The magic town of Sayulita, Mexico, is one of the most attractive destinations in the Mexican Pacific not only because of its rustic streets, but also because of the possibility of surfing or swimming, and “Playa de los Muertos”, which is reached through a cemetery.
This town of about 2,300 inhabitants is on the coast that connects the states of Nayarit and Jalisco, about 40 kilometers from Puerto Vallarta.
The beauty of its beaches and bohemian life have attracted tourists from Canada, the United States and Europe and, more recently, Australians, says Richard Zarkin, public relations manager for the Office of Visitors and Conventions Riviera Nayarit.
According to travel agencies, it was one of the most visited Mexican destinations in 2016 and is constantly recommended on the internet as one of the places to be known.
Sayulita was declared a magic town in 2015 for its cobbled streets, cafes, pizzerias, galleries and small hotels.
Surfing is rooted among its inhabitants, who are also dedicated to teaching the art of “running a wave” to both children and tourists who visit.
From here came champions of national and international tournaments. Adrián Rodríguez is one of them, represents the third generation of surfers in his family. The 29-year-old, who owns the surf school “El Costeño”, says his passion for the waves was born at age 6 and continues after representing Mexico in several competitions.
In the last decade, he says, many Mexican and foreign tourists decided to stay in Sayulita. A good part of them to learn to surf and take advantage of the “privileged” waves of the area.
“It is a place known internationally because it allows little children to run the waves,” he explains. With or without formal classes, the new generations follow the example of their parents and uncles, and they venture to know this sport.
At age 14, Jacob Tovar has eight years of experience at sea. His dad’s friends taught him how to read the wave, stand on the board and manage it to successfully reach the shore.
“I like because you get big waves and you can practice different tricks, there are different goals and when you do the wave you feel adrenaline,” explains the boy, who uses the summer to practice between six and seven hours a day. Jacob meets with a group of friends to surf. One of them is Nicolás, of seven years and the son of a surfer originally from the United States that stayed to live in Sayulita and that taught him some tricks.
Sayulita also offers a seafront for tourists. The path along the main beach also leads to a place known as “Playa de los Muertos”, which hides behind the municipal cemetery.
The site has colorful tombstones, some surfboards, flowers, candles and penned paper flags that contrast with the deep green of the hill on which it is embedded.
The breeze that moves the palms, the singing of the gulls and the sound of the waves of the “Playa de los Muertos” make this cemetery different, says Julia Fernandez, an American based in Sayulita that goes to the cemetery every sunset.
“It’s a very special cemetery, everything is different, it’s very personal, the decoration in the tombs with candles and flowers, it’s nice,” the woman points out as she holds candles to the tombstone in memory of her son and the other 40 dead.
The calm of the cemetery is maintained when arriving at the beach, a semivirgen place of soft waves, clear sand, surrounded by rocks and where you can see multicolored fish a few meters from the shore.
“It’s not really common to find a cemetery when you get to the beach,” says Jorge Ramírez, a native of Mexico City, who visited the place a couple of times.
The hours near sunset are the best time to enjoy the beauty of this beach and, with a bit of luck, it is possible to see some turtle that chooses its stillness to deposit and protect its eggs.
Mariana González / EFE