The Riviera Nayarit is one of the easiest surf trips from the Western US because of direct flights and lots of good waves
Sayulita is usually the first thing that comes to mind when people in this part of Mexico hear the word surf. This stretch of the Riviera Nayarit has become a favorite vacation destination for Tapatios and international travelers alike. Nayarit is a warm water tropical paradise and the Sayulita surf scene is part of the local culture. Between Sayulita and San Blas there are a dozen great waves. These are a couple of my favorites.
Sayulita Pueblo Mágico
Sayulita used to be a small fishing village situated in front of a decent wave. Nowadays it is an international community that loves Mexico, loves the beach, but the home prices that are denominated in dollars. Atists, musicians, chefs and creative folks from all over Mexico have decided to make Sayulita home and build something cool. There is a thriving restaurant and bar scene, plenty of surf shops for ding repair, lessons and rentals; and you can surf out front.
What sets Sayulita apart from the rest of the Nayarit surf scene is the town. There is a diverse and international aura that is woven into, some might say on top of, your traditional Mexican beach town. Lots of people who love Mexico have moved here and blended their own culture to the cultures found throughout Mexico. There is live music to be found every night of the week. The wine shop is run by a couple from Los Angeles and has a better selection of wine than I can find in Guadalajara; and they offer classes on mezcal, tequila and Mexican wines. As you walk around the main plaza you notice that restaurants have placed tables in the streets and there is a feeling of European bistros with a distinctly Mexican touch.
The Surf in Sayulita
The surf gets crowded with beginners taking lessons and is more often than not a longboard wave. There are plenty of local rippers who will be showing you how it’s done on a shortboard, but if you are interested in upping your wave count I would recommend a longboard.
There are waves all up and down the beach but the best break is out front of the river mouth. The bottom is rock reef in front of the river mouth changing to sand the farther away you get from the river. The right usually has better form than the left but all it takes is one storm to shift the sand and favor the left.
Surfing Sayulita is not the end of the story. You probably wouldn’t fly to Mexico to surf only one wave when there are so many options close by. Renting a car will give you access to a plethora of great surf spots nearby. Some of the best spots may require an additional boat ride.
There are all sorts of lodging options from beachfront campsites and hostels to boutique resorts and villas. I really liked the Airbnb options and thought that Hacienda Cereza was a particularly good deal.
San Pancho (San Francisco, Nayarit) is for Body Surfing
Just north of Sayulita as you travel along the Riviera Nayarit is San Pancho. The mellow beach community, tropic golf course and numerous dining options have made this pueblo a retiree paradise. Beach cruiser bikes, skateboards and golf carts are the preferred methods of transportation much like the beaches of San Diego.
San Pancho Surf
While there are waves out front, they don’t have the best form for surfing. More often than not the waves out front are beach break close outs without much length of ride. Beginning and intermediate level surfers will enjoy the beaches of Sayulita, Chacala and San Blas much more than those of San Pancho. Body surfers will be frothing to get some uncrowded waves.
Most of the year the surf in San Pancho is best on the southern part of the beach, just south of the arroyo. When a really big winter time north swell comes through you will find sand bars that you didn’t know existed and only work one day a year.