W Punta Mita
Credit: W Punta de Mita

From Sayulita to San Pancho, Here’s How to Enjoy Mexico’s Most Charming Surf Towns

Head South for the Winter With This Travel Itinerary

Mexico is a long-standing favorite vacation destination for west- and east-coasters alike. Its year-round warm weather makes it desirable no matter the season, and new hot spots are popping up on our Instagram pages left and right. There’s tried-and-true Cancun and Cabo, relative newcomer and food milieu Mexico City, trendy Tulum, sleeper pick San Miguel de Allende—not to mention all the budding Baja properties flooding your feeds. But there’s one stretch of sand, located within the Bahia de Banderas, that has stolen hearts with its bright and bold aesthetic. Located just outside of Punta de Mita is a pair of seaside cities, Sayulita and San Pancho. These two towns are well worth the trek for adventure-loving travelers ready to explore, experience and enjoy.



The culinary scene in and around Sayulita and San Pancho includes everything from street eats and beach bites to fine dining. Some of our favorites range from the unassuming to the over-the-top, but the flavors of this Mexican melting pot are downright delicioso. Tacos Junior is a locally loved spot that serves up some of the best al pastor tacos in town. Spice Market at the W Hotel is a hot spot highlighting Southeast Asian cuisine with fan favorites like ginger fried rice, drunken noodles and coconut cake—and don’t forget the ginger margarita! Relative newcomer Suenos is an ultra-curated culinary experience that pays homage to the best local proteins and produce to make diners’ dreams come true. The menu is a revolving door of options based on seasonal ingredients and provisioning, but anything they serve pairs well with the Tropical Thunder or Green Velvet cocktails.



W Punta Mita
Credit: W Punta de Mita

Let’s talk tequila—you are in Mexico, after all! There are so many good spots to stop and sip like Punto Las Olas Mercado Gastronómico (say that five times fast), a food court concept that serves up some killer cocktails like a mezcal margarita de Jamaica: a hibiscus margarita that is smoky and citrusy with the perfect amount of sweet. Sayulita is home to the famous passion fruit margarita best served at El Break Cafe, which is mere steps from the sand. Other wow-factor watering holes include Wild Iris Bar, Escondido Bar and the Chevycheria Truck at the W Hotel, where you can pair their take on a piña colada with some of the freshest ceviche around. We highly recommend the Yucatan or the matcha ceviche to savor while you sip.



While the beaches of Sayulita can be a little crowded (think Waikiki only without the high rises), San Pancho offers an equally desirable surf break with a little more breathing room. Locals are always shucking fresh coconuts, and there’s a small healthy eatery located right on the sand called ORGANI-K for a little post-surf sesh snack. There’s also a secret surf spot that requires a “Jurassic Park”-esque jaunt through the jungle but is well worth the 10-minute traipse once you see the white sands and crystal clear cerulean waters of Playa La Lancha. This secluded sanctuary is a surfer’s dream with consistent waves year-round that are suitable for all skill levels.



While there are many hotels to choose from in this area ranging from boutique to boujee, one that sticks out (by camouflaging in) is the W Hotel Punta de Mita. This swanky hotel just completed a multi-million dollar renovation, and everything from the Huichol-inspired accents peppered throughout the property to the breathtaking beach views will have you saying adios to everyday life and hello to heaven. You won’t even need to leave the hotel, as it hosts a spa, two pools, three on-site restaurants and multiple culinary experiences (including a Jose Cuervo Reserva tasting and course pairing), a ceviche making class, cacao ceremonies, mixology classes and the ultra-exclusive Mesa1—a private restaurant that only does one seating a day and is situated on an island in the center of a spring-fed lake.



Sayulita and San Pancho are great spots for everything from knick knacks to street steals and beyond. A fan favorite is Revolución del Sueño, which is located minutes from the plaza. This place oozes cool with modern-day takes on Friday Kahlo and Emiliano Zapata imagery as well as locally manufactured goods highlighting Mexican culture and flair. Who doesn’t love a good lucha libre tchotchke? If you’re looking for a place to grab some goodies to bring home to friends and family, Tiendita Hola is another spot located just off of the main square that only features local designers and artists. You won’t be able to walk away without at least one accessory.



W Punta Mita
Credit: W Punta de Mita

The streets of Sayulita are saturated with color and lined with the famous flags that have become synonymous with this city. They are adorably uneven and charmingly dusty with a center square that acts as the home base for street vendors and handmade goods. Most roads lead to the beach, so getting lost in this part of town is a great idea. Start in the plaza and work your way out—be sure to grab a chocolate-covered banana from ChocoBanana and a photo beneath the sea of colors on Calle Delfines. It is also worth exploring the Hippie Market and getting lost in Pom-Pom Alley.



After one too many margaritas, you might need to take your talents to the spa at the W Hotel to ease away your hangover pains. Located down a tree-lined, winding road, the spa at the W is a tropical oasis featuring state-of-the-art services and amenities for the ultimate in serenity. Upon entry, spa-goers are treated to a complimentary chlorophyll water to begin restoration from the inside out. The locker rooms host wet and dry saunas as well as an organic aesthetic that immediately puts you at ease. A co-ed area featuring a roaming warmed pool, hot tub, cold plunge and sun deck is situated among the jungle-like flora and fauna, giving the illusion of complete seclusion. Their signature Blue Agave massage is an absolute must!

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Jane Adler is a marketing and branding consultant by trade, but a writer by preference. She shares a name with Meryl Streep's iconic character from It's Complicated and is presently trying to manifest that life (particularly that Santa Barbara house) for herself. Jane is an avid consumer of content and carbs and often used the latter to write on the former.




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