From the moment we stepped foot onto the property of the charming, family-owned Casa Corazón in Sayulita, love was in the air. Everywhere. Corazón means “heart” in Spanish and there were many of them adorning the rooms, reception area and walkway stones.
Once a jungle getaway (how exotic), signs of love and hearts can be seen everywhere throughout this laid-back Mexican surf town, just 30 miles from Puerto Vallarta. The Sayulita vibe is youthful, hippy-ish, yoga loving, beach bummy and upscale at the same time. And any destination where golf carts are the main form of transportation gets a big check mark of approval from me. Who doesn’t love zipping around in a tropical place in a stylish golf cart? See Calgary to Palm Springs and Back in a Fiat 500 post for more about hipsters riding around in golf carts in Palm Springs. Cars, trucks and quads also kick up the dirt and dust in the cobblestoned roads and dirt back roads. This is Mexico after all.
Sayulita is filled with funky bars, coffee shops, street taco stands, hole-in-the-wall eateries and casual and upscale restaurants offering a variety of cuisine including of course, every variation of Mexican and TexMex, and shops and galleries filled with higher quality souvenirs and art.
Want to try surfing or are you a beginner with some experience but not so much nerve? Let’s face it, learning to surf is intimidating as there is a lot going on with this sport: water, waves, a big board strapped to your ankle, balance (or lack of it), potential less-than-friendly sea creatures, other surfers and swimmers – you get the picture. Adding to the intimidation factor is the built in audience of beach goers facing the ocean (and watching you) – whether you want one or not. Sayulita is the best place I know of for beginners to learn how to surf in the 2 mile long bay in front of the village. Most start their learning curves at the South end of the beach where baby waves are kinder to virgin riders. Still, there is plenty of fun and challenges for more advanced surfers and they can be seen expertly navigating the waves further down the beach (show-offs).
We rented surf boards for $75 pesos per hour ($5 CDN; $3.90 USD) and lessons are very reasonably priced. We chose to be cowboys and pass on the lessons. It wasn’t pretty but it sure was fun (and exhausting). Paddle boards cost $150 pesos/hr and can be rented by the day or week as well as kayaks.
Need to take the edge off after your surfing experience? Just wait on the beach for the vendors whispering availability of joints, and waiters running back and forth to their bars for beer and every other kind of cocktail you desire (wink). And if you experience an injury, it’s no problem to get painkillers.
We checked out Playa de Los Muertos – Beach of the Dead. Don’t let that name scare you off. Remember, Mexican families revere and celebrate their dead and never forget them. After a very delicious and scenic fajita lunch at Villa Amor, we followed the dirt road to the left up the hill, and past a cemetery to get to the beach. Protected by huge rocks on both sides, this beach is very popular with Mexican families and is safe for swimming. Many other tiny beaches can be accessed by kayak only and would be well worth exploring.