Trip Length: 5 days, 4 nights
Getting There: It’s three hours direct from LAX to Puerto Vallarta. Pick up your car rental and head north on the 200 MEX for 45 minutes. Stop at street stands along the way — you’ll find local Huichol art, agua frescas, coconuts and legendary tacos. Side note: 200 MEX is the only highway along this Pacific Coast stretch, so expect traffic, construction, detours, and dusty roads.
Checking In: Casa Love beachfront boutique hotel is all charm — the personable check-in made us feel right at home. Owner Nathalie Mignot invited us to sit with her and friends for a glass of homemade wine. Her emphasis on keeping this intimate bohemian oasis a conscious environment — no shoes, no plastic bags, no plastic bottles allowed — was a good challenge to take on and respect.
The Moroccan and Mexican motifs throughout the hotel lend a worldly appeal. Hammocks, surf racks, and cozy rattan furniture, accented with tassels; beautiful blankets; and surfing portraits of her kids Lola and Diego complete the bohemian beach aesthetic. This haven is the type that makes you want to completely revamp your own home interior — or ditch it all and permanently stay here.
Drink I’ll Never Forget: Right on the sand, Alas Blancas serves amazing — and huge — margaritas. (I’d never seen a glass so big, so I had to ask: 1 liter with 4 shots, to be exact.) It came with cucumber skewers sprinkled with sweet chilly Tijon power— a delicious touch. Five dollars, well spent.
Chillest Daytime Activity: Sayulita is known for surfing but SUPing is more my thing. I rented a board at Luna Azul — you can’t miss the bright blue corner shop. While you head away from the crowd, watch out for surfers — there are plenty on the lineup — and float on your board for a break. Swaying on the sea, basking in the sun, was a relaxing treat after the strenuous paddle.
Trip Highlight: There’s no better time to visit Sayulita than on the Dia de los Muertos. Ofrendas, or offerings, and the shrines of lost loved ones decorate the streets and town square. The non-secular altars are beautifully adorned, with flowers (mostly orange carnations), papel picado flags, food, saint candles, sand tapestries, sugar skulls, and personal favorites, from mezcal liquor bottles to cowboy boots. For an especially good time, join the parade at midnight, with mariachis and costumed participants, all heading to the cemetery.
Most Inspiring Element: The caliber of indigenous art is tremendous — you’ll spot artisanal goods everywhere. You’ll even catch the artists in action, painting on coconut-plastered paper on the beach, sanding down animal skulls to prepare for beadwork outside of Evoke Spirit, or weaving jewelry on the cobbled streets. Art is alive here, and the spirit to create thrives.
Vacation Hiccup: Power in the entire pueblo went out in the middle of breakfast. What happens when all the power goes out — including all the ATMs? You learn to go with the flow — we definitely did. The local merchants were super nice, and floated us a few IOUs. Though an inconvenience, we witnessed a degree of kindness that made us love the Pueblo Magico even more.
Dance All Night: If you're looking for club action, this isn't the town for you — head south to bustling Puerto Vallarta. But if you’re into live music, check out Su Casa and Bar Don Patos. We enjoyed their the open-air spaces and diverse tunes, from reggae and rock to racheras — they really played it all. Don’t be surprised if the band calls you out for a dance and the bartender pours you a tequila shot — the spirit is young in this town!
Recovery Spot, Post-Dancing: After a long night of dancing, we needed to post up and chill out. Frente al Punto Beach Club was the right place to be, with amenities galore. Hammocks — check. Shade — check. Hair-of-the-dog cocktails — check. Clay massage — check. Speakers available for your own personal tunes — check. Beach access, beautiful bathrooms, and showers — check. What else could we ask for?
Caffeine Break: Right in the center of town, where the traditional, vibrant flags fly and the atmosphere is buzzing, you’ll find Yah Yah Cafe. Not sure what was better — the fact that we were barefoot, in a bikini, sipping on a drink — or the delicious Mexican spiced mocha.
Oddest beach in town: The Playa de los Muertos (translates to “beach of the dead”) is beautiful but bizarre — you walk past a cemetery to get to the sand. It’s actually not spooky and quite the contrary — the cultural celebration for Day of the Dead was well underway. Alongside the graves, families were drinking, eating, sweeping, decorating, and singing; far off, at the beach, kids played tag. When laying out, facing the ocean, all seems ordinary — tranquil waves perfect for snorkeling or floating.
Spend It: Come prepared to shop — this town is bursting with artisan items you'll want to take back.
Pachamama is a destination of its own. The concept shop is easily confused with an art studio — dream catchers line the outside, white embroidered dresses on display look like artwork, and the winged walls are perfect for photos ops. The bohemian flair of this “no shoes” space really captures the essence of Sayulita.
Plaza Agora between Delfines and Marlin streets is a hub of specialty boutiques. Inside you’ll find Evoke the Spirit, a Huichol craft shop curated with a modern eye.The creations are done in-store, and I was lucky to watch them weave and place beadwork patterns on a skull using wax.
Loveliest Dinner: Beat the crowd at La Rustica — the dimly lit concrete restaurant serves insanely delicious pizza and pasta in a trendy atmosphere.
O restaurant was another great choice — at ocean’s edge, under manzanilla trees, this quaint spot takes the win for the best ambiance in town. The ocean-to-table menu had a fair share of Mexican delicacies and fresh fish. We got there before sunset and found prime seating for pelican watching — as silly as this sounds, it was unexpectedly entertaining, watching the birds dive and dine.
A Quiet Escape: One of our favorite sunsets was in San Pancho, a sleepy surf town 15 minutes away. It’s the perfect Sayulita scene escape and a great way to connect with locals. We walked up to a beachside shack for delicious ceviche, shared a few chats, and joined an acoustic jam sunset session. It was such an enjoyable way to see the beach without the vendor fuss.