Is Sayulita a touristy shithole?

Interesting questions, no? One I’ve been asking myself a lot over the last week. The thing about paradise is that word spreads quickly, and on a week like this, spring break and a long weekend in the US, it’s hard not to question why choose Sayulita. The usually relaxed plaza is energized with the various shoutings of American pre-adults, the restaurants are overflowing with harassed mothers, non-interested fathers and unruly children, waiters who usually have time to stop and talk fling food at you, maneuvering through the flocks of inexpertly driven golf carts becomes a safety issue. Basically, I’m doing the usual ‘I found it first get out of my paradise whine’ because who really wants to share?


If preservation as a sleepy fishing village with moderate to good surf is Sayulita’s mission, it suffers from a number of factors. 1) It’s too bloody nice here. 2) Puerto Vallarta is equally becoming ‘too much’ for a lot of people who make it a regular destination causing them to find ‘more authentic, less busy’ alternatives around Banderas Bay. 3) Sayulita is too close to both America and Canada for its own good. The flight out of LA or Seattle is short enough for a pleasant long weekend. 4) It’s too bloody nice here.

Again, I admit that I’m whining. I’m also part of the problem, this is my first year here and I’m constantly reminded of my bandwagon status by people who have made Sayulita their winter home for twenty years. It is these same Sayulita ‘lifers’ who have made the town what it is today, through community groups that organize and pay for street cleaning, additional police, an ambulance station, fire trucks, dog rescue, recycling programs, water treatment plants, the list of the improvements goes on and on. And property owners have befitted from staggering increases in property values. So, good for them. Visitor reap the benefit of a safe and clean paradise.

And for those that work or own bars, restaurants, tour companies, tortillarias, these busy spikes in population see them through the extremely lean summer months where the tourist aspects of Sayulita all but shut down. If I were committed to enjoying a more tranquil Sayulita I could just return in September, it’d just be me and a scattering of locals, but it’s hot in September and I’d hate to be uncomfortable.

Jo-Roxy and I had planned to return next year for a similar amount of time, but walking around the plaza last night both of had a little hate in our hearts for what the town was doing to itself. I came home and started researching surf breaks in Ecuador.

Sayulita is a tropical paradise, no doubt about it. The town still has an authentic feel, even if aspects of the authenticity are manufactured to please a foreign target audience. Sayulita has the feeling of a place that will be completely unrecognizable in five years, and maybe we’ve visited at a tipping point for this little big place. Is Sayulita touristy? Undoubtedly. Is it unbearable? Only sometimes. Is it a shithole? No way.


Christmas / New Year

Semana Santa / Easter

Spring Break


Middle of January and late March.

One thought on “Is Sayulita a touristy shithole?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *