Our trip to Sayulita, Mexico was short, but perfect. It’s a relatively small beachside town that you can easily see in a day if you’re staying in nearby Puerto Vallarta. Although it has become increasingly touristy in recent years, I still recommend coming for the picturesque beach-town streets and relaxed, boho vibe.
As far as looks go, it’s a photographer’s dream. Every corner you turn just presents you with more cobblestone and palm tree lined streets. Every building is bright and colorful; many topped with thatched roofs. Strung between the palm trees is also papel picado, traditional Mexican cutout tissue paper. The main street is chock-full of vendors selling colorful pom poms, blankets and other tourist fare. It’s cliche and it’s a bit of a stereotype, but it’s also charming and frankly, quite pretty.
I would venture to say that Sayulita is the tourist town that tourists think is not touristy. It’s what Americans think Mexico looks like. In some ways, they’re right. Many of the vendors are, indeed, selling products crafted by local artisans – products they’ve been making for generations that are entangled in the culture of the natives that once populated Sayulita.
In other ways, they’re wrong, because Sayulita has also been molded to cater to foreigners. Many an expat you’ll see dining on not-so-authentic Mexican dishes like Lasagna Bolognese and Ravioli Toscani. That’s right, Italian food. Or rather, Italian “inspired” food.
The expat community has, without a doubt, profoundly affected the local cuisine. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that it was really difficult finding tacos. Silly me, though, going to Mexico for tacos.
Our only dining opportunity in Sayulita (because of our short time there) was lunch at Don Pedro’s, a lovely beachside restaurant I found through TripAdvisor. Although I admit that I was disappointed in their lack of authentic dishes, I was not disappointed in the quality of the food. They’ve clearly catered their menu to a different palate, but they haven’t degraded the quality and deliciousness of their food in the process.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that I did have tacos there, and I have to admit that they were quite good! All the dishes we ordered were delicious, fresh, and were very hearty portion sizes. They even made us some off-menu fish tacos at our request and they were equally amazing.
Being in Sayulita I felt a number of contradictions, but at the end of the day the overwhelming charm and relaxed small town vibe won me over. People were friendly and didn’t take themselves too seriously. I can’t say it was the most authentic Mexican experience I’ve had, but it certainly wasn’t a bad one. We ate well, we saw a nice beach, we explored. Sometimes in life, and in travel, you have to take things for what they are. And in Sayulita, where the seafood was fresh, the beach was warm, and the beer flowed freely, we were happy to oblige.