When I was planning a trip to Puerto Vallarta, I knew I probably wouldn’t spend much time in the main town. Whenever I travel to a big city, I almost always immediately start looking for hidden gems on the outskirts. It’s here where fewer tourists seem to make it and your money goes a bit further.
For Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita is one of those gems. It’s close enough to the main town that it’s not a pain to get to, yet far enough away most people aren’t taking day trips there. Sayulita was peaceful, charming, and right on the beach. I could walk anywhere in town in a matter of minutes, and felt perfectly safe.
Looking back, the only disappointment was the strangely high prices. Food and accommodation weren’t as cheap as I’d anticipated, considering Sayulita is a pretty small village. The beauty of the neighboring jungle and cobblestone streets made up for it though, and I have no regrets in making Sayulita a major part of the trip.
How to get to Sayulita by bus
Riding the bus is one of many ways to save money in Puerto Vallarta. If you’re heading to Sayulita, consider riding the bus instead of taking a taxi. From the airport in Puerto Vallarta, head outside where the taxis are and take a left. Here you’ll find a pedestrian bridge that’ll take you to the other side of the street. Across the bridge is the bus stop. Wait here till you see a bus with the word ‘Sayulita’ written on it. Buses come approximately every 20 minutes and cost 42 pesos per person.
The bus ride to Sayulita takes about an hour and a half from the airport. Once you arrive, there will be a single street heading into town. Walk on foot from here and you’ll be at the beach in less than 10 minutes!
Sayulita is also on the way to Guadalajara. Here’s information on how to take a bus from Sayulita to Guadalajara in case you end up with extra travel time.
Where to stay in Sayulita
Hostels in Sayulita aren’t the best. Compared to other places I’ve been, these were a bit of a rip off and not very clean. After looking around at our options, the one my friend and I ended up choosing was Lush Hostel Sayulita. Here, a private room for two people cost 700 pesos a night, and 300 pesos per person for a dorm room. Cleanliness wise, the place was pretty dirty. When we checked in, the girl at the desk said they had an awesome pool and rooftop bar, however both looked like they hadn’t been used or cleaned in months.
Believe it or not, AirBnb is probably your best, cheapest bet in Sayulita. Yuting and I were thrilled with the one we ended up renting. For $25 a night (subject to change), we stayed in a stylish 3 bedroom home complete with a hammock and an outdoor patio. While there were other people living in the home as well, the place was plenty big enough for us, and regularly cleaned.
Staying in an Airbnb also gave us the freedom to prepare our own breakfasts in the kitchen. The host of our home had decked out the kitchen with all of the necessary utensils - a clean sponge, dish rack, and fresh eggs. Keep in mind, not all Airbnbs may be as great a catch as the one we found in Sayulita. However, I highly recommend checking online and reading through various reviews.
New to Airbnb? Use this link to create an account an get $40 off your first qualifying stay!
Where and what to eat
This was the first food I tried in Sayulita and by far the best churro I’ve ever had. The dough was perfectly crisp and still hot from the oil when it was handed it to me. The only problem is finding the churro couple! They usually hang out by the bridge in town, but not till the late afternoon.
At Wakika Heladeria, you’ll find just about every flavor of popsicle. For 15 pesos, you can get one made with water, and for 20 pesos you can get one made with cream. I ended up going for a blackberry cheese one, but there were some others with big fruit pieces that looked delicious.
Tacos El Ivan
After trying out the various taco stands in Sayulita, I have to say Tacos El Ivan was probably my favorite. The tacos here are a bit cheaper than other places in town, and the stand is open late. Of all the different types of meat they offer, definitely try the al pastor if you like pork. The owners keep it roasting continuously on a huge kabob.
Right across from the street from the churro stand and the bridge is a freshly stocked produce stand. Each morning for breakfast, my friend Yuting and I came here for mangos. They were delicious! If you have a kitchen at your place, make a point to stop here and grab a snack for later. Most of the restaurants in town don’t serve fruit so you may find yourself craving some.
If you’re looking for a solid, sit-down Mexican restaurant in Sayulita, Mary’s is the way to go. Here they serve each table with FOUR different types of salsa, and a basket of warm tortilla chips. While eating here is going to cost more than eating at a cheap taco stand, it’s still cheaper than going out for Mexican food in the states (and that’s even after buying a drink and guacamole to go with your meal). If you decide to eat here I recommend the chicken enchiladas and horchata.
What to do in Sayulita
see how tortillas are made
While many people in Sayulita still make their own tortillas by hand, this shop offers locals the opportunity to buy fresh ones in bulk. If you're simply a visitor like myself though, it's fun to get a behind the scenes look at how the process works. Here at Tortilleria y Molino, the owners were nice enough to let my friend Yuting and I sample a tortilla and take pictures of their machinery.
This one’s a bit of a sore spot for my friend Yuting and I. We had our hearts set on surfing in Sayulita but the waves weren’t there for us. However, don’t let this get your hopes down. Some people go to Sayulita and get really lucky with the waves so it’s really just hit or miss.
Chill at Los Muertos beach
Los Muertos is a secluded beach a short walk away from the town center. To get there, follow the main beach to the left until you reach a pathway that follows the hillside along the coast. Continue on this path past a little cemetery and it will lead you to Los Muertos. During my stay, I found this to be the best place to relax in Sayulita. The ocean here was calm and protected, and there were few other tourists.
Check out the local art
Sayulita is an artsy, hipster town. If you get tired of the beach, stop in a few of the different art galleries and ask about the way their products are made. While not everyone speaks English, most will have additional information for you. The gallery I found most interesting was a place called Evoke the Spirit. They specialize in yarn-painted cow skulls, and have a beautiful collection of them up on the wall.
catch a bus to guadalajara
In case you find yourself with too much time in Sayulita, consider taking a bus to Guadalajara for a change of scenery. I visited Guadalajara with just two full days to spare and ended up loving it! Read more about things to see and do in Guadalajara.
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