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San Pancho is the sleepy beach town in Mexico you’ve always wanted to visit.
Located in Riviera Nayarit near Sayulita, San Pancho is a top tourist destination among surfers, beach lovers, yoga enthusiasts, and those looking to enjoy the slower way of life. In fact, San Pancho is a popular place for ex-pats from all around the world.
Although some of the best things to do in San Pancho involve not doing much at all, the adventurous can still find a ton of awesome activities to enjoy. From horse riding to ATV tours, San Pancho has a wide variety of activities on offer.
To help you plan your trip, here are the 33 best things to do in San Pancho, Mexico!
Don’t have time to read the full article? While visiting San Pancho, we highly recommend taking part in the below activities:
- Take a yoga and hiking tour that will refresh your senses while you escape the noise
- Relax and enjoy the sounds of the ocean at San Pancho Beach
- Go on this snorkeling tour which guarantees access to Hidden Beach
- Enjoy a local restaurant – we adored Yasmina’s Itzalanyasayan Restaurante
- See the views from the top of Monkey Mountain – If you prefer a guided hike, check out this tour
- 33 Things to do in San Pancho, Mexico
- 1. Relax at San Pancho Beach
- 2. Watch the sunset
- 3. Tour the Marietas Islands and Hidden Beach
- 4. Walk the beach
- 5. Take a yoga class
- 6. Go surfing
- 7. Eat at Yasmina's Itzalanyasayan Restaurante
- 8. Get a photo on the San Pancho Beach swing
- 9. Hike Monkey Mountain
- 10. Rhythm of the Night Show
- 11. Ride a horse along the beach
- 12. Eat traditional seafood at Barracuda Cocina Del Mar San Pancho
- 13. Whale and dolphin watching
- 14. Drink amazing craft beer at La Cerveceria San Pancho
- 15. Go scuba diving
- 16. Visit Plaza del Sol
- 17. Go on a fishing tour
- 18. Buy jewelry from the local vendors
- 19. Have a cocktail at Pezetarian MX
- 20. Day trip to Sayulita
- 21. Spoil yourself with gelato
- 22. ATV tour through the jungle
- 23. Have a coffee at Café Mañana
- 24. Shop at the boutique stores
- 25. Rent a golf cart
- 26. Spend the day in Puerto Vallarta
- 27. Dance salsa at El Gallo
- 28. Day trip to Tequila
- 29. Tequila tasting
- 30. Visit Lo de Marco Town
- 31. Birdwatch in the estuary
- 32. La Cruz Market
- 33. Lo de Perla Jungle Garden
- Where to Stay in San Pancho, Mexico
- Thanks for reading!
- Why We Book Tours with Viator
- Renting a Car in Mexico
- Don't get Caught without Travel Insurance!
33 Things to do in San Pancho, Mexico
1. Relax at San Pancho Beach
San Pancho Beach is one of the more beautiful beaches in Mexico. Although the swells here don’t always make it a great place to swim, the laid-back atmosphere, beautiful sand, and surrounding palm trees make it the perfect place to relax.
I first visited San Pancho beach from Sayulita and quickly fell in love. So much so that I changed our plans so I could spend a few nights in San Pancho. If you’re also visiting from the busy Sayulita, relaxing at the beach will be one of your favorite things to do.
My recommendation is to either come down in the morning or afternoon to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Then, either find yourself some shade under a palm tree or visit one of the two restaurants on the beach. Either way, you can enjoy a more relaxing atmosphere and see talented surfers show off their skills.
2. Watch the sunset
As I mentioned above, it’s very popular to visit San Pancho Beach in the morning or afternoon – especially on hotter days. If you do decide on visiting in the afternoon, then you just have to stay for sunset.
The sunsets on San Pancho Beach are some of the best I have seen in Mexico. Not only does the beach’s location mean the sun sets over the water, but with such gorgeous surroundings, it’s the place to be.
You won’t be alone either. San Pancho Beach gets very busy at sunset – it seems I wasn’t the only person who loved the sunsets here.
