I’m back after 5 wonderful days of surf and sun in Sayulita, Mexico – a small, hippie town on the west coast of Mexico near Puerto Vallarta. I’ve been to Mexico three times and this was by far my favorite trip of all. For being such a small beach town, there is SO much to do! Joe and I had no shortage of fun things to keep us busy, and by the end of the trip, I feel so relaxed yet high from all the activity and sports – my favorite type of vacation. 🙂
Day 1: Settling in + sunset on the beach
Joe and I flew into Puerto Vallarta in the early afternoon and drove straight up to Sayulita. 1 hour later we made it to our adorable, colorful Airbnb and settled right in.
Feeling restless from our travel day, we went straight into town to explore. We took our time walking through the streets, and right away noticed that Sayulita was full of life – colorful houses, kites blowing in the wind, shops selling their hippie products. There was always something to marvel at left and right.
I immediately fell in love with the vibe, and it was clear that to fully soak in this trip, we’d need to shift from our go-go-go mindset in SF to chillaxing mode in Mexico.
My soul town ❤
After walking through town, we hit up the beach which was only 2 blocks from our apartment. The beach was pretty busy with both locals and tourists, but it felt surreal to finally reach this much anticipated vacation spot.
We walked north of the beach and it calmed down significantly. Joe and I decided to enjoy the sunset with a refreshing mojito and margarita. After a hectic day of travel, relaxing by the sunset finally calmed our adrenaline and reach that relaxing happy spot.
After the sunset, we were on the hunt for dinner. We found a yummy spot serving tacos + modelos. It felt very local to sit on the streets and watch fire dancers and drum circles perform around us. A perfect end to our first day. 🙂
Day 2: First surf day + massage + easy evening
Sayulita is known for attracting surfers of all levels from all over the world, and so the next day, Joe and I wanted nothing more than to be active and hit the waves. First some breakfast in the town square.
Then we found an amazing surf shop one block from our apartment called Luna Surf. They were the chillest, nicest surf shop I’ve ever been to – highly recommend! We rented some boards and went straight to the ocean.
I learned to surf a few months ago at surf camp in Nicaragua, and Joe had gone a few times before too. At first, the waves wiped us out us as we chose an advanced section of the beach. Then we got advice to move to a beginner spot and boy did it make a difference! I spent some time giving Joe a lesson on the white-water and he nailed it in no time. I joined him shortly after and I swear Joe surpassed my skill level! After that point we had such a blast surfing together in the same section, catching the same waves, and sharing each other’s wins. 🙂 I was so happy to have surfing as another special way to bond.
After a few hours in the water, we worked up quite an appetite. We had some lunch featuring some loaded nachos.
And chocolate bananas –> DELISH
After lunch, we moseyed through town browsing through stores and stopping by a tour shop called Wild Mex to book a hike for the next day.
Afterwards, we killed some time relaxing at the villa Airbnb, and then headed to a secluded part of the beach for a massage. Massages in Sayulita were SO cheap – I got a relaxing one while Joe got a deep tissue. I’m a wimp when it comes to masssages and even the relaxing ones feel hard for me! In any case, this one was super nice and it felt like I went to heaven.
Our massages ended at golden hour – perfect time to lay out on our beach chairs, sip a fresh coconut, and watch the waves and sunset. My favorite photo from the trip ❤
We decided to switch things up that night and trade Mexican food for Italian food. I don’t have high standards for western food outside the U.S. but this restaurant had the BEST pasta and pizza. Totally hit the spot. 🙂
Some hazelnut ice cream for dessert before calling it a night. 🙂
Day 3: Monkey Mountain hike + golf cart adventure
The next morning, we had something special booked. Joe and I huge nature lovers, so we couldn’t say no to a popular hike on Monkey Mountain. We joined a tour group with one other guest from Germany. Monkey Mountain was a short 15 minute drive from town, and within a few miles the vibe instantly changed from coastal beaches to the lush jungle. The diversity in landscape was definitely something we craved and appreciated.
The hike itself was filled with tons of plants, trees, and interesting pieces of nature left and right. It was quite a fun one!
Our guide pointed our different fruits and plants, including these adorable small coconuts that produced coconut oil.
Our guide asked us if we wanted the easy trail or the hard one…you can guess which one we picked 😉 Joe and I are always up for a challenge, and it was so fun to get ropes involved and climb on all fours!
The last bit of hike felt like it would never end as it was basically straight uphill, but we finally made it! It felt SO good to soak in the views of the ocean and surrounding towns. Seriously one of the best views I’ve seen in a while – Joe and I hike almost every weekend in SF and this was our hardest one yet!
