Are you planning a surf trip to Sayulita? If so, you’ve come to the right place!
I just got back from exploring the Sayulita surf, and I’m excited to share with you everything I discovered.
Sayulita is a bustling, vibrant surf/party town located on the Riviera Nayarit in Mexico. It’s fairly built up, but it still retains a lot of local charm and culture, which can’t really be said for many surf towns that are as popular as Sayulita.
The surf in Sayulita is crowded, but still super fun, and there are several other surf breaks in the area you can explore if you’re looking to find a little more isolation.
** This article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Meaning, at no extra cost to you, I earn a small commission anytime you purchase any of the linked products. Thanks for your support of Gathering Waves!
Are you planning a last minute surf trip to Sayulita?
If you’re planning a last minute surf trip to Sayulita, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best surf hotels, surf camps, and more!
Best surf hotels in Sayulita
- Amor Boutique Hotel (Oceanfront, gorgeous views, private villas)
- El Pueblito
- Hostal Tortuga (budget pick!)
Best surf camps in Sayulita
- Wild Mex Surf Camp (7 days of surfing, including 3 surf trips!)
Need a car to explore all the surrounding surf breaks? Click here to check best car rental rates in Sayulita from a reliable company we personally used.
Need surf lessons? Click here to book your surf lessons with Wild Mex surf camp.
The best things to do while you’re not surfing
How to get to Sayulita
One of the things that’s pretty great about a Sayulita surf trip, is depending on where you’re coming from, it’s super easy to get to! My family was flying in from California, and they were able to take a direct flight from LAX into Puerto Vallarta that was only 3.5 hours, and make the drive to Sayulita from the airport in about 45 minutes. If you’re based out of California and looking for a quick and easy surf trip with tropical waters- Sayulita is a PERFECT option.
Here’s how I recommend getting to Sayulita:
1. Fly into Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is a smaller airport, but it is an international airport with flight options from all over. It’s also the closest airport to Sayulita BY FAR. You can check the best flight prices on Skyscanner or Orbitz.
2. Travel to Sayulita from Puerto Vallarta via 3 options:
- Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita by rental car
One way to get to Sayulita from Puerto Vallarta is by rental car. This is what my family did, and honestly, I do not recommend it unless you are CERTAIN that your accommodations in Sayulita have parking. Parking in Sayulita is a literal nightmare. There are no overnight parking lots, and street parking is really tough to come by. My family was able to make it work, but they had to circle and circle to try to find parking, and one of the nights the rental car got side swiped.
I will say, it was REALLY nice having a car to drive around and explore other surf spots. But, if we were to do it again, I would only stay somewhere that had parking- and I don’t think that’s easy to come by in Sayulita.
If you do want to rent a car for your Sayulita surf trip, I HIGHLY recommend Gecko Car Rental. They didn’t have any hidden fees, and were super nice and helpful throughout the whole rental car process.
- Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita by private shuttle or taxi
I think this is the easiest & most comfortable option of getting to Sayulita. If you’re staying at a hotel in Sayulita, you can most likely arrange transport with them. My Airbnb host quoted me about $60 for a taxi ride from Sayulita to Puerto Vallarta, so I believe that’s the going rate, although it’ll probably cost much more if you try to hail a cab at the airport to take you to Sayulita.
- Bus from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita
If you’re on a budget, the best option to get to Sayulita from Puerto Vallarta is to take the bus! It costs about $3, and departs every 15-20 minutes pretty much all day. This post here does a great job of covering how to take the bus from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita. Just make sure you have pesos!
Sayulita surf overview
Sayulita is a great surf town for longboarders, beginner surfers, and surfers who want to visit Sayulita to party, and maybe catch a few waves during the day who don’t mind sharing with an uber crowded lineup.
Trust me on this- word is out on the Sayulita surf- it is by no means a sleepy surf town with uncrowded lineups.
However, outside of the town of Sayulita itself, you can definitely score some waves to yourself. And, if you’re learning to surf or don’t mind every wave being a party wave with 5-10 of your new best friends, the surf right in Sayulita itself can be pretty fun too.
