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San Pancho, Nayarit: Mexico Travel Guide


by Taryn Cosentino



Welcome to San Pancho, a charming and picturesque village located on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Nestled in the state of Nayarit, San Pancho offers a delightful blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and laid-back coastal vibes. With its pristine sandy beaches, lush tropical jungles, and vibrant local community, San Pancho has become a popular destination for travelers seeking an authentic Mexican experience.


Once a sleepy fishing village, San Pancho has evolved into a thriving tourist destination while still maintaining its warm and welcoming atmosphere. Unlike some of the more crowded and developed resort towns in Mexico, San Pancho offers a more tranquil and intimate setting, perfect for relaxation and immersion in the local culture.


The journey to San Pancho is an adventure in itself, as you wind through rugged hillsides and lush vegetation. The town’s secluded location brings a sense of serenity and seclusion, making it an ideal destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.


San Pancho is renowned for its stunning beaches, where crystal-clear waters and golden sands beckon visitors to unwind and soak up the sun. Whether you’re looking to catch a wave and surf the Pacific swells or simply lounge on the shore and watch the breathtaking sunsets, the beaches of San Pancho will leave you rejuvenated and inspired.


Beyond its natural beauty, San Pancho is also home to a thriving artistic and cultural community. The town boasts numerous art galleries, where you can admire and purchase unique pieces created by local artisans. Additionally, San Pancho is known for its commitment to sustainability and the environment, with various eco-conscious initiatives and organizations that preserve the natural beauty of the area.


As you wander through the streets of San Pancho, you will be captivated by the colorful facades of the buildings and the friendly smiles of the locals. The town’s small size makes it easy to navigate on foot, allowing you to explore charming shops, cafes, and restaurants at a leisurely pace.


Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural enrichment, San Pancho has something to offer every traveler. So pack your bags, immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture, and get ready to create unforgettable memories in this hidden gem of Mexico’s Pacific coast.


Getting to San Pancho

San Pancho is conveniently located just 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta International Airport, making it easily accessible for travelers from around the world. Here are a few options for getting to San Pancho:

  • By Air: The closest major airport to San Pancho is Puerto Vallarta International Airport, which offers direct flights from various cities in Mexico, the United States, Canada, and other international destinations. Once you arrive at the airport, you can either rent a car, hire a taxi, or book a shuttle service to take you to San Pancho.
  • By Car: If you prefer the freedom of exploring at your own pace, renting a car is a convenient option. From Puerto Vallarta, you can take Highway 200 north towards Guadalajara. After driving for approximately 45 minutes, you will reach the turnoff for San Pancho. The drive is scenic and allows you to enjoy the beautiful coastal views along the way.
  • By Public Transportation: For a more budget-friendly option, you can take a bus from Puerto Vallarta to San Pancho. Buses are available from the Puerto Vallarta Bus Terminal and run regularly throughout the day. The journey takes approximately 1-1.5 hours, depending on traffic and stops along the way.

Once you arrive in San Pancho, getting around the town is relatively easy. The village is relatively small, and most attractions, restaurants, and accommodations are within walking distance. However, if you prefer not to walk, you can rent bicycles, hire a taxi, or use the local bus service to explore the area.


It’s worth noting that San Pancho can also be a great stop on a road trip along the Mexican Pacific coast. If you’re driving from other parts of Mexico, San Pancho is located along the scenic Highway 200, which stretches from Puerto Vallarta to Tepic. You can incorporate San Pancho into your itinerary and explore the surrounding areas at your own pace.


Regardless of how you choose to get to San Pancho, the journey itself is part of the adventure. Enjoy the stunning landscapes, immerse yourself in the local culture, and get ready to experience the beauty and charm of this hidden gem on Mexico’s Pacific coast.


Best Time to Visit

San Pancho enjoys a warm and tropical climate year-round, making it an enticing destination for travelers seeking sunny days and pleasant temperatures. However, the best time to visit San Pancho depends on your preferences and what you plan to do during your stay.


The high tourist season in San Pancho typically runs from November to April. During this time, the weather is sunny and dry with average temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit (mid-20s to low 30s Celsius). The calm ocean waters are perfect for swimming, surfing, and other water activities. This is also the time for popular festivals and events, such as the San Pancho Music Festival and the International Polo Tournament, which showcase the vibrant local culture.