If you’re a drinker, grab some beers from the shop at the entrance to the beach and sit back and enjoy those last few gorgeous rays of sunshine!
3. Tour the Marietas Islands and Hidden Beach
Islas Marietas, or The Marieta Islands, are stunning! This beautiful national park is home to two pristine islands only 900 meters apart. They are the perfect place to relax and explore some of the best natural beauty Mexico has to offer.
From San Pancho, you can do tours to the national park, where you will enjoy a fun and relaxing day of traveling on the catamaran, kayaking, paddle boarding, and snorkeling. It’s one of the best things to do in Mexico.
Some of the highlights are exploring different caverns and archways by kayak or paddleboard and seeing fish, turtles, and other sea life while snorkeling! You’ll also stop at Majahuitas Beach, which is very secluded and tranquil.
If you can, try to book the tour that also visits Hidden Beach (pictured above.) This is by far the highlight, but not every tour visits with the new restrictions. Even tours that advertise a visit to Hidden Beach don’t always get to see the beach.
The specific tour actually visits Hidden Beach and includes snacks, water, and an English-speaking guide. Although there are cheaper options, these DO NOT GUARANTEE a visit to Hidden Beach. To join this tour, you will have to get yourself to Punta Mita around 30 minutes from San Pancho.
4. Walk the beach
While in San Pancho, make use of the cooler hours and explore the beach. You can walk either left or right from the main beach area and enjoy some pretty spectacular scenery.
My favorite was walking to the left (if you’re facing the water.) Here, the lush greenery and beautiful bay are the perfect backdrop. I often enjoyed walks here at sunset, and I was truly amazed by the beauty of the jungle here.
If you walk the right, there’s not as much to see, but there’s plenty of beach to enjoy. If you have an umbrella, it’s the place to go for a more private beach experience.
5. Take a yoga class
Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in San Pancho is yoga. The best part is that there are plenty of yoga studios in the area.
In San Pancho, the best place to go is called El Estar. They run yoga classes every day with multiple times and classes available. Walk-in classes are 150 MXN ($8 USD). However, they also have packages for the more serious yogis!
Unani Yam is another yoga studio in San Pancho that offers classes most days. Unfortunately, they don’t offer that many classes (usually only one yoga class per day.) To be honest, finding the correct times for Unani Yam was confusing, so I recommend El Estar for that reason.
There is also a pilate studio in San Pancho called Pilates San Pancho.
If you want more yoga options, you can also make the short 5-minute trip to Sayulita. In Sayulita, there are many more yoga studios. My favorite studio was Yoga Los Sueños. They offer classes every morning at 9 am and some evening classes at 6 pm. A drop-in class here is only 150 MXN ($8 USD), but they have deals if you want to go more than once.
There’s also this Yoga and Hike experience that will have you stimulate all your senses. From the beautiful scenery on the hike to the calming sounds of the waves on the beach which is where your yoga session will take place.
This tour has all 5 star reviews on Viator so it’s definitely one of the top relaxing things to do in Sayulita.
6. Go surfing
The large swells that hit San Pancho put this town on the map. With that said, San Pancho’s beach break is more suited to intermediate to pro surfers.
So, if you’re an experienced surfer, San Pancho will be the place to be. The surf here is usually better in the morning and afternoon with sunset surfs being very popular.
If you’re just learning to surf, you should definitely do a lesson at Sayulita Beach instead. The waves here are perfect for beginners, especially on a calm day, and there is certainly no shortage of surf schools.
A surf lesson in Sayulita will cost you around $55 USD for a 3-hour private 1 on 1 lesson. With that said, they get cheaper the more people you share the teacher with. For example, if there are 4 of you, you should get a lesson for around $35 USD per person.
If you already know how to surf, you can rent a basic surfboard for 100 pesos ($5.30 USD) for an hour or a pro surfboard for 150 pesos ($8 USD) from Lunazul Surf School & Shop. They also do half-day rentals for 250 pesos ($13 USD).
