Sayulita & San Pancho: Surf, Tradition and Community
To the north of Banderas Bay, there are a couple of micro-destinations that stand out for their bohemian atmosphere: Sayulita and San Pancho, two picturesque villages whose charm lies in their streets, friendly people, watersports, sense of belonging and diverse cultural activities, which make them unique and striking to visit.
Whereas Sayulita is recognized worldwide as a surfing mecca, due to its excellent natural conditions, and the main square is its heart and soul, San Pancho invites rest and relaxation, its attractive main street perfectly illustrating its traditions and lifestyle, without sacrificing today’s benefits.
Although these two small towns are ideal to visit individually, if your schedule is tight, you can start early in Sayulita, where an enthusiastic community of surfers will delight you with their skill on the waves. And if you want to get involved in this sport, a large number of shops offer all the equipment and instruction necessary. Beforehand, you can have breakfast at one of the many restaurants around the main square and then tour the surrounding streets to get a general idea of the prevailing customs in this small town.
In San Pancho, it is most common to visit Av. Tercer Mundo and/or its surroundings, where most of the activity takes place. In this small town it is easy to appreciate the community’s sense of belonging, as well as its culture and activism, through the festivals and exhibitions held continually. You will also discover environmental conservation groups dedicated to birds, sea turtles, jaguars and other species, which offer both visitors and residents the opportunity to get involved in volunteer activities.
Whereas Sayulita’s main beach has all the amenities for an excellent day of activities, with palapa restaurants and establishments that offer full-course meals at a fixed price, as well as a couple of gourmet options, San Pancho’s beach is so wide and peaceful that it is available for you to enjoy practically in its entirety. Although it is more suitable for watersports than for swimming, it has several restaurants with public facilities.
Sayulita’s Los Muertos Beach deserves special mention, its natural setting offering a small paradise nestled between two rocky hills. To reach it, you need to walk toward the local cemetery, which extends along a hillside, with several tropical trees growing among the tombs, which are beautifully decorated in the typical fashion. You may want to take a moment and respectfully explore the cemetery in detail. Once across it, you will find the area’s most beautiful beach.
San Pancho’s culinary offering matches the ambiance of this Riviera Nayarit micro-destination. Here, there are many basic restaurants, plus several others that offer sophisticated or organic menus. Similarly, in Sayulita the alternatives range from establishments with typical dishes, to restaurants with vegetarian menus that are more in line with the trends and healthy lifestyle professed by most of its residents.
Located just two blocks from the beach, Sayulita’s main square is a gathering point to explore the surrounding streets that lead you to shops offering Mexican crafts, as well as boutiques featuring local brands, with items including bracelets, earrings and accessories whose designs often incorporate natural elements. Here, you will also find contemporary studios and galleries with works by internationally renowned artists.
San Pancho offers an interesting selection of shops that sell handicrafts from all over Mexico. And local artists have opened galleries where jewelry designers exhibit their creations and painters sell their original pieces. On the other hand, some Huichols have established themselves on the malecón, offering their delicate and meticulous works of art.
Although Sayulita and San Pancho’s nightlife is quiet, there is never a shortage of activities in these two micro-destinations. Before night falls, you can take a walk along their beaches and then enjoy a good dinner in some restaurant. And listening to live music performed by local bands in a bar or viewing a photo exhibit is a must in these small towns.
To consider: San Pancho is home to a polo field where training, practices and seasonal matches that attract national and international athletes are held. This club provides an excellent social and recreational opportunity for both residents and visitors.
The special beauty of Sayulita and San Pancho, as well as their natural attractions and cultural scene, draws ever more visitors. We recommend you take the time necessary to visit them and discover their seductive essence.