Even though many enjoy a very active vacation, going out to bars and dancing all night, some also enjoy relaxing a bit and enjoying a more direct contact with mother nature.
In this case a trip to the northern or southern areas of the bay will bring you to many smaller towns and more secluded beaches, going north from Puerto Vallarta, you'll find Bucerías, then La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, further north, there's Destiladeras Beach and Punta de Mita.
Map showing Sayulita and the surrounding towns and beaches
Once you jump out of Banderas Bay the first town you'll encounter is Sayulita, a small fishermen town on the Riviera Nayarit. When you arrive from the highway or from the road that connects Sayulita with Punta de Mita, you find it relaxed and a bit boring, but once you cross the small bridge over the river and get closer to the main plaza and the main streets leading to the beach, things change quite a bit.
Store on the way into downtown Sayulita
Sayulita is actually one of the most active beaches in the area, when I visited in April, Sayulita was, together with Playa Los Muertos in downtown Puerto Vallarta, the most active beach in the area.
Sayulita beach looking south
Population: 2318 inhabitants (2010 census).
28 miles from downtown Puerto Vallarta following Federal Highway 200 (35-40 minutes from Vallarta). Approx. on km 125 of the Highway from Vallarta to Tepic, take the detour towards the sea, take Av. Revolución to the right after 800 ft. and then it's 1800 ft to the town itself.
Lat: 20º52'08"N - 105º26'27"W, altitude: 20 meters over sea level.
Getting there: From Puerto Vallarta take Highway 200 north or board the "Sayulita" bus at stops in town, the ticket will cost you approximately 2 dollars.
Average temperature between 84ºF to 88ºF (29 & 31ºC) with rain that makes the summer more pleasant.
Food: For all budgets, from a home cooked meal, prepared with local produce, to restaurants with international cuisine.
What you can do there: Surfing, surfing and surfing. The beaches are a pure delight for surfers, and for anyone who would like to be one. In addition there is shopping and don't forget to get a massage in front of the ocean.
Pure nature and outdoor sports, camping, diving, hiking and horseback riding.
Many people who knew Vallarta before it became famous, say Sayulita is very much like it was before. It offers a beautiful estuary, cliffs, a beautiful beach and the sea.
The town attitude is very relaxed and both locals and tourists share and mingle and enjoy each other's company, here you won't find nightclubs or 5 star hotels, here people just chill out and relax.
Local Artist, by the bridge
The general environment makes you think of the 70's, hippie-surfer culture and very eclectic when you look at it as a whole.
Don't forget to visit the surrounding hills and enjoy the panorama, you'll really get a view of the long beach, the jungle and the astounding sunsets.
Sayulita Beach Bar
At sunset you'll notice some silhouettes floating across the water, its the numerous surfers that enjoying the sport they love, one of the main attractions in Sayulita.
Waves when I visited were soft and very good for beginners, as the day wore on, they grew too, making them more appealing for the experienced lot.
Sayulita offers various activities
Sayulita attracts surfers from all over the world, which is why you'll encounter on the streets people speaking in many languages, plus a hippie style atmosphere surfers carry in the blood, peace, love and a deep respect for nature and its beauties.
Sayulita, another word for surfing
Lodging options here include boutique hotels, villas, smaller hotels, bungalows and campsites for RV's or tents. Along the cobblestone streets you'll find innumerable small stores selling traditional local dishes, bakeries and elegant restaurants too.
The vegetation in and around Sayulita is very similar to what we find in a normal tropical forest, tall trees such as the Serrano Oak, Huanacaxtle or Parota, the Guayacan, Ceiba, Red cedar, Coacomate and Mahogany. The latter, as we know, has highly prized wood and has been overexploited, so in the present time it is a very rare tree. Fauna includes armadillos, badgers, wild boar, rattlesnakes, iguanas, ocelots, deer, turkeys and more.
You can enjoy fishing in the area, Sayulita offers various options and a variety of species you can enjoy catching, such as: marlin, swordfish, dorado, snapper, tuna, lobster, shrimp, scallops and more.
Despite the absence of large nightclubs and a quiet nightlife, Sayulita does offers options for all tastes. During the holiday period you’ll find live bands in outdoor concerts on the beach or by the river. Also for those who want to go to a disco, it is possible to sometimes find events organized at the local baseball field. For those who prefer more adrenaline, on Sundays there are rodeo shows.