Surfboards, kayaks and other water equipment can be rented on the beach (between Margarita’s & Ruperto’s restaurants), along with surf lessons.
Link to Surf Map
There is usually always surf at the beach in front of town and when there is a good swell you’ll get a nice left break in front of La Terrazola Restaurant, just three minutes walk from the house.
You can walk to other beaches, unseen from ours. Playa de los Muertos (Beach of the Dead) is usually gentler water. Walk past the hotel Villa Amor, then take the pathway (cutting off the point) past the cemetery, and you arrive in a couple of minutes. In the other direction, a path from the end of our road (Calle Palmar) leads through the woods to fairly deserted beaches to the north, and ultimately all the way to San Pancho.
Most visitors never leave town during their stay in Sayulita, as it is paradise with plenty of things to do right in town, including surfing, swimming, horseback riding (on beach or through jungle), hiking, fishing and just relaxing. However, some find the time to take day trips, and three of my favorites are below.
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This requires only leaving in a boat, the 18 foot pangas used by the local fishermen. If anyone in the group likes to fish, talk to Nacho at the El Costeño restaurant on the beach, as he has fished here his whole life, and will take up to six others out on his panga, for 1400 pesos (about US$125) total regardless of number of people, usually leaving at 7am, returning by 11am, to fish for dorado, which is mahi-mahi. He rarely fails, and afterwards he will fillet the fish for you, so you can BBQ (or get a cook to do so) that evening either at home, or they will do it for you at the restaurant. You can count the number of English words Nacho knows on your fingers, but that never stops anyone from having a great time. He has the rods and everything, so no need to bring anything but sunscreen, hat and a small water bottle. You generally leave from the beach down past Don Pedro’s, but make sure you agree in advance on time and place, and have one of the English speaking waiters help translate when arranging if necessary.
Anyone with even the slightest interest in snorkeling should spend a morning at the Islas Marietas, where decades ago Jacques Cousteau filmed one of his diving specials. This set of islands is uninhabited by people, but has thousands of birds, including the blue footed booby found only in these parts and in the Galapagos, and the surrounding coral is teeming with colorful fish. Leave Sayulita by 9am either in auto or get Lalo, Agustín or another of the dependable Sayulita taxistas to take you the roughly 20 minute drive to Punta de Mita. You can arrange a taxi the day before at the house (2 blocks from our complexes) with TAXI written on the side, or Janet can help arrange if you need that. You can take the highway back toward PV, and after about 6 miles you see the right hand exit for Punta de Mita, just where the highway turns from 2 to 4 lanes, then continue on that road until you enter the town of Punta de Mita, a trip totalling about half an hour from Sayulita. Or take the direct shortcut road (double dotted in the map below), if conditions are good, a touch shorter. In 2005 they have been working on improving (actually paving) much of the shortcut road, so by the next year it may be the best route all year round. Punta de Mita is small, with only one beach area, so it would be hard to get lost.
At the beach ask for Oscar (pronounced O-skar) if he doesn’t find you first, and he will provide snorkels, masks, fins and the boat with pilot (up to 9 of you in one boat, and he has a couple more boats if needed) for the price of 200 pesos (about US$18) per person. If you are running short on pesos, Oscar is always happy to take a twenty dollar bill instead of 200 pesos, as then he makes a bit extra! Before you leave the beach, ask Pedro, a wonderful waiter in one of the couple of beachfront restaurants, to prepare an ice container with one drink (soda or water recommended, beer if you really want it) per person, as it will be delicious on your way back. The drinks are about a buck a piece, and you can pay Pedro when you return to shore. Your boat is an 18 foot wooden panga with outboard, the only boats in small fishing villages, and most likely Alejandro (Alex) or Toby will be the driver, who will stay with you the entire time. Most of the boat has a cloth overhead cover for shade, but those wanting sun can sit uncovered in the very front. After the 10 – 15 minute boat ride out to the islands, Alex will anchor the boat in the best spots, so anyone who tires or does not want to snorkel can still come along and stay on the boat. An hour and a half of snorkeling generally sates everyone, then Alex or Toby will take you on a quick spin around the islands as you return. If you leave Sayulita by 9am or so, you are at the islands by 10am and back just about noon. The trip to and from the islands can also be great, as at different times we have seen sea turtles, dolphins, whales and even a school of manta rays, each one 6 to 10 feet across gliding just under the surface. Even if not so lucky, there will be beautiful birds flying past. So feel free to bring along those who do not want to snorkel, as they will enjoy the boat.
Anyone who feels like it should put a life vest (they are in the boat) under the belly while snorkeling, as this is common and makes you float easily. Advise beginners that they really need to snorkel right near the edges of the island, right over the coral rather than 50 feet out where it is deep, as fish stay in the coral. Sometimes they are afraid to get to close to the “cliffs” but they really need to be there. Be sure people have sun screen on their backs, as it is easy to forget about that when your tummy & face are in the water. Also, please do not take anything back with you, and try not to touch the coral as it is delicate. There also are spots with sea urchins clinging to the coral, and these guys can sting if you touch them.
All you need to take is a towel if you wish, though feel free to take a backpack or other carryall, and a camera would be nice. Bring cash, as credit cards are not used in Punta de Mita. It is customary to tip the boat driver 100 – 200 pesos, the high end if he provided special help or service.