has over 50+ types of Mezcal to choose from, hailing from different parts of Mexico like Puebla and Oaxaca. My personal favourite here is the Marta e Ines, a mezcal base drink made by Miguel, the best bartender in town who also happens to be a friend.
The watermelon mezcal is interesting, too. Cava is kind of a pre-game chill night kind of place so make sure to come before they close at 12:00 midnight.
#23: Go to La Lancha Beach
La Lancha is about 20 minutes away from Sayulita (by car) and is a surfing spot. When the surf beaches of Sayulita are full, this is where everyone go. The surfing here is a little more advanced than Sayulita main beach so if you are a pro, this can be your spot. Non-surfers can also enjoy this beach. Lay your beach towel, bring beers, food, and enjoy a good sunset.
#24: Tacos, tacos, tacos
Finally, some meat tacos in this things to do in Sayulita list! Personally, I think taco stands in Mexico is a default. They don’t need to be in listicles like this because they are everywhere! In Sayulita, there are over 6 popular taco joints and they are all the best. In fact, I am living next to two of those 6 taco joints – it’s literally right next to my house! Taco prices in Sayulita are a bit more expensive than major cities like Guadalajara and Mexico City so don’t be surprised – they’re worth it!
#25: Get to know Sayulita’s dog rescue mission
Sayulita is a truly pet-friendly town. If you’ve been here, you will see how dogs wander around freely and 100% of them have owners! Sayulita Animals, the organization that’s been taking care of spay and neuter in Sayulita has saved hundreds of animals (not limited to dogs and cats) free of charge! We would like to encourage you to visit them and if you have some extra bucks, donate to Sayulita Animals to lighten their load on expenses. The work that they do is truly important not just for Sayulita but for the whole of Riviera Nayarit.
#26: Jungle trek to Patzcuarito Beach
Playa Patzcuarito is not very popular to tourists as there’s literally nothing there but a spectacular sunset. I always go here during the full moon as I can always enjoy the beach by myself (and my dogs). Like Los Muertos and La Lancha, you can come spend the whole afternoon here and watch the sunset. Make sure to bring beers and snacks!
#27: Rent a golf cart and go around town
Golf carts are a thing in Sayulita and is probably the main mode of transport. There is no public transport here (aside from taxi) so most people walk from point A to B. However, if you only have a few days in town, rent a golf cart for a day and get to know the town! Please note that these golf carts can’t travel outside Sayulita (i.e. La Lancha or Punta de Mita). It is solely for going around town and short-distance drives. There are many golf cart rental companies in Sayulita and I don’t want to recommend anything yet as I have not found “the best.” But I’ll let you know what’s the best gold cart rental place in Sayulita soon! I just need to investigate more.
#28: Go diving
Sayulita is definitely a great place for diving. There are many dive shops here that can also do PADI certifications, surf trips, snorkeling tours, and whale watching. The dive spots are not within the town but in the neighboring town, Punta de Mita, which is also home to the Marietas Islands.
#29: Participate in a turtle release
Sayulita is a community that is greatly involved in saving Planet Earth – literally! The sea turtle release is part of those efforts. There are many sea turtle release and protection programs in the whole of Riviera Nayarit but Sayulita is one we can consider the most active. We also have the night’s watch in Sayulita where locals volunteer to protect the baby sea turtles from poachers. This is a great activity, especially for families visiting the town.
#30: Sunset sailing
Going on sunset sailing is one of our favorite things to do in Sayulita. While not most of us enjoy this activity (one of our Editors is easily seasick), sunsets in Sayulita are spectacular – you would love seeing it up close! This activity can also take you to Sayulita’s neighboring towns, La Cruz and Punta de Mita.
#31: Explore Sayulita’s street food scene
Street food is not for everyone we have a lot of this in Sayulita! We actually know most of them as we recently opened a TV series called Sayulita Street Food Icons. Most of these are family-run and we felt very privileged that they wanted to share their stories with us.