Related Read: Love surfing? Check out the best things to do in Puerto Escondido!
7. Eat at Yasmina’s Itzalanyasayan Restaurante
Yasmina’s Itzalanyasayan Restaurante was my favorite place to eat in San Pancho. This small holistic restaurant serves up unique dishes that still stay true to Mexican cuisine. Imagine healthy tacos, bowls, and salads.
I found this place after Yasmina approached us on the street. Her passion when describing her food is what got me interested. And after enjoying one meal here, I was back every day. The best part is, all their meals are healthy and packed with superfoods.
My favorite dishes were the Pad Thia and the Origin Bowl. Both were delicious and packed with so much goodness! Eating out in San Pancho really doesn’t have to be unhealthy!
8. Get a photo on the San Pancho Beach swing
Want to get a great photo to remember your trip to San Pancho? Then head to the beach and turn left. Just past the restaurant area, there is a beach swing hung from a palm tree.
The swing is the perfect place to capture the beauty of San Pancho Beach, and the best part is, this is a completely free activity in San Pancho.
The swing does get really busy at sunset, so it might be a good idea to get your photo beforehand.
9. Hike Monkey Mountain
The most famous hike in San Pancho is, without a doubt, Monkey Mountain. From this epic viewpoint, get breathtaking views over the mountains and the many beaches below. It’s a gorgeous hike well worth doing for the more adventurous.
To begin the hike, you’ll need to get yourself to Sayulita first. From the Sayulita side of Monkey Mountain, the trail takes around 3.5 to 4.5 hours to complete up and back down. Although not overly difficult, the heat can prove challenging, so hiking this trail in the morning is best.
At the beginning of the trail, you need to cross the river and head past a chicken farm. Stay on this road and when you reach the fork in the road, keep left along the farm fence. You will reach a gate that says “NO PASAR” this IS the way to go (it’s quite the adventure.)
The Monkey Mountain Trail begins on Calle Playa Pátzcuaro, around a 10-minute drive (4.5 kilometers/ 2.8 miles) from town. So, my recommendation is to get a taxi to the start of the trail.
If you want to hike the trail without the hassle. You can either book this organized tour, or get a taxi to Higuera Blanca town and hike the south side of the peak. The trail on this side is much easier to follow and well-defined. I believe it is also shorter. A popular thing to do is to hike from the south side up and the north side down.
Hot Tip: The entire trail is viewable on the Maps.ME app.
10. Rhythm of the Night Show
The Rhythms of the Night dinner show is the most highly-rated show on the Pacific Coast! So, if you are going to experience one tour while in San Pancho then this could be your best choice. Sure, it’s touristy, but it is a really good show – both Bailey and I were impressed.
The Rhythms of the Night is a full-on evening experience. It starts with a sunset dinner cruise in the Bay of Banderas, leaving from Nuevo Vallarta. On the 1 hour cruise, you can enjoy a drink on board a catamaran while enjoying the famous PV sunset. During certain times of the year, you may even see whales (November to April.)
Then, when you arrive at Las Caletas (a private beach), you’ll be seated in the amphitheater to watch the show. The Rhythm of the Night show was conceived by the co-founder of Cirque de Soleil, so it is an impressive combination of acrobatics, theatrics, and music and dance.
After the show, you’ll head to a restaurant on the beach to enjoy a romantic candle-lit buffet dinner. The food is fantastic, and there are cocktails, spirits, beer, and wine on offer. After, you’ll take a cruise back with some live entertainment onboard.
This is truly a unique experience near San Pancho and one you shouldn’t miss out on! Unfortunately, tickets do often sell out, so be sure to book online in advance!
From San Pancho, you’ll need to get yourself to Nuevo Vallarta where the tour starts from. A taxi should take you about 45 minutes or so. Although a little bit of a journey, this show is really incredible and well worth doing if you ask me.
