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Once a sleepy fishing village, Sayulita is now a magnet for surfers, yogis and travellers who are looking to take a load off. Just an hour’s drive from the buzzing resort of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Sayulita is a medley of crashing waves, swaying palm trees and sandy white beaches dotted with multicoloured umbrellas. Visit the nearby Marieta Islands to see humpback whales and dolphins, or head down to San Pancho for unspoiled coastline and cobblestone streets.
You’ll find Sayulita hostels with plenty of options to settle into island life, from rooftop lounges with hammocks to outdoor patios with sun loungers. Recover from a night of cocktails at an on-site bar that serves free breakfast or catch some shade beneath a mango tree before diving into a pool to cool off. Surfboards are available for hire in some Sayulita hostels, or you can rent a motorcycle to explore the coastline. Mixed and female-only dorms are available, some with luxurious Egyptian cotton linen and down pillows.
Sayulita Beach hosts the surfing crowd, where you can also grab an umbrella and have margaritas and icy-cold beers delivered to your sun lounger. Downtown, you’ll find palm-lined streets strung with colourful banners. Brightly painted traditional Mexican restaurants and bars have seating spilling onto the pavements, while shops sell everything from local artwork to jewellery and clothing. Los Muertos is a quiet cove a short walk from town where you can snorkel among schools of tropical fish.
There are plenty of surf schools where beginners can learn to ride waves, while experienced riders can head straight out to the breaks. For something more relaxed, you can hire a stand-up paddleboard and discover the different beaches. There are several yoga studios around town, with retreats and teacher training available. You can also try horse riding through the surrounding jungle and along the beach, or visit the Sayulita Turtle Camp to learn more about the organisation's efforts to protect turtles from poaching.
With steep hills and roads of varying quality, walking is the best way to get around Sayulita. Bicycles are also a popular choice if you don’t mind going uphill. Failing that, you can travel in slightly more luxurious style and rent a golf cart. Puerto Vallarta Airport is 36km south of Sayulita, with a direct bus taking around an hour. If you’re coming from the centre of Puerto Vallarta, you can catch a local bus to Sayulita.