Sayulita solo travel safety, in the words of a local resident
Updated: After Trisha’s solo female travel in Sayulita, she now lives here! If you have any questions about traveling to Sayulita, please email or send a messsage on Instagram.
Is solo female travel in Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico safe? YOU BET IT IS!
For years, this small Mexican town has been visited by many female travelers across the world, especially Canadians and Americans. The increase of direct flights to Puerto Vallarta International Airport (closest airport to Sayulita) has made it easier for travelers to access this beautiful coast of Mexico. There are direct flights from Vancouver, Montreal, San Francisco, San Diego, among others. These flights are often less than $300 USD (2-way) so many people from the north choose Sayulita as a vacation destination.
I grew up in a coastal town in the Philippines so I don’t really feel different in Sayulita. I’ve been here for 8 weeks already and loving every minute. Unlike other Mexican cities that I’ve stayed in for a long time (Mexico City and Guadalajara), the small size of Sayulita makes my stay here very comfortable. For example, in Mexico City, I stayed in the Guererro neighborhood and wouldn’t dare walk there at night by myself. In Sayulita, everything is walkable and is pretty safe. The locals are used to having foreigners around.
I did have a bad experience being hustled by the police. One night, my friends and I decided to go skinny dipping in the main beach of Sayulita. I get cold easily so I didn’t go with them. I stayed behind and watched all of their things. 5 policemen came flickering their flashlight on my face and my friends. Apparently, skinny dipping is not allowed in Mexico. They said there are appropriate beaches for that but not the main beach.
My friends did not speak any Spanish so I had to deal with the police. They insisted to bring my friends to the police station and pay 2,000 Mexican pesos (about $100 USD) each for the offense. If my friends refuse to pay, they will be detained at the police station for 24 hours. Both ways don’t work for us so I told them how we can go forward without going to the police station. Obviously, they wanted money for it so I made the best deal possible: instead of paying 2,000 Mexican pesos per person, the policemen were happy to accept a 600 Mexican pesos bribe for the “offense.”
I am from a poor country, too, and I don’t usually bribe police officers but they did not relent in this situation. I was also put in a place where they wanted to go out and drink with me just to get it over with. The other officer was looking at me like he wants to grab me anytime but I kept my cool. I force myself to stand tall in instances like this. This way, it becomes very obvious to them that they are not allowed to touch me or talk to me in a manner they prefer. I always had the upper hand when dealing with men like this.
Other than that, there wasn’t a time where I felt harmed in Sayulita. That instance is from our own doing anyway. I will not have that encounter with the police if my friends were not doing something “against the rules.”
Is Sayulita safe? Can you travel solo?
Sayulita is a very family-oriented town so you can see a lot of families on the beach and a huge amount of kids running around town every weekend. It has been a destination for family travelers, including Mexican families. Sayulita is only a 4-hour drive from the city of Guadalajara so it serves as the closest vacation spot to Mexicans.
Police are patrolling around town every night to keep the Sayulita environment safe. There aren’t a lot of crimes in town so they are more focused on enforcing laws regarding drug possession. It is very likely that you will see (and smell) people smoking weed on the streets. People here don’t mind but the police do. Avoid smoking pot in public places and be discreet if you want to use drugs. You’re a big girl – you know how the rules are.
There is also a big community of ex-pats in Sayulita. As I wrote at the beginning of this article, most foreigners who reside here are from the United States and Canada. They hold a lot of community events like yoga, dinner parties, and rooftop bbq. If you stay here longer, I am sure you will come across them. Most of the foreigners I know have lived here for at least 6 years. They love it, they have the experience, they’re still here – I guess that’s enough reason to believe Sayulita is safe.
If drug cartel wars are your concern, Sayulita is not like what you see in the movies. Sure, it’s 4 hours away from Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo’s Guadalajara but this story is from the ’90s. Today, Jalisco and Nayarit are not the breeding places of drug cartels. Or at least, you won’t notice it.
The whole town is illuminated with lamp posts so it’s okay to walk after midnight. I remember being super drunk and walked by myself to the hostel at 3:30 am. Nothing happened to me. People didn’t even talk to me! The only people I saw were the ones who were about to open their food trucks for breakfast. They did not pay attention to me and carried on to their daily business.
I am a bit worried about where I moved. I stopped the hostel living in Sayulita and moved to an apartment. My street doesn’t have lamp posts and is very dark. I am very uncomfortable to walk in the dark by myself so more often, I always walk with friends who live on my street. I’ve been told that the only danger I can face when walking in dark streets are dogs. There are a lot of street dogs in Sayulita that bite. Take note. This is important!
Dear Sayulita mayor, the streets of Punta de Mita need their lamp posts fixed! I mean there are posts but they don’t work. I believe my street is the main avenue and needs attention. If you are able to read this, please do something about these lights and make our environment feel safer. Thank you. 🙂
Sayulita travel and safety tips for solo female travellers
Sayulita is not one of those Mexican towns where you need to take extreme safety precautions. You can definitely relax and enjoy your vacation without having to worry about being harmed. Here are some of the basic solo female travel in Sayulita tips that I can share with you:
Be careful when swimming
Just last week, I faced a very terrifying experience when one of the girls I went to Carricitos Beach with almost drowned. We were watching her from the shore and couldn’t do anything about it. The waves were pretty strong and none of us couldn’t get to her. Good thing a lad from Seattle bravely (and greatly) swam the strong waters to get to her. It was terrifying! The beaches around Sayulita are swimmable but there are times when waves get out of control (remember, this is a surf town). We don’t really know when that’s coming so only swim if you have the skills. Before going in, always observe and gage the sea.