Here’s a breakdown of the different surf spots not just in Sayulita itself, but also some of the surrounding surf breaks we got to visit.
The different Sayulita surf breaks
Sayulita Main Break
The main surf break in Sayulita is what put this little surf town on the map. The main surf break in Sayulita is a super consistent, gentle, and clean right hand wave that comes through over, and over, and over, and works at pretty much all tides, with any amount of swell.
The main Sayulita surf break is located on essentially the most popular part of the beach. And it is CROWDED. Expect heaps of beginners learning to surf, along with a few rowdy locals that will hoot and holler at everyone else in the lineup for even THINKING about paddling for a wave they want… As they drop in on someone else. With that said, if my local break was that overrun with tourists and surf schools, I’d probably be pretty bummed too. I recommend leaving the set waves to the locals.
Overall, it’s pretty crazy, but honestly there are waves for everyone and if you don’t mind sharing, it can be super fun. I recommend paddling out on the far south end of the lineup and catching waves there. It’s not AS good as the main takeoff point to the north, but it’s way less competitive and the vibes are way better in my opinion.
If you do head over to the deepest takeoff point at the main break, there actually is a little left, and it’s a lot steeper than the right- with enough swell, it’s definitely doable on a shortboard.
If you walk on the beach about 5 minutes north of the main break, you’ll see a huge pipe in the water, and just north of that, there’s a really fun left that breaks there. We surfed there a few times, and actually had it to ourselves, even when there were about 50 people surfing at the Sayulita main break. With a little bit of swell you could definitely shortboard, here, but I think it’s usually better for longboarding. Just watch out because it’s super shallow here.
Rumor has it this is the best spot in the Sayulita area. While I can’t really attest to that because I didn’t surf EVERYWHERE- it was pretty dang good.
This wave is only accessible by boat, and works best on a mid tide. It’s a super shallow, rocky, right-hand reef break, although I was able to sneak a couple lefts in there.
If you’re planning a Sayulita surf trip and want a steeper wave, this is the place to be. Not to mention, we had it to ourselves for about an hour, before another boat came and brought a couple other guys.
Bahia is pretty much only accessible by boat, as the wave is located on private property. We chartered a boat with Sapo Surf School, which ran us about 2000 pesos ($120) and the captain took us from Punta Mita to Bahia where we got to surf for about 2 hours. It was epic.
Due to the shallow rocks and steepness of the wave, this is definitely a break more suitable for intermediate & advanced surfers.
La Lancha is a fun, punchy beach break in Punta Mita. To get there, you can head to the WildMex surf shop in Punta Mita, carefully dart across the highway, and take the jungle path to the beach which is about a 10-15 minute walk.
The wave here is steeper than in Sayulita, and much less crowded. The beach is a bit more open, and there are more waves for everyone- it’s also a decent break for surfers of all levels.
San Pancho, nicknamed San Francisco, is a sweet little surf town about 15 minutes north of Sayulita. In terms of the town, San Pancho was everything I thought Sayulita was going to be. Quiet, cobblestone streets, a friendly, laid-back vibe, and tasty eateries are all key elements in San Pancho. If you’ve explored Costa Rica at all, I would say Sayulita is a lot like Tamarindo, and San Pancho is more like Nosara. That’s strictly speaking about the vibe of the town though- the waves are quite different!
The wave itself is a super fast and steep beach break that can get pretty heavy with some swell. If you’re a beginner, I wouldn’t recommend surfing here. If you’re keen on short, fast rides where you’re essentially almost sending it right into the shorebreak, San Pancho might be the perfect surf spot for you.
Where to stay on a Sayulita surf trip
Best Sayulita surf camp
The Wild Mex surf camp includes 6 nights of accommodations, 5 surf lessons, access to their vast surfboard selection, and three different surf trips at the end of the week.
This is a great surf camp for beginners, and intermediate surfers with budgets of all levels. Depending on your budget, you can stay in the backpacker dorm, a basic single room, or a private premium room.
