Stand Up Paddle Guide to Sayulita, Mexico, by Fernando Stalla


Sayulita is an idyllic beach village located in the state of Nayarit on Mexico’s west coast. Quieter than the nearby resort city of Puerto Vallarta, which is situated just 40km south of the beach settlement, Sayulita is famed for its year-round warm and favourable conditions, attracting watersports enthusiasts from across the country and further afield. According to Mexican SUP rider Fernando Stalla, the waves consistently breaking in the bay from January through December (with the north swells hitting from December to April) mean that Sayulita is an ideal spot for SUP surfing, longboarding and learning to surf, as well as being quite simply a great place to visit, being home to great restaurants, charming local boutiques with modern and traditional wares, and hip bars, not to mention warm and friendly locals. Local boy Stalla gives us some tips on stand up paddle in his hometown down Mexico way.

The peaceful bay area in Sayulita, Mexico, by sundown

Fernando Stalla’s link to Sayulita

Sayulita is my home, and it always will be. Like anyone’s hometown, it holds a special place in my heart. It’s where I became a man, an athlete and a father.

I’ve been mainly focused on SUP Racing and that takes a lot of dedication, but whenever the waves are good, I like to surf my Rogue 7’7 on the breaking waves in Sayulita. It’s a real thrill!

Fernando Stalla runs to the shore during a SUP practice session in Sayulita, Mexico  

Local SUP riders and SUP community

Sayulita has become something of a stand up paddle Mecca on the Mexican stand up paddle scene and within Latin America more generally with the increasingly popular Punta Sayulita Classic events (for both surfing and SUP), which attract an enormous amount of international interest and competitors from all across the globe.

The locality now lays claim to 3 ISA World SUP Championship medallists, including the first Mexican SUP surfers to win such accolades for their country: Javier “Bicho” JimĂ©nez, Felipe Hernández and myself.

Personally, based on what I see out there amongst the youth in particular, I am quite convinced that in terms of SUP Surf and SUP Race there is a considerable talent pool in Sayulita and in its surrounding areas today. Javier is training the new generation of local SUP athletes and their future is very promising, particularly given that stand up paddle as a discipline is gaining increased visibility both locally and internationally. It bodes well going forward.

A youngster takes advantage of Sayulita's famously consistent wave conditions

Renting SUP boards and SUP gear in Sayulita

In terms of SUP-specific amenities, Sayulita is home to a few good specialist stand up paddle stores, my favourite being the rather obviously-named Stand Up Sayulita. Their selection is vast, the service is great and you can find almost any kind of SUP board there. They are true specialists. In addition, they offer lessons and rentals. So it’s an all-round stand up paddle hub par excellence.

Turquoise waters may be observed in the bay area in Sayulita, Mexico

SUP schools in Sayulita

Sayulita beach is full of surf schools, such as WildMex Surf & Adventure, Lunazul Surfing and Surf’n Sayulita, and, while focused primarily on surfing, they usually have options for stand up paddle too. As mentioned above, the folks at Stand Up Sayulita offer stand up paddle lessons too, and this is very much their area of expertise.

Javier Jiménez runs a SUP camp for kids, and given the passion put into it, I predict that this is where the new top local athletes will come from.

Traditional decorations go up at Sayulita's famous Playa de los Muertos beach

Major local SUP events

For the last few years, the Punta Sayulita Classic has been taking place annually around the month of March. That would be the main event of international interest in the locality. And we hope that its popularity continues to grow in the years to come.

Sayulita also proudly held the ISA World SUP Championship in 2015, so it would be great to attract an event of that calibre once again at some point.

An idyllic sunset by the beach in Sayulita, Mexico

Best SUP spots in Sayulita

On those relaxing sunny days, it’s best to stay in the bay of Sayulita and take advantage of the breaking waves.

When the swell is considerable, it can be worth going down south to El Anclote in Punta de Mita. This is about a 25-minute drive from Sayulita itself and it’s great paddling playground.

Otherwise, at Lanchas, you can find surf on every swell and with a stand up paddleboard you can surf waves that regulars surfers don’t go on in for.

Fernando Stalla in a pensive moment by the shore in his hometown of Sayulita, Mexico

Best downwind runs in Sayulita

The finest downwind run in the area starts out at Punta de Mita and goes on to to Pacific Paddle, a great paddle centre and school in Bucerias. This represents about 20km of great downwind conditions, and those on land will reach Bucerias from Punta de Mita along the coastal road, so it’s an easy liaison between you and your driving partner.

You can’t really bowl hard on this run every single day, as it is highly conditions-dependent, but when the winds are there, it’s a really fun downwind run. I highly recommend it!

Traditional Mexican wares are sold at a stand in the seaside town of Sayulita, Mexico

And as a tourist…

Well, where to begin? It’s a small village really, but the coast here is so beautiful and there are plenty of amenities to take advantage of. It’s best to explore the different beaches and to try to find a little cove of your own.

We have a number of really picturesque and quaint beaches, and there’s even a beach that you can only get to by paddling and cliff diving, so it’s very secluded, to say the least. There’s another secret beach that is known for its green clay, and there you can do your own clay rub in relative isolation.

As for the town itself, live music plays almost every night in Sayulita and you will see several groups of fire dancers and different performances along the beach. It’s well worth going a stroll to discover the nocturnal activities going down on any given night.

Photo credits: Fernando Stalla / Shutterstock

About the Author

Mathieu Astier

Mathieu is the hyper-active founder of TotalSUP and a multilingual online marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience working for top international internet companies. His love-at-first-sight for Stand Up Paddling in 2013 led him to build one of the leading online media dedicated to SUP in English and French and to turn his family lifestyle towards the ocean.

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