Checking In: Finding Surf and Community at the Pal Mar Hotel Tropical in San Pancho, Mexico

san pancho
Courtesy of the Pal Mar Hotel Tropical

Bianca Blasquez was born with a case of wanderlust. After traveling the world and working in 11 different countries, the Romanian native met her husband, Luis Javier in Barcelona and they spent the next four months surfing and getting to know each other in Bali, Indonesia.

They planned a quick trip to Puerto Vallarta to introduce Blasquez to the area, as well as Javier’s Mexican roots. Upon arriving in San Pancho, it was love at first site.

“It was like someone took everything I loved in the world and tied it up with a bow in San Pancho,” Blasquez tells ASN. “I found my greenest grass.”

San Pancho, Nayarit (also known as San Francisco) is located on the central Pacific coast of Mexico, just north of Puerto Vallarta. The town is rich in community and culture and offers a glimpse into an older, wilder Mexico that some of the neighboring towns lack with the influx of tourism.

san pancho
Courtesy of Pal Mar Hotel Tropical

After getting their bearings in the town, the couple rented a large house and began offering all-inclusive stays to traveling surfers. The program originally launched as the San Pancho Surf House but has since merged with WildMex, the premier surf shop in town, and now offers surf packages in San Pancho, Sayulita, and Punta Mita.

While all of the locations have something incredible to offer, the San Pancho location really captured our attention.

WildMex partners with local hotels in the area to offer their all-inclusive surf/stay packages. Located in the heart of San Pancho, the Pal Mar Hotel Tropical is the choice accommodation in the laid-back surf town. The boutique hotel is immaculate and features Mexican contemporary decor, with each room being uniquely designed.

The shaded rooftop yoga studio is the perfect place to start (or end) your day, and the pool area is a serene oasis after a long day under the Mexican sun. The environment is a huge consideration and as a result, the hotel offers a water refill station, uses refillable cleaning products, and they also recycle whatever they can.

Rebecca Parsons

Each day begins with breakfast at Maria’s Restaurant, located just a few steps from the hotel – everything on the menu is drool-worthy but the omelets and chilaquiles are particularly delicious. Once your belly is full, a surf shuttle arrives at the hotel around 9 a.m. to transport you to WildMex’s headquarters in Sayulita.

At WildMex, you’ll heave the chance to select from a fleet of over 300 surfboards. There, you’ll get acquainted with your fellow surfers and bilingual instructor. If you’re a beginner, you’ll start with some on-land instruction in the shop. If you’re more experienced, you’ll head straight to the water.

Courtesy of WildMex

While San Pancho does offer a solid reef break, it can be pretty localized and is more suitable for intermediate or advanced surfers. All surf safaris take place in Sayulita or Punta Mita, with the option of surfing the local break in your free time. Instructors will pick the best spot for the day and you’ll either drive to the trailhead or boat ride to the wave.

Courtesy of WildMex

After a fun morning on the water, the afternoon is yours to spend as you choose. Boards are available all day and the hotel is a quick walk from the beach, so surfing is always an option. The yoga studio is available to use as you please and a massage therapist is located onsite as well.

During your downtime, exploring the streets of San Pancho is a must. Lunch and dinner aren’t included in your stay, so you’ll have the chance to sample the local cuisine.

There are countless restaurants in town but a few local favorites are El Gallo for traditional Mexican food, Taqueria Los Arbolitos for fresh asada, Tacos Ivan for tacos al pastor, Barracuda Sea Food for fresh local seafood, and La Cresta de La Ola Rica for a really fun environment and great food.

Aside from the delicious cuisine, the hidden gem of San Pancho is the community center Entre Amigos (which translates to “between friends”). Founded in 2006, the non-profit focuses on education, the environment, and community. They offer a recycling program, yoga center, free classes, local art for sale, and a library, available to all free of charge. San Pancho is a town with a big focus on community and their values are clearly visible through the work at the community center.

comm center
Rebecca Parsons

WildMex is a company with a good heart. Their surf/stay program is offered at an affordable price and a percentage of profits go to local nonprofits and maintaining public beach access at La Lancha. They are committed to maintaining the Mexican culture and making the area as great as possible for both locals and tourists.

“We’re not in the business of sales,” says Blasquez. “We’re in the business of community.”

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