A Small Dog’s Guide to Sayulita, Mexico

May 20, 2013    /    luna the traveling pooch

Bienvenido a Mexico, amigos! As you know, Luna and I have been spending our days exploring the beaches and cobbled side streets of Sayulita, Mexico. We’ve already been here for over a month and will be staying a total of just over two months before heading across Mexico to explore the Caribbean coast.

Today, I’d love to give you the skinny on dog-friendly Sayulita. And I think you’re going to be pleased.

Let’s start with accommodations, shall we?

Dog-friendly housing: We ran across at least three dog-friendly options during our time in Sayulita. The first is Playa Escondida. They don’t advertise their dog-friendliness and I’m not sure what the regulations are if you have a big dog, but when I asked about staying with Luna, small and well-trained, the answer was a resounding yes! The best bet with any size dog is to email or call and ask before booking.

The second spot in town that was decidedly pet-friendly was the lovely apartment complex at Pajaro de Fuego (pictured below). I saw at least two dogs during my time there, one a German Shepherd (so it seems to be big dog-friendly) and one a red poodle, and they didn’t even blink when I walked into the office with Luna to inquire about monthly pricing. The places at Pajaro de Fuego run a little pricey, but the view is to die for and the pool looks like a dream.

Finally, as usual, the place I stayed longest (two months) was an apartment rental that isn’t normally dog-friendly. But, also as usual, I contacted the owners and asked if they’d make an exception for a small, well-behaved, therapy trained frequent traveler. They asked whether she was a barker and I sent them links to my Airbnb and Couchsurfing profiles, both of which have glowing landlord references for Luna. So this is the part where I say, once again, that it’s always a good idea to contact people and ask if they’ll make an exception. Even fairly dog-friendly places might not advertise as such.

Pajaro del Fuego, Sayulita, MexicoPajaro de Fuego, top floor views

Restaurants, bars, and shops: Sayulita is one of the most pet-friendly places I’ve ever been (and that includes my extensive European travels). Luna is allowed into almost every restaurant, bar, shop, and even grocery store in town, with only one or two exceptions (the Oxxo convenience store and Don Pedro’s restaurant on salsa night being the notable ones). This town is full of dogs and dog-lovers and the locals have adopted a c’est la vie attitude toward dogs being pretty much anywhere.

Our favorite place to hang out is Yah-Yah (coffee bar), where all the small dog-owners seem to congregate and the WIFI is strong.

The beach: The beaches are covered in dogs, mostly off-leash. So if your dog gets along with other dogs and loves to run free, Sayulita is pretty much heaven (or at least that’s what Luna thinks). If you’d rather get away from the dogs and spend some time at a quieter beach, Playa de los Muertos, just outside town, is often a bit less crowded (both with people and dogs) and the beach at Playa Escondida (even farther outside town – around a 30 minute walk) doesn’t usually have many (if any) dogs.

Luna on the beach
Luna loving the beach at Playa Escondida.

Veterinary care: there are two vets in town – one in the center and one on the outskirts. The vet on the outskirts does not speak English, but does carry a wide range of pet foods, supplies, etc. This is the vet where we bought our flea treatments and where I took Luna when she developed a mysterious red welt on her leg (which turned out to be an easily treatable fungus that is common to tropical areas). I’ve heard through the grapevine that this is the better of the two vets (though I haven’t tried the central one myself) and I found them very comforting, sweet, and helpful, even with my limited conversational Spanish.

Dog food and treats: the two vets sell basic dog food and treats. Since Luna is allergic to everything under the sun, I bought some pricey dog food from a friend instead of buying from the local vets and will be replenishing our supply during my quick business trip back to the states in early June.


Overall Sayulita: Sayulita was a wonderful place to be with a dog and I would most definitely recommend it to other dog travelers, particularly when I realized that this dog-friendliness isn’t necessarily typical of Mexico (if you head up the road to Puerto Vallarta, you’ll find that most restaurants do not allow dogs).

But here’s the downside: Mexico has some major flea and tick problems, especially during the current season. So you’ll need to make sure to treat your dog for fleas and ticks and to be vigilant about checking your dog for ticks (even with the treatment, I’ve still found two on her this month).

The other thing to keep in mind is that a lot of the dogs here wander freely around. The vast majority of them are friendly and we haven’t had any real  problems, likely because Luna is a submissive little female. That said, one pet-owning couple warned me that their dog had been attacked on the beach by the two guard dogs that live at the campground/bar closest to town (there are two campgrounds and the one farther from town seems to be fine). So do keep your eyes open and maybe avoid that particular campground.

Final tips: Sayulita, as you might have guessed, gets pretty darn hot during the day. So always make sure to have water on you (for you and the dog) and maybe hang out in the shade or at home during the hottest part of the day (mid-afternoons) if you are here during the warmer months.

Also keep in mind that this is a jungle area, so it’s not unusual to run into the occasional scorpion (I’ve killed two). They’re not particularly dangerous (unless you’re allergic), but keep an eye out in the evenings or mornings when it’s cool, make sure to tell your dog no if she starts to go near one, and always look down before stepping off the bed. Aside from scorpions, you’ll also run into the usual bugs (ants, maybe the occasional cockroach), which usually means being diligent about picking up the dog’s food when breakfast or dinnertime are over. And, finally, the dogs here commonly get a fungus in the humid summer months. It’s not a big deal, but if you notice some redness or swelling, pop over to the vet to get it checked out (and probably pick up some rub-on medicine).

Any questions about traveling to Sayulita with a dog? Leave them in the comments!

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  • Montecristo Travels (Sonja)
    May 27, 2013

    Just wanted to share with you the shout out on our blog!

    Thanks for the travel with dog inspiration!


    • gigigriffis
      May 27, 2013

      Aww, thank you!

  • Judy
    July 17, 2014

    I’m so glad I found this! We are planning to take our two dogs (one big and young, one old and small) to Sayulita for 5 months this winter. You have alleviated a LOT of my fears. We found a pet-friendly rental house :) Have you tried the boarding kennel?

    • gigigriffis
      July 17, 2014

      So glad I could help! I didn’t use the kennel. I had a small trip to go on during my time there, but I got one of the diving instructor guys who needed a little extra money to watch her for me.

  • Candace
    April 10, 2016

    Any problems with poisonous toads in the area?

    • gigigriffis
      April 11, 2016

      We didn’t have any and weren’t warned about any, but I’m not an expert on local animals, so best to check with a vet.

  • Alexis
    April 14, 2016

    Did you have any problems with the ticks?

    • gigigriffis
      April 14, 2016

      Nope, but I believe the flea medication also covers ticks. Check with a vet, though.

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