Sayulita Surfing

I had been itching for a Sayulita surfing trip for a while.  I’ve been on more than a couple surf trips to Mexico over the years, but Sayulita looked especially interesting for a few reasons.

First was just the ease of travel – a three hour flight from Denver to Puerto Vallarta, direct, available for about $350 most days.  From Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita is just a 45 min to an hour cab ride, depending on traffic and construction on the two-lane highway north of Buscarias.  

That combination of price, time, direct flights gets you on the potential weekend surf trip list.

Anytime you can be in the water the afternoon of your travel day, it’s worth checking out.

Now, Sayulita is hardly some off the beaten path, unknown surf spot.  I wasn’t blazing any trails here.  That sort of ease of getting to means it is a well-trodden path.  But that’s ok, that’s what is expected.  

Not every surf trip can be a huge mission, nor should it be.  Sometimes you just need a quality spot that you can hit for four days, which is exactly what I was doing.

Sayulita Surf Spots

When you get into the water in Sayulita, there are two main breaks separated by a bit of a rocky point.  This point is created by the river that drains there in the rainy season, although it was completely dry when I was there in early May.

The south side of the point peels mostly right and had the bigger crowd.  The north side went left, dumped a bit more on the rocky shore, and had fewer people in general from what I saw on a short trip.

Keep in mind that a surf trip to Sayulita may actually spend more time surfing in Punta Mita. Be sure to check out our Punta Mita surfing guide.

Playa San Pancho

Just up the road from Sayulita is Playa San Pancho. The name of the town on the map is actually San Francisco, but everyone seems to call it San Pancho.

San Pancho is a totally different vibe than Sayulita, and may be the quiet vibe you are looking for. It feels much less touched by the tourism of the area and even has a punchy beach break of its own.

We headed up to San Pancho for a sunset margarita, but I didn’t surf because some bad fish tacos had taken me out.

Be sure to make the side trip to San Pancho when you’re in the area. You may find it is the right place for you to stay.

Sayulita Water

This was getting late in the dry season, the skys could have opened up at any time.  Just a couple of weeks before, I was surfing in Nicaragua and it rained for the first time in about five months.

So it was on its way.

However, I was grateful for the dry weather.  I must admit, I don’t really want to be in Sayulita when the water is flowing.

The thing with Sayulita, the sacrifice you make for ease, is that the town is not small, and the water is not clean.

Bring your Swimmers ear, ear plugs, and keep your mouth closed.

It’s a bit stinky, and when the first rains open up that river that runs through town, I don’t want to be anywhere near that place.

Just my two cents.

Sayulita Hotels

Sayulita has everything from camping and hostels to five-star hotels and everything in between.  Again, this is not some up and coming surf town.  It is well established and has a thriving tourism industry.  

With plenty of places to stay, including AirBnBs of course, the key will just be what place matches your budget, size, amenities, and proximity to surf.  The town is big enough to need a car if you aren’t staying too close, so if you plan to skip the car be sure to keep that in mind.  

Sayulita also climbs up some fairly steep hills, so keep in mind that what looks close on a map might include a calf-burning climb after your surf session.

Sayulita Restaurants

Along with the established nature of this town comes an amazing variety of places to eat.  From street tacos to modern gastro, there’s something for everyone.

Renting a Surfboard in Sayulita

The part of town right next to the beach has plenty of surf shops for renting surfboards.

While I generally like to travel with my own board, for a short trip it was nice to just keep it light, although at $30 a day you’ll meet your airline board fee pretty quick.


On the recommendation of a friend, I hit up the good folks at Quiverito for my board rental.  I appreciated the quiver of boards and settled on a 6’0 fish similar to what I generally travel with.  

The waves were a bit mellow and lineups were full of long boarders, so I ended up switching the board out for a 7’6ish long fish that surfed and paddled like a dream.  I caught a ton of waves.

Other surf shops with surfboard rentals included LunaAzul.

Sayulita – Cash is King

I had read on a bunch of blogs before my trip that Sayulita was a cash economy.  It was a bit hard to believe that a town of this size still ran on cash, but it turned out that they weren’t lying.

Barely any place, regardless of the size, takes credit card in Sayulita.  You pay cash for everything.  So just keep it in mind. 

Surf Trip to Mexico in your future? Here are some of our other Mexico guides and resources:

Sayulita Surfing

Punta Mita Surfing

Surf Guide to Mexico

Cabo Surf Hotel – The Perfect Cabo Surf Trip Hotel?

Troncones Mexico Surfing

Surf Travel Insurance – Get it here.

Travel Book Reviews and Recommendations

Great Surf Trip Books

Great Surfing Books

On The Plain of Snakes – Paul Theroux

Written by Roam Chronicles

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