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Puerto Vallarta is a great launch point for exploring the Pacific Coast of Mexico. While the city is a hub for tourism, there are tons of great day trips from Puerto Vallarta that will give you relaxed beach vibes and an authentic Mexico experience.
My favorite of these places is Sayulita! This chill beach town has colorful streets, amazing restaurants, and many activities to do. Whenever we’re back in Puerto Vallarta, we like to plan a little getaway to Sayulita.
But the real question is how do you get from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita? There are lots of different options depending on your style of travel.
You can take a tour from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita, a private shuttle, or even rent a car to explore more of Mexico. After trying out a bunch of these options on our most recent trips, we put together this guide on the best ways to get from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita. You can take our expertise and then get ready to enjoy one of the best areas to explore in Mexico!
Our Top Choice
The best way to get from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita is by renting a car or taking a group shuttle. Renting a car gives you the convenience of having your own transportation the whole time you’re in Sayulita, and it’s actually a very affordable option! We always book through Discover Cars, as it’s cheap, trustworthy, and gives us the freedom we want while traveling around Mexico.
Group shuttles are another convenient option. You can book them in advance and coordinate transportation back to Puerto Vallarta at the end of your trip! There are private shuttle options like this one available through Viator. They can accommodate a group of up to 7 people and can pick you up at any time of day – which is handy if you have a late flight. You can also check Bookaway for additional shuttle options.
How to Get from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita
1. Organized Tour
While there are many ways to get from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita, it all depends on your travel itinerary. If you only have one day to go explore Sayulita, taking an organized tour is probably your best bet (although if you can find more time, you totally should!). We often take organized tours, but we know they aren’t for everyone or every style of trip!
If you’re tight on time, we love tours because they give you the most bang for your buck. You can often see more in a day because the tours from Puerto Vallarta know how to efficiently see the highlights. They also plan the details and logistics of the day, so you simply show up and enjoy. We often find some hidden gems on these tours and get a better understanding of the area because of the local guides sharing their insight.
However, because all of the details are planned, it definitely restricts your freedom to explore at your own pace. I think tours are great for new travelers or those in a time crunch, but if you have ample time and are well-versed in traveling, you might find tours a bit annoying. Most tours from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita are day trips, so if you’re looking to further explore Sayulita, you will need more time than a tour allows.
It all depends on what travel experience you’re looking for! However, there are some great day trips from Puerto Vallarta that allow you to dive into Sayulita’s beauty and fit in some fun activities too.
Full-Day Sayulita and San Pancho from Puerto Vallarta
This day trip is a perfect way to explore Sayulita and San Pancho for the first time. This is a relaxed tour with the majority of your time in Sayulita, simply hanging out at one of the best beaches in Mexico where you can swim, lay out in the sun, or even boogie board and surf! You’ll have some free time to explore the local shops, art galleries, and restaurants.
This tour will also take you to San Pancho, which is a smaller town about 15 minutes north. It is quaint and adorable, with fewer tourists than Sayulita.
This tour includes roundtrip transportation from your Puerto Vallarta hotel (the van has AC, hooray!), and the use of a boogie board or surfboard while at the beach! It doesn’t include lunch or drinks, so bring some extra cash. The tour is scheduled to last for 6 hours and can be reserved for $53 USD per person.
Sayulita and San Pancho with Vallarta Adventures
This half-day tour is ideal for foodies and those who want to see the local side of Sayulita and San Pancho! Your local guide will take you around these small towns to try the best food, sweets, and beers in the area. Sayulita has a killer food scene, so getting to see the local spots is the icing on the cake!
You’ll hit the Mercado del Pueblo, the city’s farmer’s market, where you can try all of these dishes. There are even craft breweries here, so you can indulge in a locally brewed IPA while taking in the brightly colored streets of Sayulita.
This tour runs on Tuesdays and Fridays and can be reserved for $109 USD per person. It includes transportation from the meeting point in Puerto Vallarta in an AC vehicle, all of your food and drinks, and your amazing guide! You can reserve this experience here.
