The cantinas and restaurants in Sayulita are getting quite upscale and, while some are still family run, most are catering to the tourists and more expensive. Restaurants are constantly changing so we suggest you check out www.sayulitalife.com where you will find a list of all the Restaurants as well as most anything else you might want to do on your vacation, i.e., rent surf boards, kayaks and so on.
Our favorite restaurants include
Don Pedro’s famous restaurant overlooking the beach, Calypso located across from the plaza on the second floor, Antonia’s on Nino’s Heroes about 1.5 blocks off the Plaza with fantastic local Mexican food that has been served in Sayulita for decades, El Costeño on the beach, Choco Banana (another favorite for great coffee and meals, and so many more.. Check out the street behind the plaza for lots of restaurants that jut out into the streets and street Vendors that offer delicious tacos, tamales and other very good food. Explore all the local food as you will rarely find any better. And maybe most important, ask folks you see in town what restaurants they like! Remember to only eat cooked or peeled food!
General Supplies For Eating At Home
If you want to cook at home, basic staples are available in the village in a number of small grocery stores that are usually open at 6 am and close late in the evening. It is worth a stroll through town to see what’s fresh that day. Fresh fruit and vegetables are available in the grocery stores and on the main road near the bridge. Produce grown in the area includes: plátanos (bananas), coconuts, sugar cane, piña (pineapple), limes, oranges, grapefruit, mangos, and avocados. Fresh fruit and vegetables that are going to be eaten raw, and without peeling, should be soaked for 20 minutes in water treated with Clorox (add one tablespoon to 1 gallon of water) or another purifier, and then rinsed with bottled water.
The easiest place to buy fish is from the fish store near the bridge with the ceramic display. Choose from Dorado (Mahi Mahi), Huachinango (a cross between red snapper and carp), Bota, or whatever they recommend. It’s possible you can buy from the fishermen on the beach when they arrive mid-day. They are fair about prices and will weigh the larger fish and charge by the Kg. There is an excellent meat shop close by and excellent fresh fruits and veggies across the street.. A delicious barbecued split of chicken is sold most weekends along the main street and in the plaza. As with looking for good restaurants, ask folks where they are buying fresh food to take home.
Breads/rolls and pasteries
Mexicans make a great bread/roll call the bolio (boh-Lee-yo). It is delicious toasted for breakfast or for sandwiches. They are delivered fresh to the grocery stores every day but they often sell out quickly (ask for delivery time) when the town is full. On Sunday’s and on other occasions there are additional breads offered from pickups along the main street and near the plaza. Most stores have fresh pastries and others will be walking around town in the morning selling from baskets. Also near the plaza is a woman that sells desserts most nights.. Delicious!~
Liquor, Beer and Wine
There is liquor, beer, wine and pop available in the village, but a bit more expensive than in Puerto Vallarta. You will have to pay a deposit on the beer and pop bottles. Imported liquor is very expensive so, if you are an “imbiber” consider bringing a duty free one-liter bottle into Mexico. Bag ice is available in the village, or you can make your own.
Ice Cream Shops
There are many ice cream shops in Sayulita all of them have a great selection of ice cream and Popsicles, some of which are homemade. We understand that all are made with purified water and fruit, and we have never had any problems. We noted that some factory made Popsicles are now in town so you have to look for the home-made ones. They also sell excellent ice cream in a wide assortment of flavors.
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. The best beach for swimming is below our houses, between the point on the left and the village. Beyond that, ask others on the beach as there is often a surf break close to the beach.
At the bottom of the hill below our houses is a small building we call Casita Rosita. In side there are boogie boards and chairs for the breach. Pls return them at the end of the day. And, a word of warning, do not leave your valuables unprotected. Surfboards, fins, snorkels, boogie boards, bikes, etc., can be rented 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 fisherman on the beach and compare prices. 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. Most of the boats are un-shaded 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 are a number of good golf courses in the area and the most convenient is a golf course near Bucerias (the town between Sayulita and 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), along the paved beach road or 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.
Sayulita has become a very popular resort town and so there are quite a few shops 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.
Other towns to visit are San Francisco (called San Pancho) about 15 minutes north and La Peñita, about 15 minutes further north. They have a variety of small shops and the general activity is worth a day-trip for those who are feeling a bit restless. Ask other tourists in town for places they recommend.
Sayulita has a busy nightlife with restaurants and bars open well after dark. Don Pedro’s is a very popular restaurant on the beach and Calypso is in the center of town overlooking the Plaza. Ruben’s is a wonderful deli below Calypso on the street and Choco Banana is a one of many wonderful cafe’s in town. Google Sayulita restaurants for other options or just ask folks you meet in town. 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.