Nestled away in a little bay about an hour northwest of Puerto Vallarta is the small bohemian surf town, Sayulita.
Known for its consistently smaller waves, this little town became popular because it’s possibly the perfect place to learn to surf. But if surfing isn’t your thing, Sayulita still has plenty to offer.
I first came here for a yoga retreat in 2013, and I fell in love with the place. My sister moved here for a few years so I visited often. It’s a special place with a flirty, open fun vibe where you truly feel alive.
The mood in Sayulita is creative and energetic. This once sleepy little fishing town now has a vibrant atmosphere and I’d say about half the people are locals and half tourist, so you still get an authentically Mexican vibe.
These days people from around the world come to Sayulita to kick off their shoes, throw on some flip flops, drink a freshly squeezed juice, eat world class fish tacos, and generally decompress and get their beach zen on.
Shopping in Sayulita
But I digress. When you come to Sayulita, there are a few things you should definitely do. Shopping is most certainly one of them-and I mean this from the bottom of my corazone (heart).
The reason I love shopping in Sayulita is because everything is so beautifully unique. There’s an artistic spirit that permeates the town and this definitely translates to the many adorable boutiques lining the roads, and to the street vendors selling their handmade wares.
Revolution Del Sueno
One of my favorite shops in Sayulita is Revolution del Sueno. It’s open 7 days a week and located at: 55 Calle Manuel Navarrete in Sayulita. Take a wander in and you won’t be disappointed. But beware; the stock is always changing so if you see something you like, grab it.
Their t-shirts are iconic and I recognize them anywhere in the world. Saying “Hey, you got that shirt in Sayulita!” has sparked many a fun conversation for me. I’m always delighted when I spot someone in Canada or Thailand wearing one of their shirts.
Sueno means dream in Spanish, and this store truly is a dream. Vibrant pops of color contrasted against traditional Mexican handicrafts make for a bohemian, oh-so-playful vibe, and whenever I go I basically want to make their whole store into my bag and take it home.
I’ve generally found some of the best things to shop for in Sayulita are the handmade, unique handicraft sort of items. You can find really beautifully embroidered bags and pillows throughout the town, as well as gorgeous beachy outfits, so be sure to leave a little wiggle room in your suitcase to take something extra home. This is where I love to buy gifts I store for Christmas and birthday presents I’ll need for girlfriends later in the year.
Another shop with great handicrafts to check out in Sayulita is Tiendita Hola.
This is the cutest little place, located at Jose Mariscal 5. It’s a great little place to pick up handmade crafts, decorations and gifts and has lots of unique items that I found to be priced reasonably.
My third shopping recommendation is to definitely check out the Sayulita Farmers Market. There are a few, but this one is my favorite.
Prepare for sensory overload as you wander through the aisles of fresh food, and offerings from local artisans. The selection of health and natural foods here is truly amazing.
Ziplining in Sayulita
Okay look I know everyone always talks about ziplining. And I confess before trying it I sort of rolled my eyes at the idea.
Don’t be like me! Try it before you diss!
I am so glad Eloise dragged me out for a day of ziplining in Sayulita. From the awesome bumpy jeep ride through the jungle to get there to the swooshing through the jungle itself, it was exhilarating and a fantastic way to spend the day in nature, getting a bit of exercise and getting a shot of adrenaline into your system as you hold on for dear life.
There are a few operations in town that offer ziplining, but after reading multiple reviews we went with Rancho Michapparita, and I’m glad we did as we felt we were in really good hands there, which is important when you’re planning on hanging from high heights in the forest.
I felt that the staff was skilled and friendly and loved getting picked up in town for a fun jeep ride out to their giant jungle facility. We left laughing and energized.
Snorkel Marietas Islands
The Marietas Islands are considered by many to be one of the prime snorkelling spots in the Sayulita region and in the Pacific Northwest in general, and for good reason. It’s a stunning place and I recommend you make a day of it.
To get to Marietas Islands National Park, you need to take a boat ride from Sayulita: keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and manta rays along the way, we saw both!
