Sayulita was once a quiet, off the beaten track village where only intrepid surfers and hippies travelled to get away from it all and catch some of the best waves along the Pacific coast. That time was long ago. Now, every second person in town is a gringo, all businesses in town cater to gringos, and all prices reflect this.
It’s not quite – yet – the uncontrolled growth that has destroyed any vestige of local flavour as in Montanita in Ecuador, where it’s virtually impossible to imagine how it was ever an Ecuadorian village, the centre of town a neon-lit alcohol infused amusement park. But I do wonder what Sayulita will be like in another decade at its current growth, with easy accessibility from Peurto Vallarta and short flying times from North America. I’m pretty sure the Spring Breakers will “discover” it eventually too, if they haven’t already. We really do love the things we love to death in the west.
Nearby San Pancho (or San Francisco to the locals, no idea why the dual names) is probably much like Sayulita was a decade or so back, still a “quaint” little seaside village. Yes, there is still the stereotypical western traveller yoga studio/retreat in town, and the two beach bars at the end of the main drag could be from any small western resort beach in the world. But the vibe is still mellow, the locals still outnumber the tourists, and I was actually able to find affordable accommodation a few blocks back from the beach even a week before Christmas.
However Sayulita daytrippers are fast discovering San Pancho, which means that their next visit to the area could be to San Pancho rather than Sayulita… and so it repeats itself again…
And one word of advice for day tripping to San Pancho from Sayulita (as I myself help dig the grave for San Pancho as a quiet little town): Don’t walk there. I met an American guy in a bar (should have been my first warning) who told me it was a fairly easy hour long stroll, mostly along the beach with a final “10 minutes or so” along the highway into town. Two hours after leaving Sayulita, the last 30 minutes or more along a very busy highway with no shoulder area, I finally arrived in San Pancho. You’ve been warned!