Sayulita is renowned as a surfing town, although it is surrounded by amazing beaches where you can also relax, practice any other sport, do some yoga or watch the surfer riding those spectacular waves.
Although surf in Sayulita is “the thing”, as the town is renowned as one of the top surfing spots in Mexico, it is indeed a perfect destination even for those who just love basking on the beach and soaking up the sun or enjoy other activities, such as biking, hiking, or just chill. And in fact, there are so many beaches around Sayulita to explore and enjoy also for non-surfers.
💡 Insider tip – the best way to explore those beautiful remote beaches that I am talking about in this post, is by renting a car and drive on your own. Read about renting a car in Mexico and driving in Mexico, a useful guide. Or check out the car rental rates
This post focuses on the Sayulita beaches, but you can learn more about the other things to do in Sayulita and if you are looking for a place to stay, these posts on the best hotels in Sayulita and Sayulita Airbnb will definitely help you find out your perfect home.
The most beautiful beaches in Sayulita
Sayulita Beach (Playa Sayulita)
As I mentioned before, Playa Sayulita is definitely not my favorite beach—it’s too crowded, and the water is dirty, but it’s great for surfing. Therefore, if your goal is to catch some waves or learn how to do it, that’s your place. Lots of surf schools there on the beach as well. It’s obviously close to restaurants, bars, and shops, right in the towns’ hearts, where everything happens.
It is probably so-called because right at its back, there is a cemetery, a colorful one that is quite interesting to look at. It’s right on top of the hill overlooking the small secluded bay. There are no restaurants or bars in Playa de Muertos, but a great street stall where you can buy beverages and delicious fish and seafood on a stick, cooked right in front of you, typical of the area. The beach is tiny and most often busy but very pleasant.
In my opinion, it’s one of the best beaches in Sayulita. If you are lucky, it may happen that you will find nobody else on this amazing tucked away beach, nestling in the lush and green tropical vegetation on the other side of the hill opposite of Playa de los Muertos. It’s not very well marked.
How to get to Playa Carricitos?
From Playa de los Muertos, you will have to take the uphill road through the cemetery and continue to walk until you come across a path with signs. Here, you will make a right and continue to walk uphill. You will eventually find a house and a turn to the left. There you will see a sign taking you to the most amazing beach that I have seen in ages.
Surrounded by palm trees, coconuts, and other spices of tropical foliage, as well as mountains on three sides, you can glimpse the infinity pool of a gorgeous swanky villa on top of the left cliff with, I imagine, breathtaking views of the ocean. The sea is quite rugged here, and currents can be unforgivable, so I didn’t take my chance and desisted from jumping in the water but enjoyed instead staring at the rhythmic pull of the tide echoing a silent refrain in my mind “how grateful I am”… for being in such a magical place in total freedom of mind.
Playa la Lancha
This is where the Sayulita surf crowd hangs out most of the time, definitely when the swell is right.
La Lancha is, in fact, a beautiful wide beach suitable for surf lovers and surf watchers (or surfer watcher) like me; the surrounding vegetation gives you some shade also if you don’t want to stay in the sun, and, despite the swell, sea access is easy and shallow. You can also walk all the way to the south and enjoy a soothing stroll on the shore. It’s totally safe, and the views are stunning.
This is also the place where beginner surfers try out their skills, so if you think you want to try this amazing sport this is the place.
FOOD TIP: Right beside the shop there is an extraordinary restaurant if you love fish and seafood, that’s the place where you want to eat. The specialty is ceviche of all different kinds and flavors. The fish is fresh, and the service is 5 stars.
About 10 km ( 7 miles) from La Lancha, direction La Cruz de Huanacaxte, you will find another beautiful beach, this time with no surfers and easy access to the blue ocean. There is a restaurant near your convenience, but the beach is totally free and clean.
