This post was last updated on January 15, 2021. For real-time updates about Sayulita, find us on Instagram. As of today, the state of Nayarit has declared an 8:00 pm curfew for non-essential businesses like bars, restaurants, and cantinas until February 5, 2021.
Thanks for the very helpful blog! I think this is the only blog I saw about Sayulita and it’s really packed with information. Thanks a lot! Is Sayulita open? I am planning to go there on January 15th and I am not sure if I should book the tickets. Do you think they will cancel my flight? What is the current situation in Sayulita? Thank you again! I look forward to your response.
HOWARD DAVIDSON, USA
Questions about Sayulita? We always answer reader questions so if you have any, feel free to email us at sayulitainsider[at]gmail[dot]com or send us a message through our channels below:
Is Sayulita open? An overview
As of January 7, 2020, the state of Nayarit (where Sayulita is located) has 8,084 confirmed cases and 685 deaths. We are not in the top 10 states in Mexico with the most COVID cases. We’re not even in the top 20. The Nayarit lifestyle is all about beaches so we live an outdoorsy lifestyle here. Meaning, we are never in cramped areas.
To better understand if Sayulita is open for tourism, we are giving you a month-by-month account of what went down this year together with our experiences during the lockdown.
April and May 2020: the first lockdown
Unlike Asia, Europe, and the USA, lockdown in Mexico came late. As far as we can remember, Sayulita received the lockdown notice on April 21st, stating that everyone can only go out for important stuff like grocery shopping. All restaurants and hotels were closed. April and May are the final two months of high season in Sayulita so many businesses suffered as they were forced to close.
Sayulita locals took the initiative to only open town for residents. At the time, we weren’t sure how they will be able to identify who are the residents but the locals had an idea of giving car stickers to easily identify who lives here. Nobody was allowed to enter and we enjoyed Sayulita’s emptiness for these months!
Puerto Vallarta International Airport, the closest airport to Sayulita canceled all flights (domestic and international). The airport was also closed for 2.5 months.
June 2020: Sayulita free food drive
It’s not only the hotels and restaurants that were affected. As we saw it, the locals of Sayulita who own family-run businesses (street vendors) suffered massively. They are 100% dependent on tourism and the forced town closure left many households struggling for income. As a very close-knit community, locals and ex-pats who fortunately kept their jobs helped in installing Sayulita’s free food drive, a community initiative to provide free food once a day for all the locals in the pueblo who lost their jobs.
Headed by Monika Ortega and Nube Hirch, they gathered volunteers who were willing to donate money for the ingredients. They also made a call for people to help cook. Basically, Monika and Nube provided the ingredients (from donations). Volunteer cooks can take the ingredients from them and cook their dish in their homes. After which, they will be delivered to Atico Hookah Bar where the food drive was located. The good thing about this project is that all the meals are cooked fresh! They also made sure they were only serving healthy food (vegetarian dishes). Locals were invited to bring their own plates and cutleries which also helped in minimizing trash in the pueblo.
This happened 5 days a week from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm, or until supplies last. The Sayulita free food drive run from June – September 2020. We would like to thank the whole community of Sayulita for making this happen!
June is also the beginning of the low season in Sayulita. We’re surely used to not having tourists in town as this is an extremely hot and humid month. Locals and ex-pats leave Sayulita and come back for the high season. On normal days (without COVID), 50% of the businesses in Sayulita close. This is normal for us except for this year when 100% of the local businesses completely shut down.
July 2020: Puerto Vallarta International airport opens again
On July 4th, we received news that the airport was open again. Few tourists came in as the town also lifted its quarantine and lockdown. The barricades at the entrance of town were removed. We felt like the pandemic was over and everything was back to normal. Again, this was low season so only locals were present during this time.
August, September, and October 2020: back to normal
Because things were getting back to normal, the free food drive ended its last activity on September 30, 2020. Locals started to work again as tourists came in. All bars and restaurants were allowed to open. The only tricky thing during this period was the curfew. Businesses were only allowed to operate until 11:00 pm. We also had a liquor ban where alcohol can only be sold until 3:00 pm. This was when COVID was totally ignored in Sayulita. We just all started to live life normally again without wearing masks. Restaurants were only allowed a 50% capacity.
November and December: holiday season
Town is packed. Bars are full. Everyone is here. We’ve seen an influx of American tourists coming to Sayulita because as of the moment, Mexico is one of the few countries accepting American travelers during COVID.
Dia de los muertos celebrations (day of the dead) did not happen but people still came. There were also a lot of parties this year for day of the dead even if the event was ‘canceled.’ Sayulita is a party town and from our experience, you can’t really stop this place from drinking and dancing! Everything is open and is operating normally. Bars and restaurants do not have a limit on the number of people they can accommodate. Everyone maxed the 100% capacity to make up for lost income.
January 2021: current situation
The Secretary-General signed a decree on January 14, 2021, that all businesses in 20 municipalities of Nayarit must close at 8:00 p.m. from January 15 – February 5, 2021. Due to the increase of COVID cases in Nayarit, the state government announced the mandatory curfew for bars, restaurants, and cantinas. Non-essential businesses must close at 8:00 pm. Currently, Nayarit has registered 8,464 confirmed cases and 1,097 deaths.
Are masks required in Sayulita?
Unfortunately, there is no heavy implementation of wearing masks here. You can simply go to a restaurant without it. It’s not a need. This is an optional kind of thing. We tried to reach out to the governor of Nayarit about this but we didn’t receive any answer. Basically, we asked them if they can implement wearing masks in Sayulita as we want to take care of our locals but they did not comment.
Are restaurants open in Sayulita?
As of December 23, 2020 all Sayulita restaurants are open at full capacity. Typically, you will not have to wear a mask to enter a restaurant in Sayulita and, since most of the restaurants are outdoor or partially outdoor, they have easily transitioned to the new regulations by spacing out their tables a little. Options include beachside, fine dining, casual, Italian, Mexican, cafés, Chinese, seafood, sushi, coffee, Mediterranean, organic, Indian, sandwiches, desserts, bakeries, and more!
Are Sayulita beaches open?
Yes! Sayulita has one main beach that is currently open and it is very active nonetheless. It is a family-friendly environment, a perfect place to learn to surf, and lined with restaurants and bars. There are also several beaches close by such as Palito Verde, Punta Negra, La Lancha, and Playa Burros that are all within 20 minutes of driving from Sayulita and are much less crowded.
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Is Sayulita open for tourism? YES. ABSOLUTELY.
While we do not encourage you to travel to Sayulita during COVID, we ask you to at least take a COVID test before you leave your home country, quarantine for 2 weeks, and then get another COVID test in Sayulita. Since it’s like a different world out here, just after a few days of your arrival, you will surely rid of your COVID practices back at home. You will not wear a mask. You will not take a COVID test. You will follow whatever the people are doing here and that means NOTHING.
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We’re not very vigilant ourselves as we never really traveled – we are just here in Sayulita the whole year. However, at Sayulita Insider, we want to encourage you to take care of our locals (especially the most vulnerable ones). If you infect one person (for example, the señora selling tacos on the street), you are negatively affecting the livelihood of these people. We want these people to continue providing for their household and they can only do that if they are safe and healthy.
We do live updates on our Instagram (daily and weekly) so if you have any questions that weren’t answered in this post, send us a message!