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Welcome to Sayulita. Here are some things you might want to know.
SAYULITA:important renter disclaimer
Natural beaches, lush jungles and a taste of rural Mexico draw people to the picturesque fishing village of Sayulita. Located on the Pacific coast of Nayarit, Mexico, this pueblo was originally a hacienda for harvesting small coconuts for oil. These brown golf-ball sized nuts are still found on the jungle paths, along with mangos, large coconuts, papaya and citrus fruit. Dogs, chickens and kids run and play in the dirt roads. Visitors and locals enjoy baseball games, festivals with live music, surfing, bicycling and kayaking. Sayulita is a world away from nearby Puerto Vallarta and it's huge resorts, discos and parasailing. In fact, many say Sayulita is what Puerto Vallarta was 40 years ago. Sayulita's slow pace makes it hard to leave evidenced by the number of northerners building winter homes. The local government recently passed an ordinance prohibiting the cutting of all trees to help prevent Sayulita from becoming another Vallarta. The village location is ideal, only 35 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta airport and 3 hours from Guadalajara. Leave the complexities and pressure of the modern world behind and step back in time to the exotic, carefree village of Sayulita.
Sayulita is an adventure for kids. The primary draw of Sayulita is the beach and so this is probably where your children will want to spend most of their days. Splashing games of tag in the waves, learning to surf, creating sand and driftwood sculptures, and playing barefoot soccer will be staples of each day’s activities.
Children are welcome and safe in Sayulita. The Mexican culture loves children and don’t be surprised by someone stopping just to dote on your infant. Restaurants enjoy kids of all ages and no one will sneer if your child wants to investigate all the corners of the room.
Exposure to other cultures is an extremely important educational experience for children. The world will become larger and at the same time more accessible and friendly.
Other activities recommended for children: jungle hikes, nature walks (find plants, animals, and insects), yoga, rent bikes, playground, soccer, volleyball, town plaza, boat charter (for snorkeling, surfing, fishing, or just for fun), horseback riding, canopy zip lines, surfing, boogie boarding, learning Spanish, or day school.
Schools – Costa Verde International School.Full program education accepting students for full time enrollment.
Sayulita is a small peaceful little town (with the exceptions being the holidays). Sayulita's sidewalks roll up early most evenings but there is often action at Don Pedro’s, Calypso, Sayulita Net Lounge or just hanging around the plaza. There is always Puerto Vallarta for more sophisticated entertainment. Day trips are great, and if you are set on hitting the lights of Puerto Vallarta, I suggest you either spend the night there (you can dance all night at one of the discos), or drive home very carefully. Discos usually close about 6 am. There is an exciting rodeo in Sayulita each weekend at the edge of town in the large bull ring just off the main highway..
The main beach of Sayulita is rarely crowded, the exceptions being at Christmas and Easter. The constant activity of fishing boats and bird life make it a pleasant place to be. There are other nearby beaches more absent of civilization and worth discovering as well. The nearest is La Playa de Los Muertos (beach of the dead), so named because it is reached through the village cemetery. Follow the beach to the left of the village (facing the water) until the road ends (you'll pass the fish trailer). Take the trail to the left that goes over the hill and through the cemetery. On the other side of the cemetery, turn right to a cove with a wide expanse of beach. The next good beach is Carasitos to the south, very secluded and beautiful. Just hike out of town on the road before Rollies Restaurant or ask for directions from a local. If you want to walk about 45 minutes, there are wonderful beaches to the south called Pasquero (pahs-QUER-oh), and Pasquarito. Take water and food as they are at least a half hour walk away and there is nothing available out there. People have begun building out that way so you may not be alone. To the north you can hike past a couple beautiful beaches to the town of San Francisco (San Pancho) and have lunch. It is about a 3 mile hike. They also have taxis you can hire to take you back after too much tequilla.
The town does not have many tourist shops and we are just beginning to see bags and T-shirts with "Sayulita" on them. Just over the bridge and along the river a small group of stores have sprung up. These include some eateries, nic-nac shops, and a good jewelry store, My Jewelry Shop. Also, near the town plaza there is Las Hamacas, high end artifacts, and a few more.
The following are some good places to eat in Sayulita:
If you want to cook at home, there are a number of small grocery stores in town, some offering better produce than others. It is worth a stroll through town to see what is fresh that day. Stores open at 6 am and close around 11 pm. Fresh fruit is available in the grocery stores. Produce grown in the area includes; plátanos (bananas), coconuts, sugar cane, piña (pineapple), limes, oranges, grapefruit, mangos, and avocados. Fresh fruit and vegetables that are going to be eaten raw and without peeling should be soaked for 20 minutes in water treated with Clorox (add one tablespoon to 1/2 gallon of water) and rinse with bottled water to get rid of the chlorine taste. The grocery store with the most choices is across from the plaza, near the ice cream store but there are a number of places you can get good food. Mexicans make a great bread roll call the bolio (boh-Lee-yoh). It is delicious toasted for breakfast or for sandwiches. There are meat stores (Carnicerias) where you can buy fresh meat. There is one across from Cheo’s Tacos and one across from Rollies. A delicious barbecued chicken is sold most days right off grills set up on the sidewalks all around town. The easiest place to buy fish is from the cooler in front of the first store on your left after you cross the bridge. Or you can get it from the fishing boats on the beach when they come in (usually between noon and 2 pm). The local fish are Dorado (Mahi Mahi), Huachinango (a cross between red snapper and carp), Bota, shrimp, and octopus. They are fair about price and will weigh the larger fish.
There is liquor, beer, wine and pop available in the village, but a bit more expensive than in Puerto Vallarta. You will have to pay a deposit on the beer and pop bottles. This is the best deal for beer. You pay deposit only the first time you buy the bottles. Most think the best of the Mexican tequilas is "Heradura", though Cuervo Gold is good and much cheaper. The dark rum "Ron Castillo", will work for your bourbon and scotch drinks if you’re not too picky. Bag ice is available at the liquor store and ice cream store in the village, or you can make your own in your freezer. All is safe.
The main holidays in Sayulita and Mexico are the week around February 24(Sayulita Days), Holy Week (the week before Easter), December 12 (Celebration of the Miracle of Guadeloupe), 25 (Christmas), and 31 (New Year's Eve). During Christmas and Holy Week, many Mexicans venture to the beach to spend their holiday. The big resort towns are loaded, and Sayulita fills up too nowadays. Water is in shorter supply during these times, and the beaches are not as quiet, but it's still a great place to be. The Day of the Dead is at the beginning of November but is not a huge celebration in Sayulita like it is in Michoacan.
Use the large bottled water (garafons) for drinking and cooking, just to be safe. You can refill your garafons from the water trucks that move through town all day. Or you can exchange your empty for a full at your local store. The price is now around 14 pesos. Water from the tap should be boiled for at least 10 minutes before using. The tap water comes from either a tank on top of your house or pressurized from a cistern below the house by a pump. The water that fills these containers is supplied by the town cistern and pump that sometimes goes out or runs dry. Your tank should be sufficiently large enough to hold you until the water comes back on. Gas is supplied to the houses by refillable tanks. During your visit you may get a cold shower or run out of gas while cooking your gourmet meal. Don’t worry, most houses are equipped with a backup tank and the other tank just needs to be opened or switched. Contact the property manager or rental agency as soon as possible and they will refill or change the tanks. Electricity is very undependable and the town is subject to blackouts and brownouts frequently, especially during the rainy season. When this happens, there is really nothing to do except wait and light some candles. Usually the power is back on by morning.
You will need pesos in Sayulita. There is no bank or ATM in Sayulita. Some vendors may accept a few US dollars to pay for something, but the exchange rate they will give will not be good. Only a couple places take credit cards. There is now a money exchange booth across from our Avalos office, but the rate is about .2 less than Vallarta or a real bank. You need to either get money in the airport or pick it up at a bank on the way. Once you are here, the closest bank and ATM machine is in Bucerias, about 20 minutes south. The exchange rate is always changing. It is now 1 USD to 10.5 PS.
There are many public phones in Sayulita now. Usually if you find a phone there will be store within a rocks throw that is selling the prepaid card you will need to operate the phone. Calling the states is easy and you just need to follow the instruction printed inside the phone booth.
There are three good locations where you can log on to check on world problems and email the dog sitter; 1. Dot Com is just off the town square in Garcia Real Estate (40p/hr). 2. Sayulita Net Lounge is right on the square and offers snacks and drinks (40p/hr). 3. Bre@kFast is right on the beach between Costenos and Don Pedros.
