Sayulita, Mexico…a little slice of heaven about 30 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, is a sleepy, scenic surfing town that has slowly gained notoriety over the past decade or so with American, Australian and European expats and tourists. Far removed from the of the big city Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita has a unique and funky vibe that has attracted plenty of twenty and thirty-somethings over the years. You won’t find an all-inclusive anywhere near here!
I was in between jobs in DC when I received an email from a dear friend. “We’re going to Sayulita, Mexico and renting a house near the beach. You want to come?” I didn’t need much convincing (duh), but when I found a round trip flight on (then) Continental Airlines for $233 from DC’s Reagan National Airport to Puerto Vallarta (seriously, how ridiculously cheap is that?!), there wasn’t even a question in my mind.
The deals didn’t stop there! My friends arranged to rent a two bedroom house with a pool and a private palapa (separate penthouse/mother-in-law suite second story with balcony) for about $92 a night, which they found through the website Sayulita Life (this site is a wealth of information for anything and everything relating to Sayulita). For five days, my portion of the rent was $202.21 (the house was $650 total). So far, I was looking at spending $437.21 as the bulk of my vacation cost (flight and accommodation). It was pretty unbelievable!
This was our house, called Casa Sonrisa (“Smile House”):
We were told to budget about $50 USD a day for food and drinks, but you could really get by on much, much less, depending on how much you dine out versus how much you buy at the store. The total, then, budgeted for this trip was still under $700!
We did a couple of nights-in… Here, drinking tequila out of our kitchen bowls… I’m not sure why. I guess the glasses weren’t big enough (or they were just dirty)..
Sayulita is the perfect destination for a girlfriend getaway.
It’s one of these rare places that is exotic enough but very tourist-friendly. I don’t mean buffet-loving, obnoxious tourists, but simply foreigners to Mexico coming to town for vacation. Most folks speak English, and many restaurants, bars and rental properties are owned by English speakers. One of our favorites, the Buddha Mar, was run by an Australian family.
Although I’m typically a traveler who appreciates being immersed in a foreign culture, logistically it is easier to have a community of English speaking foreigners in a destination if your goal is to get away and relax with minimal effort.
When I think of a girls trip, I think of plenty of delicious, tropical cocktails: martinis, piña coladas, mai tais, etc..
I know most women want to relax in a beach town but also want to have great food and nightlife choices. Some of the restaurants are what you would expect to find in a thriving urban or high-end resort destination, but they retain an authentic and local feel. Most of the food we had was excellent.
Our favorites were Sayulita Cafe (get the molcajete and chiles rellenos), Choco Banana (for breakfast), Sayulita Fish Tacos (best fish tacos I’ve had to date), Rolly’s (for breakfast), Don Pedros (great ceviche- on the beach), and Buddha Mar (has a cool outdoor-lounge vibe), which is now called Zen Garden.
And what’s not to love about being serenaded on the beach?
Surfing is a big deal in Sayulita. We didn’t partake, but apparently plenty of people come here to learn or just enjoy surfing in the laid-back town that is already geared towards the popular water sport. The owners of the house we rented suggested Patricia’s School of Surf, saying it was supposedly the best surf school in town. Paul and Patty also own a beach restaurant, Captain Pablo’s, and Paul leads fishing tours.
Getting to Sayulita
If you’re flying in to the Sayulita airport, you can take a taxi to town. The property owner suggested Ramos taxi service, who charges $130.00 for airport pickup and return on your departure day, including a grocery stop at Walmart. Most taxis charge $60.00 one way. You can reach Ramos at firstname.lastname@example.org or 011-52-329-291-3011.
There may be cheaper flight options available to Puerto Vallarta, which was the choice I made. From PV, I took the bus for 20 pesos ($2 USD) (at the time). Exiting the airport and crossing over the pedestrian bridge, there will be a bus stop. There are loads of buses, and a few of them are green. The Sayulita bus is green and white and says ´Sayulita´on the front dashboard (along with five or so other destainations, but Sayulita is on top). There are a lot of stops before you start to leave PV and get into the “jungle.” The bus will turn right at the sign that says Sayulita and go off the highway, exiting the jungle. The first stop is in Sayulita. Pretty easy, and pretty cheap!
By the way, if you want plenty of current info on Sayulita, check out Twenty-Something Travel and Art of Adventuring. Stephanie and Michael are friends and fellow travel bloggers who live in Sayulita and have some great posts on Sayulita and on Mexicoin general!