Day trip to Sayulita: 9 best things to do
A day trip to Sayulita is one of the best activities you can do from Puerto Vallarta. This was a key factor in my decision to stay at the Grand Palladium Resort and Spa, given its proximity to Sayulita compared to the central area of Puerto Vallarta. This guide will help you plan your Sayulita day trip for a laid-back and enjoyable experience.

How to get to Sayulita from Puerto Vallarta

Sayulita is around 27 miles (45 km) from Puerto Vallarta. The quickest way to get there is by taxi which will cost you around $70 each way. You can also take an Uber though securing one in Sayulita can be challenging, so plan your return accordingly. Another option is to take a bus from Puerto Vallarta’s city centre, which departs every 20 minutes or so. The journey takes around 45 mins but due to road conditions, delays are possible. Renting a car offers the freedom to explore Sayulita and its surroundings at your own pace and is cost effective if you don’t mind driving. You can rent a car for approximately $17 USD per day. If you find driving stressful, you can take this day tour to both Sayulita and San Pancho. We travelled from Riviera Nayarit which is only 12 miles (24 km) from Sayulita. We took an Uber and the journey took just under 20 mins.

First impressions

I never really understood the meaning of a laid-back vibe until I stepped foot in Sayulita. The town exudes a serene atmosphere which instantly put me at ease.

Day trip to Sayulita

Sayulita’s compact size makes it easy to navigate on foot, with most attractions and amenities within walking distance.

We were dropped off at the main square and my senses were awakened by the kaleidoscope of colours that furnished every corner of the streets. There was a clear contrast between the calm surroundings of Sayulita and the lively atmosphere of Puerto Vallarta and although I loved Puerto Vallarta, I felt instantly calm in Sayulita.

9 top ACTIVITIES to do on a day trip to Sayulita

stroll the town centre and meet the locals

Sayulita boasts a charming town centre filled with colourful shops, galleries, and cafes. We started our walk in the main square, Central Plaza, pausing to browse artisanal crafts, cute jewellery boutiques and soak up the town’s bohemian ambiance.

Strolling through a small town like Sayulita is an excellent way to get a feel of the place and meet the locals who are very friendly. Additionally, exploring the town on foot allows you to discover hidden gems and unique spots that you might not encounter otherwise.

Street art decorations girl walking. Sayulita day trip

Shop for souvenirs

If you’re after a bit of retail therapy then Sayulita will delight you. From handmade jewellery and textiles to surf gear and souvenirs, Sayulita has an eclectic mix of boutiques and market stalls and offers a treasure trove of unique finds.

Don’t miss the opportunity to interact with shop owners and artisans. This is a great way to learn about the local culture and understand their art and craft. Buying souvenirs from these shops is a great way to support artisans and preserve the local culture.

what to do on a day trip to Sayulita: souvenirs shops

have a massage on the beach

Playa Sayulita: The main beach

Playa Sayulita is a wonder of Mexico and simply can’t be missed on a day trip to Sayulita. The town centre connects to the beach through the cutest street I’ve seen which is  long and dotted with shops and palm trees.

is Sayulita worth visiting?

Upon entering the beach, we saw local vendors offering massage services. These ranged from traditional deep tissue massages to more specialised treatments like Thai massage or reflexology. You can choose to have your massage directly on a massage bed set up on the beach or opt for a shaded area under a palm tree or a canopy for added privacy and comfort. A session of deep tissue massage would typically last an hour and costs around 500 MXN ($35).

Indulging in a massage while listening to the soothing sounds of the ocean waves is the ultimate relaxation exercise you can undertake in Sayulita.

I instantly fell in love with Sayulita’s main beach. Soft, golden sands stretching along the coastline and clear, turquoise waters lapping at its shores, it looked like heaven.

Sayulita main beach: top things to do in Sayulita

The beach is vast and long and we found plenty of areas to sit. We hired chairs and a parasol and watched the surfers for hours. Hiring a chair and umbrella for the day will cost around 300-400 MXN ($14-$17). I couldn’t resist the ocean so I went in and was surprised at how warm the water was in May.

a surfer in Sayulita beach.

There are plenty of other activities to do on the beach such as paddleboarding, kayaking, as well as some great snorkel locations within walking distance from the main beach.

If relaxation is more your speed, you can simply lounge on the beach and soak up the sun or find shade beneath a palm tree while enjoying the cooling ocean breeze. The beach is also dotted with rustic beach bars and restaurants, where you can indulge in freshly prepared seafood, tropical cocktails, and other refreshing treats.

Sayulita day trip. Cafes on the beach

other beaches you can visit are:

playa los muertos

If you prefer a much quieter beach head to Playa de los Muertos. This beach is smaller and more rustic with interesting rock formations. The waves aren’t as strong and the sand is finer so it’s popular with families with small children and beginner surfers. You can rent chairs and umbrellas but there are plenty of shaded areas under the palm trees.

