A Brief History of Sayulita, Mexico

Local folklore says that Sayulita was created more than 5000 years ago by the Gods of the waves

According to legend one of the Gods, the God of Oz waves, wanted to create a place where the waves were perfect. And so, the history of Sayulita begins and ends in perfection.

history of sayulita

Early records made by the Spanish explorer Fernando Cortés de San Buenaventura document to the surprise of many people a land of great wealth with over forty large indigenous communities.

Sayulita and the region of Nayarit has a long history of coconut oil production. Large plantations owned by Don Marcial Nuño and later the Camarena family are famous names in the area. It wasn’t until the 1940’s that coconut oil production decreased and the villagers switched to agriculture and fishing which Sayulita is also known for today.

The ejido (meaning an area of communal land) of Sayulita was not established until 1941 when the first families arrived from the mountains of Jalisco.

Modern Day History of Sayulita

Two important developments happened in the 1960’s which helped to make Sayulita the place it is today. The first was the economic boom of neighbouring Puerto Vallarta and the blossoming of tourism in the region. In 1964 Hollywood royalty Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Director John Houston moved in to film The Night of the Iguana. It was said that Richard Burton and his then wife Elizabeth Taylor feel in love with the region as it offered them to perfect seclusion from the public eye and escape from paparazzi.

history of sayulita
Photograph by CBS news 1963

The second big development was the discovery of Sayulita by roving surfers in the late 1960’s. They especially liked Sayulita for it’s consistent wave breaks and secluded location. What started as a “best kept secret” has over the years developed into a hidden paradise with an authentic Mexican character. Now Sayulita is a prosperous growing village of approximately 5,000 residents. Sayulita has a enticing eclectic character, increasing known for its great surfing but also for its art galleries, restaurants, variety of modern shops and a relaxed lifestyle. Sayulita is also recognised for the variety of nature activities such as horseback riding, hiking, snorkelling and fishing. See our Wildlife in Sayulita article and video.

history of sayulita

Sayulita is the centre of the newly designated “Riviera Nayarit“, the 200 mile stretch of coastline from Litibu to San Blas. Surrounded by beautiful forest and with easy access to Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita real estate has consistently increased in value and is now highly sought after.

history of sayulita

With a growing awareness for the environment and ecological, coupled with a stricter zoning enforcement, development in Sayulita is being regulated to help safeguard the environment and quality of life of the community. The Sayulita community have come together to protect the environment in many ways and development has been limited so it will never become an impersonal mega resort.

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