Tumbling down a forested hillside on the Mexican Pacific coast – to a seemingly endless golden beach – Sayulita is backpacker central with a barefoot vibe, yet it’s in tamale-tossing distance of resort city Puerto Vallarta. The rolling waves here have attracted in-the-know surfers since the 1960s, but it’s only relatively recently that the town has drawn a wider audience, who now stay in a string of hotels sprinkled across the steep hillsides or soaking up the sun on the beach. Check out our pick of the best, all bookable with Culture Trip.
Big for a boutique and at the southern end of the beach in Sayulita, Amor has an appetizing array of oceanfront villas – from thatched-roof one-bedders to grand three-bedroomed getaways with an infinity pool, sundeck and jacuzzi. Two private spas (one in the jungle, the other by the ocean), complimentary yoga and an in-house restaurant bring resort-style amenities to this tranquil boutique escape.
The rooms to book at adults-only Distrito 88 are the 270-degree suites and villas. Both have beach and ocean views through wall-high French windows and coconut palms. Decor is modest – think whitewash, chunky wooden furniture, Mexican folk art and hand-embroidered cushions. The villas are duplexes, with kitchenettes and living areas on the ground floor and upper-floor bedrooms, tucked under terracotta roofs and surrounded by tall windows with that ocean view.
It’s all about minimalism at the adults-only Avela: glass-fronted all-white rooms (with hints of color from hipster art, hanging beads and scatter cushions) sit in geometric, low-rise rectangular annexes faced with white stone around a brilliant-blue pool. For deep sleeps, book a room at the back of the hotel away from the street (which can experience some car noise in high season). The beach and town centre’s restaurants and bars are a 10-minute walk away.
It’s a familiar hotel layout in Mexico: boxy balcony-rooms and larger family suites, sitting over a central pool. But El Pueblito offers this tried and tested format with panache: building facades in ochre and orange are lush with hanging plants, while room interiors are warmed by egg-yolk yellows and rich terracottas. The on-site restaurant serves great Mexican comfort food and margaritas, and the beach is so close you can smell the ocean spray.
Sitting right on the sand at the southern end of the beach, Ysuri has spacious, elegant rooms with muted gray floor tiles, creams and rich woods offset by raffia mats and elegant contemporary furniture. For a real treat, book the upper-floor balcony suites, with ocean views through the palm trees and plunge pools or jacuzzis. The pool is one of the largest in Sayulita and comes with a café serving cocktails and Mexican snacks. Other restaurants and shops are on the hotel’s doorstep.
This laid-back resort at the northern end of Sayulita feels like a private seaside escape, with direct access to quiet beaches. The 14 spacious villas all have a main sleeping quarter, a separate sitting room with bright accents, a kitchen and one or two balconies overlooking the warm outdoor pool. A private three-bedroom residence sprawls in front of the beach and has its own pool and entertainment area with a barbecue grill. There’s also a shared thatch-roofed hut next to the pool and a rooftop jacuzzi.
Villa Amor is a collection of hilltop villas set on the edge of Sayulita’s main beach, a 10-minute walk to the main town square. The villa features and decor vary greatly, as they are run by private owners; some have outdoor dining areas, plus saltwater pools. They range from studios to three-bedroom villas, and all offer views of the ocean and jungle canopy. There’s a restaurant on site with seating on a small inlet overlooking the ocean. An open-air yoga studio, main pool and spa are also on the premises.
Perched on a hill overlooking the ocean, the thatched-roof villas at Siete Lunas peek through their nest in the jungle. Each of the seven properties offers breathtaking views that make up for the steep climb to reach them. While there’s no in-house restaurant, there is a common area with a kitchen and dining table where breakfast is served. A private chef can be called to prepare dinner, and a massage therapist is also available. A small outdoor pool is surrounded by loungers and has a tiny bar.
This rustic luxury getaway consists of 18 open-air casitas and an eight-bed dormitory set on the hillside. Each casita is strategically located in order to not have any immediate neighbors, offering ocean and jungle views. Most of them have a hammock for napping, an open-air shower and a thatched roof. Oil lamps make up for the lack of electricity. There’s a restaurant offering vegetarian-based meals with some seafood, plus a pool, a spa and a private beach. Add-ons include yoga sessions in one of two large purpose-built halls and cooking classes.
Canopied beds, private hot tubs on balconies and terraces and unobstructed views of the ocean make Playa Escondida a luxurious jungle getaway. The spa is set in open-air thatched-roof huts that allow you to see and hear the crashing waves, and you can practice yoga on a natural stone platform terrace. Gourmet meals are served at the on-site restaurant.