Once you arrive at the departure point, you can upgrade your ticket to “all you can drink” for $10 USD or “VIP” for $40 USD. I got the all-you-can-drink package and certainly got plenty of use out of it. The VIP section just gives you closer seats and a fancier restaurant as well as the drink package.
The tour begins with a 7 pm check-in, and we arrived back in at around 1 am – it’s a long night!
Hot Tip: If you’re spending some time in Puerto Vallarta then you can do this tour from there too, the departure point is actually closer to PV than San Pancho. Rhythms of the Night is easily one of the most popular tours in Puerto Vallarta!
11. Ride a horse along the beach
Horseback riding is such a fun and unique experience in San Pancho! It’s the perfect way to enjoy the scenery and enjoy a fun activity at the same time.
In San Pancho, there is a polo and equestrian club – which was very surprising to find out. The La Patrona Polo and Equestrian Club is the place to go if you’re an experienced horse rider and want to enjoy a game of polo or equestrian sports.
However, join a horseback riding tour if you simply want to admire the fantastic views. Tours are a little tricky to book in San Pancho, and it’s recommended to ask around at the restaurants on the beach. They will then contact a guy, and you can negotiate a price with him directly. Although a hassle – it does directly support the locals.
I didn’t actually get a chance to go horseback riding in San Pancho simply because I had just done it in Sayulita. I did this 2-hour tour, and I really enjoyed it. We rode to Litibu Beach, right near Punta Mita, traveling through the jungle before arriving at the beach. Afterward, we did a quick tequila tasting.
For me, the short tour was enjoyable, and I thought it was great value for money. The horse was well cared for and in great shape. On top of that, our guide was 10/10!
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.
12. Eat traditional seafood at Barracuda Cocina Del Mar San Pancho
If you’re up for a nice meal out and don’t mind spending a little more than usual, I highly recommend checking out Barracuda Cocina Del Mar San Pancho.
This upscale seafood restaurant serves up fresh seafood while staying true to Nayarit traditions. In fact, on their menu, you’ll find lots of local dishes such as Molcajete and Chicharron de Pescado. Both are delicious and are unique dishes you should try.
On top of that, the restaurant serves delicious cocktails. Although pricey, they’re a welcomed break from the sweet and cheaply-made cocktails on the beach.
13. Whale and dolphin watching
Whale watching is another activity that’s very popular in San Pancho. Whale watching season in the region runs from December to April, and most tours head to the Marietas Islands or Banderas Bay.
On the tours, you’ll head out for around 4 hours in search of Humpback Whales. You may see dolphins and seals too.
Leaving from San Pancho or Sayulita, there aren’t many specific whale watching tours. However, this tour does include the chance to see whales as well as snorkeling at the Marietas Islands.
If you are serious about whale watching, then it’s best to head south to Puerto Vallarta.
This specific tour takes you out to view these large creatures and includes lunch and drinks. Of course, seeing whales is not guaranteed. However, if you are visiting from December to February, it’s very likely.
Related Read: Whale watching is also one of the best things to do in Tulum!
14. Drink amazing craft beer at La Cerveceria San Pancho
The second I found out that San Pancho had its own brewery, I was there!
La Cerveceria San Pancho is a small microbrewery located on the back streets of San Pancho. When I visited, they had four beers on tap, and all were delicious.
A beer at La Cerveceria San Pancho costs around 110 MXN ($5.80 USD) for the largest size. For the quality of the beer, it’s excellent value for money.
The brewery also hosts local musicians, and the couple playing during our visit put on an amazing show.
I really enjoyed the overall vibe as well as the food and beers! This is a must for any beer lover!
15. Go scuba diving
Scuba diving is another popular thing to do in San Pancho.
There are a few options, including great dive sites in Mexico along the coast near Sayulita. However, in my opinion, it’s not worth going unless you visit the Marietas Islands.
You’ll experience the best dive sites and see various wildlife within the park, including turtles, seals, sharks, and manta rays.
This specific tour includes two dives within the national park as well as all your transport and equipment. There will also be a professional guide with you the entire time.
