Planning a trip to Sayulita, Mexico in the Riviera Nayarit in 2020? This is our experience with kids, including tips and insights for the best vacation.
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Sayulita, Mexico has been on my travel bucket list for around a year after seeing YouTube videos of the colorful street art, Chocobanana, and Playa Sayulita. Plus, there’s over 100 places to eat in the big-little town of Sayulita. That’s a major win in my book.
So, for 2020 we decided to start the year and my 29th Birthday off in the beautiful beach town of Sayulita, Mexico. Sayulita has recently been named one of just 111 “pueblos magicos” in all of Mexico. And after a week there, I can attest that the town is pure magic.
TIP: If you are traveling with young children, be sure to check out our post on the 15 Life-Changing Tips for Traveling With Kids.
Getting to Sayulita from Puerto Vallarta International Airport
We began our journey to Nayarit on January 1st, flying out of Denver, to LAX and finally into Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco. Since there are no direct flights to Sayulita, Mexico, the closest airport is in Puerto Vallarta. Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita are in different states, but there are only about 26 miles between them.
Prior to our travel, I set up private transportation to and from our hotel in Sayulita and the airport in Puerto Vallarta. I called Jose Ramos Transportation after reading reviews on TripAdvisor.
Like many of the reviews states, Ramos Transportation was super easy to work with. First of all, they speak English, which is beneficial for those who are not fluent in Spanish. The service was easy to set up. You need to provide flight information, departure time, number of passengers, and the hotel name in Sayulita in which you are staying.
When I booked, the price was $130 for roundtrip transportation. This fee is paid once your driver picks you up from the airport, and is paid in USD.
Let me note, our flight was almost 3 hours late due to a weather delay that landed us in Mazatlan for over an hour and a half. Our driver waited at Puerto Vallarta International Airport the entire time. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for his patience.
Although the distance between the two cities is less than 30 miles, the travel time from the airport to Sayulita takes around an hour depending on the time of day. We arrived late at night and there wasn’t much traffic in Puerto Vallarta. However, we departed PV at 2:30 and it took at least 30 minutes to drive through the city to the airport.
If we were to go again, I would definitely call Ramos Transportation. Seeing the traffic and road conditions in the area, I am very glad we decided not to rent a car. And if you haven’t spent much time driving in Mexico, I would not recommend this as your first go at it.
Our Stay at Hotel Boutique Oz in Sayulita
We arrived at Hotel Boutique Oz, located near the far end of the main street in Sayulita, Av Revolución. I loved the location of our hotel because it was perfect walking distance to Playa Sayulita as well as downtown shops and restaurants.
I can’t say this is the best hotel in Sayulita, as there are many and we only stayed here. But, the accommodations, price point, and family-friendliness were exactly the qualities we were looking for. And we were exceptionally happy with our 5-night stay.
What We Loved About Hotel Boutique Oz
Upon arriving, our Deluxe Double Room was pristine and came with a fridge, stocked mini-bar, microwave, and a far more luxurious bathroom than I have at home.
The beds were comfortable, in my opinion. My husband, Chris, thought they were a bit firm. The room was fully stocked with towels as well as a personal safe that you can set a code for. Having a safe in our hotel room during extended stays is always a major benefit for me, so it was nice that they had one.
Can I just touch on the bathroom one more time? I fell in love with the shower. The waterfall shower head and glass encasement was dreamy and so luxurious. I spent many evenings washing away the sand with a lengthy shower.
Our room had two ceiling fans with adjustable speed setting, as well as an AC unit. Coming from Montana, I was totally okay with the warmer temps, so we skipped the AC and only used the fans.
Each day, the room was cleaned around noon and the housekeepers left three new bottles of water for us. Also, the hotel has a 5-gallon water dispenser downstairs near the lobby for filling water bottles.
Hotel Boutique Oz in Sayulita has a beautiful rooftop pool. Unfortunately, we didn’t spend much time there as were busy exploring the town. But, the children were super excited to swim in the pool after dark while mom and dad relaxed in the lounge chairs poolside. There are also some swinging daybeds and a rooftop bar that stay open until 10-11pm each night.
