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EVERY YEAR, I wander to Mexico in search of crashing waves, cilantro-tinged ceviche, and people whose first priority is to play. Last January, I found all three 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta in Sayulita, a sleepy fishing village slowly being swallowed up by yoga retreats and surf camps. Duende Vista—a two-year-old whitewashed, seven-unit vacation-rental complex cantilevered into the hills above town—is the perfect place to pretend you’re an expat. Bonus: Owner Mario Rubio can teach you how to surf.
ROOM AND BOARD All of the rentals are spacious and whimsical, painted vibrant yellows, blues, purples, and greens in unusual places—like the hand-molded hot tubs in the two studios. The Top King unit (one bedroom with king-size bed, two baths, a kitchen, and a living room) is prime real estate, with a pool-size veranda from which you can watch the bustling scenes in Sayulita or chill to the swaying palms and Pacific swell. All of the rentals include microwaves, coffee makers, utensils, and linens—making Duende Vista the ideal place to park for a month…or six. There is no on-site restaurant, but everything that Sayulita has to offer—from fish-taco stands to romantic Pacific-side palapa restaurants like Don Pedros—is just a few steps away. THE SPORTS Surfing Sayulita’s increasingly popular left break, one of the world’s most user-friendly waves, is the draw. Mario can show you how ($25 for two hours) or you can rent a surfboard or boogie board at his beachside concession, Surf Dog ($20 a day, $100 per week). A warning: The locals get touchy when tourists steal their waves—use your best surfing etiquette. Horseback riding on the beach or in the surrounding tropical forest can be arranged through nearby Rancho la Chaparrita ($10 an hour; 011-52-327-275-0221, www.sayulita.com/rancho/lachaparrita.html). Mario, who is a former U.S. national champion judo sensei, is planning to build a judo studio on his property soon.
CLOSEST MAJOR AIRPORT Puerto Vallarta (22 miles)
SEASON: Late October through late June
RATES $50 to $100 per night, depending on season and unit size
If you’ve rented a car, from Puerto Vallarta take Mexico 200 north past the village of San Ignacio. Just past San Ignacio, you’ll see a turnoff to Sayulita on the left. Follow the road for 1.6 miles into town and ask the first local you see to point you toward Duende Vista. Taking the bus from the airport to Sayulita costs $2 and takes one hour, since it stops at every village along the way. For schedules, check www.sayulita.com/bus.html.
WEB SITE www.bsrsports.com/surf