Everything you need to know about Surfing in Sayulita, San Pancho and Punta de Mita
For example, if it is a family of 4, with 2 adults and 2 kids, the surf break at Sayulita has Sun Chairs and beachfront restaurants, in which one adult can chill and play with the kids, while the other catches some waves on the break right at front.
In a similar situation, a more adventurous family can do the 8 minute jungle Hike to La Lancha beach, which is super clean and has white soft sand, and trade surfing and hanging with the kids for a few hours. There are no restaurants, bars or beach chairs at Lancha, so make sure that you bring some water, snacks and a sun shade.
If the family is composed of kids that are old enough and interested in surfing, there is lots of surf schools that can give the younger ones surf lessons, while the parents surf, on similar beaches, but separate breaks, and some novice teenagers can for sure join their parents at some beginner breaks like La Lancha or Sayulita for surf sessions as on any common day.
If you are wondering if teens can surf on point breaks, check out this video from a family and their teen girls from Florida who visited us a couple of years ago.
It is important to be aware of 2 things
- The water at the Sayulita and Punta Mita area can be “chilly” from End of December till end of April, kids and smaller people are more sensitive to cold water, so, if you are visiting us during those dates, and plan on having the little ones spending some time in the water, make sure to bring a spring suit, or at least a wetsuit top for the, trust me, it will make a great difference
- Everybody that goes out on a surf break, no matter their age or ability level, most respect Surfing Etiquette, this helps everyone be safe out there and have a great time. Please , if you feel like your teen is ready for the “Grown-Up waves” make sure first that you are a capable surfer and thoroughly understand surf etiquette, and ofcourse, are able to pass this knowledge on to the younger one. If this is not the case, and you would like your kids to try the next step on surfing, hire a reputable local surf school to take them out for a session, for multiple reasons , the surf session will probably go along better with a coach than with any of their parents.
This page from our Friends at Swell Surf Camp has valuable info on Surf Etiquette.
Ok, so, this is a really important subject and one that can transform your Mexico Surf Holiday from a great memory, to, “it was great but…..”, and sadly, it happens more often than we would like
Even though not great, it should be comforting that 99.9% of the crime we get in the area is petty theft, and the .1% left is related to alcohol and drugs (people out partying getting intoxicated and taking some not-smart decisions)
This is a rule of thumb, no matter where you park when going surfing, do not leave your electronics or valuable documents inside the car, not in Sayu, not in Lancha, not in Anclote, and specifically not at Burros.
Leave your valuables at your accommodation inside the safe, or if you are renting boards or taking coached sessions at any surf school, ask them to provide a safe storage location.
If you wanna take pictures, do not leave your phone of camera unattended at the beach, if you are taking a surf lesson or coached surf session, most professional schools have Surf Photographers who can take quality pictures without risking your phone / camera and letting you enjoy your time in the water or at the beach.
There are particular locations, specially Sayulita, where “sandal theft” (yes you read right) is kind of a thing, so sadly, if you are going surfing, and if you expect to see your sandals again, leave them at a safe place not at the beach, everyone walks barefoot all over town in Sayulita, so you won’t feel out of place.
As far as accommodations, this is a little story that happens way too often that you should avoid
You get into your accommodation (mostly happens with private houses or apartments booked through booking sites) after a long day of traveling, waking up at 4 am, connecting flights, eating airport food, not drinking enough water, etc… and get into your AirBnb or Sayulita Life rental. Check ins in the area mostly happen on Saturday and Sundays , and once guests do check in, they grab a cold beer or 2 out of the fridge (yes, we are in Mexico, when you check in at your accommodation there should be some complimentary beer in your fridge), figure out they are starving, leave their bags and belongings lying around and head for dinner, only to come back a few hours later and find out their laptop, phone, ipad, Kindle, passport, etc,,, are all gone.
This is a ritual that happens at many private rentals in the area, and has nothing to do with the owners, it is just thieves that figured out check in dates, tourist behavior (sorry guys, we are not that unique) and most important, how to effortlessly break in into certain properties, making it a super simple and profitable way for them to make some easy cash. Yes, the local, the property owners, the police, everyone is doing something to stop this and we have been really successful, however, it still happens, and visitors being informed help us put an extra prevention layer for this not to happen.
So please, no matter how tired, hungry or intoxicated you are, leave your valuables in the safe before leaving your rental property!
Thanks for helping us all keep Sayulita, San Pancho and Punta Mita safe!
