Need a vacation? For so many of us, especially those on the West Coast, the picturesque Mexican town of Sayulita is near the top of our getaway wishlist. Just north of Puerto Vallarta, the mega-colorful village held so much appeal to artist mama Chloé Fleury (see her Mother profile here), that she set up residence in the town over the last six months, while en route to eventually settling in Los Angeles. So, we thought, who better to act as an ideal tour guide for the buzzy location? Below, she shares her favorite places to go with and without kids, and also dishes on what it’s like to up and move to the beach!
What are your favorite places in Sayulita to…
Eat with kids? “El Patio is a great spot on the beach for lunch, we can eat delicious ceviche and guacamole and listen to good music while drinking a margarita. Reinata next door is from the same owner as El Patio and has delicious popsicles for kids and cocktail-flavored popsicles for adults. Naty’s Cocina has really good tacos served in front of you, so it is fast and they are the cheapest (order a Marlin taco with a portion of papas and rajas with a Maracuya agua fresca!). And if you are tired of eating tacos, La Rustica is a great pizza place that opens at night only. Matiz is a good place for dinner, too, the food and cocktails are delicious and it is located on a little plaza, so the kids can play and get an ice cream from Wakika Heladeria in front. We also love Bichos at night, it opens at 6 p.m. and it is good with kids because the food is served fast, they have high chairs (not all the restaurants do!), and it’s in a enclosed backyard, so the kids can run and play safely. Junto al Rio is one of my favorite places for a drink, it is a very cute spot in a little garden on the beach, with hammocks and swings on the bar. The girls love them! Trapiche next door is great, too! Another place we really like to go for dinner while watching the beautiful sunset is the beach restaurant in San Pancho (a 10 minutes drive away), we usually meet with friends and their kids so they can all play on the beach.”
Eat with adults? “Matiz, WaterShed, Itacate (the stuffed potatoes called ‘papas’ are so good), La Esperanza (lunch is best for delicious salads and juices). My two very favorite restaurants are actually in the aforementioned San Pancho, a cute little village really worth going to, a 5-10 minutes drive from Sayulita. They are Cielo Rojo (the marlin quesadilla is fabulous, so is the Cup of Life and brownie) and Lovo (pacific island food, the spring roll is divine).”
Shop for kids? “Little vendors on the streets have cute pompoms garlands and stuffed animals, the girls love them! For cute embroidered dresses and tops, go to Gitane and the shops on the main street that goes to the beach.”
Shop for yourself? “Ula for the beautiful clothes and locally made bikinis, Revolucion Del Sueno for Las Bayadas beach blankets, home decor, and other accessories, Evoke the Spirit for the gorgeous home decor (you’ve probably heard about their fabulous yarn-painted skulls) and jewelry, Gitane and other street vendors for pretty, embroidered blouses, and Artefakto for the gorgeous handcrafted arts and vintage pieces. Pachamama for the pretty tie-dye dresses and dreamcatchers. Mulalu for their bikinis and other cute clothes and accessories. You can shop handmade leather shoes and traditional Mexican dresses at Ego Piel. The fabulous pom-pom ladies La Gitana on the street that goes to the beach. Manyana is a cool new shop for fun tees and other goods, from beautiful surfboards to decor to books, sunglasses, and baskets. Also, cool Mexican striped blankets from the vendors on the beach.”
Play with your children? “The beach is our best playground! We love going early in the morning or the end of the day to watch the sunset. There’s also a mini playground, the only one actually! It is next to the baseball field after the river.”
Play with your adult friends? “During the day, take a yoga class at Moon Shala (Leah is my favorite instructor!) or with Eva for a private class, then get a massage on the beach or at Bendita spa (mani and pedi, too), and go surfing! La Lancha is a beautiful beach and surf spot to go to with friends, take a class with WildMex, they drive you there from Sayulita. Take a pom-pom or macrame class at Evoke the Spirit. At night, have a margarita at Le Zouave and Escondido bar after one of the restaurants I mentioned above.”
Get out in nature? “We love going to Playa de Los Muertos or hike through the jungle to Mal Paso beach in Sayulita. At La Lancha—30 minutes away—there’s a little hike (where you might cross path with a crocodile, thank god I haven’t yet!) to arrive at the beach.”
Any good museums/art installations? “There is so much color in the architecture and murals, textiles, and Mexican crafts at every corner of the town. The Galeria Tanana/Huichol center sells beautiful beaded jewelry and traditional arts like yarn paintings and beaded sculptures. And there’s a super cute gallery/shop that opened recently in a vintage Airstream by two artists, Paulina Gutierrez and Ana Luna, worth checking out!”
Where do you recommend friends stay? “Our Spanish friends own an apartment at Monterosa, which is where we are currently staying. It’s a beautiful villa in the north of Sayulita, which is the residential side of town. It has an incredible swimming pool with ocean views and they decorated the space beautifully! It is great with kids because it’s a little outside the village, so it’s quiet at night. Last summer when I came with a girlfriend, we stayed at the super cute Hotel Hafa and we loved it! The decor is beautiful and it’s centrally located. But that also means it can be a little noisy at night because of the restaurants and bars. So, it really depends on the kind of vacation you are planning. There are tons of great options on Airbnb. If you are planning a getaway without the kids, El Studio by my friends Lea and Nico is a great option. It is located above their well-known shop, Revolucion Del Sueno, and is great for a couple or girlfriends, well decorated, and just one block from the beach, with tons of shopping and restaurants nearby. I heard Villa Sayulita is nice, too.”
Any tourist-y places that are worth it to visit? “Sayulita is so small, I feel like most places are tourist-y and worth visiting! But there’s one thing you have to know about, depending on which time of the year you visit Sayulita—you can go watch and help the baby turtles being released into the ocean at sunset! It is a super fun experience for the kids and called Campamento Tortuguero.”
Tell us how you ended up in Sayulita! “After living in San Francisco for 8 years, it was time for a change and to discover and explore a new place. I’ve been dreaming about moving to L.A. for the last couple of years and it was finally possible for my husband’s career to make the move. But before jumping right into a new job, we thought it was the perfect time to spend six months in a new country exploring, learning a new language, and get inspired! It’s something we’ve always wanted to do with our kids. We had to decide between Mexico and Morroco (my husband is half Moroccan), but we finally opted for Sayulita, a little village in Mexico that we fell in love with when we went a couple years ago on vacation. So, we packed three suitcases, put everything else from our San Francisco apartment in containers waiting for us in L.A., and took a flight to Sayulita! The first month was rough between the heat and humidity, the mosquitos (don’t go in October!), and we faced some challenges with our first house (snakes! scorpions! no stairs inside the house connecting the two floors and bedrooms!), but we finally found the perfect place for us and found our little routine. The girls go to school (Costa Verde International is a wonderful school/community) and daycare until 3-4 p.m., so we can work on our projects, do yoga, and surf. When they are not in school, we enjoy the beach together, eat delicious tacos and ceviche, and share ice-cream. We travel around Mexico, too, as there is so much to see and so much we haven’t seen yet! We’ll definitely have to come back after our six months are over. So far it has been a wonderful learning experience for all of us! Our oldest daughter Lula (3.5 years old) is now trilingual and I am so impressed by her ability to switch from one language to another depending on the people we hang out with. We always ask her for words we don’t know! Anouk (15 months) said the words hola and adios after mama and papa. They were her third and fourth words ever!”
For more on Chloé and her family, check out her site here.