Coastal Vote: A Beach-Lover's Guide to Sayulita, Mexico

The barefoot beach town of Sayulita, on the Pacific coast of Mexico, is one of the country's coolest corners
The barefoot beach town of Sayulita, on the Pacific coast of Mexico, is one of the country's coolest corners | © Zstockphotos / Depositphotos.com
Photo of Doug ONeill
15 November 2021
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Concept stores and cucumber-cool hotels line the sandy streets of this Riviera Nayarit beach town.

This laid-back fishing village on the Pacific coast of Mexico has been luring surfers since the 1970s. These days, the mellow waves and sheltered beaches, such as Los Muertos, also attract sun-bound vacationers who come to soak up some rays on the slopes of the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains, take in the local wildlife of humpback whales and dolphins, and enjoy a seafood dinner at palapa-roofed cantinas. Welcome to everyday life in Sayulita – a barefoot beach town in one of Mexico’s coolest corners…

Selina Sayulita

A stylish palapa-roof bedroom at Selina Sayulita
Courtesy of Selina Sayulita / Expedia.com
Selina Sayulita – with its mix of private rooms and shared dorms – checks off all the boxes for an affordable winter escape in a sunny destination. It’s quite likely that you’ll meet guests who’ve opted to work remotely from this honeypot hotel, which provides shared work spaces, wifi – and access to the beach. When you’re not at the grindstone, there are daily yoga, meditation and dance classes, a central pool, plenty of hammocks, a buzzy bar, beach horseback rides and snorkeling trips to the Unesco biosphere reserve of the Marietas Islands.

Marietas Islands

Natural Feature
A tour boat shoots through a narrow channel of the Marietas Islands off the Pacific Coast of Nayarit, Mexico
© Brian Overcast / Alamy Stock Photo
No one lives on the Marietas Islands, situated in the Pacific Ocean about 12mi (20km) from Sayulita by boat. However, that’s not to say it’s uninhabited: there are 92 species of birds, eight reptile species and 115 different kinds of fish, among other wildlife. The islands are now designated the Islas Marietas National Park. Day visitors can snorkel and hang out at Hidden Beach and Playa La Nopalera.

Distrito 88

A woman looks out over the lush surroundings from a second-floor balcony at Distrito 88
Courtesy of Distrito 88 / Expedia.com
This adults-only, design-savvy boutique hotel is surrounded by coconut palms, tangled jungle and lush garden greenery only four blocks from the beach. Six of the eight suites overlook the sea, while two open onto the hotel’s pool and garden. Art Deco kitchenettes, sliding parota-wood doors, original Mexican artwork, private terraces and designer furnishings round off the reasons to stay.

Don Pedros

Restaurant, Mexican, $$$

For some restaurants and bars, Monday evenings can be a quieter night, when locals and visitors are relaxing after the weekend. Not so at Don Pedros. Monday night is salsa night at this beachside base that’s been eyeing up the Pacific since 1994. Eat well since you’ll need your energy. The pasta options include lobster ravioli, then there’s spicy tuna sashimi and queen clam ceviche from the raw bar, and grilled seafood like ahi tuna and jumbo shrimp.

Ysuri Sayulita

An oceanfront bedroom with large sliding doors to a deck overlooking the beach at Ysuri Sayulita
Courtesy of Ysuri Sayulita / Expedia.com
Serious beach aficionados will be in their glory at this beachfront hotel. It’s located next to Sayulita’s sandy strip and only a 10-minute walk from Playa de los Muertos. Families and groups of friends will fit comfortably in the two-level penthouse royal suite with its five bedrooms and two terraces (one with a jacuzzi, one with an infinity-edge pool). Even the junior suite has a jacuzzi on the balcony overlooking the ocean.

Escondido Bar

Bar, Tapas, $$$
A cocktail sits on a wood surface with strings lights in the background
© Wu Yi / Unsplash.com
Craft cocktails would be the main reason you hit this bar, sequestered in the center of town near the plaza, not on the beach. The name translates to “hidden bar,” so prepare to seek it out. Mixologists use only local ingredients to create cocktails such as the Los Muertos daiquiri (Carta Blanca rum, Jamaican rum, fresh pineapple and lime) while the San Pancho is a heady potion of mezcal, lime and agave nectar. Small bites are available.

Nirvanna Spa Sayulita

Spa
A woman enjoys a massage of her temples in an outdoor spa space
© luckybusiness / Depositphotos.com
Nirvanna Spa Sayulita offers full spa treatments at their wellness space – or in private tents right on the beach. Treatments include body rituals, facials, mani-pedis, Thai massage and temazcal-style ceremonies. If you haven’t experienced a temazcal treatment before, just think of it as a steam bath in the midst of nature – with an ancient history.

Latitude 20

Bar, Mexican, $$$

So the story goes: five bartender pals (some of whom were mixologists, others musicians) from San Francisco came for a holiday in Sayulita, loved the place, loved the nightlife and decided their next venture would be Latitude 20. This happening spot for eating, drinking, dancing and watching sports also hosts live music, including rock ‘n’ roll nights.

Quiverito

Shop
Retro surfboards lined up in a local surf shop
© SunshineSeeds / Depositphotos.com
If you want to tap into what Sayulita is all about, hit up Quiverito. This hole-in-the-wall surf shop is run by a Portland native who upped sticks to ride the wave of remote living. She now rents retro surf boards and sells take-home Tees, art prints and beachwear that you can buy as gifts (or keep all to yourself). We vote for the latter.

Evoke the Spirit Boutique

Shop
Large decorative pompons from Evoke the Spirit
Courtesy of Evoke the Spirit
You might have a little more trouble getting the Oaxacan skulls from Evoke the Spirit boutique into your suitcase. But don’t let that put you off visiting this must-see shop, run by Brittney Borjeson. Happily, there’s a whole collection of covetable ceramics, easy-to-pack wall hangings, tactile textiles and one-off jewelry finds to rummage through at this cool concept store on Calle Marlín, a block back from the beach.
These recommendations were updated on November 15, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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