Puerto Vallarta is currently one of the most popular destinations in Mexico, second only to Cancun in terms of visitor numbers.
In the first half of 2023, Puerto Vallarta welcomed a record-breaking number of visitors, and this beach hotspot is only expected to grow further in popularity.
Puerto Vallarta is a large and bustling resort city, but if you’re looking for a more low-key and relaxed vibe, there are two smaller towns to the north that travelers are also flocking to.
Sayulita and San Pancho are two small beach towns on the Riviera Nayarit located north of Puerto Vallarta. Sayulita is about one hour from Puerto Vallarta, while San Pancho is one hour and fifteen minutes.
Here’s why these two beach destinations are growing in popularity with travelers on the Riviera Nayarit:
Sayulita still has a small-town atmosphere, but it’s an extremely popular travel destination, so there’s always a lot going on.
Although it’s no longer the quiet, underrated destination it once was ten or fifteen years ago, it offers a completely different vibe compared to nearby Puerto Vallarta.
Sayulita is a small town of 5,000 people, while Puerto Vallarta is a big city of over 220,000 people.
You won’t find sprawling all-inclusive resorts in Sayulita, but rather a selection of boutique accommodations ranging from small luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels.
Sayulita is known for being one of the best surfing destinations in Mexico, attracting beginner and experienced surfers alike. If you want to take surfing lessons, Sayulita is a great place to do it.
In recent years, Sayulita has also become known as a party destination, and there’s always something going on as new restaurants and bars continue to open. There are also many yoga classes, fitness classes, tours, and other activities happening in Sayulita.
San Pancho, Mexico
If you’re looking for an even smaller and more laid-back beach destination, San Pancho might be the perfect place for you.
Considered one of the best underrated beach destinations in Mexico, San Pancho is a quieter alternative to Sayulita.
This small town is located about fifteen minutes further up the Riviera Nayarit from Sayulita, but it feels much quieter. The town has a population of just 3,000 people, and it has not gotten as crowded as Sayulita yet.
If you want to spend time on the beach or go surfing in San Pancho, you’ll have less competition than you would in Sayulita.
Although there are still plenty of restaurants and bars in San Pancho for how small it is, there is less going on compared to Sayulita. If you’re looking for a place to truly relax and disconnect, then San Pancho might be the better choice for you.
Benefits Of Sayulita And San Pancho
Both Sayulita and San Pancho are very popular with tourists, but they still don’t see as much tourism as nearby Puerto Vallarta.
If you’re looking for more of a small-town atmosphere and prefer to stay in boutique accommodation rather than a large resort, Sayulita and San Pancho are both good options.
While the two towns have their differences, they are also similar in terms of size, location, and beaches.
Sayulita and San Pancho are both more affordable than Puerto Vallarta, although Sayulita is steadily becoming more expensive as it continues to grow in popularity.
When staying in Sayulita or San Pancho, you can also use the towns as a base for exploring more of the Riviera Nayarit, a stretch of Pacific coastline that is almost 200 miles long. Further inland in Nayarit, you can also discover quaint and charming Pueblos Mágicos (Magic Towns) like Compostela and Jala.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com