Sayulita City Photo Tour
Sayulita is a gorgeous little town full of bright colors and epic beach shots. We love this city photo tour because it gives photographers so much to capture! You’ll spend a few hours wandering around the city with your local guide. They know the best photo locations and can give information on the area, so you can have a deeper understanding of the spots you’re photographing.
You’ll also have time to enjoy local restaurants, markets, and shops to get a feel for the culture. As photographers, we really enjoy capturing the culture in a picture! This tour will be a great artistic way to enjoy Sayulita.
This tour departs from the designated meeting point in Puerto Vallarta and takes you to Sayulita. It doesn’t include lunch or any souvenirs, but your local guide is a wealth of information and just think of all the amazing photos you’ll have to remember your trip by! You can reserve this half-day experience for $79 USD.
Surf trip to Punta Mita or Sayulita
If learning how to surf has been on your bucket list, this is one of the best places to learn! This private tour offers one-on-one surf lessons starting on shore to learn the basics, then takes you to the water to catch a wave! This tour is run by two brothers who are fun people and excellent instructors. Most people are able to stand and actually surf by the end of the lesson!
You’ll be at the beach for about 4 hours, and if you get tired of surfing, they provide paddle boards, boogie boards, and umbrellas so you can chill on the beach. They also provide snacks, water, and photos so you can remember your fun day surfing!
This tour provides roundtrip transportation from Puerto Vallarta and any equipment you’ll need. Just bring your sense of adventure and sunscreen! You can reserve this experience for $110 USD.
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
Related Read: Tours are an easy and safe way to experience Mexico. If you’re looking for more tips, check out our blog where we answer the question of whether Puerto Vallarta is safe.
2. Rent a Car
Renting a car in Puerto Vallarta and driving to Sayulita is the best option if you’re looking for some freedom to explore. We personally love using Discover Cars. They have multiple pickup locations in Puerto Vallarta, although the most convenient is getting it from the airport when you arrive. Then once you have your car, you’re free to explore anywhere!
Discover Cars is definitely one of the cheaper rental car companies and we have used them many times all over the world and know that they are trustworthy. This isn’t always the case when renting from a local company as they might try to tack on hidden fees or pointless (and expensive) insurance. You can get a rental car from Discover Cars for about $25 USD a day, plus $10 USD a day for insurance.
The only downside of renting a car in Mexico is that you have a little more stress added to your plate, as driving here can be a bit chaotic and the roads are unpredictable! Sayulita is a small town with narrow, pot-hole-ridden roads. so I suggest getting a small car for driving around here. Renting a car can also add quite a bit of expense to your budget if you’re traveling with just two people. If you are traveling with a bigger group, it can be more of an affordable option.
Overall, renting a car through Discover Cars is my top choice for getting from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita, and around all of Mexico in fact! We have traveled and lived throughout Mexico and love having our own wheels, as you can find some really cool areas off the beaten path and travel at your own pace.
3. Group Shuttle
You can also book group shuttles from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita. This is a great option for those who don’t want to rent a car and also want to spend more time in Sayulita than the day tours can offer. Once you get to Sayulita, it is a walkable city, you just need to get there first!
We book group shuttles through Bookaway, which is essentially a shuttle search engine. You can book directly through this website, so it is trustworthy and secure, and see multiple options. This way you don’t have to worry about getting overcharged by a local driver! Most shuttles take off from the Puerto Vallarta Airport and you will share it with other travelers. Then you can simply catch the shuttle back to Puerto Vallarta when you are done.
Group shuttles can be a bit expensive for what they are. Sayulita is only an hour from Puerto Vallarta, and prices start at $75 USD for a one-way ticket and $150 USD for a roundtrip ticket. That’s almost equivalent to renting a car for an entire week! However, if you don’t want the stress of renting a car and simply want to get to Sayulita, this is a convenient option.
