Off the Beaten Path: Quiet Retreats in Mexico

Discover the blissful seclusion of these intimate beach destinations south of the border.


About an hour drive from Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita in Riviera Nayarit on the Pacific Coast has long been the stomping ground for visiting surfers and young locals. But secrets don’t last forever — especially if you’re one of the best beginner beach breaks in Mexico — and laidback couples have been flocking here for authentic eats, sprawling beaches and top-notch boutique hotels. Wander the small village for plenty of independent shops and open-air bars or get active at a number of yoga studios or surf classes. The main beach, Playa Centro, stretches for miles, is lined with outdoor restaurants and is virtually hawker-free. Other smaller, unspoiled beaches are just a short stroll away. Horseback riding is popular in Sayulita, where Rancho Mi Chaparrita arranges rides through the jungle and onto the beaches. Due to its emerging popularity, Sayulita is slated for major development (cruise-ship stop, corporations breaking ground), so visit now while it’s still boho-chic.

Photo courtesy of Riviera Nayarit CVB

Where to Stay: A hidden gem of a property, Playa Escondida is set on its own beach and is within walking distance to Playa Centro. The cliff-side property features 25 thatch-roof villas, an outdoor pool with cascading waterfall and thatch-roof cabanas flanked by hammocks on the beach. With no TVs and limited cell service, it’s as authentic as it gets (room rates start at $230 a night;

Where to Eat: Mary’s is a restaurant visitors return to several times during their time in Sayulita, thanks to delicious aguachiles (chili-spiked ceviche) and a delectable tomato-based sauce topping the famous chile rellenos.