Culture and Counterculture in Sayulita

Culture and Counterculture in Sayulita

A longstanding surfer town in Riviera Nayarit, Sayulita is experiencing a tourism renaissance By: Mark Rogers
The laidback town of Sayulita is ideal for surfing, shopping and relaxing. // © 2014 Riviera Nayarit Tourist Board
The laidback town of Sayulita is ideal for surfing, shopping and relaxing. // © 2014 Riviera Nayarit Tourist Board

The Details

Riviera Nayarit Tourist Board

Before Punta Mita emerged as a major tourist draw in Riviera Nayarit, nearby Sayulita was a popular destination with surfers, who traveled to the small town for its prime surf breaks and pristine beaches. In the last several years, Sayulita, which is 35 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta’s international airport, has been enjoying a boom of its own. Real estate prices have skyrocketed and villa rentals, hip cafes and trendy boutiques flourish.

Things to Do

Sayulita’s reputation as a laidback surf town is well-earned — the town maintains its counterculture vibe with distinct local offerings and entertainment. Although it’s not an overtly commercial destination, visitors will find plenty of ways to part with their pesos. One of Mexico’s hippest shops, Revolucion del Sueno, may be small in size, but the store packs a pop art wallop. Among the shop’s gems are T-shirts featuring modern designs such as Emilio Zapata eating an ice cream cone or Mexican wrestlers wearing Huichol Indian beads.

There are numerous restaurants and cafes throughout the town, including some right on the beach. Don Pedro’s is a local favorite, offering Mediterranean-style cuisine with Mexican and Californian influences right on the shore. Since Sayulita has an established expatriate population, there are also numerous restaurants serving up North American comfort food. But I have to go on record that I’ve never had a really good burger or slice of pizza in Mexico – stick with what they do best and dig into the regional seafood specialties like aguachile or Zarandeado-style grilled snapper.

While wandering through the town square, visitors will notice brightly dressed Indians selling their crafts by the edge of the sidewalk. The Huichol Indians have existed in Mexico for 15,000 years. Tourists usually have very little interaction with these native people, but examples of their brightly colored art are everywhere. Much of it is intricate, figurative beadwork. Galeria Tanana is an excellent place to experience Huichol art and culture.

For a leisurely way to experience the destination, Sayulita’s main beach is a great place to spend a day swapping stories, listening to ranchera musicians, taking a dip and wandering over to a street vendor for a $1 fish taco.

Your clients can also relax at one of Sayulita’s many spas. Haramara Retreat is a standout option that offers therapeutic treatments, year-round yoga and meditation workshops.

Where to Stay

Lodging in Sayulita leans toward boutique-style properties. Bungalows de Los Arbolitos offers one- and two-bedroom suites with rustic decor that includes primavera wood, palm roofs, riverbed rocks and Mexican tiles. Each bungalow is furnished with traditional Mexican furnishings and artifacts from towns throughout Mexico. Suites come with terraces, WiFi access and kitchenettes, making them a good choice for budget-minded travelers or families vacationing with small children.

Petit Hotel d’Hafa is a charming boutique hotel with only six rooms. It’s a good choice for those who want to be in the middle of town but still close to the beach. The hotel’s rooftop deck provides impressive views of Sayulita.

As its name suggests, Villa Amor is a great place for a romantic getaway. The property comprises 32 romantic villas, many of which include their own plunge pools, and the largest villas have five bedrooms. The property is a five-minute walk from Sayulita’s town square.

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