Most surf breaks in the area are suitable for Longboards, or Fish-Style shortboards with generous volume and a relatively wide outline.
There are some surf breaks that are suitable for performance shortboards, like San Pancho, Veneros and the Cove most of the time, however, in our experience, you will catch more waves and have a better time during most surf sessions in the area on a board designed for mellower waves.
For those of you who have limited experience with surfing and surfboards, here are some examples of boards that could be suitable for the area.
Firewire, The Gem: Ideal performance long-board for small and mid-size mellow waves, it is great to catch ton of waves, and the great design on this board, makes it ride really smoothly. This would be a great surfboard choice for a small and medium size day at La Lancha.
Walden Mega Magic: We love this board, it has TONs of volume, can paddle into virtually anything, and its sharp back rails help generate good speed after a decent bottom turn. Walden Mega Magic are also really multifacetic boards, people with different waves and ability levels can all ride them, and have a great time in the water. This board would be great for a small day at Sayulita’s point break
The last 5 years have seen a revolution on the shortboard design, boards now come on multiple shapes and materials, and different fin setups, this gives each model a special character, which teaming with a surfer, creates a unique style for every rider on every break. Our favorites
Firewire SeaSide: Love this board! Catches waves like crazy, pumps really nice and even though you would not expect, it does great even on sharper turns. Make sure to get it with its intended fins, the Machado Keel Fin, 50% of the smooth feeling related to this board, comes from these fins. You would be happy with this board at any break in the area with chest high waves, perhaps Burros or El Paredon. This would also be a great option for the Cove and El Faro on decent days
Firewire Baked Potato: The name might sound funny, but if you are looking to ride a shortboard when everyone else is riding a longboard, this is the go-to-board. Try it out on a Quad fin set up, you won’t be disappointed, Ride this board at Small to medium days at La Lancha, or even a decent day at Stinkys or El Anclote
If you would like any more info on the area´s surfbreak, like what swell, tide or wind is right for each one, how to get to them, where to park, etc… go to our Sayulita and Punta Mita Surf Break Map and General info
- The nearest airport is (PVR) – Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport, located in Puerto Vallarta. Once there, rental cars and taxis are easy to find just outside of the airport exit. Expect to pay between 300 – 500 pesos. Buses, however, are just as convenient and far less expensive. Located just left of the airport exit and across the bridge crossing the main highway, a bus stop can be found which will take you to Punta Mita, Sayulita or San Pancho for 100 pesos or less ( $5 usd approx). Buses are green and white, called Compostela, and clearly display their destinations on the front window.
- Airports have the worst exchange rates, so we recommend exchanging just enough for transportation and then using an ATM or currency exchange once you arrive at your destination.
- There is also a better exchange rate at the ATMs in Bucerias. You can take a bus there from Sayulita for close to $2.00 USD/ $40 pesos.
- Naturally, if you aren’t from a Spanish speaking country, we would recommend practicing basics like asking ‘Are you going to [destination]?’ ¿Vas a [destination]? or ‘How much does it cost?’ ¿Cuanto cuesta? in Spanish.
- San Pancho
San Pancho is a beach break with steep waves, ideal for short boarding. It gets crowded here in the evening mainly.
There is one long break, breaking with both lefts and rights. The river mouth runs through the middle of the break. The waves here break a bit close to shore so you must be cautious during low tide tide; this wave can break nicely at all tide levels. The waves are steep and break quickly. Sometimes you can find lengthy waves here, but usually they are short and there is not much opportunity for a lot of ride time on the faces of these waves. But the drop in here is super fun!
Sayulita is famous for its perfect longboard waves. It is best to surf here at mid tide. It works best with a south west swell direction. It is typically super crowded.
The far left break nearest the point is great for first day beginners to learn the basics of surfing. There is no face (steepness of the wave) on the waves on this side. They instantly break into mushy white water; making it perfect for simply learning to get comfortable on the board with paddling and standing up. This break has a sandy bottom, so there is no need to worry about scraping your feet on rocks or reef.
The middle break is the most popular and great for intermediate surfers. You will also find advanced surfers surfing here. It is just left to the river mouth; but in the winter season it is not much of a river anymore. It is a peeling right hand wave (breaks to the right, consistently. Great for the regular-footed surfers!). There is a nice face to this wave that is usually knee to waist high range on most days. Occasionally there will be bigger days in the chest to head high range. Here, the peak breaks right on top of a reef. You have to be super careful at low tide because there are many sea urchins in the winter season; when there is no water running through the river mouth to wash them all away. The waves here roll slowly, giving you time to stand up and the long face provides ample opportunity to ride the wave!
