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San Pancho, a Hidden Gem near Puerto Vallarta in Mexico

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Discover the charming and peaceful village of San Pancho Mexico, about an hour from the bustling city of Puerto Vallarta and a 10-minute drive from the lively town of Sayulita. With cobblestone streets, charming homes, vibrant decorations and a long unspoiled beach, San Pancho offers a coveted escape of tranquility and beauty along the Pacific Coast.

Why visit San Pancho, Mexico?

Surrounded by lush green mountains, it’s a haven for surfers, birdwatchers, and those looking to live the Pura Vida. The whole area is also home to some of the finest all-inclusive resorts in Mexico. Approximately 1600 Mexicans and a thriving expatriate community from around the world call San Pancho home. Together they create a well-balanced paradise that combines the typical features of a Mexican village with more upscale offerings. The atmosphere created by this eclectic mixture pervades the entire village and creates a real sense of comfort. 

Here you’ll find taco stands and other Mexican delicacies coexisting with art galleries, boutique shops, fusion restaurants, boutique hotels, and yoga studios. In this guide, we’ll have a look at the best places to visit and things to do in San Pancho and its surroundings.

Which of all San Pancho hotels is best?

San Pancho hotels are plentiful and combine understated design with local décor. One such gem is the Agua de Luna Hotel, where we chose to make our home base. Its central location in the village, yet just far enough away to enjoy peace and quiet, impeccable contemporary architecture, spacious rooms, a lush courtyard with a pool, and a rooftop terrace with 360-degree views, multiple hot tubs, and comfortable couches for sunset cocktails make it an absolute oasis of comfort. 

Our favourite restaurants in San Pancho 

Ikan 

Unparalleled freshness combined with remarkable aesthetic creativity, Ikan‘s entire menu is fabulous and unexpected. Unparalleled freshness combined with remarkable aesthetic creativity, Ikan’s entire menu is fabulous and unexpected. It’s a hidden gem not to be missed!

Arrigato 

This is my personal favorite in San Pancho. Run by a couple of Argentine and Japanese descent, this is the friendliest place in the village, where everyone can sit side by side to enjoy craft beer brewed on site, generous portions of spicy zucchini salad, ultra-fresh Japanese rolls, and hearty Argentine sandwiches. 

Bistro Organico 

If you want a five-star experience, head to Bistro Organico, located inside the Cielo Rojo Hotel. Everything here is impeccable, organic, and healthy, from breakfast to dinner, and it all takes place in a beautiful patio setting.

Su Pancha Madre 

The sope, a traditional Mexican dish consisting of a fried corn tortilla with savory toppings, is the star of this cozy restaurant. It’s a delicious discovery!

La Tarraya San Pancho 

This small beachfront bar offers intimate live concerts, delicious small bites, and perfect sunset cocktails overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We found ourselves here on a daily basis to kick off our festive evenings out on the town.

Cerveceria Artesenal  

The perfect place to quench your thirst with excellent Mexican craft beers, carefully selected from the best local breweries, accompanied by live music from local bands.

El Gallo 

This hybrid space combines a beloved Mexican restaurant that serves up locally sourced food and upscale cocktails, and an outdoor concert space that hosts original music, open mic nights, and salsa parties. An iconic spot in San Pancho.

The DoughJoe  

Whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, or a coffee break, The DoughJoe is a popular spot in the village that serves up hearty donuts, waffles, and delicious cookies.

Chido Greens 

A tiny spot on the main street that serves up excellent breakfasts, healthy salads, and fresh smoothies.

Yasmina 

Enjoy delicious organic, healthy and mineral-rich fusion cuisine in a beautiful backyard setting. Everything here is delicious at Yasmina – don’t miss out!

Yoga and surf in San Pancho, Nayarit

San Pancho beach is a beautiful place to ride the waves of the Pacific ocean. Please note however, that the waves can be strong and the current should not be underestimated. We only saw surfers dancing in the late afternoon at the end of the beach where the ocean is calmer. If you’re a beginner, we recommend that you take your first few lessons in Sayulita by enrolling in one of the many surf schools in town.

When you’re done working out, relax. Head to El Estar, a laid-back downtown studio, for a well-deserved yoga class. Classes are taught in English. Multiple class passes are available for a discounted rate. You can also take home a souvenir from the small shop of natural products and local treasures. 

Sunsets in San Pancho

San Pancho’s sunsets are truly magical, casting a mesmerizing spell over visitors. The combination of vivid colors painting the sky, the soothing sound of waves, and the tranquil beachfront setting creates an enchanting atmosphere. It’s a must-do in San Pancho because these sunsets offer a moment of pure wonder and serenity, making memories that last a lifetime. 

Hikes and day trips from San Pancho

If you are wondering “can you walk from Sayulita to San Pancho?”, the answer is yes! Embark on a beautiful and easy 1.5 hour hike from San Pancho to Sayulita. It’s a great way to stroll from one small town to the next as you wind your way through the tropical forest and along the beach. Your hotel will provide you with all the directions you need. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can climb Monkey Mountain, where the view of the coastline from the top is well worth the final climb. The longer version starts in Sayulita, the shorter one in Higuera Blanca.

Extend the adventure by swimming from your boat to Playa Escondida, a beach located in the middle of the ocean in an open, sun-drenched crater. It’s a long trip from Sayulita, but you’ll have the chance to see several pods of whales. It’s amazing to see and to experience!

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