Editor’s Note: This Sayulita solo travel experience is a narrative by Shelley Marmor, a full-time travel blogger at Travel Mexico Solo. Originally from the USA, Shelley continues to travel around Mexico and made Merida, Yucatan her home base.
Dear Sayulita Insider. First of all, thank you for the great and helpful blogs! I came across your Youtube channel by looking at where to eat in Sayulita guides. Your local content is very refreshing! I did not see any Sayulita solo travel guide – have you already written one? If not, I would like to know how safe Sayulita is, please? It’s my first time in Mexico. I am scared and excited at the same time! Thank you and keep up the great content!
TERI SCHILLING, USA
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All photos provided by the writer, @travelmexicosolo.
Sayulita solo travel: is it safe?
As with so many, I discovered the colorful town of Sayulita Mexico via Instagram. The festive papel picado paper flags and boho surf village vibes, totally sell the pueblo magico (magic town) of Sayulita.
Sayulita is a physically small town — and it also feels like one in so many ways. From the quaint mom and pop seafood restaurants like Maria’s, where I had the best shrimp sopes of my life, to the boutique artist shops/galleries, like Evoke the Spirit, there’s no way to feel unhappy in Sayulita.
In addition to happiness, I felt one other thing at all times on my Sayulita trip: Safe!
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I traveled there over Semana Santa (Holy Week) 2019 as a solo female traveler with very little knowledge of the town, aside from what I had seen on IG. What I found were laid back surfers, chill locals, pretty beaches, and yummy, fresh seafood.
I felt totally safe wandering around Sayulita at all times of the day and night. From an early morning walk one day, when no one else was up besides the surfers, to nighttime beers by myself at the Wild Iris bar in downtown, I had exactly zero concerns about my personal safety in Sayulita.
Now, that’s not to say I wasn’t aware of myself, my belongings and my surroundings at all times. I was. What I mean is I felt at ease that there was little chance of anything bad happening to me as a solo female traveler in Sayulita. I felt safe enough to relax, turn my brain off, and simply enjoy the trip.
My one and only warning about Sayulita to all my fellow solo female travelers is this: Try not to visit during Semana Santa, like I did. This is especially true of travelers who want to experience this small beachside pueblo in its most tranquil state.
In fact, after living and traveling solo in Mexico for 2.5 years now, one of the only Mexico warnings I issue is Don’t go to Mexican beaches during Semana Santa!
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This is one of the biggest holidays in Mexico, which takes place the last week of March. It is also one of the most popular weeks for Mexicans to hit the beaches in droves. Sauylita was no exception.
During Semana Santa, the town was much more crowded than normal. On the main beach, Playa Sayulita, there was only about three feet of space between groups. Honestly, I wanted a little more of a relaxing trip than I got — which only means I’ll have to visit again! However, it was still a great trip because I feel like I ventured off the beaten path to find quieter, less crowded places.
One of the places I wandered to was the unique beach of Playa de Muertos, located on the outskirts of Sayulita. To get to this beach, you walk through the entire town of Sayulita, then through a small, residential village, past a cemetery, and onto the beach.
Yes, you read that right! Playa de Muertos means “beach of the dead” because there is actually the small Panteon Ejidal/Cementerio de Sayulita (Sayulita cemetery) right behind the beach. Like many Mexican cemeteries, this one was quite colorful and festive, and I took some pretty photos there.
Besides discovering Playa de Muertos, I was lucky enough to secure a spot on a tour of Islas Marietas (Marietas Islands) and cross one place off my bucket list! This group of islands, located in the Bay of Banderas, has what’s known as the Playa del Amor (Lover’s Beach) AKA the Hidden Beach.
You have to go to the hidden beach on a boat tour, and since this place is very special, the Mexican government limits the number of visitors to 125 per day. I was very fortunate to secure my spot at the last minute.
If you’re interested in exploring this hidden beach, be sure to book early. While there are numerous tour companies that take you to see the Marietas Islands and swim/snorkel in the waters around them, you should book in advance to secure a spot on the tour that takes you to this island with the Hidden Beach.
To get to Sayulita, I flew from Mexico City, where I was living at the time, to the Puerto Vallarta airport. From there, I took an Uber for the one hour drive to Sayulita. From what I remember, it cost about $50USD. There are other options available in shared group transport for less money, but I opted for Uber because it’s the quickest, most direct route.
For solo travelers looking to meet others, you might want to make the trip via group transport on a shared shuttle, bus, or colectivo. As this is a one hour drive, and everyone with you will also be heading to Sayulita, the trip makes for the perfect opportunity to meet and chat with some fellow travelers.
Sayulita solo travel tips
- Yambak is the best place to meet people. It’s right by the plaza and you will see all the young people partying there every night!
- Join the Facebook group Sayulita People to see updates about Sayulita.
- There’s also a group called Sayulita Crime Alert. So far, they haven’t posted in years so I guess it’s good!
- Sayulita is a very family-oriented town that’s why I felt extra safe while I was there. Chat with the locals and get to know their life. The locals of Sayulita are very friendly and will help you with anything!
- Make sure to learn some basic Spanish phrases. Sayulita is still an underdeveloped town so lots of locals don’t really speak English (unless you are going to eat in big restaurants).
- You can wear anything you want and nobody will really pay attention to. Lots of girls here walk in bikinis on the streets of Sayulita! It’s really fun to look at!
- Be careful when swimming. Some beaches in Sayulita have really strong breaks and it’s not recommended if you are not a good swimmer.