1/5Natural swimming pool, Alta Vista http://www.sayulitabeach.com/site/wp-content/plugins/slideshow-gallery/vendors/timthumb.php?src=wp-content/uploads/slideshow-gallery/daytrips-1_mini.jpg&w=600&h=337&q=100&a=t
2/5A thousand year old petroglyph at Alta Vista http://www.sayulitabeach.com/site/wp-content/plugins/slideshow-gallery/vendors/timthumb.php?src=wp-content/uploads/slideshow-gallery/daytrips-2_mini.jpg&w=600&h=337&q=100&a=t
3/5Cooling off in a pool at Alta Vista http://www.sayulitabeach.com/site/wp-content/plugins/slideshow-gallery/vendors/timthumb.php?src=wp-content/uploads/slideshow-gallery/daytrips-3_mini.jpg&w=600&h=337&q=100&a=t
4/5Up this beautiful stream lie the petroglyphs of Alta Vista http://www.sayulitabeach.com/site/wp-content/plugins/slideshow-gallery/vendors/timthumb.php?src=wp-content/uploads/slideshow-gallery/daytrips-4_mini.jpg&w=600&h=337&q=100&a=t
5/5Ancient petroglyph at Alta Vista http://www.sayulitabeach.com/site/wp-content/plugins/slideshow-gallery/vendors/timthumb.php?src=wp-content/uploads/slideshow-gallery/daytrips-5_mini.jpg&w=600&h=337&q=100&a=t
Less than an hour from Sayulita, you can hike to Alta Vista, where spring-fed mountain waters tumble through a magnificent rock ravine, forming natural swimming pools under gentle waterfalls; where the Huichol, today, still make offerings on altars among rocks carved with 2000 year old petroglyphs–carved not by their tribe but by the Tecoxquines, earlier residents of the region. More recently the Huichol adopted these ritual sites; you’ll find their offerings, and those of others, on little altars along the ravine. If you’re interested in a compellingly beautiful day hike, follow the fluttering white butterflies (they’re called “spirits of the forest”) and they’ll lead you up to Alta Vista, where you can cool off in the pools, soak up the mystic ambience, and commune with the petroglyphs, there to remind us how deep are the roots of Sayulita’s people.
For another kind of high country experience, visit San Sebastian, an hour closer to Sayulita. This tiny town, at one time home to 30,000 striving souls, is ringed by now-closed mines that once produced enormous amounts of precious metal. Today, the elegant little plaza is overlooked by a few sleepy hotels, restaurants, and bars. It’s a serene yet evocative place, where you’ll pass leisurely hours wandering quiet streets, perhaps tour a mine or hike up a mountain. This is a place to unwind in a cooler, quieter space than the coast.
Those interested in the religious element of Mexican culture might consider a trip up to Talpa de Allende, in the mountains east of Puerto Vallarta, where a miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary resides. Her story is a tall tale to most of us, but it’s a good one, of profound significance to believers–and Talpa is a pretty little mountain in the neighborhood of several other such towns. The drive is a bit of a long haul, but with spectacular scenery much of the way (this trip might work better as an overnighter). Head to the green hills, cool off for a day or two, and experience a different kind of Mexico, untouristed, agricultural, and far removed from the beachfront bustle.