Never leave your bags unattended
Girls, this is a protocol everywhere. I’ve been to countries where no one cares about your bag (say, Tel Aviv) but Sayulita is a very touristy town. It’s not common to leave your belongings unattended.
Calle Gaviota (where the Kiosko is) is one of the sketchiest streets in Sayulita.
Personally, I never avoided this street because the locals here already know me. I can also handle myself well when it comes to the people living here as I am fluent in Spanish. However, I passed with some girls here one time and they did not feel comfortable with the guys standing in the dark, offering drugs. No one will harm you in this street but you will get a lot of stares from the people in this neighborhood. Like I said, this does not bother me and it’s not a big deal as long as I know the right words to say but it might be bothering to you. I don’t know – to each her own, I guess. You can take other streets when going to the beach. Pelicanos Street is one of the safest, so far!
Mexican men are very intense
I’ve been dragged to dance, coerced to have a drink, and have been grinded (nearly dry humped) by numerous men who wanted to dance with me in the club. Again, Sayulita is a touristy area even to Mexicans so expect high volumes of tourists on weekends. Non-Mexican men can also be intense but Mexican men are harder to shoo. When going to clubs, always bring the girls with you so they can save you from the discomfort. Of course, this is only bothering if you feel that they are aggressively pursuing you. If you like it, then go for it! No one’s going to stop you!
Through my travels in Latin America, I realized the importance of speaking Spanish. Being able to speak it well is vital to solo female travel safety, not just in Sayulita or Mexico but all over the region. Countries from Mexico to Argentina all speak Spanish (except Brazil) so learning won’t be that difficult. I realized most girls don’t learn Spanish as English is also widely spoken in touristic areas but I swear to you, speaking this language will save you! Because of my Spanish speaking skills, people just think I am Latina. Nobody even asks where I am from here! If they do, they expect me to blurt some Latin American country (because of the way I speak). Personally, that’s a milestone for me as I don’t get that much attention. Blending in is super convenient for solo female travellers!
With regards to what to wear, well, this is a beach town so wear anything you want!
I’d walk in Sayulita during the day with bikini (no shirt and shorts) and people don’t look at me like crazy. You also know that I am a braless ambassador since I was 20 – I am never bothered by the stares in Sayulita. This small pueblo is really Western when it comes to women’s clothing! There are also a lot of places to shop here but take note shopping in Sayulita is more expensive than Mexico City or Guadalajara. Better do your shopping in big cities before coming here!
Consider your source
I know the news is one of the most reliable platforms we cling to as it appears to be the only resource we have when planning our travels but before saying no to solo female travel in Sayulita, make sure you’ve exhausted all your efforts to investigate. You may contact locals on Couchsurfing to see the current situation (that’s what I do). Just make sure the person/local you are going to contact has enough Couchsurfinng credentials. Check references and vouches from guests they hosted.
Get in touch with your country’s embassy/consulate in Mexico
I always do this especially when in doubt in the countries I visit. I send an email to the embassy or consulate of my country to see the situation. When I planned to go to Pakistan, I wrote to the Embassy of the Philippines there and asked if it’s safe for a Filipina woman to travel Pakistan. The consulate staff, which was also a Filipina responded and told me it’s okay. She gave me a go signal and wished me will in my travels to Pakistan.
Por favor, get travel insurance!
I’ve had enough of people comfortably traveling without insurance. I know it’s another expenditure in your travels but more than anything else, it is important! I’ve had enough medical emergencies where I found myself without travel insurance. It’s really painfully expensive!
Follow Sayulita Crime Alert on Facebook
It hasn’t been updated since April 2019 but I guess that’s a good thing since there are no crimes to report.
The best way to meet people in Sayulita
If you are travelling solo in Sayulita, the best place to meet people is by staying in hostels. Hostels always do things as a group so you’ll never be alone. These people go everywhere together! If hostel is not your thing, below are some of the best ways to meet people in Sayulita:
- Hang out outside Yambak’s every Friday (or every day!). Yambak’s is situated in front of the plaza so you’ll often see big groups of foreigners sitting outside, drinking their beers.
- Digital nomads can easily meet people at the only co-working space in Sayulita. For the past 8 weeks that I am here, I only availed a day pass to the co-working space once and have gained a lot of friends from that experience!
- Join yoga classes. Daily yoga sessions are also a thing in Sayulita and is always composed of women.
- Talk to bartenders and waiters. People in service in Sayulita are usually people who left their life in the comfortable cities. I’ve made a lot of friends by chatting about how I ended up in Sayulita but other people’s stories are more amusing!
- Join Facebook groups in Sayulita. The Original Sayulita People (2.5k members) may seem very elite but this group is really helpful! In here, you can find jobs, see the latest events, and network with like-minded individuals. Members are both locals and foreigners who live in Sayulita. Sayulita People is also an active group with more than 15,000 members.
- Join a meet-up on Meetup.com. I recently discovered this website and found out that Sayulita is actively participating. There are outdoor meet ups where you can join a surfing trip with girls. There are also health and wellness activities for women that include yoga, meditation, and vegan food trips. I find the activities on this website more for women than men, actually!