Planning a surf trip to Sayulita? Check out our expert guide to the BEST surf camps in Sayulita!
Best Sayulita surf hotels
If you want to stay somewhere close to the surf with the best view in all of Sayulita- you’ll want to book a room (or a suite!) at the Amor Boutique Hotel. This beautiful hotel is built right into the hillside so there are lots of stairs in the higher rooms, but the views are amazing. Plus, you’re very close to the main Sayulita surf break.
El Pueblito is another beautiful hotel located only 300m from the beach. The hotel has a bar, air-conditioned rooms, free wifi, and flat screen TVs in every room. When you stay at El Pueblito, you also have access to their large pool, and daily breakfast.
Best Sayulita surf hostels
If you’re working remotely on your Sayulita surf trip, Selina is the place to be! This hotel has a coworking space, large pool, and a beautiful rooftop terrace with ocean views.
You can choose from a variety of room options, from an affordable bed in a dorm room, to a family room suite. All rooms are equipped with air-conditioning.
If you’re on a budget surf trip to Sayulita, Hostal Tortuga is the place to be. The hostel is serene, the space is very lovely, and it’s just outside of the Sayulita city center- meaning you are within walking distance of surfing and going out, but can still get a quiet night’s sleep before surfing in the morning.
Sayulita Surf Lessons
If you’re coming to Sayulita to learn to surf- you’re in luck! Sayulita is a fantastic place to learn to surf since the wave is so gentle and consistent. Wild Mex is one of the most respected surf shops in Sayulita, and I highly recommend booking a surf lesson with them.
Surf lessons with Wild Mex include all surfing equipment, along with an experienced and qualified instructor to teach you.
Book my surf lesson now!
Best swell(s) for Sayulita:
Overall, the Sayulita surf region does best with a W SW swell. However, the main Sayulita surf break faces north, and it does pretty well with some N/ NW swells too.
Sayulita surf seasons
Dry Season: November- May
The dry season in Sayulita runs from November- May, and this is when there are more N/NW swells in the area. The surf breaks in Sayulita itself face north, so this is a good, consistent time for Sayulita surf, for surfers of all levels.
Rainy Season: June- October
In the rainy season, this area gets hit pretty hard with the south swells, and you can expect some pretty good sized surf in June, July, and August especially. This is a great time to plan a Sayulita surf trip if you’re a more advanced surfer looking to ride some bigger waves at the surrounding surf breaks.
How to pack for a Sayulita surf trip
Sayulita is hot and sunny with warm waters all year long, and packing for a Sayulita surf trip involves packing for the tropics!
Here are a few essentials to bring along on your Sayulita surf trip:
- Reef-safe sunscreen
The sun down in Sayulita is pretty dang powerful, and I definitely recommend bringing heaps of reef safe sunscreen with you to protect yourself (and the oceans while you’re at it!) Check out my guide to the best reef safe sunscreens for surfers to see the best options out there.
- Board shorts/surf suit
Thanks to warm waters hovering around 80 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, you can surf in Sayulita with just trunks or a nice surf suit.
- Bug spray
After living in Costa Rica and surfing in Nosara, I assumed mosquitoes were a year-round occurrence in the tropics. Apparently not in Sayulita? In Sayulita, they call the rainy season “Mosquito season”, and allegedly you’re good to go during the dry season.
Well, I still managed to encounter some mosquitoes during PEAK dry season (apparently I’m the world’s largest mosquito magnet) so I recommend bringing at least a little bug spray no matter when you go- especially if you’re prone to bites.
- Rash guard
If you’re not used to surfing without a wetsuit, you’re probably going to encounter some surf rash during your Sayulita surf trip, in which case I recommend checking out my post on surf rash treatment and prevention, and also bringing along a rash guard– which will also protect you from the sun!
- Surf hat
A surf hat is not only a great way to protect your face from the sun, it’ll also save your eyes.
- Cheap flip flops
The streets in Sayulita are honestly pretty gross- there’s broken glass, dog poop everywhere and everything is mysteriously wet… even when it’s not raining. Unless you’re staying right on the beach, I don’t recommend walking barefoot to the surf.
