sayulita solo travel safety

Sayulita solo travel safety, in the words of a local resident

Reader Mail: I found your blog while searching for Mexico. I am Frances from Oklahoma and I am preparing to travel outside the USA to expand my horizon. Mexico seems to be the closest place for that. However, I am still scared about what I hear in the news. Here in the US, Mexico does get a lot of bad press and my mother is worried about my decision to come to Sayulita. Is solo female travel in Sayulita safe? How is Mexico in general? Thanks a lot for your help and thank you for encouraging young girls like me to go out of our comfort zone. Your blog is a gem!

– Frances Johnson, USA

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.”

Solo Female Travel in Sayulita

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.

See also: What $25 and $800 USD Sayulita Airnbs look like

sayulita travel tips

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. 🙂

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Solo Female Travel in Sayulita

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!

how I ended up moving to Sayulita

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!

Learn Spanish

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.

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Solo Female Travel in Sayulita

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.

how I ended up moving to Sayulita

  • 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!

Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak, and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She'd like to believe she's not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. In no particular order, her favorite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Tel Aviv.

Comments

  • Danik
    July 14, 2019

    Fantastic well written detailed post and a good post for solo female travelers who are still a bit nervous about going to countries by themselves (doesn’t matter which country, I always say there is always something wrong with every country..even my home country the UK…we just a mess right now)…but anyway, a good reassuring post and with common sense, the trip for solo female visitors will be a great one. Also never heard of Sayulita before, I might check it out myself when I get round to doing Mexico.

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  • Andi
    July 15, 2019

    I appreciate the write-up about Sayulita but I am not 100% convinced I would go by myself, think I will take the hubby! But it does look like a fun beach town. I have never heard of it so thank you for introducing me!

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  • Rosemary
    July 16, 2019

    I’ve been hearing lots of good things about Mexico but no one has every mentioned Sayulita. Thanks for putting this town on my radar. It seems like a fun beach town and also very safe. We are considering a trip to Mexico next year and we’ll definitively look further into Sayulita.

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  • Linda (LD Holland)
    July 16, 2019

    There are so many stories about issues travelling in Mexico. So glad to find that you found travel in Sayulita, Nayarit to be safe. We have seen such police actions asking for fines in cash when we were in Bali and Thailand. But then, skinny dipping in the main beach may in fact be a finable offence. So good that you could enjoy this small family town and feel safe.

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  • Renata
    July 16, 2019

    Although, I’ve never been to Sayulita, I travelled Mexico by myself twice – even with a child in tow – and felt perfectly safe. However, while it’s relatively safe for tourists – and as you write, the cops make sure it stays that way – there is still stuff going on behind closed doors: Drug cartels are active, police is corrupt, and us poor journalists, we get between the two of them. But yes, in general, the tourist areas are fine.

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  • Milijana
    July 17, 2019

    Corrupted police, intense Mexican men, some streets with no lamps (at least yours) … to be honest, it doesn’s sound inviting to me. Stay safe, Trisha!

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  • Chau
    July 17, 2019

    I’ve never heard of the town of Sayulita before reading your blog. I found it really endearing that you shared your unpleasant experience with the police because it reminded me that we need to be conscious of the rules and regulations of the places we travel to. I also love the advice of learning the language as a way to “blend in” when traveling. I can’t wait to read more about your next adventure!

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  • Kamree
    July 17, 2019

    That skinny dipping story is CRAZY!!!! It’s so sad and scary that the police are corrupted in some areas of the world and try to take advantage and threaten people like that! So glad you’re safe! xo – Kam

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  • Thomas Bourlet
    July 17, 2019

    It’s always hard to know what to do when the police demand an instant fee or have you detained. My friend had a similar situation in Peru and didn’t pay the fee and ended up getting beaten up in jail overnight, so quite scary!

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  • Debra Schroeder
    July 17, 2019

    I’ve heard great things about Sayulita, glad to know it’s safe for solo travel. Good thing you spoke Spanish, 24 hours in jail wouldn’t have been fun. Great tip about Calle Gaviota.

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  • Hannah
    July 18, 2019

    What a great comprehensive guide to Sayulita in Mexico. I’m like you, I can hold my own on solo trips, but it’s great that you give advice to those who are concerned. An interesting story about the police taking bribes!

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  • March 25, 2020

    I’ve always dreamed of visiting places in Mexico because their arts and culture seems to be so full of life and stories. Hoping someday I can go there to! Thank you for this very detailed guide, at least I was able to have a glimpse of how it is to stay there. I admire your bravery of going on adventures like this! <3

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