Riveria Nayarit is a stunning stretch of tropical coastline on Mexico’s Pacific Ocean, known for its vibrant towns, barefoot vibes and beautiful beaches. Travelling the coast you will find small surfing villages surrounded by mountainous jungle. We visited three towns at the southern end of the region – San Pancho, Sayulita and Punta De Mita. These are our Top 3 Places to visit on Mexico’s Pacific Coast.
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San Pancho is the ultimate chill Mexican surf town, much smaller & far less visited than neighbouring Sayulita. Within just a few days, we fell in love & are still seriously considering packing up our lives & moving here for good.
San Pancho (also known as San Francisco) is 20 minutes from Sayulita and around 1 hour drive from Puerto Vallarta international airport.
WHAT TO DO IN SAN PANCHO
San Pancho is best enjoyed taking in the simple elements of the beach, ocean, people and food.
Well known for its good quality waves in the region, surfing is one of the main attractions of San Pancho. There is great surf straight out the front of the town with a punchy left hand wave, much less crowded than the more gentle beginner waves of Sayulita.
There are quite a few stunning beaches accessible by foot close by. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy a palm laced jungle cove to yourself! Hot tip, at the southern end of the main beach there is a beautiful fishing cove that we loved & visited regularly. We also never missed a sunset on the main beach, where locals & visitors came to celebrate, surf, play guitar & dance in the afterglow!
WHERE TO EAT IN SAN PANCHO
Our favourite places to eat 😋
- Limbo – insanely creative & curated Mexican dishes! The lentil ceviche was delicious.
- Yasmina’s Itzalanyasayan – owned by the most lovely lady and with equally beautiful food. Great for lunch and dinner (with a cacao shop next door for dessert!)
- Ikan Cochina – tasty seafood Mexican, Chesh loved the octopus tacos.
- Cafe Floresta – just opened for breakfast when we visited but had a healthy menu and located in a beautiful boutique hotel.
- Bistro Organico – we had an organic breakfast here in the courtyard of a quaint little hotel.
- Street taqueria – cheap tacos on Latin America street.
WHERE TO DRINK IN SAN PANCHO
The stand out spot for us was La Terraya – the very cute barefoot bar right on the beach with views of the sunset. Amazing beachside cocktails and guacamole! We also loved the chilli margaritas at Limbo.
WHERE TO STAY IN SAN PANCHO
We stayed at boutique hotel PalMar and it was perfect for us. A white walled oasis, tucked down a quiet street in the middle of San Pancho. It has a jungle pool, rooftop yoga studio & large rooms that open to the properties lush courtyard. The location was perfect – close to everything and very quiet 😊
Sayulita is a very well known, colourful, beachside town on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. It has a fun energy and strong surf culture. These days Sayulita is known as a bustling town with a vibrant nightlife scene.
Sayulita can be reached from Puerto Vallarta international airport (around 1 hour drive).
Read our full Sayulita Blog here.
WHAT TO DO IN SAYULITA
There’s so much to see in town. Wander the vibrant streets, visit the many artisanal shops, sample a huge variety of Mexican food, and enjoy the colourful buildings and flags.
When the town gets too hot & busy it’s time to head to the beach! Take one of the many surrounding jungle tracks & you’ll find yourself enjoying pristine beaches with only a handful of others.
Our favourite was Playa Carricitos, reached by a 20 minute hilly walk from town, but well worth it. The water was beautiful, with the stunning scenery of palm trees and huge matte boulders hugging the beach.
Read more about our favourite beaches in our Sayulita Blog here.
WHERE TO EAT IN SAYULITA
There’s so many amazing places to eat in Sayulita. There’s plenty of new vegan cafes around to grab a cold brew and a smoothie bowl, while still great options for that perfect taco!
Here’s some favs:
- Miscelanea Cafe – open for breakfast and lunch, this is the place for clean eating and plenty of cold brew options.
