Less than an hour north of Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita, a small surf town along the Riviera Nayarit, has officially hit its tourism stride. With cheap local eateries and plenty of outdoors activities, the tiny town is starting to pop up on the radars of both adventure and beach-bound travelers. Here are five reasons to pencil this town into your plans sooner rather than later: It’s accessible by public bus. Despite it being 30 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, you won’t need to rent a car to get to Sayulita. From the airport, grab the bus to Walmart (6.5 pesos, or 50 cents) and transfer to the Sayulita bus (30 pesos, or $2.30). (Tip: Since multiple buses go to Sayulita from outside of Walmart, be sure to take the one that does not go through Punta Mita, as it will cut about an hour from your travel time. The shorter bus route takes anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half.)
Lodging is cheap and charming. You can find cheap bungalows and rooms for rent, both by owner and in the form of professional rentals. Most lodging, like much of the town, features bold, bright colors and traditional Mexican décor. Split a bungalow two or four ways to save cash, or there is also a campground and two hostels in town.
Over-sized margaritas taste better. It might look like a tourist trap, but don’t be afraid to pull up a chair at El Costeno beachside restaurant and order one of its giant margaritas – you know, the ones that never seem to go down as you drink them. For 70 pesos (approximately $5), both you and a friend can leave feeling solidly tipsy, if you so desire. Or, when sitting on the beach, buy a beer for $1 or less at a corner convenience store. Give El Mezcalita a try for its 50 peso ($4) beer-shot combo.
If you time your visit correctly, entertainment is free. Puerto Vallarta comes alive the first week in December for the Festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and that buzz finds its way to Sayulita as well. During the festival, which begins on December 1 and concludes on the 12th, food vendors and live performances take over the square, allowing you plenty of entertainment and socialization outside of a bar or restaurant.
Two words…Street food. Don’t spend your money on $5 tacos at places like Sayulita Fish Taco – hit up the local vendors on the streets instead. “Expensive” tacos are approximately $3, and some can be had for as cheap as a $1. Visit a churro stand for dessert, and you’ll be all filled up for less than $5.