If you prefer a quieter and more budget-friendly experience, consider visiting San Pancho during the shoulder seasons of October and May. The weather is still pleasant, and you can enjoy fewer crowds and lower accommodation rates. These months are also a great time for outdoor activities like hiking and exploring the nearby jungle areas.


The rainy season in San Pancho occurs from June to September, with August being the wettest month. While the rainfall can be heavy at times, it usually comes in short bursts and is followed by sunny periods. This is a great time to experience the lush greenery and natural beauty of the area. It’s also the season when sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, offering a unique wildlife experience for visitors.


Keep in mind that during the peak of the rainy season, some outdoor activities may be limited, and certain roads and trails can be temporarily closed due to weather conditions. However, if you don’t mind occasional showers and want to take advantage of discounted rates on accommodations and tours, visiting San Pancho during the rainy season can be a great option.


Overall, San Pancho welcomes visitors year-round with its warm hospitality and captivating beauty. Whether you choose to visit during the high season for a bustling and vibrant atmosphere, or during the shoulder or rainy seasons for a more peaceful and immersive experience, San Pancho offers something special for every traveler.


Accommodation Options

San Pancho offers a variety of accommodation options to suit every traveler’s needs and budget. From cozy boutique hotels to luxurious beachfront resorts and charming vacation rentals, you’ll find a wide range of choices in this enchanting village.


For those seeking luxury and indulgence, there are several beachfront resorts in San Pancho that offer world-class amenities and breathtaking ocean views. These resorts boast spacious rooms or private villas, and often feature on-site restaurants, spas, and swimming pools. Staying in a luxury resort allows you to relax in style and enjoy the beauty of the Pacific coast right at your doorstep.


If you prefer a more intimate and personalized experience, boutique hotels in San Pancho are a great option. These smaller accommodations offer a unique blend of comfort, style, and local charm. Many boutique hotels are nestled within the town center, providing easy access to shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions. You’ll often find cozy rooms, personalized service, and communal spaces where you can mingle with fellow travelers.


For those looking for a home away from home, vacation rentals in San Pancho are widely available. From beachfront villas to cozy apartments, there are options for small groups, families, or solo travelers. Renting a vacation property allows you to have your own space and the freedom to create your own schedule. Many rentals come equipped with kitchens and other amenities, making it convenient for those who prefer to cook their own meals or have a longer stay.


Additionally, San Pancho offers a range of eco-friendly and sustainable accommodations, including eco-hotels and eco-lodges. These establishments prioritize environmental practices and offer a more conscious and eco-conscious stay. By choosing an eco-friendly accommodation, you can enjoy your vacation while minimizing your impact on the environment.


Regardless of where you choose to stay in San Pancho, you can expect warm hospitality and a comfortable and memorable experience. It’s advisable to book your accommodation in advance, especially during the high season, to secure your preferred option. Whether you’re seeking luxury, boutique charm, or a home away from home, San Pancho has the perfect accommodation to make your stay unforgettable.


Top Attractions in San Pancho

San Pancho may be a small village, but it is brimming with captivating attractions and activities that showcase the natural beauty, culture, and charm of the area. Here are some of the top attractions that you won’t want to miss when visiting San Pancho:

  1. San Pancho Beach: The main attraction of San Pancho is its stunning beach, a pristine stretch of golden sand and turquoise waters. Whether you’re interested in swimming, sunbathing, or simply relaxing with a book, San Pancho Beach offers the perfect setting for a day of coastal bliss.
  2. EntreAmigos Community Center: This unique community center is a must-visit when in San Pancho. Dedicated to education, sustainability, and creativity, EntreAmigos offers a variety of programs and workshops for both locals and visitors. Explore the colorful classrooms, art gallery, and second-hand store to learn more about the organization’s impactful initiatives.
  3. Polo fields: San Pancho is known for its passion for polo, and you can witness the sport in action by attending a polo match at the La Patrona Polo & Equestrian Club. Watch skilled riders and their magnificent horses compete in this exciting and elegant sport.
  4. Galería Nepantla: Art enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to Galería Nepantla, a prominent art gallery that showcases contemporary works from local and international artists. Browse through a diverse collection of paintings, sculptures, and mixed media pieces that reflect the vibrant art scene of San Pancho.
  5. San Pancho Bird Observatory: Nature lovers and bird enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to the San Pancho Bird Observatory. Take part in a bird-watching tour and marvel at the wide array of bird species that inhabit the region. The observatory also conducts research and educational programs for the conservation of local avian populations.
  6. Cultural Center: Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting the Cultural Center of San Pancho. This lively hub hosts various art exhibits, live performances, and workshops that highlight the creativity and talent of the community. Check the schedule for upcoming events and immerse yourself in the vibrant artistic scene.
  7. Jardin del Pulpo: Located in the heart of San Pancho, Jardin del Pulpo is a charming community garden filled with colorful flowers, plants, and sculptures. Take a leisurely stroll through this serene oasis and appreciate the beauty of the natural surroundings.
  8. Turtle Release: If you visit San Pancho during the nesting season (typically from June to November), you have the opportunity to witness one of nature’s wonders – the release of baby sea turtles into the ocean. Join a guided tour or volunteer with local conservation organizations to learn more about these fascinating creatures and contribute to their preservation.

