Mexico week 4: secret beaches + off the beaten path activities + final days in Sayulita

And just like that, our dreamy month in Mexico is over! I’m writing this post on my flight back to San Francisco feeling a bit sentimental but also excited to go back home. One month was the perfect amount of time in Mexico – it gave us the outdoorsy adventure & local living we were looking for and also an appreciation for the wonderful life we’re coming back to.

For this final post, I’m going to share some off-the-beaten-path things we found during our time here. Since we’ve accumulated a good amount of time in Sayulita, including our last visit 1.5 years ago, we’ve basically learned every inch of the surrounding area and we’ve discovered a few things that might not be on the usual Sayulita itinerary.

First off, we found a few beaches other than the main Sayulita Beach by exploring with our golf cart. Outside of the town is a network of bumpy dirt roads in the midst of a lush jungle, and it was one of our favorites places to explore.

driving golf cart in jungle

One of our favorite beaches was Playa de Muertos, which translates to “beach of the dead” because it’s right next to a cemetery. The beach is walkable from town but much easier to get to with a golf cart. It’s a small beach surrounded by huge rocks and picturesque houses on the green hills, which makes for quite the beautiful scene.

Playa de Muertos

There are still a good amount of people hanging out at Playa de Muertos, but it’s not nearly as crowded as Sayulita Beach. It seems like where the locals go, as there’s just one casual shack selling food/drinks versus Sayulita Beach where there are restaurants left and right. There’s also no one going up to you to sell trinkets, play music, etc, which makes the whole experience much calmer. We went here almost every other day to dip in the water and soak in the views. 

Fresh coconut on Playa de Muertos

One day, Joe was looking at a map and saw a small beach called Playa Carricitos. Not knowing anything about it, we got in the golf cart and set out to find it. We got to the end of the road with nowhere to go, and we found another tourist who gave us directions for a 15-minute hike to the beach.

hike to playa carricitos

When we got there, it was the most amazing site. A beautiful beach all to ourselves! I think it was a combination of the beach not being popular and hard to get which meant no one else was there. 

Playa Carricitos

We had a lovely afternoon swimming in the water, drying off under our umbrella, and going right back into the ocean to swim some more. We could really let loose and spread out since we it was just us two.

Posing on the beach

Impulse purchase 😉

Wearing children's goggles

More surfing happened in our final week. I mentioned in my last post that we decided not to surf at Sayulita Beach anymore because we found the low water levels to be dangerous, so we ended up taking day trips to La Lancha in Punta Mita. La Lancha is a massive beach with several surf breaks you can choose from. There was one harder/intermediate break that I spent a good amount of time on which helped me progress.

One thing about La Lancha is there’s a 10-minute hike to get to the beach in addition to the 30-minute drive. Usually this kind of secluded spot would be up my alley, but carrying a surf board for that long sure got tiring! It definitely took more to mentally prepare for a surf session at La Lancha. I think the ideal situation would have been to surf every day at Sayulita Beach since it was so close, but if there’s anything I learned about surfing it’s that you can’t control nature and La Lancha was definitely the safer choice.

Couple surfing in La Lancha

One good thing that came out of our reduced surfing at Sayulita Beach was Joe and I took on stand-up paddle boarding there instead. I had been paddle boarding before but this was Joe’s first time, and it ended up being a super fun activity for the both of us. Paddle boarding has everything we love: fresh air, swimming, getting close to animals (there were lots of pelicans on the water), chilling/napping on the board, discovering new spots we otherwise couldn’t by land…we went out several times and it was one of our favorite activities last week.

Stand up paddle boarding in Sayulita
Stand up paddle boarding in Sayulita
View from SUP

One of Joe’s favorite activities was walking through the massive garden that was part of our Airbnb. Regular readers of this blog know that Joe is an avid gardener, and he was fascinated by every detail and change with these tropical plants. Our Airbnb host was very happy to see someone appreciate it!

Looking at tropical plants in Mexico

We loved watching birds hang out in this bird bath.

bird bath

Because we had a long-term stay, we formed a good bond with our Airbnb host, and he was gracious enough to invite us to his pool. Our host lived next to us in a massive mansion up on the picturesque Sayulita hills…he was a positive person to have around as he’s retired and living his best life in Mexico while making passive income through his bnbs…#lifegoals.

The pool was phenomenal…it had the absolute best views of Sayulita from the top of the hill. We felt massively blessed to have this extra amenity towards the end of our stay, and we made sure to take advantage of it several times. And our host was just happy someone was using his pool.

Pool with views of Sayulita
Pool with views of Sayulita
Pool fun

There was one tree in town that was filled with iguanas. We weren’t sure why, but all the iguanas in town fled to this tree. This picture has just one of them but we counted at least a dozen!

Iguanas in a tree

One of our favorite parts of the trip – Joe and I got a massage once of week. The massages ranged from $20-35 which was a steal we couldn’t pass up. Our favorite was from the Amor Boutique Hotel. It was on the higher end of the price range but so worth it as the massage therapists were more legit and the room was AC-ed with views of the beach.

Massage

We ate SO many mangos on this trip. I’m pretty sure we bought up every last mango in town.

Buying mangos at a local produce stand in Mexico

I never had a good churro before this trip and now I’ve officially fallen in love with them.

Churros

On one of our last days, we discovered a delicious café called Ruben’s that served a mix of American, Mexican and Asian food. It was right in the middle of the downtown action where you could watch people take pictures underneath the colorful flags. The food was some of the best food we had on the trip. We wish we discovered it sooner! We ate there every day up to the end to make the most of it.

Ruben's in Sayulita

Our last meal at our favorite local spot near our Airbnb. We went here so many times and never strayed from our regular order (Joe got the chicken quesadilla and I got shrimp tacos).

Local Mexican food

Now it’s time to trade in tank tops and flip flops for perpetual sweater weather in SF. I truly am looking forward to coming home and reuniting with my plant babies and the cats. It’s a great feeling to not dread going home after a trip; to me that means I have a life and community that I love in San Francisco.

It’s so crazy to think 3 months ago, it was a far-away dream to work remotely in Mexico, and we actually made it into a reality! It was so worth the planning, logistics, and the ups and downs of travel. This was hands down one of the best things I’ve ever done and I got so much out of living here for a longer period than a typical vacation. While it feels a little out of place to travel while we are still going through a pandemic, I’m grateful we took this opportunity and I’ll always look back fondly of our Sayulita days.


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