Why San Pancho is the new cool of the Riviera Nayarit


Why all this buzz about San Pancho now?

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.

Well, after arriving in town, our first impression was not the most flattering one.

Ok, I have spoken wonders about Sayulita on this other post. I know and I truly believe in what I wrote.

However, it was not the place I was looking for, at that time of my life.

I am not a party animal and I am quite an introvert, most of the time.

And my friend was so stressed out from work that she just wanted a quiet place to chill.

On top of that, we chose the wrong place to stay, I don’t even want to talk about it.

So after a good laugh, we decided to stay there for a couple of days and explore the great beaches, shop around, eat well and then move on to explore the new kid on the block, San Pancho.

We were really curious to see it as my friend had heard wonders. I was just following.

I know what you are thinking: ” Aren’t you the blogger who is supposed to discover new places? ”

Well, yes. In fact, I discovered a “new” place thanks to my friend-source and I am bringing it to you 🙂

San Pancho beach

San Pancho beach

About San Pancho

There are many things you will love about San Pancho. At least this is what made me fall in love with this small town.

So, after we finished browsing around the busy Sayulita we couldn’t wait to get to the peace and quiet of San Pancho.

And that’s what we found.

The small village of San Pancho (Aka San Francisco) 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.

It looks like San Pancho lives on just one main road that leads to a spectacular long stretched beach.

Other than a few restaurants at the entrance of the beach, all the rest is pure free and deserted sand where you can easily walk undisturbed by vendors.

The village is made of only 2000 thousands souls 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, 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 Pancho.

San Pancho beach Sunset

San Pancho beach Sunset

10 things to do in San Pancho

Hang out on the beach

The beach in San Pancho is one of my favorites in the area, it’s clean and it’s 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 just eat at their respective restaurants, otherwise if you wish to lay down in peace and tranquillity you can just walk a little further right or left and enjoy a soothing solitude.

Surf in San Pancho

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 at a few steps from the beach.

Play golf

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.

San Pancho beach almost Sunset

San Pancho beach almost Sunset

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. Send me a picture when you find it 🙂

Enjoy the local restaurants

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 sort of international and local cuisine. I even found a vegan one where I would have lunch every day. Here I will list a few of the Restaurants in San Pancho.


Most people go to San Pancho just 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

Bistro Organico

This cute little restaurant is located in a beautiful garden, the patio of the hotel Cielo Rojo, where we stayed for one night.  We had breakfast there and was delicious, with home made 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

Dolce Amore

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.

San Pancho beach day

San Pancho beach day on the nearby bay

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 formation on the water, famous for the Love Beach which is practically below a crater and that you can reach 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.

Give back

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 with the intention to stay for a while you might consider taking some Spanish classes either 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.

San Pancho sunset


These here below are my favorite hotel options in San Pancho.

Hotel Cielo Rojo

I have stayed at Hotel Cielo Rojo, and 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.

Check rates & availability: or Read reviews on TripAdvisor

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:

Casa San Pancho

Spectacular property, this is where I would stay when I’ll be back to San Pancho. The cozy little boutique hotel boasts a bright warm color palette and an international feel blending the Asian style with the 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 you 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.

Check rates & availability: or Read reviews on TripAdvisor





  1. Thank you so much for your great blog! I am headed to San Poncho with my 12yo son in two weeks. We’re meeting another family. During our stay, I’ll be alone in the mornings. I am a middle aged caucasian women and would love to go to town on my own. Just a little grocery shopping. Might you have an opinion on that?

    Thank you again for your lovely look into San Pancho! I look forward to any advice you may have.

    Best Regards,
    Patti M

    1. Author

      Hello Patti, thank you so much for your kind message. I am glad the post was helpful. To answer your question, you can walk around town alone with no problem at all. It’s pretty safe.
      About safety in general in Mexico, you can have a look at this post
      I am sure it will help you. Let me know should you have any further questions. Enjoy San Pancho.