Rocks and jungle in Playa Los Muertos Sayulita

Photo source: Flickr

Playa norte

Playa Norte has a more bohemian vibe and is less crowded than the bustling main beach. It offers a serene environment perfect for those who seek tranquility. It’s a favoured spot among musicians, artists, yogis, and meditators.

Book a surf lesson

As one of Mexico’s premier surfing destinations, Sayulita attracts wave riders from around the world . Sayulita beach is suitable for surfers of all levels, with gentle breaks ideal for beginners and more challenging swells for seasoned surfers. I didn’t feel brave enough to try again after my experience surfing at Grand Palladium Resort and Spa, but after watching the other surfers have so much fun, I wished I had hired a surf as the waves definitely looked gentler.

Girl next to a surf station in sayulita

For the more seasoned surfers, playa La Lancha offers multiple breaks and fewer crowds compared to Sayulita’s main surf spots.

boy looking at the ocean in Sayulita

Indulge in Mexican food

Sayulita offers a rich culinary scene that caters to all tastes, from traditional street food to exquisite beachside dining. This diverse offering highlights the rich flavours of Mexican cuisine and creativity of local chefs. 

El Itacate restaurant. Day trip to Sayulita

We had heard great things about El Itacate tacos and naturally headed there since it was our only chance of trying it. This restaurant is famous for their burritos wrapped in fried cheese instead of tortillas but their star dish is the rib eye steak tacos. We were not disappointed. They were so tasty we had double servings. 

top things to do on a day trip to Sayulita. Chocobanana yellow cafe

After lunch, we headed to Chocobanana, a cafe restaurant that’s famous not just for its cute colourful facade but also their frozen choco-banana lolly and the best banana bread I’ve ever tasted. Their choco-banana frappe was also delicious and I don’t even like bananas! The customer service was second to none and the owners were very welcoming. 

Get lost in the street art

Sayulita’s art scene is on full display throughout the town, with whimsical murals and colourful graffiti decorating the buildings and walls. I could have dedicated the entire day to admiring the incredible art and the stories behind each piece.

street art in Sayulita

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Take a hike to San Pancho

A hike from Sayulita to San Pancho (also known as San Francisco) is a great way to spend some time in nature and get some physical activity. The hike takes approximately 2 hours and is moderately challenging but the trail is relatively easy to follow and the stunning views will keep you going. The walk takes you through a lush jungle terrain where you’ll encounter sections of dense tropical vegetation, including towering palm trees, colourful foliage and exotic wildlife. As you walk along the coastline you can choose to stop for a swim or a picnic at a secluded part of the beach. It’s best to start early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day and don’t forget to bring plenty of water and sturdy footwear.

Sayulita or San Pancho?

Photo source: Flickr

Once you reach San Pancho, spend some time exploring this little charming and quiet town which has a different community and history from Sayulita.

checkout this informative blog post by  Inspire-Travel-Eat which has a full itinerary of the hike from Sayulita to San Pancho.

find your  zen with yoga on the beach

Sayulita’s stunning natural surroundings offer a perfect escape to unwind and relax after a hectic period of work or travel. If you are looking for an opportunity to find your inner peace, try a yoga session on the beach. Join a group class or strike a Navasana pose on your own, and feel the stress melt away as you connect mind, body, and soul in this idyllic setting.

Sayulita day trip: yoga on the beach

Photo source: Flickr

Watch a breathtaking sunset

Bid farewell to Sayulita with a magical sunset over the Pacific Ocean. Find a quiet spot on the beach or a scenic overlook and watch as the sky is painted in hues of pink, orange, and purple before heading back to Puerto Vallarta. 

purple and pink sunset in sayulita

Photo source: Flickr

Is a day trip to Sayulita worth doing?

Absolutely! a day trip to Sayulita is highly recommended. Despite its small size, Sayulita offers a rich cultural experience, stunning beaches and a laid-back atmosphere for those looking to experience slow travel. With a ton of activities such as surfing, shopping, exploring local cuisine or simply soaking up the sun on the beach, there's  something for everyone. Plus, its close proximity to Puerto Vallarta makes it the perfect choice for a day rip.

Is Sayulita a family-friendly destination?

Yes, Sayulita is very family-friendly with plenty of activities suitable for children such as surfing, paddle boarding and art classes.  My son loved the beach and watching the surfers. He was also in awe of all the street art and just generally felt very much at ease in Sayulita. 

Is Sayulita safe for tourists?

As a family we felt very safe in Sayulita. We did a lot of walking as the town is very compact and pedestrian friendly and didn't spot any risky areas or concerning behaviour. The beach was clean and not crowded in May.

There seems to be some concerns over Sayulita’s ocean water being unsanitary. We  swam in the main public beach and did not get sick but it's best to exercise caution. 

We never drank tap water in Mexico as we were advised not to by our hotel and all the restaurants where we ate maintained a decent standard of hygiene. 

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