The far right break is the least popular break but it can be super fun if you have a good grasp on surfing! It is just to the right of the river mouth. The wave almost mirrors the middle break, giving you a peeling left hand wave; it does break a bit faster, making it more of a challenge to surf this wave. It breaks on top of rocks, so do be careful here as well at low tide.
- La Lancha
La Lancha is a beautiful, secluded longboard break. Each break here has a fat mushy wave that’s super long. You will see surfers of all levels here. There are rights and lefts, depending on the break you are at. There is plenty of space to spread out here. It really only gets a crowd on the weekends (for the most part). There are rocks here- be careful at all breaks during low tide. It breaks best with a north swell direction.
The right side breaks just right of the lagoon. When there is a lot of rain the lagoon connects to the ocean. This side breaks mainly to the right and the waves are usually long with a fat, gently sloped face. There is a lot of flat rock on this side that spans a long distance so be careful at low tide.
The middle break is usually the spot to surf left hand waves. It mirrors the right side with the same fat, gently sloped face. There are clusters of rocks on this side close to shore and also in the lineup, be careful at low tide.
The far left side can be a bit more advanced on the big days than the other side. It breaks to the right and to the left- be careful when taking lefts because it is rocky on the left side. The wave comes in at an angle, there is more face on the right side of the wave, but there is a quicker drop when you take the left side of the wave. This side can be super fun on the smaller days because it holds enough power to almost always break nicely. To get to the far left side you have to pass by a rock structure that juts out close to the shoreline. The wave breaks right in front of the resort there with the white beach chairs in front.
- Winter season is when the bigger swells come in but overall you can find waves here all year long
- The swells in the area generally range from 2 to 4 feet (.6 to 1.2 meters).
- The weather in Nayarit is exceptional most of the year. Rivera Nayarit enjoys a mild tropical climate with a yearly average temperature of a comfortable 77° F (25 ºC).
- Summer in Riviera Nayarit can be a bit warm for some, with average highs in the 90’s.
- The rainy season comes in late June and lasts until early November. During the rainy season, the afternoon brings showers and relief from the summer heat. Occasional thunderstorms roll through in late summer providing an evening’s entertainment without interfering with daytime vacation activities.
- WildMex’s office in Sayulita is conveniently placed within a 1-minute walk from the main beach break. If you’d prefer to try out the waves at the more secluded beach of La Lancha, we offer shuttles from our location in Sayulita to our location at La Lancha every day at 8:00am, 11:00am, or 2:00pm.
- Prices vary. Surf lessons can be found in the range of 700 – 1,300 pesos per person, depending on the season. Discounts may be available for larger groups. The cost of a surf board rental will also depend on where you choose to rent from, and the quality of board you choose. Expect to pay around $30 USD for a full-day rental, with better rates for full week rentals.
- Weekly surfboard rentals are anywhere from $115 to $165 USD.
Where you choose to stay will definitely depend on your preferences:
- Sayulita, about 45 minutes northwest of Puerto Vallarta, is known for consistent surf breaks and authentic local craftsmanship. Once a sleepy fishing town, Sayulita has grown exponentially in recent years and has become a popular tourist destination featuring many great Airbnb options, safe and reasonably priced hostels (such as Selina or La Redonda), and comfortable hotels along the north facing beach. Sayulita has a good variety of restaurants, bars, and cafes in the area. If late-night noise might be an issue for you or your family, consider looking for housing outside of Sayulita’s main plaza area.
- Punta Mita is a small town on the peninsula north of Puerto Vallarta. The peninsula is privately owned by Four Seasons which offers all-inclusive resort stays, but there are also plenty of options for Airbnb’s closer to town. Punta Mita is more calm and quiet than Sayulita or Puerto Vallarta, offering plenty of options for boat tours and surf lessons.
- San Pancho is known as the cultural heart of Nayarit, managing to have preserved its rural essence and the authenticity of a picturesque Mexican beach town. With plenty of excellent restaurants and a thriving local music scene, San Pancho is a great place to escape the noise of Sayulita or Puerto Vallarta.
These are very safe destinations overall. Take caution by avoiding the beach in the night and taking the well lit routes through town to get home.
People who don’t enjoy warm sunshine, warm ocean water, and palm-fringed ocean beaches wrapped in a lush cloak of verdant jungle.