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  • Writer's pictureChasingBuffaloesandBeyond

Riviera Nayarit's Hidden Gem: San Pancho

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

Located in Riviera Nayarit, about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta along the Pacific Ocean, the town of San Pancho is a hidden gem! Relatively unknown, this small town is a true Mexican paradise. If you look for San Pancho on most maps, you won't even find it - as the official name of the town is San Francisco. So why is it called San Pancho by most people instead of San Francisco? Well, Pancho is actually a nickname for a person named Francisco, therefore the town itself was given the same nickname and today locals and tourists alike refer to the town as San Pancho.

Father and son standing near colorful signs in San Pancho, Mexico.
Colorful San Pancho! An absolutely beautiful place to visit!



If you are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Puerto Vallarta, San Pancho is a wonderful day trip or even vacation destination. While the town itself has grown over the years as more and more people find out about this paradise, it does still retain that small town feel with a laid back vibe. San Pancho is also known for being a community and environmentally focused town and any visit to San Pancho should include a stop at the Entreamigos Community Center. Located in an old dairy factory, today this building is used for the thriving Enteamigos Community Center that includes a library, an art gallery, a recycling center and classrooms where children and adults can attend various workshops and classes. Make sure and stop by when visiting San Pancho - our son absolutely loved the library and we enjoyed browsing the local art and locally made items for sale within the shop!



Wandering and exploring San Pancho is part of the fun when visiting this wonderful little town. As you stroll along the main avenue thru town towards the beach, the number of restaurants, cafes and shops increase as you near the beach, offering plenty to choose from. When looking for a place to eat, San Pancho offers everything from typical taco stands to upscale international cuisine. Keep your eyes open for the numerous murals found throughout San Pancho - these beautiful, vibrant paintings just add to the beauty of San Pancho and provide from some fun picture opportunities while enjoying the town! Also make sure and keep an eye out for San Pancho's own 'Golden Gate Bridge' - a fun place to snap a picture!



For those looking to just get away from it all - head to the beach, rent a chair and bask in the golden sunshine at Playa San Pancho! For us, we enjoyed the long stretches of beach that we practically had to ourselves - we loved how uncrowded this beautiful beach was! For those that enjoy surfing, Playa San Pancho offers a spectacular destination for more advanced surfers, for those that are beginners - I would recommend heading to nearby Sayulita as surfing at San Pancho should really only be attempted if you are an advanced surfer. And for those that don't surf at all - just watching the surfers along San Pancho beach is a thrill! For those wanting to keep their toes in the sand while enjoying some lunch and beverages - there are couple beachfront options to choose from including La Perla and Las Palmas - both offer similar food options and are a great choice when spending the day at Playa San Pancho.


Interested in planning your own trip to San Pancho? Below is our summarized itinerary for you to follow or adjust to your own preferences. ENJOY!

One Day in San Pancho: Explore the town of San Pancho, stop in at Entreamigos Community Center, look for murals throughout town. Lunch at beachfront restaurant - either La Perla or Las Palmas. Relax and enjoy beautiful Playa San Pancho.

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