Sayulita sneaks under the radar a bit – I do mean that in the ‘off the beaten track’ destination kind of way, but also in my own memory: when eleven days are washed away in bliss, Pacificos and sunshine, the experience somehow floats away into surreality.
But that’s what Sayulita is to me and to those that keep coming back: bliss.
The little Mexican fishing-village turned bohemian surf town sits in a bay 35 kilometers north of Puerto Vallarta and is all sandy shores, dusty dirt roads, and the leggy palm trees and cartoon colored dwellings that line them.
Off in the distance, thatched roof palapas rise like temples out of the canopy of green in the surrounding hills – two worlds collide as locals tending chickens mingle with tourists renting hilltop apartments.
In town, finger-lickin’ $0.60 tacos outside of hole-in-the wall taquerias with plastic chairs and kitschy tablecloths await, served up with various spicy sauces, margaritas larger than your face, and a consistent dose of warm local hospitality.
On the main beach, white umbrellas and blue beach chairs are front row seats to surfers skimming waves, beatniks playing didgeridoos, and wealthy folk ordering no-fuss but still pretty in pink cocktails.
Off to the side, foot long lizards, white and blue fishing boats and portly tourists sprawl over the sand, while a few hundred meters off shore, whales breach, dolphins jump and stingrays fly when you’re not looking.
And the 4,000-some inhabitants that are lucky enough to call this place home?
A mishmash of local taqueria-running families, sarong selling peddlers, and tour organizing expats that, instead of being jarred by the tourism, intertwine fluidly with the dreadlocked backpackers, international tourists and professional surfers that flock here every year to find their bliss.
Laid-back and perpetually smiling, Sayulita has something for everyone.
Don’t you want to find your bliss, too?
What you need to know:
What to leave at home: Wet suits and snorkeling gear. These are provided for by the surfing schools and fishing/snorkeling/safari sellers.
Use the extra room for: Headlamps if you’re staying anywhere outside of the four main cross streets. And a long sleeve if you get cold easily like I do. Sigh.
Sayulita lies 35 kilometers (20 miles) north of the Puerto Vallarta airport.
The easiest way to get there from the airport is to grab a taxi – but make sure you do so once you cross the pedestraian bridge to the other side of the street as this will cut the price in half (around 350pesos).
If you prefer to bus, cross the same pedestrian bridge over the highway and look for a sign in the windshield with Sayulita on it. Buses should come every 20 minutes and cost 25 pesos. You’ll have to get off at the Plaza Las Glorias stop, and hop on a city bus to head further north.
If you’re able to drive, head north from the airport on highway MEX 200, following signs for Tepic. At a small town called Bucerias, keep an eye out for a turnoff for Punta Mita and keep going past it. At the Pemex station a few more kilometers further, take the turnoff for Sayulita.