Shhhh... Keep it a Secret: Mexico's Undiscovered Beach Towns
A beach in Mexico as beautiful as this can be found — and can be yours. (Photo: Getty Images)
When I was 9 years old, my family got in our big yellow station wagon nicknamed the Banana Boat and drove from Sonoma County, California, to the southern tip of Mexico. It was an experience we’d repeat in later years, and even though not every minute was idyllic (yes, we drove through abject poverty, as well as lightning storms and stifling tropical heat), those were some of my best childhood vacations.
To this day, although I love Los Cabos and Cancun — the spectacle, the party atmosphere, the theme parks, and the luxury resorts — the funky little beach towns of Mexico call to my true inner escapist.
For cultural adventurers, surfers, and vacation junkies, Mexico can still be a low-key paradise, if you know where to look.
Surfer girl in Sayulita (Photo: Corbis Images)
A good place to start is Sayulita. Beloved by California road trippers and artsy expats as far back as the ’90s, this beach village outside of Puerto Vallarta was a colorful boho getaway when adjacent mega-resort destination Riviera Nayarit didn’t even exist. And yet, in the shadow of Riviera Nayarit’s mega all-inclusives, somehow funky little Sayulita, with its taco stands and surf schools and inexpensive rental condos, continues to thrive — with personality intact. From the gated mansions on Gringo Hill to the inexpensive beachfront flats, lodgings span the star-rating spectrum, but they’re never generic chain resorts. (For those, Punta Mita holds the five-star torch, and Nayarit offers everything else.)
Relaxing in a palapa by the beach (Photo: Getty Images)