You are adventurous, or else you go somewhere safer. This is Mexico, beautiful and hazardous. You are traveling in a foreign country where everything you eat is foreign. Sorry, you may get sick. Take precations but don’t allow your experience of the culture be hindered. Bring medicine with you for potential problem or buy it here. There are many Pharmacies in Sayulita. One is just over the bridge coming into town on the right. Another is after the bridge going out of town on your right, Pharmacia Americana. There is a clinic in Sayulita, called Salud. It is located by the first speed bump coming into town on the main road.
The best way to get to Sayulita is on a bus. From the airport, cross the bridge and wait at the bottom of the stairs for the Compostela bus that has Sayulita written across the front windshield. The fare should be around 20 pesos. Getting back to the airport and into Puerto Vallarta is even easier. Catch the Vallarta bus in the town square (times: 6:00, 7:00, 7:30, 8:30, 9:30. 10:30, 12:00, 12:30, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, 4:30, 5:30) and it will drop you off directly in front of the airport. Do not forget that Jalisco and the airport are an hour ahead. Sayulita is on Mountain Time, and Puerto Vallarta, is on Central Time. So don’t miss that flight or you will have to stay in paradise for at least another day. If you are going in to Vallarta for the day, the bus will let you off in front of the Sheraton Hotel. Then you take a city bus into downtown or old town. You have to do the opposite to come back; wait for the Sayulita Compostela bus across the street from the Sheraton. The last bus back to Sayulita is at 8:00pm. If you miss it you may have to take a cab back. The Pacifico bus lines do not come into Sayulita but you can catch them or get dropped off at the Sayulita exit on the 200 highway. Then walk the 3km into town or put your thumb out for a ride.
Sayulita has many taxis and you can usually find one in the square. They can take you anywhere, even hours north or south to the secret surf spots. Normal fares from the airport are quoted as you come out of customs by hordes of drivers. The price depends on the size of the vehicle and number of people and will vary between 400-600 Ps. We suggest that you barter if you are comfortable doing so. There is an alternative to taking the airport taxi by taking your luggage over the bridge and hailing a non-airport cab. Their price is between 300 and 450 PS. The standard tip for all taxis is about 10%.
Renting a car is expensive, but highly recommended. If you rent a car, take the road heading north away from Puerto Vallarta. You will be on a freeway for about half the time and after Bucerias the road becomes one lane each direction. This road will take you all the way to the Sayulita exit. Sayulita is about 20 minutes up the road and on the left. After you exit, go one kilometer and make the right at the fork in the road towards Sayulita. Two more kilometers and you get to Sayulita. You are on the main road that goes through town and as you pass through, the beach will be to your right.
Do not lose this card which you must have to enter and leave the country. You will get this card on the plane coming down and it will be stamped by Mexican immigration upon entry. Should you loose the card, a new one can be issued at the airport but allow at least an hour extra time. There may also be a fee for the new card. Take your ticket and go to customs before getting in the airline line.
There are snakes in the jungle but they are rarely seen in or near town. Most are harmless and the most common is the boa, which don’t grow large enough to be a threat. There are occasionally stinging jellyfish in the ocean but it’s not a “normal” event. Scorpians do exist here, but you probably wont see one. Bees and wasps are present but don’t bother you unless you bother them. If you are allergic, bring your medication. There are stingrays in the water and usually they lay on the sandy bottom until someone steps on them. Then they sting you with the barb of their tail as they try to swim away. Usually these animals don’t swim near people or crashing waves. So you’re pretty safe in Sayulita. Bats appear nightly to eat insects and an occasional banana, but don't let them scare you as they are harmless.
The mail from Mexico takes at least 3 weeks to arrive at its US address. Everyone who lives in Sayulita gives their mail to people who are going back to the States where letters can then be mailed through the US postal service. To send mail out of Mexico, you need to get stamps and mail your letters at a post office. At Mi Tiendita in the town square you can purchase stamps and put your mail in the box to be picked up at some undisclosed time. To receive mail, you can pick up your letters at the same tiendra across from the square. Packages will need to be picked up from one of the post offices, depending on how it was routed that day. Be careful about having anything sent because Mexican Customs will open boxes and assess about 30% taxes on the value of the items inside.
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