Sayulita Surf Scene

Sayulita Beach, Nayarit, Mexico

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.

Longboarding Sayulita surf
The Sayulita surf favors a longboard but you can surf anything you like.

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.

Surfline Sayulita Surf Report

Small Sayulita surf
People surfing even on the small days

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.

Sayulita Airbnb

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

San Pancho Life, Nayarit, Mexico
San Pancho Life

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.

Truffles, brownie and hot chocolate at Mexicolate, San Pancho, Nayarit
Chocolate at Mexicolate, San Pancho, Nayarit. The foodie scene in town is awesome!

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.



  1. Ken Hudson
    September 10, 2018 / 2:35 am

    Great post Paul!!!! Sounds like my kind of place!!!!

    • Paul Hudson
      September 10, 2018 / 4:45 am

      Nico wants to take you to the beach! Grandpa needs to teach him how to surf!

  2. Mayra White
    February 2, 2019 / 11:53 pm

    What would be your most recommended lodging in Nayarit? I will be visiting cousins in Guadalajara in May and would like to entice them to take a jaunt there with me. Ideally a place I would love to stay would include great views, possibly a swim up pool and just an overall relaxing place to spend a couple of nights. Coming from Los Angeles 🙂

    • Paul Hudson
      February 3, 2019 / 8:43 pm

      Tough call. Chacala is the closest beach when coming from Guadalajara. There is an awesome place called Mare de Jade. If want to make it all the way to Sayulita, I really like Casa Cereza. Its an affordable and super clean Airbnb about a 5 min walk from the main plaza. And if you want to spend some money, The Grand Palladium in Punta Mita is awesome. There is a great surf spot right in front and the beach club has plenty of boards. So many great options! Have fun!!

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