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Sayulita may well be one of the best kept secrets in Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit, a region north of Puerto Vallarta. This bohemian town of 5,000 is colorful and it’s not just the pastel buildings, banners or murals, but also the characters—including surfers, local artisans selling their wares, and everyone in between. It’s a great place to find a beachside café, sit back and people watch.

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But the main attraction is, of course, the beach. A longtime surfer’s haven, word is starting to creep out to everybody else, yet you won’t find much in the way of mega resorts here, and that’s part of the charm. Think boutique hotels, hostels, villas, condos and apartment rentals. Here are eight reasons to run to Sayulita—before the rest of the world discovers it.

Sayulita, Mexico

Trover photo | Megan Prine

It’s a surfer’s paradise

Surfs up in Sayulita. Surfers in the know from around the world love the waters here. The waves are a testing ground for folks who consider themselves pros, but there’s also a break that’s kind to rookies, so no matter your skill level, you’ll have a good time (surf lessons and board rentals are available). If surfing isn’t your thing, kayak, paddleboard, swim, snorkel, scuba dive, or just lay on the beach with a cocktail and soak up the scene.

Sayulita, Mexico

Trover Photo | Bill Dillard

It’s a foodie feast

The beach isn’t the only thing locals brag about. The cuisine is creative, authentic and downright yummy. (Forget about looking good in your swimsuit.) Whether it’s street food, holes in the wall you might have second thoughts about entering (do go in!) or romantic, oceanfront restaurants, you’ll eat well on both traditional and nouveau Mexican, seafood, vegetarian, organic and more. Don Pedros, Don Juan, Blue Corn Mama and ChocoBanana are among the many favored options.

It’s got jungle adventures

Talk about a twofer.  Not only do you get the beach, but less than 15 minutes away from the town’s center, a jungle awaits. Put your explorer hat on and hike Monkey Mountain. There are also hikes that will lead you on trails and up hills for panoramic views of the Sayulita Bay. Be sure to bring water and food.

There’s so much to do—on the water and off

Though Sayulita is a small community, there’s plenty to do. Go golf, take an ATV or canopy tour, hop on a horse or go fishing. If you want something more relaxing, there are sailing charters, (between November and March you may see a whale), yoga classes and spas where you can get your fill of massages and a variety of pampering treats.

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Sayulita, Mexico

Trover Photo | Sonia Lorena

You’ll discover arty eye candy

Sayulita is about art. Colorful skulls are a recurring theme on buildings and from vendors selling crafts. You might see a full blown artfully drawn comic strip on a building, a seascape with an incredibly large turtle on another or a Virgin Mary painted on a doorway. Then there are art galleries, and shops with ceramics, pottery and locally, hand-crafted jewelry. Better still, you might even get to watch an artisan at work in their shop.

It’s affordable

Sayulita also won’t send you home in tears because you busted your budget. You can have a good time and not spend a fortune. It’s particularly affordable for families. For example, street food like tacos for a family of four often costs about $10. Picnics on the beach are a great budget saver and local restaurants aren’t just for the Rockefellers.

Trove Photo | Chasing Adventure

It’s easy to get to

Whether you want to spend a day, or a week in town, the location is ideal. It’s less than an hour from the Puerto Vallarta airport. Say you want to mix up your vacation: You can stay at a big resort like the Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta and party like there’s no tomorrow at the pools, bars and lounges, then end your vacation with a day of detox in low-key Sayulita just a short drive away.

It’s got great places to stay for every budget

This town of 5,000 isn’t lacking on places to sleep. You can also save money by choosing a hostel or renting condos and villas with full kitchens so you can cook at least some of your meals. Some favorite places to stay in Sayulita include Hotel Villas Amalia, Mi Otra Casa and Casa Nawalli.

Tagged: Mexico

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Sheryl Nance-Nash

Sheryl Nance-Nash

Sheryl is a writer and editor, specializing in travel, personal finance, business and career topics. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, Money,,,, Upscale Magazine, Essence, Black Enterprise and others.

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