I am a well-known lover of deserted beaches, a slow pace of life, good food, places off the beaten path, beautiful views and in general just taking it easy. In fact, these reasons are why we have chosen the nomadic life that we have, so we can seek out the rare places where all of these things come together at once. Let me introduce you to one of those places, my new found crush – San Pancho, Nayarit.
San Pancho is a little surf town nestled on Mexico’s Pacific coast just a few miles down the coast from it’s more well known siblings Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita. Geographically San Pancho isn’t far from the hustle and bustle of Puerto Vallarta (about an hour) but in attitude, it’s a world away. Puerto Vallarta has cruise ships, block after block of handicraft vendors and, of course, it’s beautiful Malecon (ocean front boardwalk). San Pancho has surf breaks, a strolling ventriloquist with a talking duck and long sparsely populated pristine beaches.
Deidre and I had about a month between house sitting assignments and we planned to spend it in Puerto Vallarta strolling the malecon, eating some good food, soaking in the sunsets and taking a little break. That plan quickly flew out the window and we mainly hid inside and worked. Yep, we went to one of the most popular vacation destinations in Mexico and preceded to stay inside and work. We suck, I know, but we do have bills to pay.
Thankfully, we were rescued by our friends Judy and Lee whom we recently house sat for in Patzcuaro. They’ve got a place in San Pancho and when they heard we were going to be in the area they graciously invited us to stay in their home for the week. That’s right, we’re such entitled jerks that we actually needed to take a vacation from Puerto Vallarta. And wow, oh wow, are we glad we did!
Part of our problem in Puerto Vallarta was that we just couldn’t seem to get comfortable in the place we had rented and because of that, our work took way longer than it should which left us with very little relaxation time. Decreased relaxation = increased frustration and stress so off we headed to San Pancho.
From the second we arrived everything changed. The house was perfect, the beach was perfect, the town was perfect. I know that’s a lot of perfects but when the shoe fits…
San Pancho is a tiny town that’s just far enough away to be quaint but still big enough to have most of the comforts of the nearby cities – like good restaurants. Deserted beaches and great food in the same place? Yes please!
I mentioned that this is a surf town right? Other than that one ill-fated attempt to surf the remnant of a tropical storm, I tend to avoid surfing. I mean I think it’s super cool and all but I have trouble staying on the sidewalk most of the time so riding a board through waves that came all the way from Hawaii to try and kill me just isn’t my thing.
No one else here seems to have the same fears as me (or at least they hide them better) because everyone surfs. Surfboards on cars, surfboards on bikes, surfboards on skateboards, surfboards stacked on surfboards. Everyone surfs.
San Pancho has a very cool, laid back vibe to it that is exactly what we were looking for. I’m not sure if the surfers bring it with them or if the vibe itself is part of what brings the surfers to San Pancho but whoever brought it, I thank them for it. Everyone we met was nothing but nice, very friendly and super low key.
Many places we went we were met with the saying “Keep It Real Mexico,” in English. At first I was thrown because how is having a sign in English in a small Mexican town “keeping it real?” Then it dawned on me, just about everyone we talked to (both Mexican and foreign) spoke in an odd mixture of maybe 75% Spanish and 25% English. So, I shrugged my shoulders and just chalked it up as another unique thing about this funky little town.
So by now you’re probably thinking, “Sure that sounds great and all so it must be crowded, how bad are the crowds?” Crowds? What crowds?
We were in San Pancho towards the end of Semana Santa which is normally the busiest time of the year for the beaches in Mexico (in the States imagine Spring Break, Memorial Day and the 4th of July all rolled into one). The town was a little more crowded than normal and there was a cluster of people camping on the beach but I sure wouldn’t call it crowded. In fact, we wondered how empty the town would be when the holiday ended and a lot of people cleared out.
So, we were looking for slow pace of life, deserted beaches, good food and great views right? So far we’ve covered the first three so let’s get to the views.
There aren’t very many places in the world where everything just seems to come together to make every day special. The right attitude, the right weather, the right environment and access to the right things at the right time. Just having a few of these things makes for a great day, in San Pancho we had them all and for that, San Pancho, you are my new crush. Shhhhhh, just don’t tell anyone, we want to keep this to ourselves.
***Extra special thanks to Judy and Lee for hosting us at Casa Ladera, it’s a fantastic place that we’d highly recommend to anyone coming to the area and looking for a place to stay. It’s also for sale if you’re looking to stay a little longer!***