Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico.
Sayulita is a fast-growing beach town on the Pacific side of Mexico, part the Nayarit Riviera. This town is all about surfing, sunsets, and nightlife. The ‘brand name’ and awareness of the city has grown dramatically in just the past few years. You will probably hear more English than Spanish in the streets of Sayulita. The town is also increasing popular for Europeans, but the majority of visitors will be west-coast Americans and Canadians from Seattle or Calgary.
Sayulita is about a 1 hour drive from Puerto Vallarta and the PVR international airport. The lifestyle is laidback, but the town is also quite hectic, noisy, and often overcrowded. Sayulita is popular with digital nomads looking to work remote and take a few surf lessons. Sayulita is also popular with Canadian and American expats looking for a second home on the beach.
POPULATION: 3,000 officially, maybe 30,000 unofficially (in high season).
CULTURE IN SAYULITA
The culture of Sayulita is all about surfing, sun, seafood, and nightlife. The beaches are perfect for surfing with near-perpetual waves. The people come from everywhere and it would be tough to find someone born and raised in Sayulita. Most of the Mexicans came here from elsewhere for job opportunties and the lifestyle upgrade. Nightlife also plays a big role in the energy and economy of the town. The nightlife goes late and on weekends the city gets especially busy with partiers.
Sayulita has been designated a Pueblo Mágico, one of the few in Nayarit statue. These days, a lot of that original charm can still be found in the central plaza and the cobble stone roads. For most people, the city’s history is an afterthought. This is gringo central. The town can seem overcrowded at times. The partying is almost every day, starting early and going late. Walking and going for dinner anywhere near the centro of Sayulita is a high energy experience.
WHEN TO VISIT SAYULITA
The best time of year to visit is November to June. July to October is the rainy season, with high temperatures and lots of humidity. I went there in February and the weather was perfect – maybe 17 or 18 degrees at night, low humidity, and the water temperature was ideal for swimming. I was surprised to learn that the high season is from November to March, roughly the same high season as Tulum and Playa del Carmen. The weather is generally much more pleasant on the Pacific side – you’re going to love it. Sayulita climate is much more tropical than Mazatlan, but less jungly than the Riviera Maya. The air in Sayulita is actually quite dry and humidity is very low in the dry season.
NOMAD & EXPAT COMMUNITY IN SAYULITA
Many digital nomads have spent time in Sayulita. I would estimate that the typical digital nomad is not getting a monthly rental here, but instead is just spending a week or 10 days. There are many examples of digital nomads spending several months, even 6 months in Sayulita, but typically shorter stays are more common. You are going to see a lot of foreigners here. Rich foreigners are even buying villas and second homes in the hills above town. Sayulita is one of the top tourist destinations on the entire Pacific coast of Mexico, and is becoming more popular every year. There is a Selina hotel and coworking space. The wifi is not very good, and you should check with your hotel/AirBnB if wifi speeds are important to you. The town is also quite small and could get repetitive fast. If you can get a good wifi connection and cheap rent, Sayulita is a great place to come to work remotely by the beach.
Digital nomads love Sayulita. If you can get decent wifi, that is.
WHERE TO STAY IN SAYULITA
Sayulita is small, but the area you choose to stay in will have a big impact on your experience. Sayulita centro can be very loud both during the day and at night. There is a lot of construction (the city is growing fast) and main streets see a lot of traffic. At night you will here lots of loud groups of people yelling, music blasting, etc.
The sweet spot is to be near the action, but not in it. For the best balance I recommend something on the other side of the Sayulita river, away from the centro and plaza principal. In the map below, you can see the Sayulita river on the left. Anything on the zone marked below will be much quiter, but still only a 5-10 minute walk from the best bars and restaurants.
DAY TRIPS & THINGS TO DO IN SAYULITA
Watch the sunset. Seriously, the Riviera Nayarit has some of the best sunsets in the world.
Hit the beach! The best beaches are Playa Malpaso, Playa de los Muertos, Playa Carricitos, and Playa Patzcuarito.
Go surfing! It’s easy to rent a surfboard on a daily or weekly basis. The waves are the perfect size for beginners.
