I might be showing off a little too much of my sheltered ways but hey, my horizons have been expanded so Iâ€™m fessing up! For the first 28 years of my life I had an assumption about Mexico. In my mind it was a desert with beaches along the coasts, maybe some jungleâ€™y forest blending into the desert the closer you got to South America. Desert + beaches. Thatâ€™s all. These sandy assumptions are a big part of why going to Mexico was never on my radar. Turns out, my assumptions were about 9% correct,Â they have a lot of mountains and some incredible forests as well…proof: Iztaccihuatl, Pico de Orizaba, La Malinche.
Now, I canâ€™t be the only person who calls the United States home that had harbored these assumptions because nearly everyoneâ€™s first reaction to “Iâ€™m going to Mexico” news was “oh, beaches!”…followed closely by “uh oh, drug cartels”. I was going to just avoid the beaches all together because, no. Just, no. Iâ€™ve had brief beach encounters and they are boring. I have discovered that I have just been doing beaches wrong! Six days of sunshine + sand later…Iâ€™m kind of okay with beaches, in small doses. [still avoiding the drug cartels, tho]
I eyeballed a few resort towns but…no. I wanted to go visit a beach, not party at an all-inclusive resort where I would spend all my time eating because, “free” food. Somewhere along the Google searches I stumbled upon Sayulita, a “sleepy surf town”. It sounded chill, it sounded reasonably “authentic” and at least Iâ€™d have something to watch while lazing around in the sand. I booked my flights to/from Puerto Vallarta [closest airport], messaged a few AirBnBâ€™s and then wandered off into the mountains near Mexico City to get my fix.
Iâ€™m not going to lie, I was still a little apprehensive about a week on the beach but I knew I needed to give it a try. By day two I was in love. Okay, maybe just in like…but I was definitely enjoying myself. Iâ€™d get up with the *#@$& roosters across the street, lazily stuff the morningâ€™s essentials into my UD pack, shake the sand out of my swimsuit and walk toward the beach.
As I wandered through town Iâ€™d find a cafe to snag a bit of breakfast from — iced latte, smoothie, pancakes, fruit platter, etc — then people watch until I talked myself out onto the sand. As soon as I hit that sand it was sandals off! If you are looking for a solid foot/calf work out, head to the beach! Every morning I walked a solid mile on the beach, just weaving through the waves + watching the world wake up as I made my way to “my” end of the beach. There were never many people at the far north end of the beach, so obviously thatâ€™s where I took my social self!
Iâ€™d spend an hour or four reading a trashy [+ rather stupid, I do not recommend the book I found in the AirBnB] romance novel. Iâ€™d start in the shade of the trees until the sun came out in full force, soak up some Vitamin D then head back toward town before my lay of sunscreen stopped protecting my psuedo-ginger skin.
Or, Iâ€™d get a bit more adventurous and walk a half mile over to another beach, tiptoeing around tide pools on jagged rocks as the crabs scuttled to and from crashing waves. It was truly amazing to just sit + watch Mother Nature beat itself up then smooth it all over with each wave it sent smashing into the rocks + sand. Either Iâ€™m easily entertained or this is one of the coolest chunks of science out there!
One time I even attempted stand-up paddle boarding. Ha. I seriously have no idea how people manage to have lunch on a paddle board or do yoga on a paddle board. I could barely stand up on mine! In my defense…I was attempting this on a surf beach…where waves make for a lot of wobbling. Still, I fell in more times than I care to admit. I actually had to sacrifice my favorite sunglasses to the ocean before I managed to stand up right for more than 32 seconds!
By 2pm I was back at my AirBnB, full of some variety of tacos and ready for an afternoon of work. Yup, work. Every day in Sayulita I worked, actually ending the week with overtime hours. Sounds lame but it worked for me. I would have lost my mind if I had ALL day to do NOTHING. If Iâ€™ve learned anything about myself while traveling it is that I need real life responsibilities to give my time value.
Besides, if I booked it down to the beach at the end of my shift Iâ€™d catch the last rays of the sunset as I indulged on yet another round of tacos. I have zero photographic proof of it but I ate a lot of tacos in Sayulita! More than I did in the five weeks I spent in other parts of Mexico, combined.
Leaving Sayulita I actually found a little niggle of sad. I liked the little town. It was mellow, relaxed and easy-going. Sure, there was a party scene but I showed up during the last few weeks of the season so even that was low-key. If I were to return [to Sayulita or any “sleeping surf town”] Iâ€™ll make a point to talk to the bar/smoothie/latte-tenders + take them up on suggestions/offers to check out other beach cities nearby. Next time…
Side Note: Part of the reason I picked Sayulita was because of Cerro de la Mono, a hill nearby that is highly recommended for hikes…but I never got there. It was a 5km run/walk up the highway from my AirBnB and I never mustered up enough energy to make that trek in the heat and humidity. Many people recommended it, I was just being lazy [+ a bit wimpy, because I had no one to go get lost with me]. Yoga, horseback riding, ATVâ€™ing and actual surfing were also quite popular among the people I talked to…none of them tickled my fancy enough for me to part with my pesos. When I vacation, I do so very lazily!