Lining both sides of the road into the surfing paradise of Sayulita Mexico, vehicles parked so tightly one might think a helicopter would be needed to hoist them out the end of the day. Precisely enough space remained between the solid lines for half a smart car to pass through with ease.

What’s that you say? Oh yes you are correct. There were no smart cars, nor half ones for that matter.

image sayulita mexico beach

Not so sleepy Sayulita Mexico

In a scene reminiscent of the cooperative traffic chaos of Istanbul, our taxi driver, in his over-sized suburban, weaved backward, forward and sideways navigating the road which resembled the width of a sidewalk. At one point it seemed as if he may have had the vehicle tipped on it’s side for a particularly delicate maneuver allowing a truck loaded with people, chickens and vegetables to squeeze by.

I closed my eyes most of the time and sucked in my stomach in hopes that might somehow allow for more room.

 map sayulita mexico

Map of Sayulita Mexico

Where is Sayulita Mexico?

Situated 25 miles north of the bustling city of Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita Mexico with it’s rolling waves, was discovered by surfers in the 1960’s. Known as an off-the-beaten-track destination of Mexico, in the desirable area of Riviera Nayarit, surfers of all ages and abilities come for the conditions and laid back atmosphere. Now with it’s quaint shops and restaurants, not to mention famous waves, tourists flock to see the ‘real’ Mexico.

With a population of approximately 5000 people, the Christmas and New Year peak season tourist draw causes population growth of the wee gem to explode in volcanic proportions. Our afternoon foray into the eclectic mix of locals and tourists felt as though every inhabitant and visitor had been given a memo to arrive to the surf mecca simultaneously.

In the late 1990’s the town was still described as a tranquil fishing village. Although Sayulita retains it’s laid back-chilled out vibe, tranquil could hardly be part of the description.

What is the best time of year to visit Sayulita Mexico?

When we asked locals they advised us the winter holiday season of Christmas was by far the busiest time of year. You think?  Their suggestions for a quieter time but before the temperatures cause visitors to melt in pools of sweat, was April. Our guess would be that Easter and spring break would create similar scenes of tourist mayhem.

Have you ever visited a location described as laid back or the real only to find you should have arrived a couple of decades earlier?