Return to San Pancho

It’s been about a month since we made the 3.5 mile trip up the main highway to the sleepy, boho town of San Francisco (better known as San Pancho).

With Noe home from school for a while, I thought it might be nice to mix up things a bit, with the two of us making the short taxi ride.

The plan was to bum around the beach and town, with a long walk/hike north to see how far we get.

Apparently, there’s some good hiking north of town, but reaching the “trails” requires a bit of legwork first. Noe’s got a 3.5 mile range right now before it’s starts not being fun, and there’s no reason to push it.

So, we’ll take the taxi up into town, hit record on the ol’ mileage tracker, and see where we end up after a mile or two.

Fortunately, it’s a gorgeous day with a nice steady breeze and highs forecasted to be in the high 70s, so the heat shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

San Pancho is an interesting little place. As soon as we arrive, I’m reminded just how much I like being here. Even on its busiest days, San Pancho is still pretty chill; a world apart from Sayulita.

It’s hard to believe that a mere three miles separate these two places. Anywhere else, the two towns may very well have grown together by now. But San Pancho and Sayulita are separated by a compact, yet rugged, stretch of mostly uninhabited jungly ridges.

Once upon a time, you could easily walk between the two towns along the beach. But that was nipped in the bud several years ago, when the resort dominating the rocky point in between the communities decided to permanently close access, meaning that there is no practical way to walk between Malpaso Beach and San Pancho beach now.

There’s an inland trail that Lori and I are looking forward to exploring. But it’s a bit more than I want to throw at Noe today.

Walking down the main drag, we pass the primary school. This time last year, the school yard would have been brimming with activity. Currently, it’s an overgrown field showing no sign of life.

Public schools here in Mexico closed shortly after the start of the pandemic and have yet to open. Instead of classes being taught exclusively online, Mexico has taken a novel approach, broadcasting classes on TV.

While tourist hotspots like Sayulita and big city’s are well connected, many rural communities in Mexico lag behind with regards to internet access. Offering classes on TV certainly has its limitations when compared to internet. But in Mexico, it makes access to education much more equitable.

Nearly all of the main roads in San Pancho are cobblestone. Midweek, the vibe here is perfect. A nice mix of locals and foreigners milling about, in no particular hurry, on their way to hang out at a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop, bask in the sun along San Pancho’s long strand of golden sand, or catch a wave, if conditions permit.

San Pancho lacks the consistency and variety of surf breaks that Sayulita has, which makes Sayulita much more popular with surfers across the spectrum.

But for those wanting a more laid back surfer lifestyle, with the possibility of catching a wave (for those who know what they’re doing), in many ways, San Pancho can’t be beat.

A fun fact about San Pancho: The main thoroughfare in town is called “Avenida Tercer Mundo” or Third World Avenue, featuring cross streets such as Honduras, Africa, Cuba, Saigon, and so forth. Not sure how I’m supposed to feel about that…

The beach in San Pancho is quite a bit deeper than Sayulita’s main beaches, offering more room to spread out. Because of this, it also has a lot more sun exposure throughout the day. It can get uncomfortably hot on San Pancho beach fast. Very fast.

That point at the southern end of the beach is dominated by Villa Vista Magica, a resort that is said to be a former beach villa of a former president of Mexico, or governor, or someone with a lot of money.

Look closely and you’ll see daylight coming through the trees at the vertex of the “V”. This is the pathway where walkers used to be able to pass between the two towns. Despite fresh laws protecting public access, the resort continues to bar access to the public in the name of “security.”

Most resorts in the area have been quick to adapt to the new laws. This one, however, seems to have doubled down on its stance, posting security around the perimeter of the property to keep the public away from accessing their land. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until that changes.

After reaching the beach, we take a sharp right and head north until the beach runs out.

As with all our hikes, Noe’s got his snacks and water for the day in his backpack.

Speaking of snacks, snack time! We’ve already covered a mile. Time for a break!

San Pancho has some interesting hotels and resorts. Most lodging in Sayulita is of the single-family vacation rental variety. San Pancho’s got quite a few more proper resorts and vacation condos, like this one.

We continue our way north, through the neighborhood that overlooks the rocky bluff on the north side of the main beach.

We notice a lot of road construction up ahead and decide to rest a bit in front of this inconspicuous and understated bungalow. At this point, we’re at about two miles, with at least a 1.5 miles back to the taxi stand.

Noe wants to keep going, but it’s a good time to start heading back.

Back in town, we stop for a big lunch of chilaquiles and orange juice, Noe’s reward and special treat after a big morning and good hike (3.5 miles).

2 thoughts on “Return to San Pancho”

  1. Beautiful pictures!! And when did Noe grow so big? (tall)

    • Yep, pretty crazy. The boys are growing like weeds!


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