Although it costs $160 USD, considering a visit to the Marietas Islands costs around $100 USD, it’s not bad value for money. You basically get two tours in one.
16. Visit Plaza del Sol
Plaza del Sol is the central plaza in San Pancho and is home to many attractions. The first I’ll mention is the local street murals. A short walk in the plaza will have you in awe at the talent painted on some of the walls here. The above picture is only a small taste!
Next, is the local artisan market held every Tuesday from 10 am to 2 pm. This lively market is home to lots of vendors selling things from jewelry to Mexican cuisine. There is also live music, and the overall atmosphere is fun and exciting.
Last, are the festivals and events held in the plaza. The San Pancho Music Festival is one example that’s held on the last weekend of February. For more, ask around town during your visit!
17. Go on a fishing tour
Not only is fishing a livelihood for many locals but it’s the perfect activity for visitors wanting to enjoy a day out on the water. In fact, at any time of the year, you can catch a huge range of fish ranging from mahi-mahi, sailfish, marlin, tuna, and red snapper.
Panga Fishing is the most popular type of fishing tour. These fishing tours are onboard a simple open-bow fishing boat (a traditional Mexican fishing boat.) You can book the tours from a company called San Pancho Sport Fishing and I was quoted $350 USD (although I did my tour in Sayulita) for 3 to 4 people. They head about 5 miles out to sea and you’ll fish for around 5 hours.
If you want o go out on a professional charter, you’ll need to head to Punta Mita or Puerto Vallarta. This specific tour from Puerto Vallarta is 6 hours long on a professional fishing boat but costs $1,200 USD for up to 8 people. I have done a pro-charter and I love them!
18. Buy jewelry from the local vendors
San Pancho is the home of handmade jewelry on the pacific coast. Vendors walk around selling their homemade creations on the beach and streets, and some are really cool!
I love this type of jewelry so much because they are not mass-produced, and each piece takes a lot of care and time to make. The money from sales goes directly to the person who made the piece, and you get to take home a unique souvenir!
The price range of the jewelry varies depending on the metal used and how large the piece is. Although not for everyone, this is really cool!
19. Have a cocktail at Pezetarian MX
The cocktails on the beach are cheap and delicious but often filled with sugar and syrups. For a delicious cocktail made with love and care from high-end ingredients, head to Pezetarian MX in San Pancho.
This upscale bar has a ton of different cocktails to try, many of them unique to Pezetarian MX. They also serve food, although I came for the late-night cocktails and great service.
20. Day trip to Sayulita
Sayulita is, without a doubt, one of my favorite places in Mexico. This small but bustling surf town is located only 5 minutes from San Pancho, and most people reading this blog will actually be staying in Sayulita. If you are, be sure to read our guide to the best things to do in Sayulita!
On a day trip from San Pancho, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do. If you’re a beginner surfer, this is the place to do it. So, rent a board or join a surf school and catch some waves!
One of my favorite things to do in Sayulita is to explore the nearby beaches. In my blog, I share a secret beach near Play Los Muertos that’s my favorite.
There are also tons of markets in Sayulita, great food options, and dreamy cafes. It’s really an all-around beautiful place to visit. I’m sure most will love it!
21. Spoil yourself with gelato
On a hot day, who doesn’t love ice cream?
After long days at the beach, nothing picks me back up like the sugar rush from delicious ice cream. I was actually surprised by the number of choices in San Pancho.
The first I’ll mention is Chichili Helado Vegano San Pancho. As the name suggests, this place serves up vegan ice cream, and I was pleasantly surprised by the taste. I myself am not vegan, but I wanted to try it out and loved it!
Another place I enjoyed was Paleteria Y Neveria La Michoacana. These guys sell creamy ice cream as well as ready-to-go popsicles. They’re perfect when you’re after something fruity!
Don’t let the heat get the better of you! Instead, enjoy one of the best things to do in San Pancho and eat gelato!
22. ATV tour through the jungle
If you’ve never done an ATV tour while traveling, then you need to. After doing my first one in Indonesia, I was hooked, so I just had to do one!