Believe it or not, some beach towns in Mexico do not have street food as much as Sayulita does. Our street food is not limited to tacos so try them all and support local!
#32: Get to know La Casa Clu in San Ignacio
Jessica is from Mexico City. When she moved to Sayulita, she saw that there were no organizations in town that focus on early childhood development. As a psychology graduate, Jessica started La Casa Clu, a recreation and learning center for children.
Their technique is positive reinforcement and emotional support. Jessica is assisted and helped by a group of psychologists, teachers, artists, and even athletes who are locals in Sayulita. Consider visiting and donating to La Casa Clu today!
#33: Explore Nayarit: go on day trips!
Nayarit is a really beautiful area and it is one of the reasons why we live here. There are many things to do in Sayulita but what we’ve noticed is that whenever a foreigner is staying for a longer time, they tend to have the Sayulita fever aka getting tired of the Sayulita nightlife. We’ve done a lot of day trips from Sayulita which is within a 15 minute – 2 hours driving distance. If you are not pressed for time and want to explore Nayarit, see our day trips from Sayulita ideas below!
#34: Get to know the Sayulita bird sanctuary
Through the efforts of Tracie Willis, a Sayulita ex-pat who has been very active in environmental issues in Sayulita, or town has a certified bird sanctuary located in her home! Tracie and her team save endangered animals as it is very common to have caged birds in Mexico. They go house to house to educate the people that it is illegal (and actually a law) to have a caged bird even in your private homes. Unfortunately, that is not being strictly enforced in the country.
#35: Celebrate Day of the Dead in Sayulita!
Dia de muertos or Day of the Dead is probably our most favorite time of the year! It happens from October 29 – November 2: it really is a week-long celebration! While our day of the dead celebrations is relatively smaller than that of Oaxaca state, it is also filled with colors, music, and people with make-up. There will be a band playing until 6:00 in the morning in the plaza, mariachi bands in the cemetery, processions, parties, and more! Sayulita is a good place to get to know the day othe dead cultures of Mexico.
#36: Go horse riding
Horse riding is one of the biggest activities in Sayulita as it is appropriate for family (and group) travelers. Horse riding tours will take you to the jungle, to the beach, or even around town. Horses are a big part of the Mexican tradition so expect to see lots of them around town! Among ex-pats who live here, many are also taking horse riding lessons in Nuevo Vallarta and some of them are even horse riding professionals!
#37: Spend the whole day at Sayulita’s main beach
The Sayulita main beach is the busiest beach in town. Here, you will find food vendors, bars, restaurants, and everything you need to have a relaxing vacation by the beach. The main beach is a long stretch so there’s definitely room for everyone. You can easily spend a whole day here playing frisbee, drinking with friends, watching the sunset, reading, running your dogs, etc. Sayulita main beach depicts our true lifestyle. You will learn a lot about local life here!
#38: Experience the bloom of primavera trees every April
If you come here in April, you’re in luck! You will get to see how the primavera trees bloom that makes the town go yellow! Primavera is a large rainforest canopy tree most common in South America. As Sayulita is located in the rainforests of Nayarit, we have a lot of these trees and they really are very beautiful in April. We feel that it is important to tell you that this only lasts for a month (like Japan’s cherry blossoms season) so if you don’t come in April, you won’t be able to see them.
#39: Go paddleboarding
Sayulita is big with water sports and paddleboarding is one of them. There are many surf shops and schools at the main beach where you can rent your paddleboard, however, we can recommend the locals that we trust who can take you on a SUP trip! Some of us at Sayulita Insider are not surfers but we do enjoy paddleboarding as a form of exercise. Don’t worry, Sayulita waves are not that high!
#40: Hire a local chef
In April 2020, Mexico’s pandemic restrictions badly injured the restaurant scene. Many Sayulita local chefs lost their jobs but their inner foodie cannot be stopped. From traditional Mexican food, Western desserts, French baking, etc, we went around town to see how these locals are doing and what new food businesses they built from home.