These are just a few of the many attractions that San Pancho has to offer. With its blend of natural beauty, artistic expression, and community initiatives, San Pancho promises an enriching and unforgettable experience for all visitors.


Activities and Things to Do

San Pancho offers a plethora of activities and things to do, ensuring that visitors of all interests and ages will find something to enjoy. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural immersion, here are some of the top activities and attractions in San Pancho:

  1. Surfing and Watersports: San Pancho’s pristine beaches and favorable surf conditions make it a paradise for surfers. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider, you can catch some waves and enjoy the thrill of surfing. Additionally, you can try other watersports like paddleboarding, kayaking, or snorkeling to explore the vibrant marine life.
  2. Hiking and Exploring: San Pancho is surrounded by lush jungle and rolling hills, providing ample opportunities for hiking and exploration. Take a hike to the nearby Las Cuevas or Monkey Mountain for panoramic views of the coastline and the chance to spot wildlife such as iguanas and bird species.
  3. Yoga and Wellness: Find your inner Zen by participating in a yoga class or a wellness retreat in San Pancho. Many studios and centers offer yoga sessions for all levels, allowing you to rejuvenate your body and mind amidst the tranquil surroundings of nature. Some retreats also offer spa treatments, meditation, and other wellness activities.
  4. Golfing: Golf enthusiasts can tee off at one of the nearby golf courses, such as the Litibú Golf Course. Enjoy a round of golf amidst lush green fairways, scenic landscapes, and stunning ocean views.
  5. Horseback Riding: Embark on a horseback riding adventure and explore the surrounding countryside and beaches of San Pancho. Enjoy the gentle breeze as you gallop along the shoreline or meander through the picturesque trails, immersing yourself in the natural beauty of the area.
  6. Indulge in Local Cuisine: San Pancho offers a diverse culinary scene that caters to all tastes. Sample authentic Mexican dishes and local seafood at charming restaurants and beachside cafes. Don’t miss trying the fresh ceviche or indulging in traditional street food during your stay.
  7. Explore the Nearby Islands: Take a boat trip to the nearby Las Marietas Islands, a protected marine reserve known for its vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life. Snorkel, kayak, or simply relax on the pristine beaches of these uninhabited islands.
  8. Learn Traditional Arts and Crafts: Engage in a workshop or class to learn traditional Mexican arts and crafts. Choose from pottery making, painting, paper mache, or even traditional dance classes. These activities provide an opportunity to connect with the local culture and create your own unique souvenirs.

These activities and things to do in San Pancho cater to a wide range of interests and offer a chance to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and vibrant culture of this charming coastal village.


Dining and Nightlife

San Pancho may be a small village, but it offers a vibrant dining and nightlife scene that will satisfy even the most discerning foodies and night owls. Whether you’re in the mood for authentic Mexican cuisine, international flavors, or a lively evening out, San Pancho has something for everyone.


When it comes to dining, San Pancho boasts a variety of restaurants and eateries that showcase the region’s culinary offerings. From casual beachfront taco stands to upscale dining establishments, you can indulge in a diverse array of flavors and dishes. Fresh seafood is a highlight, with local catches prepared in traditional Mexican and fusion styles. Don’t miss the opportunity to try ceviche, fish tacos, or seafood paella, accompanied by a refreshing local drink like a michelada or a margarita.