Most tours (and we do recommend doing a tour rather than renting your own boat, as you need special permits to access these islands) include your transport in and out of the area, lunch, and all your snorkel gear, and most are about 3-5 hours or so long. We did a 5 hour trip and overall had an amazing time.
The vibrant beauty of the reefs and the colorful fish make this an area full of biodiversity that you won’t regret visiting. There are tons of interesting birds (over 90 species frequent the area), and in fact, this is a migration and breeding place for the endangered Blue-Footed Bobbie.
A day on the water is a good day for me, so I thoroughly enjoyed our visit.
That said, I would recommend finding a great tour company to take you out to the Marietas Islands. When we went, we bought from a fellow on the street who convinced us that his trip would be better than any from an official tour company, and while the place was ahhhmazing, I didn’t feel super safe 100% of the time in the water. The snorkel equipment was older and I didn’t feel like there were eyes on us in case we ran into trouble swimming.
I am not the strongest swimmer, so that made me a little nervous. My friends are amazing in the water and helped me a bit, thankfully. In retrospect I should have gone with a more organized tour to feel a bit more looked after.
Trip Advisor has lots of reviews and recommendations, and the tour that comes out on top there and that also conveniently leaves from Sayulita, is with Sayulita Entourage. At $65 a tour, including transportation, equipment and lunch, it sounds like a decent value too.
Playa de Las Tortugas, Nayarit (Turtles’ Beach)
Turtles’ Beach is in a natural reserve and is a long, relatively quiet beach and a great place to spend the day. I love to come here when you’re looking for a chill quiet day without a lot of people around and no beach vendors to hassle you.
Located next to an old coconut plantation, this 5k long nearly virgin beach is a refuge for hundreds of species of birds and reptiles and gets its name from the multitude of different species of turtles that come to shore each year to lay their eggs.
There are no big buildings allowed here and few crowds, except on some weekends and holidays, when locals come down from Guadalajara or Tepic, which are the closest big cities.
It’s basically the perfect spot for eco-tourists and anyone interested in enjoying beautiful, pristine natural surroundings to chill out for the day. Pack a great book and a picnic and you’re set.
And Speaking of Turtles..Watch a Baby Turtle Release
On the northside of Sayulita, you’ll find the the Turtle Preservation Camp. Their goal is to relocate sea turtle nests to help the babies grow to adulthood by avoiding poaching.
Every evening at 6:30 pm the camp volunteers release baby turtles that hatched that day into the ocean. This cool nightly ritual of release is definitely special and worth watching. Seeing each wee but determined little turtle venture off into the giant powerful ocean is really something to experience. Go little turtles, you got this!
To get to the Turtle Preservation Camp, follow the beach past Sayulita to the north, or follow Avenue Del Palmar north, over the bridge and past the school. Turn right when you see this sign below directing you to the turtle camp. Check out their Facebook page for up-to-date info on the goings on.
Get Your Horse on! I Mean, Get On a Horse.
For me, no trip is complete without trying to find some horseback riding. And in Sayulita, it’s not hard to do. Vendors walk the beach with their horses tacked up and ready to go, and there are a few local outfits around town you can call to make reservations in advance. Rancho Manuel is a family run business and I’ve been doing a ride with them each year.
They’re great, and I even went to their home ranch once, and got to see the conditions the horses live in. While no horses are pampered like our horses at home, I did find that there was sufficient care for these lovely equines, so I left feeling okay about my decision to ride with this company when I’m in Sayulita.
There’s truly no feeling like exploring the jungle on horseback, then letting loose for a good gallop down the sand. Pure joy, if you ask me.
So there you have it! My top tips for what to do in Sayulita Nayarit, from snorkeling Marietas Islands and ziplining through the jungle to shopping for treasures, horseback riding on the beach and releasing wee baby turtles.
Curious about where to stay in Sayulita? Read about my top five picks for boutique hotels in Sayulita you won’t want to miss.