I like to think I’m a pro-beach bum and after growing up in Florida and traveling to some of the world’s best beaches, I’ve become very picky! And I’m happy to report, Sayulita’s beaches definitely passed my test!
Not only are they a nice stretch of sand to lay on but they are GORGEOUS. Some are backed by sandy rust-colored cliffsides, some offer some killer surf, and others hold hidden caves.
Sayulita Town has four beaches within walking distance of the town but I’ve provided some other nearby beaches around Sayulita that are worth visiting too!
1. Sayulita Beach
It’s impossible to miss Sayulita Beach, the heart of the town. The beach is located along the Riviera Nayarit in a small bay. It’s shallow with a gentle break, making it perfect for paddling and swimming.
The surfing here is pretty incredible, with the ocean filled with surfers and bodyboarders all hoping to hit that perfect wave. Expect plenty of beginners out at sea, as surf classes and lessons are abundant. SUP surfing is also a popular watersport on Sayulita Beach.
Don’t expect to escape the crowds here, as it really is the place to be seen, meaning it is busy around the clock. There can be hoards of sun and beach loungers, which attracts A LOT of vendors asking if you need a purse, braids in your hair, or any temporary tattoos.
The beach is ideal for those that don’t want to stray far from town to soak up the sun, but if you want to get away from it all, you can head north on Sayulita Beach just for few minutes, and the crowds dissipate pretty quickly.
Surfing on Sayulita Beach
The best thing to do is to head out for a surf before the afternoon to beat some of the crowds. Otherwise, the water is sometimes crowded with not only surfers but swimmers too. So even when you catch a perfect wave, people splashing in the waves may be in the way. I learned really quickly getting out earlier was the best choice.
For easy board rentals (SUP and surf), head to Sayulita Surf School. Sergio or one of the crew will go out with you for some lessons or swing by and rent a board for a few hours. They are literally on the beach, so it’s perfect, and they’ll keep an eye on your beach bag while you catch a few.
The great thing about Sayulita Beach is that it’s a great beach to learn to surf. I’m not a total beginner and have surfed in Morocco, Indonesia, Ecuador, and Portugal, but this spot was the first time I’ve ever felt super confident out in the water.
Sometimes waves get scary! But not so much here. In fact, the waves are sometimes too small, and you will wish for a bigger swell!
However, the waves are perfect for beginners, and those a bit more on the intermediate side. You can surf the right break – the break coming off the river opening where you’ll notice some rocks at low tide. While there are some rocks in that area, the beginner area closer to Punta Sayulita is all sand.
There is sometimes a more intermediate/advanced left break on the opposite side of the river mouth as well.
If you’re looking for a slice of beachy paradise, Malpaso may just hit the spot. The sand stretches for about a mile, and due to its isolation and short jungle hike needed to reach it, it’s far quieter than some of the other beaches around Sayulita.
Because it’s a bit more difficult to get to, it offers that peace, beauty, and solitude that you’ll be hard-pressed to find on some other gorgeous Mexican beaches!
Swimming here is generally discouraged because of the big waves and strong undertows, but there are plenty of shady spots to set yourself up for the day. In terms of services, you’ll only be able to eat and drink what you’ve brought with you, so remember to leave no trace because there are no trash bins available either.
You’ll have this long stretch of beach to yourself and if you’re up for exploring, be sure to check out the huge rock that has a secret cave that leads to another cove!
The walk is pretty easy, but you need to walk ALL the way up Sayulita Beach, over the rocky cove, through a forest, and down a short but steep area to get to the beach. It’s about four or so miles round trip from town. There are some detours on the trail so make sure to stick to the coast.
3. Los Muertos
Although small, Los Muertos is a beautiful inlet just to the north of the main beach. You can access it via a road that heads along the coast and then turns up a small hill and back down to the cove just behind Punta Sayulita. When on the beach, you’ll feel like you’re tucked away from the rest of the world thanks to the vegetation.
Because you’re hidden away in a cove, it is very protected from the winds, meaning there are little to no waves. It’s the perfect place for a paddle. In fact, it has the calmest waters of the beaches near Sayulita.
Although less busy than the main beach, it is still quite popular, with plenty of fruit and drinks vendors out while you relax, plus there are beach umbrellas available to rent to make your stay a little bit more comfortable.
The name means ‘Beach of the Dead,’ but don’t let that put you off, as it was only named thus for its proximity to Sayulita Cemetery. In fact, this is one of the nicest beaches in the area, with powdery white sand and plenty of shade along the shoreline.
Carracitos is one of the town’s western beaches, which means one thing… glorious sunsets. The powdery white sand adds to the beauty of this beach, with only a small amount of development. Fun fact, the resort from the Bachelor in Paradise is on this beach (the only one too!).
