The main beach of Sayulita is rarely crowded except on major holidays like Christmas and during Easter week. The constant activity of fishing boats, surfers and bird life make it a pleasant place to spend time. At very low tide, below the house on the point on the left side of the bay, there is a small pool where tropical fish are trapped and visible for easy observation by both kids and adults.
There are other beaches, some remote, worth discovering. The nearest is La Playa de Los Muertos (beach of the dead), so named because it’s reached by walking through the village cemetery (which is worth a bit of a look). To get there follow the beach south of the village until the road ends. Take the trail/road to the left that goes over the hill and through the cemetery to the beach beyond. This beach has good snorkeling on calm days and a great place for kids to swim if the surf is up on the main beach.
Surfboards, fins, snorkels, boogie boards, bikes, etc., can be rented in the village near El Costeño on the beach and at a number of other places in town. Body and board surfing are excellent if the waves are up. Diving is possible if the waves have been small for a few days, but the water on the west coast is not nearly as clear as that found in the gulf. If diving is your thing, see if you can get a fisherman to take you out to one of the islands where you should get some clear water.
If you want to go fishing, talk to the waiters at El Costeño or the caretaker on the property. There are many salt-water species, including Dorado, Bonita, Sierra, Roosterfish, Jack Chervelle and Red Snapper. It is possible to catch some fish from the beach, but open ocean fishing is generally more productive and fun. Fishermen will supply the rods or you can bring your own, including a fly rod, which can be a very exciting way to ocean fish. Lures run the gamut from large spoons, plugs and salt-water flies. You will be in an open boat for some hours and we highly recommend sunscreen, hats and possibly lightweight long sleeve shirts. Bring something to drink and plan on spending 4 hours sightseeing the coastline and bringing home the dinner!
There is a golf course near Bucerias (half way to the airport) called the Flamingo Country Club. Clubs are available if you need them. It’s a difficult course, some say, and you’ll want to start early as it can get very hot in the afternoon. Drinks are available from a traveling cart and they serve good food at the clubhouse. The clubhouse also has a television with a satellite feed.
The best places to jog are the beach in front of the house (.8 miles long) and the road to the highway, which is about one mile.
The Tijereta (little scissors) or Magnificent Frigate Bird is a tropical seabird that soars above the beach of Sayulita. The bird is black and white and reaches 35 inches in length and 90 inches from wing tip to wing tip. The female has a white chest, and the immature bird has a white head and white underbelly. This bird is found in great numbers along the shores of Sayulita, and since all our houses are near the beach, you get an excellent view of them. They are called Tijereta because of the scissor action of their tails. Their wingspan is greater in proportion to their body weight than any other bird. They are efficient gliders that can soar at great heights without moving their wings. With their long strongly hooked bill, they rob gulls and terns of food in flight as well as taking small fish and marine refuse from the water surface without landing. If you see one on the beach that is being threatened by a dog or other predator, give it a lift into the air as it cannot do it alone due to it’s size and wing span. They live in colonies on cliffs that allow them to take off and land. Their habitat is California to northern Peru, the Galapagos Islands, the southeast United States, the West Indies to Brazil and they are also seen off the coast of West Africa. They eat fish, jellyfish, squid, crustaceans, and fish guts off the beaches of Sayulita.
Pelicans are also abundant. The pelican is readily recognizable by its long neck, long flat bill and great throat pouch that is flat when empty. Males and females look identical. Their main food is fish and crustaceans. Both white and brown pelican are found in Sayulita, but the brown predominates and is native to both coasts of the southern United States, the West Indies, mid-America to northern and western South America as well as the entire length of the Pacific Coast including the Gulf of California. They breed locally on offshore islands and along the entire length of the east coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Their dramatic headlong dives into the sea from considerable heights make for great bird watching.
You will also see the turkey vulture, a common carrion that scavenges in the fields and along roadsides and beaches. They soar in wide circles, holding their wings in a broad “V” and tilting quickly from side to side. Their habitat is open country from sea level to high mountain wilderness areas.
There are several varieties of gulls seen around Sayulita, including the “Laridae”. Sturdy robust birds with webbed feet, long pointed wings, a stout hooded bill and generally a squaretail, they are primarily scavengers that rarely dive from the air, but alight on the water to seize food. The sexes look alike.
Large fig trees, also known as Lover Trees as they “love” palms to death as they grow, are occupied by a variety of bird species. The loudest and largest is the black and white magpie jay with a long pointed crest and long sweeping tail. The magpies share the tree with a variety of macaws, parrots and other species. Humming birds come to feed on the hibiscus in the front yard. There may be a bird book in the house if you are interested in learning more about the birds in the area.
There are quite a few shops for souvenir buying in the village and more are opening all the time. Vendors are also on the beach and peddlers’ open stalls around the plaza on the weekend. Tia Adrianna, who runs the bed and breakfast in the center of town has the Huichol (wee-chól) Indians in on Friday or Saturday mornings selling their indigenous art. The items you buy help the Huichol Indian nation get better medical facilities and support their schools. This is another must do! (FYI, they accept Visa)
Puerto Vallarta is a large city of +400,000 with all the shopping you can imagine, from fancy to simple. There are a number of large stores for all types of shopping between the airport and down town. One, called Commercial, is on the right, a few blocks from the airport, with a huge dome above the central section with a pelican. The other is called Gigante and is on the left, closer to town. There is also a Sam’s Club and a Wal-Mart store next to it.
Another town to visit if you are looking for new and different sights called La Peñita, located north of Sayulita about 25 minutes by car. They have a variety of small shops and the general activity is worth a day-trip for those who are feeling a bit restless.
Sayulita’s sidewalks roll up early most evenings but there is usually some action at Don Pedro’s, Calypso or around the plaza. There is always Puerto Vallarta for more sophisticated entertainment, but generally, it’s not a good idea to travel there or back to the village after dark (travel behind a larger vehicle if you do go at night). Car breakdowns, animals on the road and “crazy” drivers who pass on corners make night driving somewhat dangerous. The little crosses along the highway indicate people who have died while traveling on the road. Day trips are great, and if you are set on seeing the sights of Puerto Vallarta after dark, I suggest you either spend the night there (you can dance all night at one of the discos), or drive home very carefully. Don’t stop for strangers or damsels in distress. Discos usually close about 6 am.
Sayulita’s Catholic church is located at the back of the village plaza. Mass is at various times Sundays and the church bell is hard to ignore.