We just visited the little beach town of Sayulita off-season this August. Having been to this area in the winter, we can share the advantages and disadvantages of a summer vacation in Sayulita, Mexico.
Crowds and Prices – advantage
True many shops and restaurants are closed, but you can breathe! Mostly locals and some tourists frequent the streets and beaches. It feels like it ought to feel: like a sleepy little Mexican beach town. We love it! And though prices are still higher than most spots we’ve visited in Mexico, you can take advantage of off-season accommodations. Prices are drastically lower to stay. We rented a big house on the south side of town. It would’ve cost us an extra $250/night during the busy season.
Surfing – disadvantage
I brought 2 shortboards on the off chance swell would hit. If it had, off-season could be an advantage, since you’d be surfing with a less crowded lineup. But, alas, it was tiny. Still, we watched anywhere from 4 to 20 longboarders out at any one time (at the main break in town.) we might’ve found something bigger at Burros or other out-of-town spots, but we enjoyed our lazy days in the heat.
Warm Water and Hotter Sand – advantage
In the winter, the ocean is pretty cold. We wore 3’2 wetsuits with an occasional vest. In the summer, the water is WARM! I mean really warm. Like bath water warm. For some, this is a disadvantage. We love barely feeling a change in temp when getting in the ocean. Our pool was the same. We actually froze some bottles to throw in the pool during the day. At night, the pool was perfect!!! Tip: When at the beach, find a shady spot and run to the water. The sand is on fire.
Marietas Islands – disadvantage
We really wanted to visit the islands. I’m not sure if it’s an off-season thing or an ecological preservation thing, but it was closed. Having already planned a day trip there, we decided to explore Puerto Vallarta and their local zoo instead.
Rain & Run Off – disadvantage
Normally, it rains in the rainy season constantly, making for less than ideal vacationing. The rain feeds the rivers and you get some murky, very dirty water at Sayulita. That’s why you get fewer crowds and cheaper prices. BUT, during our stay, it was gorgeous every day. Yes, it rained here and there for a little bit (similar to Hawaii), but it never got bad. We loved the lightning and storms at night and enjoyed perfectly sunny days. Below is a photo of a river running off into the beach area at Sayulita. This was after a long night of rain. As you can see, there are areas further down unaffected.
A few tips:
Avoid All-Inclusive Resorts
The first time we came, we stayed at an all-inclusive resort in Punta Mita. It served its purpose, but the food wasn’t very good, and we felt obligated to stay there the whole time. It’s well worth staying right in town and finding the best spots to eat on your own.
If staying in town, rent a golf cart. We got ours for $170 for the week. Not sure if that’s good or bad, but originally they wanted $350 USD. Parking in town can be a challenge even off-season. With a golf cart, we parked all over the damned place.
Haggle, haggle, haggle!
Sayulita and Puerto Vallarta are expensive! Far more expensive than any other spots in Mexico we’ve visited. Almost everything is negotiable. We found some vendors throwing out absurd numbers, where they later dropped their prices by 1/6!
Explore beaches around town
The beach just past Villa Amor is gorgeous! Don’t get suckered into paying for parking. Find a spot along the road, out of the way. We loved how mellow the ocean was, and a guy comes by with freshly baked doughnuts. Seriously, it doesn’t get better than that! We also explored beaches in Puerto Vallarta and the beaches at Sayulita.
Puerto Vallarta Activities
We found Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita activities very similar to our home on Maui. There are many things to do in Puerto Vallarta including snorkeling, scuba, swimming with dolphins, surf lessons, bungee jumping, horseback riding, waterfall tours, a very wild zoo, botanical gardens, their Mexican version of a luau, and even partying on a fully operational pirate ship (with nightly fireworks.)