One of the most beautiful beaches in the Sayulita area is also one of the closest at hand. That would be Playa Las Cuevas, beach of the caves, a little gem of a strand located just north of our own north side town beach. As you can see from the pictures, this is a wild, isolated-feeling place, hidden between rocky headlands shaped by pounding waves into beautiful, rugged rock formations, with secret passageways and caves, some only evident at low tide. Getting here is easy, and this often-deserted beach serves as a magical hideaway for a day trip, a picnic, or even a destination for a mountain bike or horseback ride. Like the adjacent Playa Mal Pasos, Playa Las Cuevas has no streams or rivers feeding into it, so the water is clearer than that in Sayulita Bay.
When you look north along Sayulita’s long beach, the obvious terminus is a rocky headland, with a beautiful stone house (Casa Kuesta) tucked in amongst the rocks in a fine piece of site-sensitive environmental architecture. This lovely house looks as if it belongs there. Incidentally, Casa Kuesta is in some ways really not part of Sayulita—the access is by way of a long, cobblestone driveway that connects not to Sayulita’s beach-paralleling Avenida del Palmar, but to Highway 200, perhaps half a mile east of the house. Between the north end of Palmar and Casa Kuesta lies a small canyon, a headland, and a second small canyon with a seasonal stream and trails leading in various directions. The house is perhaps 300 meters north of the end of the road, and the town.
Well beyond the rocky headland above Casa Kuesta and Playa Las Cuevas lies another long beach, Playa Mal Pasos, which we will visit in a later story. But first, Las Cuevas: between Casa Kuesta and Mal Pasos, tucked in amongst the rocks, you’ll find this sweet little 50-meter stretch of beach. You can’t get there from the ocean side, except perhaps during extremely low tides or by boat paddleboard, or swimming. If you’re a good climber and/or foolish or fearless, you can get there by clambering over the rocks in front of Casa Kuesta, but we can’t recommend this route. If you head up there, you’ll see why: the danger is evident.
Nevertheless, access is easy enough. First, to get started, you take Avenida Palmar to the end, step over the chain, drop down into the arroyo and bear left around the base of the hill in front of you until you reach the next small canyon, with its seasonal streambed. This part of the trip is on a comfortable if slightly rough trail, good for walking, a little challenging for bikes.
Alternatively, if you’re on the beach, walk all the way to the north end of the Sayulita beach, then turn right and follow the streambed into the small canyon to the right of Casa Kuesta. Head east into the jungle, bear left where there are road forks, and also bear left where a pile of small boulders marks a major fork in the trail; though the main trail goes straight ahead, you should instead follow the trail to the left. Shortly thereafter you’ll cross the cobbled driveway/road that leads to Casa Kuesta. Continue to work your way around to the north and west on this well-marked, well-used trail. Soon you’ll pass one left turn trail that heads up the hill rather than down towards the beach. Immediately thereafter a rough, four-wheel drive dirt road from the highway links up with the trail, and it becomes more road than trail. Continue on. A few hundred meters ahead, turn left on the next trail. This is not a road, but a single person trail, leading to Playa Cuevas. Along the way, you’ll be walking by a well-constructed stone wall—somebody had big plans for this place, once upon a time–and soon you’ll also pass a small, graffiti-covered concrete building. Shortly thereafter, you’ll find yourself on Playa Las Cuevas.
If you want a more challenging or longer route, there are trails that go over the hill directly north of the end of Avenida Palmar, and others that lead back into the jungle and even go under Highway 200 and into the hills farther east. You can wander around in the jungle back there for hours, on foot, on a bike, or on a horse. And of course, if you don’t turn left off the main trail, you’ll soon find yourself on Playa Mal Pasos.