Are you wondering why San Pancho – Mexico is becoming more popular among expatriates and long-term travelers? I will tell you all about my trip to San Pancho and how to make the most of your stay in this cool Mexican destination.
Update: traveling to San Pancho, Mexico in 2020 after COVID
- The local community is encouraging social distancing and the use of masks; please be respectful.
- Restaurants are open but also encourage take away until the situation improves.
- Some restaurants and services have been closed for a while and are slowly reopening.
I was traveling to the Riviera Nayarit with a friend who joined me for a brief leg of my journey through Latin America and our first stop would have been Sayulita.
We couldn’t wait to get to what we knew to be the coolest place to be on the Riviera Nayarit.
We had heard before about it and we were really curious to see it and the feedback is, if you are traveling to the west coast of Mexico, San Pancho is a must see!
About San Pancho Nayarit
San Francisco is the real name of San Pancho, Mexico on the map. We loved Playa San Pancho more than anything because it’s clean, with few people during the day, but everybody gathers there at the end of the day to watch the sunset.
The small quiet village of San Francisco, Mexico, sits on a tranquil bay at just 5 minutes drive from Sayulita. Therefore if you are missing the party life you can still make a quick trip there.
The town is basically one main road lined with restaurants and small hotels that leads to Playa San Pancho.
Besides a few restaurants at the beach entrance, all the rest is purely free and deserted sand where you can easily walk undisturbed by vendors.
Where is San Pancho Mexico?
When I visited the town of San Pancho, Mexico there were only 2000 thousand people living there, watching over each other, which means that crime is close to zero, cause they would easily catch the fool.
We slept one night in a treehouse close to the beach with no doors and no security. I couldn’t believe that was happening in Mexico.
But life in San Pancho, Mexico, although very tranquil, doesn’t end on the beach, although my pictures only speak about that. (So sorry, I lost the other batch of pictures)
Here below I will tell you what are my favorite things to do in San Francisco, Mexico.
San Pancho, Mexico safety
San Pancho is a very quiet town, small and not really a favorable territory for major crimes. It’s a small family-oriented community of about 2000 citizens who know each other and look after one another. And when there is something or somebody suspicious they reported to the police immediately, which you could do as well (Call 911). However, as anywhere in the world, episodes of petty theft can occur, so make sure you protect your belonging and use common sense rules. When I was there I slept on a treehouse by the beach which was all open and no security guards. I am not sure if it’s still the same as it was 2 years ago, but I definitely consider it one of the safest places in Mexico.
11 must-do in San Francisco, Nayarit
Hang out on the beach
Playa San Pancho is one of my favorites in the area, it’s clean, safe, and you don’t have vendors asking for you to buy their products every second.
If you wish to use one of the beach chairs available, you can either pay or eat at their respective restaurants. Otherwise, if you wish to lay down in peace and tranquillity, you can walk a little further right or left and enjoy a soothing solitude.
Surf in San Pancho, Mexico
Surfing in San Pancho is great for intermediate or pro surfers with a shortboard. If you are learning, you would be better off on other beaches (more about that soon). You can rent a surfboard in town on the main road just a few steps from the beach.
Las Huertas Golf Course is a 9 hole par 32 course, located right on the hills above San Pancho, with stunning views over the bay. I haven’t been there personally because I am not a golfer, but I have thrown it here for the sake of information. 🙂 I heard their restaurant is great too, in case you wish to enjoy lunch there.
Hike to the deserted beach Playa Clavelinas
If you walk past the golf course on Las Palmas road, which will become Las Clavelinas road, you will pass by different hotels, and you will eventually get to playa Clavelinas, a spectacular deserted bay. Great for sunset as well. Further down the road, there is also a beach called El Barro, but I never ventured there. I was told the road is quite hidden and difficult to find. If you feel adventurous, you can go and find it out. Please send me a picture when you find it 🙂
Enjoy the delicious restaurants in San Pancho
It seems so unreal that such a small village with 2000 souls could boast such a variety of restaurants. But that’s for real. You can find every international and local cuisine. I even found a vegan one where I would have lunch every day.
San Pancho restaurants
Most people go to San Pancho to eat there. And I understand. I loved this restaurant both for the presentation of the dishes and the taste. They also have vegetarian options.