Hike Cerro del Mono. There’s two entrances and the best entrance is on the Higuera Blanca side. The views of Punta Mita are amazing.
Rent a golf cart or ATV. It’s very fun.
Visit San Pancho, another beach town close by. Some say San Pancho is actually the better town.
BEST CAFES & COWORKING IN SAYULITA
Sayulita has a huge quanitity of cafes and chill restaurants for a town of its size. The cafes and restaurants are 100% adapted to tourists, so you won’t be the first person asking for the wifi code. Some of the cafes have pretty good wifi.
My Latin Life recommends:
Organi-K Café: Really fast wifi, good environment, great menu. This is the best cafe in Sayulita.
Northside Cafe: Good wifi, not much seating.
Anchor Cafe: Lots of desks and power outlets, good for getting work done.
Another One Coffee: Chill spot with average wifi (around 15 mbps download, 9 mbps upload).
BEST BARS & NIGHTLIFE IN SAYULITA
Sayulita has really good nightlife for a town of its size. Most large cities don’t even party this hard. I was expecting a sleepy surf town and honestly surprised at how busy (and borderline overcrowded) the town was. Sayulita parties almopst every day of the week. The action is centered around the Plaza Principal, a sort of town square that is completely lined with bars and restaurants. There are A LOT of bars in Sayulita.
My Latin Life recommends:
YamBak: The most classic bar in Sayulita. A pillar of the nightlife scene, you’ll eventually find yourself here. The beer is good to.
Bar Don Pato: Right beside YamBak, this bar starts late and is a good place to dance.
Atico Cafe & Bar: Alternative vibes. Good place to start your night, smoke hookah and people watch.
COST OF LIVING IN SAYULITA FOR NOMADS AND EXPATS
Sayulita is pretty expensive for short term accommodations. Airbnb was not cheap at all. Expect to pay $100+ USD per night. Your best bet as a digital nomad is to just book a few days through Airbnb then figure it out on the ground and pay cash. The locals in Sayulita are paying way less than the tourists in rental costs. Long term residents might pay as low as $300-$500 in rent. Many locals here live with roommates. You’ll also see lots of vanlife people here, living the surf bum live out of their vans.
IS SAYULITA SAFE FOR NOMADS AND EXPATS?
Yes, Sayulita is 100% safe. There’s probably more tourists than locals. People are out walking around until 4am even on weeknights. Don’t go to the beach at night.
HOW TO GET TO SAYULITA
It is easy to get to Sayulita from Puerto Vallarta International airport. Your options are to take a local bus or pay a bit more for a private taxi or rideshare service. To take the bus, exit PVR airport, cross the pedestrian bridge, and hop on the bus for 20-40 pesos. It might be crowded/uncomfortable, so I only recommend taking the bus if you’re on a budget. An Uber/InDriver/DiDi can take you from PVR to Sayulita for 320-350 pesos ($15-20 USD). Not bad for an hour drive!
If you’re coming from the north, you can also get to Sayulita by bus from Tepic via La Peñita de Jaltemba, a small town and transfer point along the 200 highway.
The Vallarta airport is very well connected. There are direct flights to Puerto Vallarta from Canada, Mexico City, and Guadalajara.
IS SAYULITA OVERRATED?
Sayulita can definitely get swamped with tourists and it feels like there’s too many people for the size of the town. They should close the roads to vehicle traffic because there is nowhere to walk. You will mostly be meeting Americans and other foreigners here. The partying here gets pretty wild. For some people this is gringo hell. For others, the surfing and partying is just what they needed. Sayulita is probably more overrated than underrated.
Sayulita is the perfect city for digital nomads and expats. I love cities that combine mountains, jungle and ocean. The surfing is great. Sayulita is one of those rare cities with cool hiking trails that look out on ocean vistas (and even hit the beach on the way home). The wifi definitely needs to get better, but that isn’t stopping expats and nomads from already setting up shop!
Sayulita is a great place for a weekend or 10 day stay. You can also build a routine here and stay long term. There’s enough activities and culture to keep you busy for a month or more. If the wifi was better, this city might have received a 10/10 rating.