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Sayulita was a little-known fishing village until surfers “discovered” its extra-long waves in the early 1970s. Good paved roads connect the town to Puerto Vallarta, 33 kilometers (20 miles) northwest of the airport via Mex. 200 (about a 40-minute drive) and to the nearby Four Seasons Punta Mita resort, a favorite of celebrities hiding from paparazzi.
Back in the '70s, surf pilgrims made do with a case of beer and a beach tent, grooving on the beautiful views of Banderas Bay and the rich tropical forest environment that characterizes the base of the coastal Sierra Madre mountains. Nowadays, Sayulita's scruffy beach town charm attracts hippie dropouts, families, bohemian hipsters and rich retirees from los Estados Unidos who demand certain creature comforts.
You'll also find upscale bed and breakfasts, cafes and boutiques (think deep tissue massages, chai lattes and designer handbags). But it's Sayulita's bay that remains the star attraction. A string of palapa restaurants and a handful of surf schools line the gray-sand shoreline. When waves are small, boogie boarders and beginning surfers head for the water en masse.
Painted in red, green and yellow pastels, Plaza Pública is in the center of town. After services at the church next door, local families head to the plaza's palm-shaded benches. Huichol Indian artisans on cellphones hurry past, carting their wares to the small vendor market at the plaza's northeast corner. The narrow streets leading down to the beach are peppered with real estate offices, clothing boutiques and shops.
The funky Gypsy Galería (Calle Marlin #10) is packed with hand-painted plates, masks, tiles and figurines from all over Mexico, plus Guatemalan handbags, Chiapan shawls and a slew of Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) crafts from Michoacán. Overlooking the beach, two-story Don Pedro's Restaurant & Bar (Calle Marlin #2) dishes up Mexican and seafood classics; there's live salsa music on Monday nights.
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Current Location: Sayulita, Nayarit, Nayarit