Imagine cruising through the jungle, mud, and then on gorgeous beaches. This is really a fun activity that takes you around to see the sights and gets the adrenaline pumping. The best part is, if you go with two people, it’s very affordable at $95 USD.
The tour we did was 2 hours long and left from Sayulita. Afterward, we were all smiling ear to ear. Without a doubt, this is one of the best things to do in San Pancho!
23. Have a coffee at Café Mañana
My favorite place to grab a coffee in San Pancho is Café Mañana. It’s actually where I wrote this blog!
The number one thing I came for was the coffee to kick-start my morning. However, they also have delicious baked goods, including a White Cheddar Quiche that was out of this world amazing!
There are other places to grab a coffee in San Pancho, such as Kokonati and Cafe Paraiso, but I was hooked once I went to Cafe Manana! It was the quiche!
24. Shop at the boutique stores
One thing that surprised me about San Pancho was the amount of shopping at small boutique shops. If you take a short walk around town, you’ll be able to stroll into some really cool places, including Elote Arte and Silvia’s Artesanías.
Many of these places sell unique items you won’t find in many other places. The clothing tends to fit the San Pancho surf/hippy vibe, which Bailey loves. You’ll also find mostly loose-fitting clothing perfect for the San Pancho heat!
Although you’ll pay a premium for the clothing at these boutique shops, the quality and design will last a long time!
25. Rent a golf cart
Renting a golf buggy in San Pancho is a great way to get around. Although a small town, the hot weather when exploring can get exhausting.
A golf buggy rental starts at 1000 MXN ($53 USD) per day for four people. However, there are larger vehicles available. Please be aware you are not allowed to drive your golf buggy on the main highway.
Renting a golf buggy is not only practical but really fun!
Please Note: You cannot drive from San Pancho to Sayulita in a golf buggy.
26. Spend the day in Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta holds a special place in my heart – I just love the city.
There are a ton of amazing things to do in Puerto Vallarta, many of which are similar to San Pancho. Picture days by the beach, fishing trips, food, wildlife tours, and more.
However, a unique activity in Puerto Vallarta I love and recommend to everyone is the Vallarta Botanical Gardens. These beautiful gardens are home to thousands of plant species and the animals that thrive in them. A highlight is feeding hummingbirds by hand at the restaurant!
If you can, I also highly suggest joining a food tour. Some of the best tacos I have had in Mexico were in Puerto Vallarta.
Regardless of what you choose to do, Puerto Vallarta is a lively, fun place, and visiting on an overnight trip or at the very least a day trip is a must from San Pancho.
27. Dance salsa at El Gallo
El Gallo is San Panchos most popular salsa bar. On Friday nights they bring in a live salsa band and guests can join in the fun and dance the night away.
Even if you don’t know how to salsa, head down and jump on the dance floor. The more experienced dancers are more than happy to help and everyone switches partners.
I myself am not a huge salsa fan, but Bailey loves it. She had no problems finding partners and danced a lot! If you’re visiting during the wet season, be prepared to sweat!
28. Day trip to Tequila
Did you know that the spirit “tequila” was actually named after the town where it was first created? That’s right, there is a town in Mexico called “Tequila” (with a capital -T) that is the birthplace of the famous Mexican drink.
The town of Tequila is located around a 3-hour drive from San Pancho!
To be completely honest, I loved the town Tequila. I actually spent two nights there so I could really experience what it had to offer visitors. I learned all about the making of tequila as I toured distilleries and Blue Agave farms.
If you do have the time, I highly recommend renting a car, driving to Tequila, and then staying at least one night (you’re not going to be in any shape to drive after a tequila sampling, that much is for sure!)
29. Tequila tasting
If you’ve never done a tequila tasting tour before, and you’re not going to make it to Tequila, then do a tasting in San Pancho.
Now, most of us have tried tequila, but not the different types of tequila you find in Mexico. In fact, we primarily enjoy tequila by the shot, but there are plenty of high-end sipping tequilas to try – some at prices that will surprise you.