After our hike, we drove back to town and cooled off with a quick swim in the ocean. Then we treated ourselves to a much-deserved lunch.
And some ice cream 🙂
As if our day couldn’t get any more fun, Joe and I spontaneously rented a golf cart for an afternoon adventure. We noticed people driving around town with golf carts and thought why not give it a shot! We haggled our way to let a local restaurant let us borrow theirs for a few hours and we hit the road.
To my surprise, driving the golf cart was SO much fun. Driving downtown was a little challenging, but once we got to the outskirts, we could really book it. The golf cart basically felt like a tuk tuk but more open and spacious. 🙂
We made our way to a remote part of town that was straight up in the jungle which housed the expensive resorts – it was so peaceful to drive through the lush green streets.
Most special was making our way to the other side of town where we climbed the hills filled with cobble-stone streets and beautiful, mansions for the richest 1% of Mexico. Joe and I couldn’t help but “ooo” and “ahh” at the beautiful houses and landscape. I remember this part so fondly as we non-stop laughed and joked around on our ridiculous golf cart.
Made a few stops to explore the streets.
After the mansion tour, we drove down the coast and spent some time on the rocky coast. So gorgeous.
Another favorite picture ❤
After golf carting, we were on cloud nine. What a highlight of the trip! We decided to wind down with another massage from the same spot as yesterday since we loved it so much, followed by watching the gorgeous sunset on our beach chairs.
The sun went down, and we cleaned up in our apartment. Then we went right back out and, to our surprise, found a hip bar selling CBD infused drinks. Looks like Kava Lounge made it to Sayulita! We were beyond thrilled to have this alternative to alcohol and chilled the rest of the night on our CBD high.
Day 4: Surfing + sunset routine
We eased into the morning through a hearty breakfast and spending quality time in the town square. Then we were craving time with the waves after the previous day in the mountains, and so we got back in the ocean 🙂
The water was pretty choppy, but after our progress on the first day, Joe and I really hit our stride. A nice local took our photos on the beach in exchange for some pesos, and so we got some pretty dope candid shots! 🙂
The funnest part of surfing with Joe is that we really shared each other’s highs. Every time Joe or I caught a wave, the other would cheer in excitement. It felt like we were kids again having so much fun out there. 😉
Such a fun time surfing – we were out there for 4+ hours! Afterwards we grabbed a much deserve chocolate banana (we were obsessed with them) and enjoyed our treats in the town square – the square was such a peaceful, colorful, shaded spot that we fell in love with.
By the time surfing was over, it was already golden hour. We took our beach chairs (conveniently as fashionable backpacks), bought some beers, and plopped down in our usual spot for the sunset. I love how Joe and I fell into a mini-routine everyday while still filling each moment with excitement.
Last sunset was bittersweet. I didn’t want it to end. ❤
Our night ended with a pizza dinner and more CBD drinks at our “Kava Lounge” away from home. 🙂
Day 5: Making the most of our last surf day
Final day in Mexico! We booked an evening flight out of Puerto Vallarta which I was originally unsure about, but we ended up being SO glad to have the extra day as we sure made the most of it! We started off sipping coffee in our villa and reflecting on all the amazing moments of the trip as well as excitement for our future. ❤
After breakfast, we put on our bathing suits, grabbed some surf boards, and went right back out for one last surf day. Joe and I agreed that this last day was our favorite surf day of it all. The waves were mild and consistent, and we both caught several green waves…woot woot!
So gratifying to end on a high note. I’m beyond glad we got so much surf time in the water – learning in warm water made such a difference in gaining confidence and skill – Joe and I agreed it’s definitely something we want to carry with us back home and in our future travels too!
Our last meal in Mexico was at Naddy’s, recommended by our hiking tour guide. It was a local spot selling street tacos that were honestly the best tacos I’ve ever eaten. Definitely ended on a high note with food.
And just like that, it was time to pack our bags and head on plane back to San Francisco.
I remember when Joe and I were planning this trip a month ago, we were hesitant to spend the time and money…but in the end, I am so SO grateful we took the plunge and went. Sayulita seriously ended up being one of my favorite place in the world, and I would definitely go back again, especially given how close it is from SF.
Somehow I feel even MORE refreshed after the trip, which is quite rare. I feel exhausted and sore, but in a good way from after sports. Surfing has honestly changed my world. Beach towns to me use to be relaxing but quickly got boring – with surfing now, I have a newfound connection to nature and a fun activity at all times.
Most special, I have more confidence than ever that Joe and I are amazing travel partners. We are both so adventurous and down for anything, and look for unique local experiences and not just comfort of fancy hotels and instagram spots. I’m truly grateful that our first big trip was such a success, and we are endlessly excited for all the other places on our bucket list. ❤