We spent all of March in Sayulita, a surf town just North of Puerto Vallarta – this is the longest we parked anywhere since we left home. We only planned to spend a few days there, and at first we wanted to leave but couldn’t. But the longer we stayed in Sayulita, the more reasons we tried to find to stay stuck there!
We went to Sayulita to learn to surf. We thought we would leisurely drive our truck through town to check things out, but we were surprised by how busy the town was. Colourful banners and flags hung across each city street. The cobblestone roads were overflowing with locals, tourists, horses, and golf carts. At times we weren’t sure if the Earthroamer would get through!
We came to Sayulita specifically to learn to surf. This town has the reputation for a great beginner's surf break, affordable lessons, and a family-friendly campground right on the beach. After wild camping on several surf beaches in Baja, we decided that we had better learn to surf. This is an activity that Josh, Arjuna and I can all take part in throughout our drive on the coast en route to South America.
We all signed up for lessons at Oceano Dive and Surf and lucked out by all getting one-on-one sessions with Luis, the instructor. Josh and I had both tried surfing a few times in the past, but without much success! It’s amazing how much of a difference a little instruction makes –- someone to explain the proper technique, which waves to paddle for, and when to stand up. After some dry land training and coaching in the water, we all had no problem getting up.
The staff at Oceano told us that Arjuna was the youngest surf student that they had ever had! Josh and I weren't sure how he'd do... Arjuna is getting more and more comfortable in the ocean, but has never been a water baby.
But Arjuna was a natural surfer! He paid attention during his lessons and had no problem catching waves and standing up on his surfboard.
However, after falling a couple of times during his second lesson, he decided to retire from surfing and stick to boogie boarding for the time being!
Even Lux wanted to learn to surf!
Right after the fun and excitement of our surf lessons, and just as were considering moving on to the next place, the whole family got sick. We learned from our neighbors at the campground that it’s pretty common for Sayulita visitors to come down with the typical Mexico tourist symptoms on about day 3. This was the first time we had been sick since we started traveling! After a day or two of laying low and watching some movies, (and appreciating our AC in the Earthroamer, which we rarely use), we thought we were on the mend.
But a few days later, we all started feeling sick again. We learned that Sayulita has serious sanitation problems that are even worse in tourist season when the population increases. We wanted more than anything to just leave Sayulita and get away from whatever was causing us to feel so bad, but we just couldn't get well enough to pack up and drive. We tried yoga, probiotics, juicing, and every natural remedy we could think of.
After 2 weeks of the whole family feeling sick on and off, and hearing stories about scary things like parasites, we finally decided to go to the doctor for a prescription. We did not make this decision lightly; we normally avoid the doctor and prescription meds at all costs -- I think we took our kids to a clinic only once before this in Canada. As it turns out, the doctor was great and inexpensive, and that medical visit allowed us to get rid of the bacteria that was plaguing us, get healthy, and enjoy the rest of our time in Sayulita a lot!
The beach in Sayulita is a happening place with a good surf break (albeit a bit dirty), and the town is full of good restaurants and shopping -- there's always something to do. But the main reason we stayed in Sayulita for so long was the campground community right on the beach.
The best part about the Sayulita Trailer Park was all the families who were wintering there. We were immediately welcomed into the community, and there was a constant rotation of kids to play with, birthday parties and beach front gatherings.
There were a dozen kids at the campground from age 8 months to 9 years, and Arjuna and Lux both had playmates that they had a lot of fun with. At the Sayulita campground, there was always something going on!
Sometimes it seemed like we would hardly see Arjuna during the day except for meals and when it was time to go to the beach because he was so busy playing with all the kids. And Lux had a safe space to roll around and visit with all the neighbors, asking everyone she met: "What's this? What's this?"
We also began enjoying being part of the town of Sayulita. There's an awesome public market every Friday that we loved attending to stock up on raw nuts, home made yogurt, sprouts, and fresh produce. We would always sample an empanada or two!
We got to enjoy the liveliness of Sayulita and enjoyed wandering through town and stopping for the amazing veggie burritos at Burrito Revolution.
The longer we stayed in Sayulita, the more we unpacked our campsite, and the more comfortable we became with our routine, the more difficult it became to consider leaving!
We would take turns doing yoga in the morning, and then we'd take some time to get work done (the strong internet was another plus of the campground!) -- all the while the kids would be happy to run around and play with their friends -- and then we'd all head off to the beach for the afternoon. There were always loads of people, vendors, waves for surfing and boogie boarding, and entertainment.
The community of families at the campground extended to our beach life as well. We would always meet up with friends and kids for Arjuna to boogie board with and build epic sand castles/creations. And Lux always loved socializing with our friends too!
We had planned to only spend 3-4 days in Sayulita, but ended up staying for nearly 6 weeks. At first we were "stuck" because we were sick and couldn't leave, but we're thankful that we stayed long enough to truly enjoy the community and beach life that Sayulita has to offer. In the end being "stuck" in Sayulita for an extended period of time was a great experience for our family after being on the road for over a year. We realized that slowing down and putting down some roots in a community -- if only for 6 weeks -- can be grounding and re-energizing. We'll be on the lookout for other places to stay for a while in the future. But for now, our stay in Sayulita has renewed our excitement about exploring more of Mexico!