Fernando Stalla is an 8 time National SUP surfing, Prone Racing, SUP racing Champion and 2 time Word SUP Racing Champion. He not only understands passion, but also has managed to merge this passion with his work and his lifestyle. Fernando now wants to help others find their passion in Surfing and Stand Up Paddle boarding. Find out more …
Sayulita is a charmer. Let’s get that out of the way first. Sombreros jostle in the tequila bars on its cacti-sprouting central plaza. Cobbled streets lined with happy-hour beer holes and coffee joints filter off this way and that. Cool boutique hotels and surf hostels abound. It’s just the sort of place you’d imagine when you get a-thinking about a Mexican holiday.
But you’re not here for R&R, right? Well…no worries. There are upwards of 15 surf breaks in the vicinity of Sayulita. That’s because the town puts you smack dab in the heart of a region known as the Riviera Nayarit. It’s a long stretch of shoreline that runs northwards from Puerto Vallarta, and it’s loaded with reefs, point breaks, and some beginner-friendly beach breaks for those with the surfboard in tow.
The town of Sayulita has managed to elevate itself to one of the surf havens of the riviera by offering a trio of breaks right on the doorstep. We’re not going to pretend they are the best-quality waves going. They aren’t. However, they go do give a great selection of different styles of riding, meaning you can graduate from mellow beach breaks to left-right reefs without even leaving town.
Of course, you can venture further afield. There are oodles of schools and tours on offer. They could whisk you down to the Punta Mita surf spots, where you can catch nice A-frame wedges. Or, they could whisk you northwards to the challenging fast rides of San Pancho and beyond. It’s a region you won’t get bored of in a hurry. It’s also got loads in the way of après surf and authentic Mexican charm. We’re literally counting down the days until we can go back.
Sayulita was once just a relaxed fishing village a few clicks north of the buzzing coast city of Puerto Vallarta. The discovery of its powder-white beaches and great breaks means that it now bustles with life. Thousands of travelers per year come to seek it out on the 200 Highway heading north. It’s actually one of the first towns you’ll come to on the famous Riviera Nayarit. Buses in from Puerto Vallarta take around one hour. Coming from inland Mexico, you can arrive from Guadalajara in around five hours .
We’ve broken down the array of surf spots that Sayulita brings to the table into ones that are in the town itself and ones that aren’t. Beginners can usually rely on the first bunch. Expert riders might want to get searching a little further afield, because Punta Mita and other riviera towns have some good treats up their sleeve!
Sayulita’s broad, sandy beach faces slightly north of west, and the headland beyond — called Punta Sayulita — swings to true north, thus absorbing much of the spring and summer S swell that graces points farther south and north on the Mainland Mexican coast. It’s not world-class, nevertheless, a fun lefthander can be found breaking just off the beach on the north end of town, offering up clean, section and lines that are fun for longboarders and occasionally worthwhile for shortboarders (when a N-W or W swell shows up). Right in the middle of town is the main attraction, a mix of sand and rock delivering a shifty longboard wave most days that occasionally gets high performance on a solid swell.
This is probably the break that put Playa Sayulita on the surfing map of Mexico. It’s certainly the reason there are so many surf schools in the town. That’s because it’s an uber-beginner-friendly spot with mellow waves that will rarely be a challenge. Facing north, it cuts out any heavy S-SW swells and offers good protection from the open ocean. That means regular sets with nice periods and glassy conditions. There’s also a long take-off zone that can offer both green and whitewash. The downside of the Sandbar is that’s busy these days (like…really busy). We sat and watched one hell of a board-flying fest last time we were in town. Nonetheless – it’s a cracking place to try surfing for the first time. Just be sure to get up early.
The Sayulita Right is the most consistent wave in town. It breaks at the river mouth on the main beachfront over a rock-studded sand bottom with a few patches of reef.
Things seldom go overhead here. In fact, tummy- to chest-high waves are the usual order. Consequently, you see plenty of 8ft boards and plus in these parts – there’s no denying it’s a corker for longboards! Try to hit this one middle or low tide. Watch out for a busy line-up.
A quirky little wave that only likes to rear its head on bigger days (usually during the summer months), the Sayulita left is another river mouth. It’s located a little north-east along the beach, but is still right next door to the Sayulita Right.
It boasts a faster take off, a smaller take-off zone, and quite a quick but fun left-hander that’s a gem for goofy-footed folk. The ride can be quite long when it’s working, with a finish that’s along towards Playa Sayulita’s northern end in front of the villas.