4. Private shuttle
Private shuttles are another convenient option from the airport. This is especially great if you’re traveling with a large group and have lots of luggage, if you need car seats for the kiddos, or if your flight arrives at an inconvenient time, like late at night or early morning.
Your driver will pick you up right from the airport with your name on a sign (almost like you’re famous!) so you won’t have to worry about finding a ride upon landing. Private shuttles give you peace of mind that you will have a safe ride at a fair price, no haggling with taxi drivers here! They also typically have space for large luggage, so if you’re traveling with a surfboard, golf clubs, or some other large baggage, you won’t have to worry about getting it to your accommodation.
This private shuttle through Viator can accommodate up to 7 people and will pick you up at any time of the day. You can reserve this shuttle for roundtrip transportation, so when it’s time to head back, this detail is already taken care of! A roundtrip shuttle from Puerto Vallarta Airport to your Sayulita accommodation is $290 USD per person.
Or we have another private shuttle option through Viator that can be slightly cheaper, depending on the group size. This shuttle service can pick you up at any time of the day from the Puerto Vallarta Airport and take you to your hotel in Sayulita. It actually gets cheaper with the more people you have, so if you have a group of 7, roundtrip transportation is $189 USD per person, and if you just have two people, roundtrip transportation is $290 USD each. So this option is definitely best if you’re traveling with a large group!
The negative aspect of private shuttles is obviously the price. However, if it is in your budget, this is a highly convenient way to get from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita!
5. Public Bus
Taking the public bus is a great option for budget travelers or those who are looking for a bit of adventure when navigating a new place. You can catch the bus from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita for 46 MXN (which is about $2.70 USD) and it leaves every 20 minutes. It will take 1 hour to 1.5 hours to get to Suyalita due to frequent stops.
To find the bus from the airport, you’ll have to cross the highway using the pedestrian bridge. The bus that goes to Sayulita is called “Compostela” and they are usually white and green buses. Keep an eye out for the sign in the window that says “Sayulita”. If you can’t find it, simply ask someone around and they can point you in the right direction!
The positives of taking the bus are that it’s cheap and can really throw you into the local culture! However, the negatives are that it can be a little confusing to find the exact bus, it can take a bit longer, and it’s not ideal if you have luggage. I recommend this option for those traveling with a backpack. Locals are generally friendly and willing to help, so if you get lost or confused, just ask someone and you will figure it out!
Ubers are prevalent all over Mexico and can certainly be an option to get to Sayulita from Puerto Vallarta. However, Ubers do not pick up from the Puerto Vallarta Airport, so you will have to exit the airport and cross the highway via the pedestrian overpass. There will be signs leading you in the right direction, so follow those.
A trip to Sayulita should cost around $35-$50 USD depending on the time of year and time of day. While this isn’t a bad price to drive an hour north, you should expect to give a rather big tip as the driver will likely have to drive back without any passengers.
Ubers are definitely a convenient option, but it does leave some uncertainty in your travels, as you’ll be waiting on available Ubers, and the price is not fixed. Plus, you might have a hard time finding an Uber to return you to the airport from Sayulita. If you decide to go the Uber route, I recommend having some cash on hand in case you have to get a taxi instead!
Taking a taxi is a good option, as there are plenty around! You can take a taxi from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita for about $60-$70 USD. Keep in mind that the busy season (December to April) can increase prices a bit. Taxis are great because they are straightforward and the drivers know the area well, so you can usually get there pretty quickly!
You can even organize a taxi in advance so the car will arrive at your hotel at a scheduled time. You can always talk to your hotel about booking a taxi so they can recommend a reputable company and you can get a fair price for your rides.
Related Read: Once you’re back in Puerto Vallarta, don’t miss taking a food tour! I had some of the BEST tacos ever and our guide knew all the local spots to stop at.
How far is Sayulita from Puerto Vallarta?
