After two months of constant traveling and intense hiking in the Andes of Peru, I found myself daydreaming about tropical beaches with palm trees and hammocks, where I could lay around, drink mojitos, and listen to the ocean. I didn’t have to wait for long, because only a week later I bought my ticket to Mexico where I could finally hang up my worn-out hiking clothes and blend in with the cosmopolitan locals on the colorful and artistic streets of Mexico City. And just a few days later I was drinking my mojito in a seaside bar in Sayulita, on the Riviera Nayarit far from the hustles of the capital.
Sayulita was discovered in the 1960s by wandering surfers and has since become the perfect surfer town with a laid-back hippie vibe. The seaside town is only a 45-minute drive from the airport of Puerto Vallarta, which makes it easily reachable and an attractive alternative to the hectic mainstream tourist resorts of Mexico. Even if I didn’t fully experience the quiet atmosphere of Sayulita, as I happened to be staying there during the Holy Week, I still felt that special ambience which makes people from all over the world move to this paradise.
To avoid the crowd, I started my first day even before sunrise, when most of the town was still sleeping or just finishing last night’s party. It’s always fascinating to see cities wake up in the morning and to examine the locals as they set out for the day. As I strolled down the street, I met only a few vendors and dedicated surfers on their way to the beach. For a while I followed a bread seller, who carried a basket full of bread on his back, then I saw some women setting up their taco stall and men packing up the fresh fruits and vegetables from a track at the market. I was the only tourist around; trying to experience the real, tranquil, sleepy fishing village that Sayulita had been before. I headed to the ocean, where surfers were already riding the early waves along with some fishing boats. I had a feeling that I had found the place I dreamed of in the last months. Yet, I wasn’t ready to get lazy, so I walked along two miles on the coast while the sun was rising higher.
But my adventure wasn’t over here. When I reached the end of the beach, I decided to find my way back to town through the jungle. My intuitions somehow failed me this time and I needed more than an hour to walk back to my hotel where I just missed my breakfast. To save the day, I headed for some tacos, since I noticed that people in Mexico are able to eat tacos at any hour of the day without shame. As they say: “Full stomach, happy heart.” I had no doubt about this for sure, because I just fell in love with Mexico again, and I knew I was finally ready for not doing anything at all.
Where to Stay
Where: 12 Gaviotas, Sayulita, Nayarit
Why: Located in the middle of downtown and close to the beach, Hotel Kupuri’s location couldn’t be more perfect. Apart from the swimming pool, the greatest feature of the hotel is the rooftop bar, where you have a view of the whole town and the ocean too.
Learn more: http://hotelkupuri.com
Where to Eat & Drink
Where: 42 Jose Mariscal, Sayulita, Nayarit
Why: El Iticate is the best place to have tacos in Sayulita. It’s heaven for the meat lovers, but they also have a great selection of vegetarian options.
Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/el.itacate.sayulita/
Where: 40 Avenida Revolucion, Sayulita, Nayarit
Why: Treat yourself with some handmade ice cream made from local fresh fruits. Make sure to try out their popsicles as well!
Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/wakikasayulita/
What to See & Do
Playa de los Muertos
Where: Los Muertos, Sayulita, Nayarit
Why: If you don’t like the crowded main beach of Sayulita, you can take a short walk to a peaceful and secluded beach, called Playa de los Muertos. As the name suggests, you need to cross a colorful cemetery to reach the seaside.
Learn more: http://www.sayulitabeach.com/map-your-path/los-muertos-beach/
Wildmex Surf & Adventure
Where: 150-G, Calle Pelícanos, Sayulita, Nayarit
Why: Sayulita is an ideal place for both beginner and intermediate surfers. Wildmex offers surf camps, lessons, trips and a variety of other outdoor activities in the area.
Learn more: http://wildmex.com/
Revolución del Sueño
Where: 55 Calle Navarette, Colonia Centro, Sayulita, Nayarit
Why: This boutique design store is full of amazing, original works of Mexican artists. It’s run by Nico and Lea del Sueno, who moved here from Paris and are combining modern art with Mexican traditional techniques.
Learn more: https://revoluciondelsueno.com
Evoke the Spirit
Where: 12A Jose Mariscal, Sayulita, Nayarit
Why: A beautiful shop selling handcrafted Mexican textiles, tapestries, wall hangings, jewelry, clothing and cow skulls. You can even take a macrame or pompom workshop here.
Learn more: https://evokethespirit.com
To see more of Dorottya’s photography, follow her on Instagram @dorottyak