I might be showing off a little too much of my sheltered ways but hey, my horizons have been expanded so I’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 jungle’y forest blending into the desert the closer you got to South America. Desert + beaches. That’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, they have a lot of mountains and some incredible forests as well…proof: Iztaccihuatl, Pico de Orizaba, La Malinche.
Now, I can’t be the only person who calls the United States home that had harbored these assumptions because nearly everyone’s first reaction to “I’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. I’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…I’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 I’d have something to watch while lazing around in the sand. I booked my flights to/from Puerto Vallarta [closest airport], messaged a few AirBnB’s and then wandered off into the mountains near Mexico City to get my fix.
I’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. I’d get up with the *#@$& roosters across the street, lazily stuff the morning’s essentials into my UD pack, shake the sand out of my swimsuit and walk toward the beach.
As I wandered through town I’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 that’s where I took my social self!
I’d spend an hour or four reading a trashy [+ rather stupid, I do not recommend the book I found in the AirBnB] romance novel. I’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, I’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 I’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 I’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 I’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”] I’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, ATV’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!