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San Pancho Trip

When did we go….

  • Nov 20-27, 2023



Why did we go…

  • we enjoyed it so much a year earlier that we booked the same hotel when we left that time
  • we were joined by Marilyn’s cousins Trevor and Sherry from Kelowna



How did we get there…

  • 5-hour direct flight from Calgary to Puerto Vallarta and the same on the return
  • 1.5 hour drive from the airport to our hotel in San Pancho which was longer than usual due to crazy traffic from the Mexican Revolution celebrations
  • 1 hour return Uber to the airport



Where did we stay…

  • Palmar Hotel Tropical
  • boutique hotel in the heart of the town
  • nice ground floor rooms with a separate bedroom, large outdoor patio, and fronting onto a quaint pool area
  • massage services on the rooftop
  • had a few nights where there was partying going on around us into the wee hours



Where did we eat…

  • Ikan Cocina Marina (lunch, excellent ceviche, our waiter over ordered our food which left a bad taste in our mouth)
  • Barracuda (dinner, lovely setting on the main street watching the local action, good food and service)
  • Amar Y Ya (breakfast, great chow, nice outdoor patio on a quiet side street, beautiful chocolate lab named Cocoa hanging out in the restaurant)
  • Dolce Jardin (dinner, missed our reservation but were very gracious about it and treated us to a post-dinner shot of tequila, excellent Italian food, and fun service)
  • Maria’s (breakfast, nice courtyard setting, excellent plentiful food)
  • Taqueria Los Arbolitos (dinner, authentic Mexican, great quality, cheap price)
  • Sayulita Public House (lunch, decent pub chow, nice location across from the main square)
  • Zenizas (dinner, bit on the pricey side, great ribs, fun older waiter)
  • Water Man Café (breakfast, in Lo de Marcos)
  • Chino Greens (mid-day smoothie snack, lots of healthy chow on the menu)
  • San Pancho Marino (dinner, excellent chow, good service, French owner is chatty and entertaining)
  • Pezetarian (dinner, good food, and service)
  • La Taza de Café (lunch, very good food)



What did we do…

  • had pre-dinner drinks a few times at the  Punta Las Olas food market (excellent popcorn shrimp appetizer)
  • checked out the artisanal market at Plaza del Sol (lots of unique vendors)
  • listened to live music at Gipsy (a fun, open-aired venue with some interesting people watching)
  • enjoyed live music and street performers on the main street
  • bought my traditional wrist bracelet for my Mexico trips, and it was the same two young sisters who I had bought it from the previous year (the one little girl was shocked when I showed her the picture of herself)
  • hung out at the beach (played in the water, caught some rays, read, boogie boarded, watched the surfers, and people-watched)
  • watched the releasing of the turtles at sunset at the beach (a very fun event)
  • had massages at our hotel on the rooftop (excellent Japanese therapist)
  • watched the beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean every evening (amazing colors and a fun beach vibe) while enjoying some libations mostly at La Palmas
  • walked around town and out to the Polo Club (beautiful facility, lots of interesting old and new properties around the town)
  • checked out the local shops and bought a few things at Santa Madre Surf Shop (Reese and Sebastian were very helpful in organizing our snorkel tour)
  • hiked from San Pancho to Sayulita through the lush jungle (2 hours, 200 meters, 7 km)
  • snorkel tour to Coral Island (20-minute car ride north of San Pancho to Rincon de Guayabitos, 10-minute boat ride to the Island, saw lots of varieties of fish, guides Flora sold some beautiful jewelry on the beach and we ran into Amaria hostessing at El Gallo)
  • enjoyed drinks and live music for several nights at Cerveceria Artesenal  (1-minute walk from our hotel)
  • checked out numerous coffee shops around town (there were more than we expected)
  • watched the local folks salsa dance at El Gallo (great band, fun ambiance)
  • checked out Lo de Marcos (small pueblo/town 15 minutes north of San Pancho, laid back Mexican vibe, beautiful beach, large ex-pat community,  Saturday Tiagnuis market in the main square)
  • attended a polo brunch and match at La Patrona Polo Club (incredible facility, fabulous buffet food from local restaurants, super friendly staff, great band, very educational and fun event watching the ‘Sport of King’s’)
  • watched a young chap climb a coconut tree by shimmying his way up on ropes and then cutting and lowering 6 coconuts on a rope




  • San Pancho is a small beach town with a unique relaxed atmosphere, cool people from all over the world, nice little shops and restaurants, surrounded by amazing jungle and ocean landscapes
  • it is located at Riviera Nayarit, Mexico, one hour drive north of Puerto Vallarta Airport and less than a 10-minute drive north of Sayulita
  • population of 3000 people
  • in Mexico, “Pancho” is the short name for Francisco, the official name of the village is San Francisco, but everybody lovingly calls it San Pancho



What did we not do that is on the agenda for next time:

  • visit some of the other small villages north of San Pancho and towards the interior
  • check out Mud Beach (just north of San Pancho near Las Lomas) with its blue therapeutic mud used for its healthful benefits
  • visit the Community Cultural Center
  • check out more of the residential areas of San Pancho
  • SUP along the Lo de Marcos coastline
  • visit the Lo de Perla Jungle Garden
  • take a polo lesson
  • check out more local restaurants and especially the authentic Mexican places
  • take some yoga classes at El Ester (right beside our hotel)
  • play pool at the always busy billiard spot across from our hotel
  • watch the local soccer team
  • check out Punta Mita



Final thoughts:

  • the weather was beautiful, with highs of 30 and lows in the low 20s (only occasionally had to put a sweater on at night)
  • it was funny as we had put San Fransisco (San Pancho) on our weather app, but it was picking up an inland location near Mexico City with much cooler temperatures so we had to ultimately use the Sayulita forecast
  • San Pancho has the right blend of an authentic Mexican vibe and a safe, modern feeling
  • a lot of places don’t accept Visa, so you need to have lots of pesos on hand and find bank machines that work
  • the number of dogs in San Pancho seemed to outnumber the people (they were all healthy looking and generally roaming free without leashes)
  • there are tons of roosters roaming around town
  • it was fun having our cousins along who shared similar interests
  • it’s funny how you start to see the same people around town and one Asian chap we saw five times in the last 24 hours including at the airport




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