In addition to Mexican cuisine, San Pancho also offers international fare to cater to different tastes. You can find Italian trattorias, French bistros, Asian fusion restaurants, and more. Vegetarian and vegan options are also available, ensuring that everyone can enjoy a delicious meal.


After a satisfying dinner, San Pancho comes alive with its vibrant nightlife scene. You can head to one of the cozy beach bars or rooftop lounges to unwind with a cocktail and savor the ocean breeze. Live music performances are common, featuring both local talents and visiting musicians. Enjoy a night of dancing to eclectic beats or simply relax and take in the lively atmosphere of San Pancho after dark. The village also has a few clubs where you can dance the night away to the sounds of DJ mixes.


For a more laid-back evening, take a stroll through the town center and explore the local bars. These intimate venues often feature live acoustic music, creating a cozy and welcoming ambiance. You can also grab a drink at one of the local cantinas and strike up a conversation with fellow patrons to immerse yourself in the community spirit.


San Pancho is known for its warm and welcoming vibe, making it easy to connect with locals and fellow travelers while enjoying a delicious meal or a night out. Whether you’re seeking a fine dining experience, a casual beachfront hangout, or a memorable night of music and drinks, San Pancho’s dining and nightlife scene is sure to meet your expectations.


Shopping in San Pancho

San Pancho may be a small village, but it offers a delightful shopping experience that showcases the creativity and craftsmanship of the local community. Whether you’re looking for unique souvenirs, handmade artwork, or stylish fashion items, San Pancho has a variety of shops and boutiques to explore.


One of the highlights of shopping in San Pancho is the abundance of artisanal and handicraft products. Visit the local art galleries and studios where you can admire and purchase a wide range of artwork, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and jewelry created by talented local artists. These pieces often reflect the vibrant culture and natural beauty of the area, making them unique mementos of your visit to San Pancho.


In addition to artwork, San Pancho is also known for its traditional Mexican crafts. Explore the local markets and shops to find colorful textiles, embroidered clothing, woven baskets, and hand-painted ceramics. These authentic handicrafts are not only beautiful but also serve as a connection to Mexico’s rich cultural heritage.


If you’re a fashion lover, San Pancho won’t disappoint. You’ll find stylish boutiques offering trendy clothing, beachwear, and accessories. Many of these pieces are designed by local designers and artisans, incorporating vibrant colors and natural materials inspired by the surrounding environment. Whether you’re looking for a unique swimsuit, a bohemian dress, or artisanal jewelry, San Pancho’s fashion scene has something to suit your style.


San Pancho also has a few shops specializing in eco-friendly and sustainable products. From organic skincare and beauty items to eco-conscious home decor and clothing, these shops aim to promote a more mindful and environmentally-friendly lifestyle.


To truly experience the local culture, don’t miss the weekly Mercado del Sol market. Held every Tuesday during the high season, this vibrant market features a variety of vendors selling fresh produce, local food, handmade crafts, and more. It’s a great opportunity to mingle with the locals, sample delicious street food, and shop for unique products.


As you explore the streets of San Pancho, you’ll find that shopping is not just about acquiring material goods—it’s about supporting local artisans and fostering a deeper connection with the community. So take your time, browse the shops, and bring home a piece of San Pancho’s vibrant culture and creativity.


Local Culture and Festivals

San Pancho is a village rich in culture and traditions, offering visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in the vibrant local way of life. From arts and music to traditional festivities, here are some highlights of the local culture and festivals in San Pancho:


The artistic community in San Pancho is thriving, with numerous galleries, studios, and workshops showcasing the talent of local artists. You can explore these creative spaces and engage in art classes or workshops to learn about various artistic techniques. The town’s commitment to the arts is further evident through the San Pancho Music Festival, a vibrant event that features musicians from Mexico and around the world. This festival takes place in February and offers an opportunity to enjoy concerts, workshops, and community jam sessions.


Another important cultural hub in San Pancho is the EntreAmigos Community Center, a non-profit organization that focuses on education, sustainability, and social empowerment. The center hosts a range of events and workshops, including art exhibits, theatre performances, and music concerts, allowing visitors to engage with the local community and contribute to its development.