Read reviews on TripAdvisor
This cute little restaurant is located in a beautiful garden, the Hotel Cielo Rojo’s patio, where we stayed for one night. We had breakfast there and was delicious, with homemade marmalade and freshly made juices. They offer a rich menu with vegan and vegetarian options for lunch as well.
Read reviews on TripAdvisor
Maria’s is another popular one, and sometimes at night, they have live music to entertain their guests.
Read reviews on TripAdvisor
If you are longing for some Italian taste in Mexico, this is your place indeed. I haven’t tried it, but it has excellent reviews, and it looked quite cozy, often busy.
Read reviews on TripAdvisor
La Voz de mi Tierra
This was my top favorite not only because it was completely vegan, with delicious desserts included, but also for the great vibes and lovely people that run it. They have a great variety of salads and sandwiches. Breakfast bowls are great too. It’s located on the main road just before reaching the park on the way to the beach.
Watch the sunset
The sunsets right in front of the beach of San Pancho bay and brings together families and friends that swarm to the beach every day at the same time to admire the colorful show, while surfers try to catch the last waves of the day before it gets dark. A great way to end your day.
Take a tour to Islas Marietas
One of the most spectacular natural rock formations on the water, Isla Marietas, is famous for the Love Beach, which is practically below a crater and you can reach it only by swimming. But it’s not all. The underwater world is just spectacular and still offering great views of the local marine fauna and corals.
The tour is around 140USD but definitely worth it, and this is something that you cannot visit on your own, being a natural park and protected area. On the main road of San Pancho, you will find travel agents to buy the tour.
The strong sense of community of San Pancho resulted in the cultural center Entre Amigos where volunteers local and foreigners alike work together with kids to keep them occupied in the after-school time with extracurricular activities. You are definitely welcome to join and help, and you can also use their library and free WIFI. It’s a creative and happy space to hang out.
Take a Spanish class
If you are traveling to San Pancho intending to stay for a while, you might consider taking some Spanish classes to get the hang of it or improve your communication. If you are going to travel through South America, it will certainly help. At Entre Amigos they now offer this service at a small cost.
Join yoga classes
Yoga retreats are quite common in the area, and if you are interested in joining one, you can check out this amazing site that lists all the most amazing yoga retreats in the world. Otherwise, if you just wish to join random classes, you can check out this studio for great yoga and pilates time.
The best San Pancho hotels
These here below are my favorite hotel options in San Pancho.
Hotel Cielo Rojo
I have stayed at the Hotel Cielo Rojo. Although it’s a small property, I found it quite cozy, very stylish, and super clean, with organic amenities and a great restaurant for a healthy breakfast and lunch.
Hotel Piedra Luna
If you are looking for a comfortable aparthotel where you can cook your own meal and live like a local, this is the perfect choice for you—spacious spaces and lovely furniture in modern Mexican style and fine touches.
Check rates & availability: Booking.com
Casa San Pancho
Spectacular property, this is where I would stay when I am back to San Pancho. The cozy little boutique hotel boasts a bright warm color palette and an international feel blending the Asian style with Mexican fine art and architecture. It’s a pleasure to the eyes and comfort for the soul. The peace and tranquillity of the surrounding area with trees and birds will make your company while relaxing by the pool or on the terrace. The kindness of the staff and owner found a lot of praise in the online reviews.
Find the best Airbnb in San Pancho
FOR FURTHER READING
- The 14 most beautiful Airbnb in Puerto Vallarta
- San Pancho – Mexico essential travel guide
- The Top 8 Restaurants in Sayulita
- Where to stay in Sayulita
- The top 5 Airbnb in Sayulita
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MY TRAVEL RESOURCES
- Book your transfers between destinations on the trusted booking platform Bookaway
- Store your bags in the main cities and walk around freely hands and weight free with Bounce
- Check if you need a visa and get help processing it with iVisa
- Never ever leave without travel insurance. Get complete coverage from World Nomads or long term insurance from Safety Wing
- I find all of my flights on Skyscanner, Kiwi.com, Google flights, Scott’s Cheap Flights, and always remember to compare
- Book your daily tours locally to support local businesses, or if you don’t find any reliable company, or you prefer to book in advance, check out GetYourGuide. Their tours are refundable up to 24h in advance
- I rent my long and mid-term apartments on Airbnb.
- Book hotels with Booking.com
- Compare car rental prices at Auto Europe, Discover Car Rentals
- Check out my travel planning guide if you are planning your trip and feeling overwhelmed