San Pancho (more formally, San Francisco) lies about an hour north of Puerta Vallarta in an area called Nayarit, known for their high levels of education and quaint surf towns. My aunt and uncle discovered San Pancho about 15 years ago, before it began to boom, and built a beautiful house there, amid colorful and beachy Mexican homes. We stayed with them there two winters ago, but since then they have sold Casa Sophia and have moved to a smaller town nearby, where they are planning on building a quieter home.
Since we don’t go to Mexico often, and wanted to be where the action was, my mom and I decided to stay in San Pancho despite the high tourist factor in a sweet little loft we found on Airbnb. The location was noisy, but besides that we loved our apartment, and were only a few minute walk from shops, restaurants, and the beach.
The main strip in SP is packed with beautiful boutiques, overflowing with art, jewelry, and clothing, as well as a plethora of delicious (and affordable) restaurants. I obviously took full advantage of my proximity to these temptations, and filled myself and my bag with tacos, mezcal (smoked agave liquor), and all the turquoise jewelry and shawls I could ever need.
The people in SP are superb, as you would expect in a place where the sun always shines and the tequila always flows. Due to the town’s nearness to Sayulita, the surfing hub 15 minutes south of SP that made the area so popular, San Pancho draws a crowd from all over the world, come to bask in golden rays and try their hand (foot?) at surfing. Everyone is tan and gorgeous (ugh), friendly, and bilingual (thank god), and the conversations and music you hear spilling out of windows and bars reflects the tangible lust for life that vibrates through the city.
If you want, there are plenty of day activities you can participate in: zip-lining, horse-back riding, or indulging in a massage. However, the beach, a margarita, and a cheap romantic novel (that your mom buys you at Costco) are more than enough to occupy you for a week. Be sure to check out the Tuesday morning market and the various live bands performing at restaurants in town.