      1. Hello Isabella,

        I’ve been thinking about cuisine and my impending trip to San Pancho. The restaurants you’ve written about sound lovely and I’m excited for the experience. Then there’s the voice in the forefront of my mind reminding me of all the precautions I’ve ever been told! If I were to listen there would be no fresh vegetables, only cooked items. The last thing anybody wants is to be sick!

        Thanks again!

        Patti M

        1. Author

          Hello Patti,
          thanks a lot for writing in. I am glad the post was helpful. As for the salad, there is no particular danger in eating salad in Mexico, if you go to an average restaurant. I always eat it and I never have problems. BUT, there is a BUT. Every time we travel to a different country we ingest bacterias that our body is not used to, and that can cause intestinal issues, which can be more or less serious, depending on the subject. Of course, eating not cooked items can increase this probability. I am sorry I cannot give you a proper answer here. However, if you don’t want to take the chance and you have this concern, I would not eat them. Let me know should you have any further question. Thanks again. Happy travels

  2. Hello!
    I am thinking of going to either San Pancho and/or further down the coast more in the Zipolite area, for three months this winter. Could you tell us a bit about when you were there-was it the winter high season of 2019? I have heard San Pancho is becoming more popular, and definitely looking to avoid crowds. Can you also comment on general costs? Is it possible to get by on a budget of 8-10k pesos/month (not including accommodation) there or is it the kind of place where all menus are in English and the prices are pretty high? How would you recommend finding long term accommodation if I am arriving in January?

    1. Author

      Hello Molly,
      thank you for writing in. I do believe you can live on 10K a month if you exclude rent, but it always depends on your standard of leaving. If you go out every night, 10k won’t be enough. For a frugal living, that’s fine. Zipolite is lovely too but the sea there is rougher so if you are not a surfer it’s difficult to find a place where you can actually swim around Zipolite, while in San Pancho there are lovely swimmable areas. When I was in San Pancho it was pretty quiet although it was indeed becoming popular already, and the prices were in MX indeed. As for finding a place to rent, the best thing to do is stay in an hotel for the first week and ask around, while there. Or, if you want to secure your place in advance you might want to check out in facebook groups or sites such as mercado libre. Let me know should you have any further questions.

  3. Hola…though I understand your effort to inform people about travel, we have been going to San Pancho for many years and unfortunately it is already changing in part do to blogs and articles like this. It would seem easy to understand that what you appreciated about San Pancho will change the more articles and blogs are written…just something to consider. We don’t want it to become Sayalita…

    1. Author

      Hello Rob,
      thanks a lot for your comment. I believe my post will help people like yourself who love peace and quiet to chose San Pancho versus Sayulita and people who love to party and go crazy to choose Sayulita. That is the purpose of my post. At the end of the day, though, the choice to make it another Sauylita, would be on the local business owners and their choices. People won’t be able to overcrowd a destination if there are not the infrastructures that they are looking for. That’s how I see it, at least. Enjoy San Pancho! And thanks again for reading my posts.

    1. Author

      Hello Bart,
      Thanks for writing in. Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure, so I did a little research online and found out that there is one private tennis court in San Pancho and that would be Casa Melissa. When the house is vacant, the court is available for hourly rental from 8:00A.M. to 12:00P.M. Here is the source of this information. I hope it helps. Enjoy San Pancho!

    2. Uncle Bart?! Are you planning on moving to San Pancho? We will be there at the end of January!

      – Jill

    1. Author

      Hello Kate,
      I have the feeling they have closed down because I cannot find it anymore on the map and I don’t remember the name. it was Iguana something… I didn’t include in my suggested hotel list because I wasn’t really impressed by the property, except for the location. But you can find many other nicer ones now. I need to go back and check them out again. 😉 Enjoy San Pancho.

  4. Pingback: San Pancho in the News: Articles & Blogs |

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