San Pancho Beach
The tiny town of 1200 inhabitants is becoming the new cool, probably overtaking Sayulita in its competition with the trendy Tulum. San Pancho is tranquil, laid back, and super safe. Everybody watches over each other, and you feel like somebody has always got your back.
If you live there, it’s kind of awkward to know that everybody knows exactly all your movements. If you stay in the busier Sayulita, you must pay a visit to this town and check out the gorgeous beach. Probably is not very much loved by surfers as waves break too close, and it takes away the fun, or so I understand. However, it is a paradise for swimmers and sunset watchers. The beach is huge, and although it’s quite busy in the middle, there are quieter spots on both sides, far from the noisy crowds. You can rent a beach chair and umbrella, or you can just lay in the sun or bring your own equipment.
Quimixto, Yelapa, Las Animas
These beaches are located south of Puerto Vallarta, and they are reachable only by water taxi.
How to get to Quimixto, Yelapa or Las Animas from Sayulita
If you want to go to any of those beaches from Sayulita or San Pancho and don’t have a car, you will need to take the bus to Puerto Vallarta. Once you are in the Bus terminal, get an Uber or a bus to the “Centro” in Puerto Vallarta and go to Calle Badillo with Calle Constitution. Over there you will find white and orange buses to Boca de Tomatlan. It’s about 30 minutes. In Boca de Tomatlan, you will walk down to the pier and ask for Quimixto, Yelapa, or Las Animas.
In Quimixto there is only one hotel which is actually a yoga retreat, called Xinalani Retreat. From the boat, you see cute little private cabins nestled on the mountain slope overlooking the ocean. It must be soothing for your soul to stay there.
For further reading:
A worldly famous spot for a vulcanic conformation that leaves a hidden beach underneath a crater. They are only accessible through a watery tunnel. It’s a dreamy place from a natural point of view.
Because of the fast deterioration of the natural environment, due to uncontrolled hordes of tourists, authorities had kept it close for a while and then reopened for a limited number of visitors. Sadly enough, it’s a bit of an elite selection because, to control the access, they raised the prices to 2600 pesos versus the 400 in the past. Therefore who can afford it can see it. SAD. To get to Marieta Islands from Sayulita, you need to go with organized tours with authorized companies.
Las Cuevas and Mal Pasos
Those beaches are quite secrets spots north of Sayulita, heaven for solitude seekers. Massive rocks erased by the ocean form las Cuevas– a passageway can only reach Mal Pasos through the rocks. Although these beaches are accessible by land, it’s much easier to look for a local water taxi. Be careful of the strong rip tides here, but it’s all worth it.
Sayulita surf spots
Sayulita surf spots are among the most popular in Mexico. Here I am listing a few of them. If you don’t want to bring your surfboard, consider plenty of surfboard rental in Sayulita. So you don’t have to worry about it.
Also if you are a newbie and you would love to try surfing, Sayulita has also some of the best beaches for beginners, like La Lancha beach for example.
There are many surf school for classes for any levels.
You can reach this beach by a quick boat ride from San Pancho or Sayulita; however, if you like to walk in the woods, you can get there through the jungle. Make sure you ask very well for directions. It’s a very secluded beach really worth checking out. Surfer will enjoy big swells here. Remember to bring water and food as there are no facilities there.
Located right in front of the Hotel Cinco in Punta Mita, Anclote is the perfect surf spot for beginners and longboard lovers. Keep an eye on the rocky bottom and the reef, though! You can get boat rides to El Faro beach, The Cove beach, and the Marieta Islands from this beach.
Located directly in front of the hotel La Quinta del Sol and to the left of a jetty used by fishing boats (from which the name), to the south of Anclote (in Punta Mita), Stinky’s break is slow and steady, perfect for beginners and longboarders. However, be careful because, just like the Anclote, the bottom is rocky, and you can get hurt.
El Faro (The Lighthouse)
This is not a good place for beginners, but if you are experienced whether on long or shortboard you can definitely enjoy this place.
Check out this informative surf break map for more information.
For further reading