I went to Sayulita, Mexico this weekend for a bachelorette trip, and though that usually means endless drinks and a lot of dancing. This bachelorette trip was more about relaxing, experiencing the culture and swimming. However a few drinks may have been had.
Sayulita, Mexico found a place in my heart. I love that the culture hasn’t been washed out. The locals live and work around you as you amble your way down streets and peek into shops. While you sit down by a taco vendor situated in the middle of all the action and chow down on your carne asada taco, complete with a buffet of salsas and sauces, you can watch local families interact with other local families, uniformed children run next to their parents coming home from school as grandparents follow cooing at the new babies they are carrying in their arms. I felt envious of their small-town, family oriented culture where there weren’t any signs of apparent rat race mentality. They were spending time with their families as I was doing with my own – but they didn’t have to leave their homes to do it.
Since we went on November 1st and 2nd, it was a Dia de Los Muertos, and a family affair. Celebration was everywhere, it was a happy weekend and we were there just as observers as local families gathered together to prepare alters and share in their own traditions. Music was everywhere, we stopped to watch costumed young adults serenade us with a favorite song, while surrounding laughter and car radios poured out even more sound. It was special, it felt really special to be there for this beautiful holiday.
After having dinner at the beautiful O Restaurant one evening we meandered over to the cemetery positioned on its very own beach, Playa de Los Muertos, which was lit by candles, scented by fresh flowers and accompanied by the chatter of families as they spent the evening honoring their ancestors. I felt a little guilty being there, perhaps my catholic roots showing through. Because I understand it’s not a tourist attraction, this is a family holiday honoring passed family members. We crept by as quietly as possible reveling in the beautiful tradition and discussing how it compares to our own American idea of life and death. I certainly have a thing or two to learn about how we respond to death and how to carry on the memory of loved ones.
The air is thick with humidity; dark jungle leaves hold in the moisture along with the rich smell of earth but it’s the sound that is truly remarkable. We memorized the Gas song that the gasoline car vendor would push out through a speaker phone every morning and early afternoon as the car rolled down the streets, the roosters and chickens in the pens of local families would compete with one another all afternoon, the birds in the tall and expansive trees were constantly chattering – but it was completely beautiful. One night, across the river up the mountain, we could hear traditional singing and we sat down as a group at our al fresco dining table and just listened in silence. The sound just carries in this little town so clearly and makes you feel energized along with it.
While on a trip without my kids, I felt a little like someone cut my limbs off. But, once I was forced into the water, I realized how simplicity of just playing had been lost on me. Playing with my kids I get, playing in the ocean for no reason – I had to remember how to do that. And I did, and I stayed in that water for hours, running out only to grab a margarita or pina colada. And it was heaven for a moment.
We also went out on a guided excursion. To me a guided tour sounds less exciting than floating aimlessly in the ocean and immersing myself into the culture of the small town I was staying in – but I was impressed by the relaxing tone of our guides and the tour and how much fun we all had. Sayulita Entourage took us out to visit the Marietas Islands which is about a 15 minute drive down the road. We were ushered onto a small fishing boat and quietly (as a few of us were nurturing a hangover from the previous night) boated out to the islands for snorkeling.
When we hit that water, we were kids again. Giggling and telling silly underwater jokes as we let the currant take us gently to where the fish were around the reef and the rocky shore. Our guide Stephane was in the water with us, not telling us what to do or directing us which spot was the best, but genuinely snorkeling with us because he wanted to enjoy the beautiful sights as well.
We all were impressed at how non-pushy the tour was overall – we felt like we had met up with distant cousins who were showing us their local sights. It felt so much better to be in our small fishing boat chatting about tequila, whales and families than what we assumed was going on over on the crowded two-story party boats that we kept trying to outrun. And because we were in the one of the smallest boats, we could also float into large caverns and partial caves.
We swam into a beautiful hidden beach and took a moment to watch the other tourists clambering after us – some groups were as large as 100 people – and then we were signaled by Stephane that it might be time to make a break for it.
The tour ended with cool ceviche tostadas and cervezas while we were entertained by stories about family, whales and locals by our guide Stephane and driver Felix. It was a wonderful experience and I am 100% bringing my family back to Entourage to do it again with the little guys.
My one and only regret: not bringing the big boy camera because these sites were just too beautiful to not photograph well. Next time, I will take much better photographs.
And there will be a next time Sayulita.
Where we stayed:
Casa de Los Flores has a lot of rooms, a beautiful pool, outdoor grill and bar, and a perfect spot to feel as though you're in the thick of things. It is located just around the corner from the square.
Where we’ll check out next time (because there are so many beautiful places to stay):
Where we ate:
This is a hard one because everywhere we ate was really, really good. We asked our guides and locals where the best street tacos where, we checked out certain places for their empanadas, fish tacos, plátanos fritos and drinks. I would suggest making the town your buffet and trying it all. Snack a lot and drink a lot of margaritas.
O Resturant has a beautiful dinning area set up right next to the water where you can watch pelicans catching their dinner and surfer's catching the waves. A perfect spot for quiet romantic dinner.
Don Pedro's served the best beach-side drinks and hosted an amazing night of salsa dancing on our last night
El Itacate - all the tacos in Sayulita are amazing, but this place was said to be the best.