However, I also don’t recommend leaving sandals you care about on the beach, as they might get stolen- which did happen to my brother, during an EPIC boogie boarding session, unfortunately.
So, I either recommend getting some flip flops you don’t care about too much and burying them in the sand while you’re surfing, or leaving them at a surf shop or surf hut and asking if the guys will look after them for you.
- Dry bag for a boat trip
If you do a boat trip during your Sayulita surf trip, you’ll want to bring a dry bag to keep your belongings safe and dry. Personally, I use and love this Earth Pak dry bag.
Sayulita Surf FAQ’s
Is Sayulita safe?
Yes! As long as you take the regular precautions, Sayulita is a very safe place to travel to on a surf trip.
Planning a surf trip to Mexico? Check out our Puerto Escondido surf guide!
Is Sayulita safe to walk at night?
While as a woman I wouldn’t feel quite safe walking anywhere alone at night, Sayulita is quite safe to walk at night. I went out pretty much every night with Rowan and my brothers and we always felt super safe and had a lot of fun.
Is Sayulita a good surf town for beginners?
Sayulita is a great surf town for beginners, especially if you come between December and April. The wave is really gentle and forgiving, it’s a gretaopportunity to learn to surf on a green wave.
How crowded is the surf in Sayulita?
The surf in Sayulita is super crowded. The whole concept of one surfer per wave totally goes out the window here- I don’t think I’ve ever surfed somewhere so crowded!
With that said, there are definitely a few opportunities (as mentioned earlier in the different Sayulita surf spots section of this post) to have some waves to yourself.
Potential hazards of surfing in Sayulita
You definitely need to watch out for errant surfboards and crowds when surfing right inSayulita itself. When I was surfing at the main break, I watched a local stand-up paddleboarder run over not one, not two, but THREE surfers. In one wave. The surfers were beginners, but honestly the stand-up paddleboarder was COMPLETELY at fault, especially given that one of the surfers he ran over was someone he dropped in on. Definitely be careful, and it’s a little safer if you stay to the far south part of the lineup.
The surf in Sayulita is super rocky and shallow. I think pretty much my whole family walked away from a low tide surf session with at least a few little cuts from the rocks. Watch out! Or bring along some reef booties.
- Contaminated water
Sadly, the ocean water in Sayulita is not the cleanest. Some of the sewage literally goes straight into the ocean, and it’s pretty common for surfers and swimmers to get sick here.
I have a pretty tough stomach from living and surfing for so long down in Costa Rica, but quite a few of my family members got sick here.
Other tips for Sayulita surf
- Don’t drink the water
Tap water in Sayulita is not safe to drink- don’t even brush your teeth with it! You should be fine at restaurants ordering drinks with ice though, as they all use ice made from water that’s safe to drink.
- Bring cash
Pretty much everywhere in Sayulita is cash only- it’s a little frustrating, considering the neighboring town of San Pancho accepts credit card almost everywhere, even at the little street vendor tents!
But that’s the reality- Sayulita is a cash society. There are a lot of freestanding ATM’s, but apparently they’re not the safest- either bring cash in, or get cash from the Sayulita bank, or the ATM inside of Don Pedro’s. I used the atm inside Don Pedro’s plenty of times and didn’t have a problem.
- Eat as many street tacos as you can
The street tacos in Sayulita are INSANE. Until 2:30am, every night of the week, you can enjoy mouthwatering, delicious street tacos for 17-20 pesos per taco. During my surf trip to Sayulita, I probably consumed about 50 tacos. It was glorious.
Sayulita surf guide- final thoughts
That’s a wrap on my Sayulita surf guide! Overall, Sayulita is a fun, vibrant, Mexican surf town with a lot of nightlife, and an epic (albeit CROWDED) longboarding break that’s great for beginners. Plus, Sayulita is only a short drive (or boat trip) from several great surf spots in the area. Plus, everyone we met in Sayulita was insanely kind and helpful- the locals, and Mexican culture in the town is truly wonderful.