Also, all the rooms have an outdoor entrance with a small patio and sitting area. My husband and I really enjoyed this in the evenings when the children were in bed with iPads (exhausted) and we wanted to sit up, talk, and have a drink.
The staff was extremely friendly and helpful. Our check-in and check-out processes were quick and easy. The staff spoke English and explained everything in the room and hotel very well.
I believe we paid around $140 per night for our room with 4 guests during the busiest tourist season of the year.
What We Didn’t Love About Hotel Boutique Oz
Let me clarify, we were not looking for a 5-star resort. We knew we wouldn’t be spending a lot of time in our hotel room, so it wasn’t of the utmost priority. That being said, there were a few disappointments.
A few heads ups if you are going to book your stay at Hotel Boutique Oz in Sayulita, Mexico:
- Our room didn’t have a phone to call for room service. We let the front desk know, and although the stated they would get us one, this never happened.
- The food served for Room Service (which my husband had to walk down to order at 11pm on the night we arrived) was overpriced and subpar quality.
- The drinks from the connected restaurant (Maria Bonita) are so far overpriced from anywhere else in town. My husband walked down to the bar one evening and ordered a margarita and bloody mary and he paid 800 pesos… $40 for two double drinks. We were outraged! Anywhere else in town, you can get a similar drink for around 100 pesos.
Where to Eat in Sayulita, Mexico
I dive deeper into our favorite restaurants in Sayulita in this post because we ate so much amazing food while in Sayulita. Although, we came nowhere near stopping at all 100 restaurants. But, as an overview, I wanted to share our favorites for each meal of the day here.
Breakfast in Sayulita
While our hotel, Hotel Boutique Oz, does offer complimentary breakfast for all guests, we never took advantage. We were eager to get out on the town early and try different spots to eat.
My favorite breakfast food from our trip was at La Rustíca. While this mainly a pizza and Italian dinner spot, this was our first breakfast in Sayulita and it was my favorite.
I ordered the red chilaquiles with eggs. If you have never had chilaquiles before, I highly recommend getting some while in Mexico. They are little bites of corn tortillas fried in red or green sauce, and it’s heavenly with a side of eggs.
On top of that, I also had a bloody mary from their ‘cure’ section of the menu. This may have been my favorite bloody mary during our entire trip. I’m not much of a margarita girl or a tequila girl, for that matter.
Chris had a chelada and he said it was the best chelada he has ever had. Unfortunately, neither of us can remember what he had to eat there, and he isn’t the best with photographing his meals. They also have a large selection of coffee, tea, and smoothies.
For the kids, they have an assortment of standard breakfast foods. We ordered both the girls the standard breakfast that came with pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Both gave it a huge thumbs up.
I honestly, wanted to come back to this restaurant in Sayulita later in the day, but we ran out of time. We were very impressed with the food, service, and prices. They take cash and cards here.
Lunch in Sayulita
Because lunch is so versatile, I don’t have a specific favorite here. Instead, I want to touch on a few restaurants in Sayulita that have wonderful lunch options.
If you are traveling to Sayulita, Mexico with younger kids, it’s likely that they aren’t familiar or all that enthused by the cultural foods. On two occasions we went to Ruben, which offers classic burgers with fries as well as burritos, salads, quesadillas, and more.
Ruben is located on Delfines street, and from sidewalk seating, you can see the beach. The atmosphere here is lively as the street is likely one of the most popular in Sayulita due to the colorful banners hung above the street.
Chirs and I both ordered the chicken burrito, which was heavenly. The girls got hamburgers, fries, and a coca-cola. They were the happiest little travelers in those moments.
Another great place to have lunch is on the terrace of Terra Viva. From the terrace, you can see the ocean, and there is plenty of space between tables, making it less crowded than some of the street-level restaurants.