Throughout the year, San Pancho celebrates various traditional festivals and events that showcase the region’s culture and heritage. One of the highlights is the San Pancho Patron Saint Festival, held in early December to honor the village’s patron saint, San Francisco de Asis. The festival includes religious processions, live music, dancing, performances, and traditional Mexican cuisine. It’s a vibrant and colorful celebration that brings the community together.


San Pancho is also known for its commitment to sustainability and environmental awareness. The annual Vallarta-Nayarit Gastronómica Food Festival, held in Puerto Vallarta and Nayarit, brings together renowned chefs and food enthusiasts to celebrate the culinary heritage of the region. As part of this festival, San Pancho hosts various food-related events, including cooking workshops, tastings, and culinary competitions.


Furthermore, the nearby town of Nuevo Vallarta hosts the Tianguis Cultural, a cultural market that showcases the creativity and craftsmanship of local artisans. This market offers a unique opportunity to browse and purchase handmade crafts, artwork, jewelry, and other authentic Mexican products.


When visiting San Pancho, it’s highly recommended to participate in these cultural festivals and events. Interact with the locals, explore the arts, taste traditional cuisine, and experience the vibrancy of the community. It’s through these cultural celebrations that you can gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the rich heritage and traditions that make San Pancho truly special.


Practical Information

Before visiting San Pancho, it’s useful to have some practical information to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. Here are some essential details to keep in mind:

  • Currency: The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN). It is recommended to carry some local currency for small expenses, as not all establishments may accept credit cards or foreign currencies. Currency exchange services are available at the Puerto Vallarta International Airport and in nearby towns.
  • Language: The official language of Mexico is Spanish. While English is spoken and understood in many tourist areas, it’s helpful to have some basic Spanish phrases and expressions to communicate with locals.
  • Visa Requirements: Visitors from many countries, including the United States, Canada, and most European countries, do not require a visa for stays of up to 180 days. However, it’s important to check the specific visa requirements for your country of citizenship before traveling to Mexico.
  • Health and Safety: San Pancho is generally a safe destination, but it’s always advisable to take basic precautions. Ensure you have travel insurance to cover any medical expenses and emergencies. It’s also recommended to drink bottled water and take precautions to avoid any foodborne illnesses.
  • Transportation: San Pancho is a compact village that can easily be explored on foot. However, if you’re planning to explore the surrounding areas or visit nearby towns, renting a car or hiring a taxi is convenient. Public transportation in the form of buses is also available for traveling to and from San Pancho.
  • Electricity: The electricity supply in Mexico is 110-120 volts, with a frequency of 60 Hz. Electrical outlets typically use plugs with two flat pins, so travelers may need a voltage converter and adapter for their electronic devices.
  • Climate: San Pancho has a tropical climate, with warm and humid weather year-round. The average temperatures range from the high 70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit (mid-20s to low 30s Celsius). The rainy season occurs from June to September, with occasional tropical showers.
  • Time Zone: San Pancho is in the Central Standard Time (CST) zone, which is 6 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC-6). Mexico does not observe Daylight Saving Time.

It’s also advised to check any travel advisories or specific guidelines issued by your home country’s government before traveling to San Pancho or Mexico in general. This will ensure you have the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding safety and travel requirements.


By being aware of these practical details and preparing accordingly, you can enjoy a seamless and unforgettable experience in San Pancho.



San Pancho, Nayarit, is a hidden gem on Mexico’s Pacific coast that offers a unique and authentic travel experience. From its pristine beaches and lush jungles to its vibrant arts scene and rich cultural heritage, San Pancho has something to offer every type of traveler.


Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural immersion, San Pancho has it all. Enjoy surfing the Pacific swells, hiking through the jungles, or simply lounging on its beautiful beaches. Engage with the local community by visiting art galleries, attending cultural events, and exploring the iconic EntreAmigos Community Center.


Indulge in the delicious cuisine, from fresh seafood to international fare, and experience the village’s vibrant nightlife scene. Shop for unique handicrafts, artwork, and fashionable items that reflect the creativity and talent of the local artisans.


When planning your visit to San Pancho, consider the best time to go, taking into account weather conditions, festivals, and events. Familiarize yourself with practical information such as currency, language, and transportation options to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip.


Whether you’re a nature lover, an art enthusiast, a foodie, or simply looking for a place to relax and rejuvenate, San Pancho will captivate you with its natural beauty and warm hospitality. Discover this hidden Mexican treasure and create lasting memories in the charming village of San Pancho.