Bustling beach

Growth and tourism trans­form laid-back Mex­i­can town into pre­mium tourist desti­na­tion

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - DESTINATIONS - By Manuel Valdes

SAYULITA, Mex­ico — Book­ended by sea­side rocks that pro­trude into the warm Pa­cific Ocean, the rel­a­tively small Playa de los Muer­tos, or Beach of the Dead, fea­tures gen­tle waves, pel­i­cans div­ing for fish and sun­bathers ly­ing on the sand. Ven­dors sell beer and grilled fish-on-a-stick, and two lo­cals climb a palm tree to fetch co­conuts. Just be­yond the laid­back beach is a penin­sula that hosts a new and posh 62-prop­erty de­vel­op­ment, high­light­ing that Sayulita, once a tran­quil fish­ing vil­lage, con­tin­ues to grow into one of Mex­ico’s top tourism and re­tire­ment des­ti­na­tions. The town was fea­tured in an off­shoot of ABC’s pop­u­lar re­al­ity se­ries The Bach­e­lor: Par­adise, though one lo­cal who watched the film­ing thought it was a te­len­ov­ela. “Ev­ery time I’ve said it can’t get big­ger, it does,” said Jody Meacham of New Jersey af­ter fin­ish­ing a surf­ing ses­sion on Sayulita’s main beach. Meacham has been vis­it­ing Sayulita for 25 years, back when there were “more bur­ros than cars.”

‘‘I still love it. I come back ev­ery year,” he said. Lo­cated about 45 min­utes north of Puerto Val­larta on the Pa­cific coast, Sayulita presents an al­ter­na­tive to the tow­er­ing all-in­clu­sive re­sorts that line the beaches south of it. How­ever, all types of des­ti­na­tions in this part of Mex­ico are see­ing bol­stered tourist num­bers. Di­rect flights from ma­jor Cana­dian and U.S. cities have in­creased here. Pas­sen­ger counts, both in­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic, have risen as well. In De­cem­ber, the fed­eral Mex­i­can tourism depart­ment named Sayulita a “pue­blo magico” or “magic town,” po­si­tion­ing the town as the crown jewel of the Na­yarit Riviera, the coast­line of its home state. The nam­ing comes with the prom­ise of fed­eral money for up­grades, which res­i­dents say are needed. The town has grown to about 5,000 res­i­dents, plus the scores of vis­i­tors that cy­cle through. Sewage and elec­tric­ity ser­vices have had a hard time keep­ing up with the growth. “It’s burst­ing at the seams, the in­fra­struc­ture,” said Richard Bras­sard, an ar­chi­tect, who first vis­ited Sayulita around 1970 af­ter a friend read about it in a surf­ing book.

MANUEL VALDES / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A woman walks down a dec­o­rated street in Sayulita. The for­mer fish­ing town on the

Pa­cific Ocean coast has ma­tured into a top travel and re­tire­ment desti­na­tion.

MANUEL VALDES / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Jody Meacham of New Jersey emerges from an evening surf­ing ses­sion at the main beach in Sayulita, which is a 45-minute drive north of Puerto Val­larta.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.