Sayulita is 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Puerto Vallarta. Sayulita is a sleepy beach town on the other side of Bahia de Banderas and is a nice escape from the buzzing tourism vibe that is commonly found in Puerto Vallarta.
Since Sayulita is only about an hour’s drive away, this can easily be a day trip from Puerto Vallarta, or you can make a few days of it and really settle into its relaxed vibe. Even though it is relatively close, it has an entirely different feel!
Is Sayulita worth visiting?
Absolutely! Not only is it another gorgeous beach town in Mexico, but there is so much to do in Sayulita for any traveler. If you’re looking for a chill vibe, Sayulita will be your paradise. You can easily spend the day relaxing on the beach, rent a lounge chair, get a massage, and eat at one of Sayulita’s many yummy restaurants.
For adventurous travelers, Sayulita has amazing outdoor recreation all around it! Mountain biking, ATV tours, ocean fishing, ziplining, and hiking – you will definitely need a few days to hit it all. Then cap it all off with an authentic Mexican experience by taking another day trip to visit the town of Tequila for a tequila tasting and to eat your weight in tacos! This is personally one of my favorite ways to experience Mexico.
While Puerto Vallarta gets a lot of the limelight on the Pacific side of Mexico, we honestly prefer Sayulita! You will find fewer tourists and be able to see a more authentic side of the country, while still experiencing fun activities that make your travels memorable.
Where to Stay in Sayulita, Mexico
Choosing a place to stay in Sayulita is almost as hard as picking what to do once you arrive – there are so many choices! Luckily there are a few places that stand out from the rest.
On top of that, there’s something for everyone’s budget! For a full breakdown, we have this guide on where to stay in Sayulita or you can check out our top picks below.
Luxury – $$$
If you’re looking for a dreamy vacation and budget isn’t an issue, there are some excellent choices in Sayulita. Hotel Boutique Siete Lunas is our top pick as this beautiful hotel is located just a few minutes from town (you can easily walk), so it’s more peaceful and scenic. This hotel is located on the hillside looking out over the ocean near Playa Los Muertos. There are amazing views from every room and an infinity pool overlooking the ocean.
Rooms are typically $300-$400 USD in peak season, but you can find the best deals on Booking.com.
Mid-range – $$
If being close to all that Sayulita has to offer and having lots of room is important, I highly recommend Aurinko Bungalows. These one and two-bedroom apartments are located within stumbling distance from the plaza – making shopping, restaurants, and beach days easy! On top of that, they have a pool (much needed), and all the rooms have AC. Rates are typically around the $130 USD mark. Unfortunately, it’s often fully booked, so you’ll want to reserve a room as far in advance as you can!
Another alternative is Nuiya Hoteles Centro which is within walking distance of Sayulita Beach but tends to be quieter at night than hotels closer to the main plaza. Every room has a little patio – perfect for that cup of coffee before starting the day! There’s an outdoor pool and the rooms are clean and comfortable. Rates start at $115 USD in the busy season which is a great deal for a place like this. You can check availability on Booking.com.
Budget – $
For budget travelers, Casa Love is an excellent option. It’s just steps from the beach – so close that you hear the ocean at night! This budget hotel is ideal if location and price are your must-haves as prices start at $93 USD even in the busy season! You can book a room right here.
If you don’t mind the hostel life, La Redonda Sayulita Hostal is the way to go. This hostel is perfect for social travelers who want to meet people, and it’s located in the heart of town, only one block from the beach. Dorm beds are about $25 USD a night and breakfast can be added on for an extra $2 USD. You can book on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.com.
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
I hope this post has been helpful as you decide how to get from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita! I’m so excited for you to experience one of the most beautiful beach towns on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. It’s one of our favorite places to visit in Mexico and definitely a must if you’re already in nearby Puerto Vallarta.
If you’re in the midst of trip planning, we would love to help! Check out our other blogs about Mexico or take a look at a few of the ones about Puerto Vallarta I picked out below that I think you might like.