In the days leading up to departure to Sayulita, Mexico, I had purposely repressed any potentially misguided excitement. Reason:I had no clear indication as to whether it would be one of those propped up touristy towns, or one that has actually preserved some semblance of authenticity? I’ve been to a few other places in Mexico, as well as Costa Rica and Peru. Sometimes culture will stand up and shake its rattle at you. Other times it is disappointingly absent or smothered. But after arriving at the Puerto Vallarta airport and promptly being whisked north to Sayulita, I began to think that I was going to be pleasantly surprised.
Upon waking the next morning and gazing up towards the jungle covered mountains, and then out towards the deep blue Pacific, I still reserved final judgement. I needed to have a good look around what appeared to be a rather quaint little town tucked into a big sweeping bay. As I walked the stone streets I passed by the Escuela where children played in their black and white Catholic attire. Outside the walls women swept the street. A man rode by shouting, “Camarones!” while flashing a large one by the tentacles. Crossing the river I could see surfers moving across the reef.
Sayulita turned out to be a wonderful little stop off by the sea. The locals have not only managed to preserve their town as best as they can, but they are quite warm to tourists as they seem to recognize their contributions to the economy. There are wonderful galleries and restaurants and recreational activities abound. I happened to be there during their Mexican Revolution Day, and I have a vivid memory of watching a fantastic music performance in the square downtown after a colorful parade. None of that mariachi crap you always think of but instead men, for example, adeptly playing clarinets in plain clothes while friends and townspeople cheered and danced along.
Just south of Sayulita is Punta Mita which offers several surf breaks composed of both reef and sand. During the winter months whales migrate through the area, and it is common to see them close to shore. Fishing is excellent and there is no shortage of boats and captains strewn across the bay waiting to take you out for a chance at hooking up. There are day trips available that run the gamut from mountain biking to bird watching. It is all there if you want it, including a comfy chair, warm sand and a view for when you are not up for much of anything.
Would I go back? Absolutamente!