- Anchor Cafe – our other favourite for morning meals, reasonably priced and great chia and smoothies.
- Organi-K Cafe – amazing açai bowl range here.
- Don Bonito Cafe – Small boutique hotel with amazing coffee & pancakes, just out of the centre of town.
- Mary’s – one of the most popular dinner options for Mexican cuisine. We only ever had the guacamole and tacos because they were so good.
- El Itacate – our other ‘go-to’ Mexican restaurant. Save it for dinner (as lunch is very hot in the street) and try the carrot or the hibiscus vegetarian tacos.
- El Tiburon – if you want to get off the street, the upstairs area has a good vibe and live music while you eat dinner.
- La Rustica – Italian food if you want a change-up of cuisines.
WHERE TO DRINK IN SAYULITA
- Escondido Bar – amazing cocktails (including margarita varieties) with a 2-for-1 happy hour and very friendly staff.
- El Barrilito – straight across the road from Escondido Bar with good cheap margaritas and a more ‘locals’ vibe. You can bar hop to Escondido Bar thanks to their happy hours aligning!
- Atico Bar – have a drink at the bar on a swing, with loud tunes and good guacamole to go with your drinks.
There’s more options to eat and drink on the beach, but we stayed in the town generally for to avoid the hustle.
WHERE TO STAY IN SAYULITA
We stayed in a few different spots & I did a lot of research before we arrived. Trust me, these are the best:
- Casa Mimas – massive vibes with this colourful hilltop abode. A five minute uphill walk from town but one that gives you instant relaxation when you enter the home, with a cooling sea breeze and amazing views to the ocean. The outdoor/indoor living space with kitchen and hammock (my most used space) is the highlight here.
- Casa Saturno – if you have a group staying together, then I’d suggest the villa next door. It shares the same owner and same colourful walls, but with several bedrooms and an even more impressive living space. I loved the bridge and being right up among the jungle!
- Mi Casita – nestled right behind the main street, this apartment stay has beautiful decor and was very comfortable to work and relax. So convenient to grab a bite or hit the beach, and with a beautiful rooftop area with pool for the three apartments to use. A bottle of tequila was a nice touch and the hosts were very accomodating too!
Punta De Mita
Punta De Mita is a peaceful stretch of coastline where you can escape the crowds. Different to the gated resorts of the Punta Mita peninsula, Punta De Mita has long, empty beaches and is home to the stunning oceanfront hotel, W Punta de Mita.
Punta De Mita is 30 minutes from Sayulita and around 45 minute drive from Puerto Vallarta international airport.
W Punta De Mita is the luxurious way to enjoy this region, thanks to amazing restaurant options and perfect beachfront & poolside lounging. You literally won’t leave the hotel.
WHAT TO DO IN PUNTA DE MITA
We loved this stay for its ultimate resort experience. Private cabanas are just steps from the sand, and we found ourselves mostly spending our day here lazing in the sun. Throw in some regular ocean dips and a stroll over to the ceviche bar and we were in heaven!
The beach is so wide and feels almost private to the hotel, with almost nothing but empty coastline visible in both directions. It’s a relatively calm beach that’s great for swimming, although you can also find a little wave up the beach for a surf (hire boards are available). If you are really keen there’s also good nearby surf spots such as Playa La Lancha.
And if you don’t fancy getting sandy, there’s the very aesthetic glass pool that’s right on the edge of the beach!
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK IN PUNTA DE MITA
There’s plenty of restaurant options at W Hotel, although the Mexican dishes were definitely my favourite – as you probably would expect 😜. The ceviche, tacos, and mezcal margaritas were my staple during our stay here! But as a change-up, there’s also Salerno (seafood) and the Spice Market (Asian cuisine).
As I mentioned, W Hotel provides everything you need to have a luxe oceanfront stay. For us it was the perfect way to relax after spending time exploring the neighbouring rustic surf towns of Sayulita and San Pancho.
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