Dinner in Sayulita
On our 4th night in Sayulita, we went to dinner at Sayulita Café Casa del Chile Relleno. The menu was filled with an abundance of fresh seafood and was on par with everywhere else in town, price-wise.
If you have children who are picky eaters, the menu didn’t have a lot to offer, but when I asked the owner who was standing nearby what they had for kids, he offered to make them cheese quesadillas. I thought it was very kind of them to offer, and it made our experience eating with the kids much more enjoyable.
For starters, we had the shrimp ceviche. I’ve never had ceviche before, but that day earlier at the beach, a woman I talked with called it “nature’s candy”, so I had to try it. The shrimp ceviche was very good. There was a lot of lime flavor, but it was a nice light appetizer before the main course.
I ordered the diablo shrimp. Since arriving in Mexico, I had yet to find a really spicy dish, which I am always chasing. And the diablo shrimp delivered. They were definitely a level 4 out of 5 on the heat scale, and the flavor and variety of spices were incredible. The dish was served with rice and sauteed vegetables including squash, broccoli, carrots, and peppers.
Chris ordered the fajitas. I was astonished at the size of the dish when it came. It was a large bowl filled with meat, vegetables, herbs, and a very flavorful sauce. The entire dish was served with warm tortillas.
If you are really hungry and want a large serving of food and the most bang for your buck, definitely stop here. They have huge portions and tons of flavor.
Sayulita, Mexico Beaches
While Sayulita is typically a small town, with only around 5,000 local residents, it booms during tourist season. And when I say booms, I mean that the beach is literally hundreds and hundreds of umbrellas and lounge chairs packed side by side. Each rented for the day for around 200 pesos.
But you can stroll down to Playa Sayulita from the town center in about minutes. The beach is kept clean and the waves that touch the shore here are gentle enough for children to play in (with supervision). *There are lifeguards, but certainly not enough to watch over the thousands of people hanging out the beach at any given time*.
Sitting on the beach you can play in the sand. You can buy a sandcastle toy kit from a vendor for around 100 pesos. You can also play in the water or watch the surfers crest the rip curl as it comes in. There are also multiple bars and restaurants right on the beach.
If you head north along Playa Sayulita, you will reach a road. Continue traveling north and you will find the smaller beach, Playa los Muertos.
We spent an entire day at Playa lost Muertos, which was a bit of a hidden cover, although not so hidden anymore. Early in the day there were a lot of lounge chairs and umbrellas available. When you rent one, you also get drink and food delivery service from the vendors located at Playa los Muertos beach. They make a meeeannn margarita over there.
The waves here were intense and the kids needed constant supervision. Due to the shape of the beach, the waves come in from three different directions making them rather violent. Luckily, everyone around us was very kind and much like a village. We all watched out for each other and each other’s children, despite language barriers.
Of all the days we spent in Sayulita, the children enjoyed the day at Playa los Muertos beach the most. Be sure to pack on the sunscreen. We used this one because it’s reef safe and 50spf.
Other Things to Do in Sayulita
But as I leave you with this guide to Sayulita, Mexico, I wanted to give you some resources to check out if you want to expand your activities:
- ChicaLocca Tours to Marieta’s Islands: we did this for my birthday and I could not have asked for a better experience. Read about our tour here. Aside from the free tequila that eventually led to me puking. Happy Birthday to me.
- Baby Turtle Release: Although we visited too late and didn’t get to participate, you can help release freshly hatched baby turtles into the sea during your vacation. Definitely check it out if you are traveling between August and December.
- Bonfire on the Beach: on Friday nights, there is a bonfire held on the beach down at Cocos Beach club on Playa Sayulita. Enjoy other people, music, and drinks.
- Live Street Performances: Shortly after dark, you can find numerous street performances. In the city center there was a magic show each evening, and another night we came across a band and dancers on Delfines street.
- Hike Monkey Mountain: Just south of Sayulita is monkey mountain. You can join a group hike and walk through the dense jungle of the Camino de Jaguar.
- Learn to Surf: There are multiple surf schools in Sayulita. The average cost is around $80 for 2 hours per person.