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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
35 thoughts on “Surfing Punta Mita / Our Surf Trip to Sayulita & the Riviera Nayarit”
What a great adventure! Wish I knew how to surf. Heading there for thanksgiving do you know if there are surf lessons available? Would love to get the boy out as well.
Awesome blog! My fiancée and I are getting married in a week and then heading down to Sayulita and Punta Mita. We’re intermediate surfers who lived in Sydney for 2 years but now live in California.
What surf breaks do you recommend for June?
I’ve looked up Punta Sayulita, La Lancha, Ostiones, and San Pancho.
Hi! I just stumbled upon this. We are planning to head to Sayulita / Punta Mita either the end of June or possibly wait until the end of October or beginning of April. Your waves looked perfect. We are looking for that experience swell-wise. (We’re intermediate surfers and long and short boarders.) What time of year would you recommend? Thanks so much!
Hey! Yeah, that was a fun trip, we definitely scored! That time was in Oct/Nov, but we were just back there earlier this year during May/June and also scored just as much if not even better one a few days. One nice thing about that area is that it picks up NW and SW swells with plenty of exposure to both directions, so there’s a pretty good chance there will be some fun waves somewhere year round. Based on our experience, you really can’t go wrong with either June or October. Hope you get some fun ones!
I’ve been going to Sayulita pretty regularly since 2007 when I did the Las Olas women’s surf camp. I’ve introduced lots of people to the town … and I guess lots of other people have too, which is one reason it’s no longer that sleepy farming/fishing town it used to be.
Lately though everyone I know is busy and some are shying away from MX due to reports of crime. I’m dying to go but don’t want to go by myself. Would you guys ever, maybe, put together a group trip ?
Hi Helen, we’ve been talking about doing small group trips for some time. It is definitely something that we want to do in future. That said, it’ll likely be some time before we roll out our first small group trip and we don’t have plans on where that might be although we love the Sayulita/Punta Mita area so there is a good chance we have a trip down there at some point. If you’re not already signed up, feel free to sign up for our newsletter to keep in the loop as we’ll definitely make an announcement about this in the future. Cheers and happy travels!
Hi! Would you be able to provide more details regarding the remote surf break in Punta Mita that you surfed with your friends from Norway? Thanks!
Thinking of going to the region in February. Any ideas of swell size and water temperature?
Happy new year!
Hey, thanks! Could be fun size in the shoulder to head high plus range, but of course all just depends on the swell activity for your dates. The water temperature could get in the low to mid 70s so plan accordingly. Cheers and happy travels!
Quick question, I have a family of 4 boys that all can surf and handle their own ages 10,10,,12,15 would this be a safe trip for me to take the family?
Hey there, in my opinion, yes, for sure. We spent 6 weeks in the area earlier this year and had a great trip and felt safe. Although we don’t have kids yet, I wouldn’t hesitate to take my own (future kids) there. I met another guy from San Diego in the water one day who is an expat and has been living there for several years with a young family and he said all has been fine and safe for them. Enjoy!
I love your post – sounds like a beautiful time and lots of fun! 🙂 I was wondering if you know about the internet (reliability and speed) in Sayulita/ surroundings?
I am looking exactly for that – warm temperatures, waves and good internet… do you have an advice , contact for me or experience?
Thanks, Theresa 🙂 Yes, Sayulita and the surrounding region is a great area for everything you’re looking for (plus amazing food as well)!
Earlier this year we spent about 5 weeks in Punta de Mita and had really great internet so I know it’s available, but it also depends on your accommodations. When we need good internet on our travels (which is most trips!), we always ask a prospective place to confirm they have fast internet, and send a screenshot of an internet speed test, if possible. This is the best way to make sure you’ll have the speed that you need!
Hope you have a great trip! Cheers
Great post! I’m thinking about going down to Sayulita from end of August through September (I plan to work remotely during the week & surf on the weekends), but I’m having trouble finding relatively affordable places for a long-term rental. I’ve tried AirBnB, FB Mktplace, etc already, but no luck on anything reasonable – any thoughts / tips?
And not to get ahead of myself, but is it possible to hire a driver to help me get to Punta Mita from Sayulita? Or would you recommend renting a car ($4/day?!)?
Hi Justin — Sounds like a great trip! For long-term stays in Sayulita, I don’t know of any local companies to find better deals on accommodation, so I would recommend searching through an online vacation rental site like VRBO or Airbnb. Many places will offer long-term discounts, so you can usually get the best rates if you stay a month or more. That said, the Sayulita and Punta de Mita areas typically have much higher prices than some other spots in Mexico, so you won’t find super cheap stays that could be available in more off-the-beaten path spots.
Renting a car is definitely the best way to get around the area, as you have the most flexibility and freedom, but car rentals can get quite expensive (basically, there is usually a mandatory insurance and potentially hidden costs that are tacked on when you pick up the car… you can learn more about renting a car in Mexico here). (On this particular trip, we got super lucky with our car rental and found a super cheap option, but it’s not typical). That said, for car rentals in Mexico, we highly recommend SIXT. If you’re wanting to travel on the lowest budget, I think there is a bus that runs from Sayulita to Punta de Mita. Hope you find a great place and have an awesome trip! Cheers
hi ! great article . Do you have any Mexican surf spots to recommend in the winter ?
Thanks, Celine! There is lots of great surf in Mexico in the winter. During the winter months, the more southern regions go a bit flat, but north- and west-facing coasts enjoy consistent W and NW swells out of the north Pacific. You can learn more in this Guide to Surfing Mexico. Cheers
did you fly with boards?
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
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
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!
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?
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
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
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.
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.
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
Bucket List material here… Looks like a great spot. Hopefully doesn’t get too popular after this article.
If only we had that much influence haha. But yes, definitely lots of fun to be had!
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.
Yeah it was definitely an awesome time of the year! Note to self: avoid the commemoration of the Virgin of Guadalupe celebrations haha 🙂
Heading down there tomorrow! Hopefully we get some swell! Thanks for the tips on breaks!
Awesome, our pleasure! Hope you have a wonderful trip and get some good swell! Cheers
That looks like an amazing place to surf.
Hi Cameron- it’s really a great spot! We definitely lucked out and had such a great trip! Cheers