Semana Santa in Sayulita: What You Should Know

Have you ever been “on holiday” during another country’s BIG holiday?

That’s exactly what happened to the UU team in Sayulita, Mexico last weekend. You see, Semana Santa was upon us, and that translates to one thing and one thing only: party.

Semana Santa, aka Spring Break, aka the week before/during/after Easter is a BIG deal here in Mexico, especially on the coast. It sounds sweet and saintly, but be warned—every beach town in this country goes nuts.

Usually a semi-tranquil place (okay, the Sayulita secret’s been out for a while now—tons of tourists come here), as of last week this little town switched into full-blown Mexican party mode. Here’s a bit about our experience and what you should know if you somehow wind up here during one of the biggest party weeks around.

The beaches were packed

The beaches were packed

Where did all these people come from?

It seems that every Mexican family has flocked to the beach for long, beer-filled days filled with similar sentiments: splashing in the waves, kicking off spur-of-the-moment fútbol matches, doting around abuelos (grandparents) fanning themselves under umbrellas, and general family fun time with no end in sight. With hordes of people walking into town from the bus stop, traffic becomes nightmarish and there’s not much in the way of car parking or even places to park your sunburnt self.

The beaches are packed with extended families, couples, kids, and folks from every corner of Mexico. The bustling main beach of Sayulita gets packed to the point there’s nowhere to sit, while the northern part of Sayulita (usually more chill) also gets busy.

If you keep walking north, however, you can still find some basic refuge—particularly at the “hidden” beach between Sayulita and San Pancho. The waves are a bit intimidating there, but the allure of a deserted beach all to yourself makes it worth the trek.

Beach sunset

Beach sunset

Local Strain

Despite the perception that business is booming, it seems a lot of beach vendors and even restaurants/bars shut down during Semana Santa. Why? Most families bring their own supplies for BBQ, beer, etc. The kioskos (general stores), on the other hand, are buzzing—the staff often has to exert crowd control.

There are also those ever-persistent rumors about Sayulita’s water quality. More specifically, there’s a rumor that sewage drains directly into the water where thousands of people are splish-splashing around on the daily.

Supposedly that’s not true anymore—at least none we can see (or smell), but according to some locals there’s simply not enough bathrooms to go around for the influx of people. In some cases, even water is hard to find. Those stacks of beer at the entrance of kioskos make up for it, though.

Staying Safe

Without a doubt, an influx of people comes with an influx of, well, not so great people. Transients come and go as quickly as the waves, and despite the easy comfort of this place, you do need to stay aware of yourself and your surroundings with slightly more vigilance during Semana Santa. We heard a few horror stories about this time of year, so taking extra precaution is recommended.

A few tips:

  • Don’t leave valuables lying around unguarded: ask neighbors to watch your things if you’re going for a swim, or have someone stay on shore to watch

  • Watch your drinks / NEVER accept drinks from strangers

  • Lock your doors and leave lights on so it looks like someone’s home

  • Don’t get wasted to the point you can’t make it back to where you’re staying

  • Don’t hang out in front of kioskos late at night. Stay in well-lit places

  • Don’t reveal too much about your routine/where you’re staying to anyone

  • Keep your credit cards/passport safely locked away

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As always - the food was delicious!

As always - the food was delicious!