Seven years ago, as we were planning our wedding, we asked a friend out here in Colorado where we should go for our honeymoon. Without skipping a beat, he immediately recommended Sayulita, Mexico, a small surfing/fishing town about 30 miles from Puerto Vallarta. We jumped on this recommendation, due to the relative affordability and accessibility, and had a wonderful time. Although we spent one day on that trip getting pummeled by “Hurricane Rick” (no joke), we loved the town, the resort where we stayed, and vowed to return.
Finally, we put the plans in place to finally revisit Sayulita and bring a few friends in tow this year, and returned just a couple weeks ago. Round two did not disappoint, and we are already talking about going back!
We arrived on a Wednesday afternoon, and like our previous trip, opted to take the local bus into Sayulita. It’s definitely a bit of an adventure, versus taking the hotel shuttle or a taxi, but is a great way to kick off a trip off the beaten path.
Once we arrived in Sayulita, we were transported to the resort, Playa Escondida. The resort, which translates to “Hidden Beach,” is truly a hidden gem. Although it is not quite as undiscovered as it was during our last visit (it has become a filming location for the TV show “The Bachelor” within the last couple years), and has grown a bit, it was still the welcoming and relaxing retreat we remembered. With hammocks on the balconies of the individual thatched-roof cabanas, sandy paths meandering through palm trees to get around the property, open-air showers and bedrooms overlooking the rippling ocean, the connection to the natural surroundings makes for a uniquely immersive experience. On top of that, the service is personal and the food and beverage are top-notch.
After arriving and getting the grand tour and our “welcome drink” from the jovial bartender, Jorge, we settled into our room and began enjoying our private balcony and soaking up the whole “we’re on vacation!” vibe.
Our friend, Dawn, who had gotten to Sayulita and was staying at a hostel in town for the first couple of days, joined us the first evening for drinks and a poolside dinner, and then we drifted off to the sounds of the waves floating into our open windows.
The next day, after breakfast by the pool, we decided to head into town to meet up with Dawn again. On our previous visit, we had taken the walk into town several times, which turned out to be a comfortable stroll through the jungle into town. For reference, here is a map of the area, showing the preferred walking route.
Knowing that this path existed, we thought we’d get a little creative, and attempt to instead follow the beach all the way into town. We knew it was a little longer, and that there were a few rocks we’d have to climb over, but with an open schedule and the laid-back vacation vibe on our side, we figured we’d give it a shot.
Long story short, there were more than a few rocks to traverse, and some of the climbs got quite intense, especially as I was outfitted in a bikini and sandals (Anthony was smart and wore sneakers). At one point we turned a corner and saw this imposing cliff.
I’m not sure if photos do it justice — it was about 50-60′ high and straight up — but let’s just say that even with our rock climbing experience, we managed to shimmy about halfway up before we realized that we had made a grave mistake. After getting safely back to the ground and assessing our options (I was hellbent against heading back after all that work), we ended up finding a steep path up and through the jungle that brought us out safely to the other side of the “Cliff of Doom” as I liked to refer to it, but only about halfway to our destination. After about 3 (!) hours, we finally made it to civilization and met Dawn on the beach in town.
After some hard-earned beers and some lunch, I had recharged enough to dare a surf lesson, and I quickly found a teacher on the beach, while Anthony and Dawn explored town a bit before returning to watch me go.
To my surprise, I did a lot better than my last couple attempts, and I actually managed to stand a good majority of the time!
After I had become thoroughly exhausted by the surf, we headed over to Dawn’s hostel, where we relaxed for a bit in the hammocks and played some games until it was time to head to dinner.
We got some delicious seafood at a local restaurant, and then returned to the hostel bar for some cheap drinks and mingling with visitors from all over the world, teaching them some of our favorite games. It was a fun night and reminded us very much of our Europe trip with the camaraderie of fellow travelers.
The next morning, we had a relaxing morning and then headed into town — opting for a taxi this time — to meet Dawn for some more beach-side drinks. Afterwards, we did a little shopping in town and then headed back to Playa Escondida for some R+R, relaxing on our balcony and beside the pool. That afternoon, our friends Glenn and Mandy arrived and the party really began!
We enjoyed *a few* drinks at the beach bar, and played on the beach a bit before dinner, which we enjoyed all together by the pool.
After we finished a delicious meal, we hustled over to the infinity hot tub for one of my favorite moments of the trip. All together, we watched the sun go down over the Pacific Ocean, enjoying a seemingly-neverending sunset.
The next day, we spent some downtime relaxing on the beach while our friends partook in the outdoor yoga class, and I collected a few seashells.
After we had all grouped up, we decided to take the advised trek into town, arriving to the main beach in about a half an hour. After some lunch, we met up with some friends who also happened to be traveling in from Denver, who we found lounging under a beach umbrella. After a little more meandering through the small town as we digested, Anthony and I tried our hand once again at surfing. Although it was not as successful as with my instructor the time before, we still had a great time playing around in the ocean.
Afterwards, we visited our friends’ rental house, a beautiful villa overlooking the town and beach.
That night, we headed into town for a nice dinner, after which we had some fun at some of the local bars, dancing and enjoying local music. We were reminded of how small a town Sayulita is, as we ran into our surf instructor and some Playa Escondida employees, all who were incredibly friendly even “off the clock.” After we had had our fill of the nightlife, we sampled some local street food — chorizo tacos, which were delicious — and headed back to the resort.
On our last full day, we took it easy, basking in the vacation feeling, and lounging around more by the beach and pools (are you noticing a theme?). After some games in the palapa, accompanied by the most amazing quesadillas and guacamole, I decided that I’d take up the resort’s instructor on a quick boogie boarding lesson. I wish we had gotten a pic of the one wave that I actually caught on the boogie board — much, much larger than anything I had surfed — and before the instructor had even made it out to the water yet. I had accidentally started going when I saw a wave coming, knowing I’d either have to ride it or crash into it. I chose to ride it, and it lifted me so high in the air I felt like I was flying — both an exhilarating and terrifying experience, and as I glided into shore, I promptly returned the board to the instructor and headed back to the safety of the bar.
After recovering from my ocean experience, we decided to rent a couple golf carts and make our way into town yet again. As you might note, this is the fourth different way we made the trek, but was by far the most fun. Who knew we could have so much fun going about 30 mph on cobblestone streets?? We rode into town, and after doing a bit more shopping, eating and drinking (and cat discovering!), we headed up past town and found ourselves in a ritzy neighborhood that seemed to have another private beach.
That night, we book-ended the trip with yet another beautiful sunset, this time from the infinity pool instead of the hot tub. After watching the sky transform again, we headed back to the restaurant for another delicious meal, rounding out another fun — but much too short — vacation to Sayulita.