In San Pancho, you can do a tequila tasting at La Selecta San Panchos. On the tour, you’ll try a huge range of tequilas and learn about the different types. Don’t plan on driving afterward either, they give you plenty of tequila!
There are also more expensive tour options, and on these, you’ll just try the higher-end tequilas!
Related Read: One of the best things to do in Mexico City is a tequila tasting tour.
30. Visit Lo de Marco Town
Lo de Marco is a sleepy beach town 15 minutes north of San Pancho that’s remained off the typical tourist trail. This small town has a real Mexican vibe as well as gorgeous beaches and deliciously cheap food.
From San Pancho, you can get a taxi to Lo de Marco for around 200 MXN ($10.60 USD) and then explore the town and nearby beaches. Although Playa Lo de Marcos is beautiful, take the short walk to Playa Los Venados for an even better beach.
This is easily one of the best day trips from San Pancho, and one that few get to experience.
31. Birdwatch in the estuary
San Pancho isn’t just a beach! In fact, the nearby river forms a lagoon just outside the town of San Pancho and is the perfect place to make you feel as though you’re in another world.
You can walk to the lagoon/ estuary yourself to check it out and try to find some wildlife. I was nervous there were crocodiles in here, but a lot of locals swim here.
If you’re a bird-watching enthusiast, you can also do tours of the lagoon with Birding San Pancho. Although you may not see much at first glance, an experienced guide will show you many different bird and animal species.
32. La Cruz Market
The La Cruz market is one of the most popular markets near San Pancho. Held on weekends from 9 am to 2 pm during the dry season from November to April, the La Cruz Market is home to over 200 vendors.
It’s one of the best places to pick up fresh seafood right from the marina, but there are plenty of other stalls for visitors. Better yet, come for a meal, the amazing views, and live music.
The La Cruz market is located on Punta Mita at the Marina Riviera Nayarit, around 30 minutes from Sayulita. A taxi will cost around 300 pesos ($16 USD) one way.
After the market, explore the town, relax at Punta Mita Beach, and just enjoy the calm waters. This is easily one of the best things to do in San Pancho!
33. Lo de Perla Jungle Garden
If making it all the way to the Vallarta Botanical Gardens (over 2 hours away) won’t fit into your San Pancho itinerary, then the Lo de Perla Jungle Garden is the perfect alternative.
Entry to the garden is 150 MXN ($180 USD), and you can stay as long as you want, enjoying the many trails and gorgeous greenery. You can join the 3 hours guided tour and learn a lot about the flora and fauna of the area. The tour also reminds you about the fragile environment that exists here.
If you visit from April to June, the gardens are in full bloom and are even more amazing to visit.
Where to Stay in San Pancho, Mexico
San Pancho may be a small town, however, there’s a great place to stay for every budget. In fact, there are a lot of beautiful guest houses and hotels at very reasonable prices.
For the budget travelers, Habitaciones Samy is a top choice really close to the beach. It’s a small guesthouse with amazing reviews. Book this place well in advance if you don’t want to miss out!
Another great option is Verde Luna. This place specializes in small apartments a short walk from the beach. Most of the apartments have sea views too.
If you’re a luxury traveler, the beachfront property of Hotel Maraica San Pancho would be my top choice. This gorgeous hotel has a beautiful pool and is located a short walk from town.
Related Read: Planning a few nights in Sayulita? Check out our guide about where to stay in Sayulita!
Renting a Car in Mexico
Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car.
I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Cancun in 2023, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically.
I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend.
The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too.
Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit.
Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your rental will be much cheaper!
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 had no idea San Pancho would turn out to be such an adventurous place to visit in Mexico. In fact, I had no intentions of visiting let alone staying a while. Thankfully I found this beautiful paradise and hope you’ll enjoy San Pancho as much as I did!
Thanks so much for reading! I hope you found this blog helpful when planning your upcoming visit to San Pancho. If you did, then check out more of our Mexico blogs such as: