Surfing Punta Mita / Our Surf Trip to Sayulita & the Riviera Nayarit

surfing punta mita
All my swimwear and accessories by Vitamin A Swim / My  custom 8’0” Mini Mal by Affinita Surf Craft

Last week we scored in Mexico. The more you go surf trippin’, the more you can appreciate how amazing it is when you go on a surf trip and end up really scoring. You can do as much weather and swell calculations as you want, but if nature doesn’t cooperate there’s nothing you can do.

Lucky for us, the forces of nature came together to give us some heavenly days of surf in central Mexico.

We’re super busy right now (exciting stuff in the works for Lush Palm!) but our good friends were getting married in Puerto Vallarta so we were committed to being there. And seeing how their wedding venue was so close to Sayulita and neighboring waves, we flew in a week early to do some serious wave research (it’s part of our job after all… someone’s gotta do it).

I had been to Sayulita about 10 years ago, and have heard there’s been a lot of development and changes in the last 5 years, so I was curious to check out the new scene.

surfing punta mita

We flew into Puerto Vallarta, rented a car for $4 a day, and hit the road for the 45-minute drive to Sayulita. Halfway into our drive, we were pulled over by the police for speeding. Turns out, Eric was in fact speeding, but to his defense, he was going with the flow of traffic and everyone else was speeding way more.

Anyway, the policeman went on to explain how he was going to take Eric’s license and we would have to go to their office to pay the ticket, etc, etc. There’s no shortage of stories about travelers being shaken down by the police in Mexico, so we were anticipating the ‘ol shakedown and were a bit bummed to start the trip with a ticket.

The policeman explained he was going to write us a ticket, walked back to his car and came back with his partner. We were thinking oh here it comes. The officer goes on to introduce his partner who makes small talk with us and then… a Mexican traveling miracle happened! The guy says “this is my superior and he says we’ll let you off with a warning this time.”

Whaaaaa?! A warning! In Mexico?! I don’t even get warnings in the States! We thanked the officers about a thousand times, promised not to speed, and continued on our merry way towards Sayulita. Lady luck (and a really nice police officer) was on our side.

When we entered Sayulita, it was immediately evident how much it has changed since I had visited 10 years ago. My faraway Sayulita memories were of a sleepy little coastal town with some dusty roads and a pretty quiet beach.

The Sayulita of today is a bustling little resort town with tons of restaurants, visitors, and tourist shops. But even with the new buzz and development, Sayulita has managed to maintain its charm. Colorful flags hang over the narrow cobblestone streets, palm trees adorn the central plaza, and inexpensive taco stands are mixed in with the hip new cafes.

surfing punta mita
surfing punta mita
surfing punta mita

We stayed at Petit Hotel Hafa, a charming boutique hotel in the center of Sayulita, and a couple blocks away from the beach. We settled in, did a quick surf check (no waves), and headed out for some dinner. And oh, the joys of legit Mexican food! We found a little spot called Mary’s and thoroughly enjoyed some chicken mole, shrimp tacos, guacamole, and margaritas. Mmmm que bueno.

We chatted to a couple next to us who own a vacation home in Sayulita and got some good tips. One, that you can’t really go wrong with the food in Sayulita because there are so many really great places to eat (my kind of place!). And two, that Dia de Los Muertos was coming up and Sayulita is an especially wonderful place to experience it.

surfing punta mita
surfing punta mita
single fin surfboard with turkish towel topical scenery punta mita
surfing punta mita
artisan crafts on shelfs in shop punta mita
punta mita cactus with white wall background
surfing punta mita
woman sitting at outdoor cafe bar in punta mita
delicious looking smoothie bowl with banana granola and bee pollen
We took full advantage of all the amazing food in Sayulita!

The next day we had surf on the agenda and it looked like the swell direction (a long-period southwest) was best for the Punta Mita area, about a 20-minute drive south.

There’s a rad couple from Norway (Hayden and Laila) we had been in touch with for the past year through our website because they were planning their own round-the-world surf journey (they are now in month 11!) and in a total awesome coincidence, they were staying in Punta Mita when we were there. So we planned to meet up at a remote-ish surf break in Punta Mita.

And so began our first day of complete surf-stoked happiness. When we arrived at the break there were about three people out, one of them our friend Hayden. Eric and I paddled out, immediately caught a couple of waves, and afterward looked at each other with huge wide eyes and ridiculous ear-to-ear smiles. Holy shit that’s a fun wave!

This little reef break was producing wave after wave of clean couple-foot-overhead perfection. Rights and lefts just reeling off long rides all the way to the beach, and the crowd was about 5 – 6 people total at any given time.

surfing punta mita
A couple of times Eric and I had a break all to ourselves.
surfing punta mita
All our surf photos from the trip are actually from one of the smaller days because, well, we were too busy surfing to take photos when it was really firing #sorrynotsorry.

Eric and I decided that between the perfect waves and a water temperature of around 80 degrees, we had landed in paradise. Hayden told us that it was the biggest he has seen at that spot. We thanked Lady Luck, surfed the afternoon away, and capped off the day sipping margaritas watching the sunset with our amigos.

The next day we headed to a different break in Punta Mita… and again, we scored. When we showed up there were three other people in the water and again, the waves were ridiculously fun. Long perfectly shaped rights and lefts just peeling in the best way possible. Conditions got better and better as the afternoon went on, and even though some more people showed up, there were plenty of waves to go around.

surfing punta mita
surfing punta mita
surfing punta mita
surfing punta mita
Sometimes we party wave, but I couldn’t help but call him off this one haha

We surfed until we were utterly exhausted and afterward ponied up at a beach restaurant for some shrimp fajitas. Low and behold, out in front of a little harbor in Punta Mita there’s this chill longboard wave pumping out long long rides. Turns out this wave is called Anclote and it only breaks a handful of times every year. This just happened to be one of them.

We were tired from the afternoon session, but that wave looked too good to pass up so we paddled out for a post-surf, post-fajita sunset surf (this should definitely become a thing). There was a quite the crowd on this wave, but a lot of beginners staying on the inside so we went far out for the bigger sets and it worked out just beautifully.

The waves were clean glass-off perfection and just seemed to go on forever. I caught some of the longest rides of my life! The rides were so long, halfway through I was in a blissful state of shock and awe, thinking holy shit it’s still going? It’s still going?!!! When I finally kicked out at this little jetty I looked back to where I had caught the wave and the lineup was so far away they looked like ants. It was freaking amazing.

surfing punta mita
A small but fun day at La Lancha
surfing punta mita
My happy place! / Suit by Vitamin A Swim

So yeah, we absolutely scored and had such an awesome time. The largest and biggest waves roll through the Sayulita area in the winter, but surf can be found year round. Turns out, October is relatively quiet tourism-wise, and we just totally lucked out with a fantastic swell at a good time of year.

We had a great time hanging out with our friends from Norway and it’s always such a cool thing to connect with people you’ve met online in real life. The digital world has its downsides, but I love when it brings people together.

After a week of fun surf, good times, and Mexican feasting, we headed down to Puerto Vallarta for more good times, more feasting, and to celebrate our friends’ wedding. It. was. a. blast.

surfing punta mita

You know when you’re so darn busy that you feel like there’s no way you could get away? Well, that’s how I felt prior to this trip. Super busy and a bit stressed about a never-ending to-do list on hand.

By the end of the trip I was completely refreshed and ready to get back to working hard and facing challenges, but minus all the self-imposed stress. Ahhhh. Sometimes it’s reaaally hard to break away from what we think is SO urgent and important when in reality, it’s not so important. And certainly not worth stressing about.

For me, this trip was a good reminder of this. I couldn’t imagine stepping away for a minute and when I did, nothing fell apart, there was no disaster. Sometimes a change in routine and taking a big fresh breath of air is exactly what the doctor ordered. And/or surf and tequila. That works too.

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This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. gage

    did you fly with boards?

    1. Tara

      Hi Gage – Yes, we flew with our boards. Our favorite airline for flying with boards out of the US is Alaska Airlines because they have one of the best policies. Board bags are just charged as regular luggage, so it’s $30 per board bag. Check out our Guide to Surfboard Bag Fees. Cheers

  2. Jack Klipfel

    seems like you guys surfed more in Punta Mita than Sayulita? would you stay at Punta Mita next time? trying to decide between the two

    1. Tara

      Hey Jack – During our trip, the best surf was in Punta Mita, so that’s where we surfed the whole time. Sayulita and Punta Mita are only a 20-minute drive from each other, so it’s easy to go back and forth. Sayulita is a bustling little town with lots of restaurants, bars, and action, and the town of Punta Mita is a much smaller collection of a few restaurants, places to stay, and a much quieter vibe. So I’d recommend deciding based on the experience you want and then you can go surf the breaks of the area based on the forecast. Happy travels!

  3. Ria

    This is great, thanks for the read. I was advised about car rentals as well, wondering if you can share if you used Turo, another ap, locals or a typical car rental agency? Did you bring straps for your surfboards to put on the car?

    1. Tara

      Hi Ria, thanks for your feedback! We used a typical car rental agency. Just be aware that sometimes you can book a really cheap rate but they will tack on huge daily insurance fees. So make sure you call the rental agency to make sure you have the whole story of the rates so you’re in the know. And yes, we travel with our soft racks (you can stuff them in your board bags). We like these Pro-Lite racks. Also, here’s a big ‘ol packing list/guide for surf trips. Hope you have a great trip! Cheers

  4. Bethan

    Hey great article! the waves look perfect for what I would be looking for; long rides and not scary big. I am going to the pacific coast including baja and this area for a month this November and your articles are really helpful. is it easy to rent boards places or would you recommend bringing with you? Thanks! Bethan

    1. Tara

      Thanks, Bethan, happy it’s helpful for you! Regarding board rentals, I think it really depends on the exact destination (and also what type of board you’re looking for). Sayulita has plenty of surf shops where you can rent boards. Baja, on the other hand, depends on where you’re going, as the majority of Baja is more remote and you would need to bring your own gear. I think the only spots where it would be easy to rent a board in Baja would be in the Cabo San Lucas area, Todos Santos, or other bigger surf hubs. Otherwise, I would recommend bringing your own boards.

  5. Lisa Lindermuth

    Reading this makes me really happy!! When exactly where you there?? I am planning to stay and surf in Sayulita for a while, maybe March or April, but it is said that April the waves already slow down a lot.

    1. Tara

      Hi Lisa – We were there at the end of October. We’re not experts on the area but have read that March and April are typically windier times. That being said, I’ve also heard that waves in Sayulita and Punta Mita are pretty consistent year-round. If you have a choice between March or April, I’d recommend going in March. Hope you have an awesome trip and score some great conditions! Cheers

  6. Mark Jawdoszyn

    Bucket List material here… Looks like a great spot. Hopefully doesn’t get too popular after this article.

    1. Tara

      If only we had that much influence haha. But yes, definitely lots of fun to be had!

  7. Cameron Poe

    You guys went at the perfect time. We were there during the week (December 2- 9) leading up to the commemoration of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the fireworks and cannons going off every morning at 4am for a week was a bit much. The noise is a signal for the people to head to the church. A little early for me on vacation. Oh well, still a great time.

    1. Tara

      Yeah it was definitely an awesome time of the year! Note to self: avoid the commemoration of the Virgin of Guadalupe celebrations haha 🙂

  8. Jay Standish

    Heading down there tomorrow! Hopefully we get some swell! Thanks for the tips on breaks!

    1. Tara

      Awesome, our pleasure! Hope you have a wonderful trip and get some good swell! Cheers

  9. Cameron

    That looks like an amazing place to surf.

    1. Tara

      Hi Cameron- it’s really a great spot! We definitely lucked out and had such a great trip! Cheers



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