As it is a west-facing beach, you should expect to be completely exposed to the raging Pacific Ocean, which means lots of wind and big waves; swimming can be a bit hectic here, so be careful!
You can expect to have the shores almost completely to yourself here. It’s not THAT far from town, but people rarely make an effort to head this way, which is why it’s probably my favorite!
From town, you can follow signs and use Google to get here; it’s quite easy. It will take about 20 minutes or so to walk here from the center. There are no facilities or vendors here.
Expect to see an uninterrupted stretch of gold, black and white sands at beautiful Patzcuarito. Stretching for half a mile, it is bookended on both sides with impressive black boulders and the odd villa perched above. What helps to make the scene even more striking is the incredible blue hue of the water, which really will take your breath away.
The three colors of sand here are surprisingly distinct, all of which also have different temperatures. You can find the soft black and white sand further up the beach, and the coarse, golden sand is spotted down by the water, making it one of the unique spots near Sayulita Beach.
Sayulita Beaches Nearby
6. San Pancho (San Francisco)
San Pancho is a tiny town near Salylita Beach but it is quickly gaining popularity as being a beautiful beach town. The beachfront here is bordered by small beach shacks and a few resorts, and there are some lounge chairs that you can rent, but nowhere near the number in comparison to Sayulita Beach.
If you want to escape the popular areas while remaining on San Pancho Beach, head a little north or south from the main stretch, and you will slowly notice the crowds disappearing.
The beach is clean and safe, and you won’t be bothered by vendors asking you to look at their items every 10 seconds, but there are still some. Surfing is perfect for intermediate to pro surfers and not really suited to those that are just learning. Just a few steps from the beach in town, there is a shop where you can rent surfboards.
7. La Lancha
La Lancha is a wide expanse of beach loved by surfers and those who love to watch the surf. The beach is surrounded by vegetation, which is ideal for those eager to seek out a little bit of shade. The area is famous for its easy-rolling waves and white sand beaches, ideal for spending the day in the Mexican sun.
If surfing is not your thing, it is a lovely place for a walk all the way down the shore, with stunning views the whole way. You can reach the beach via a 10-15 minute walk from the highway that cuts through the jungle, and once you step out from the trees, you’ll be greeted with a huge beach and orangey cliffsides.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to bring too much to this beach as you’re carrying it through the jungle. This also means, if you’re bringing your board (the rental place is on the highway), you’ll also need to walk that in and back. There’s nothing at this beach either, so bring snacks, drinks, etc.
You can reach La Lancha by taking a surf trip from Sayulita, taxi, or rent a car.
8. Punta Mita
Punta Mita was once a small fishing village. Over the years, it has developed into an exclusive resort area and contains several residential developments, with some big-name hotels located here. There’s a beach in the Punta de Mita area, which is just off of the town.
This beach is OK, but the surf isn’t anything too special since the waters are tucked into a bay. Paddle out on a bodyboard or standup paddleboard and ride the fun, rookie waves that can be found here sometimes, but be aware of the rocks.
There are plenty more beaches, but the hotels privately own most, and all are pristine. The peninsula stretches for 1500 acres out into the Pacific Ocean and is filled with palm tree-covered landscape.
9. Marieta Islands
You’ll have to hop on a boat to reach the beaches of Marieta, but that makes the trip more of an adventure. The two islands were created thousands of years ago by volcanic eruptions, and they hide a secret at their heart, a hidden beach.
In the middle of one of the islands, only accessible through a narrow 50-foot long tunnel through the rock you have to SWIM to, and only at low tide, is a paradise you will want to explore. You can find the underground crater beach on the smaller of the two islands at its northern end.
Although it is a little bit of an effort to reach, the islands are a popular tourist attraction, so you shouldn’t expect to have them to yourself. Access is controlled, however, so they will never be crowded.
There are 116 access spots a day, and on Mondays and Tuesdays, it is not open to visitors. You’ll only have 30 minutes on the beach, including swimming there and back, so make the most of it!
You really have to see this beach to believe it is real, and from the sea, it is not that obvious to spot as it’s from the inside that this natural marvel really stands out! You’ll stop at another gorgeous island that’s included on the trip with natural rock arches and powdery sand.
If you come from December through March, you’ll almost be guaranteed to see whales while out on the boat as well.
The beaches around Sayulita are easy to get to and visit, but if you can, definitely venture out to some of the further out ones too!
Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad and epically failing at the American Dream since 2011. Her sassy yet informative blog, Where in the World is Nina? is all about how to work abroad to live a more adventurous life. If you want to travel longer you have to work to wander.