Budget Beaches of Sayulita, Mexico By Sheila Mary Koch
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Two taco stands are open at night, one in the main plaza and the other near the bridge. On the plaza, you can find sandwiches (tortas), BBQ chicken and ice cream.
Restaurants on the plaza include: Calypso, Choco Banana, Seafood Tiger and Cafe Laura. A block toward the beach, on M. Navarrete is Alas Blancas and Breakers.
For seaside dining in order of increasing expense, there’s El Costeño, Barbaros and Don Pedros. Seafood pizza cooked in a clay oven is available Thursday through Saturday at Pizza Ron on the river. On the other side of the sports field on Calle Miramar, you’ll find Cocina Economica next to Cafecito.
Of several grocery stores throughout the pueblo, Mi Tiendita on the square is the largest and best priced. If you’re buying food for the week, go to Vallarta for better variety and prices.
On Avenue Revolucion, there are special stores that just sell tortillas, chicken and meat. For fresh fish, go to the beach in the morning and wait for the fishermen to return.
Sayulita is not a big party town, only a couple establishments stay open past midnight.
- The latest is Calypso, a bar/restaurant overlooking the town square that caters to tourists. Here you can listen to jazz and reggae music while watching surfing videos.
- Don Pedros, also a restaurant/bar, has live reggae music and dancing during tourist season. Check here regarding salsa dance lessons and yoga classes.
- On Saturdays, there is dance or “baile” in the basketball court. Sometimes they play disco and other times local banda groups play. It’s very popular with locals.
- Cafecito features acoustic music Thurs.-Sat. in a classy garden atmosphere.
- The pool hall upstairs kitty-corner from Calypso is a hangout for Mexican men. In recent years, patrons have become tolerant of female tourists using the hall. Unfortunately, it closes around 9 pm.
- Fiesta del Pueblo is always Feb. 24 with festivities throughout that week. Vendors and carnival rides and games fill the streets. Cars and buses have to find an alternate route. A rodeo and multi-band concert are the highlights.
- Semana Santa (Holy week) translates to Spring Break for city dwellers from Guadalajara who flock to Sayulita. There are no cultural traditions happening in the streets like in some Latin American towns. Discos and parties happen every night.
- Dia de al Marina is Mexico’s equivalent of Memorial Day. In Sayulita, instead of honoring dead soldiers, the people honor fishermen who never returned. Boats are filled with ice and beer, a huge meal is cooked and people celebrate all day. At night, everyone goes out on boats and forms a ring to pray and throw flowers in the sea. When they return, the festivities continue.
- Mexican Independence on Sept. 16. For two days, the village celebrates with traditional dances, dramatic re-enactments of Mexico’s history including pre-Colombian rituals, bands, food and dancing in the town square. There is a special dance of the village elders and a greased pole with prizes on top that the men attempt to climb for hours. The successful pole climber throws the gifts out to the crowd. Festivities culminate with the Gritar de Independecia where everyone shouts “Viva Mexico” at the top of their lungs.
Tourism makes the area inexpensive to fly to and accessible by bus from the US. Sayulita is less than an hour north of Puerto Vallarta by bus or car. Follow Highway 200 north from the airport, cross into the state of Nayarit. The road passes Mezcales, Bucerias, San Quitin, and finally San Ignacio before reaching the 3 km turnoff to Sayulita.
- By Air
America West, Mexicana, Alaska, Canada 3000, AeroMexico fly into Diáz Ordaz Intl. Airport of Puerto Vallarta. Suntrips and SunQuest offer packages to Puerto Vallarta you can purchase airfare only.
- By Bus
From the US Border, it is 28+ hours by Transportes Norte de Sonora or Pacifico to the Tepic Terminal. Here you can take Pacifico to Sayulita. Pacifico won’t let you off at the highway crossing after dark if you are female.
Pacifico also offers local bus service between the village square and Puerto Vallarta from 6 am to 8 pm. Choco Banana posts the current schedule.
- Car rental is available at the airport from all major companies. Daily rates without insurance start at about $25 for a compact. If you carry Mastercard or Visa, you probably already carry insurance that covers car rental in Mexico.
- Taxis from the airport start at $30. Collectivo taxis run regularly from Sayulita to San Pancho and La Peñita.
The weather in Sayulita is generally a bit milder than in Puerto Vallarta. November through February is the coolest, driest period with temperatures around 75-80 degrees F. Nights are usually cool enough to need a sweater and jeans. It gets hotter and more humid in April and May. The rain/storm season is June-October. During this time, the waves get very big and the beaches nearly disappear. Advanced surfers love it.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Come prepared for mosquitoes. There aren’t tons, but they seem to like tourists. If you need medicine or advice, visit the pharmacy, which is run by a doctor. There is a hospital in neighboring San Francisco for emergencies.
The closest ATM is in Bucerias. For a bank–including changing foreign currency–you need to go to Mezcales, Puerto Vallarta or La Penita. The liquor store and Paleteria will change your money for slightly higher rates.
- Public telephones are located in the Paleteria. Rates to the US are almost $2 a minute.
- A cybercafe is located in the front of the plaza facing the church. Hourly rates are about $4 and hour.
VISAS AND OTHER OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS
US citizens can use a birth certificate and drivers license or passport to enter Mexico. For visa costs and length of stay, consult the Mexican Embassy or consulate.
Website: Guide to Sayulita
Read more GoNOMAD stories about Mexico
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