About San Pancho
What is San Pancho like these days?
San Pancho is a truly authentic, quaint, low-key village situated on the Pacific Ocean just 50 minutes north of the Puerto Vallarta International Airport. This gem of the Riviera Nayarit prides itself on great food, slow-paced beachfront living and an active and involved community of interesting people from all over the world.
San Pancho’s family friendly atmosphere is provided by its public soccer field, skate/exercise park, basketball courts, traditional plaza and children’s play areas. There are multiple educational opportunities for all ages through the local community center along with a wide variety of schools including a formal public school, a private Waldorf school and combination schooling for young children.
At the heart of town lies a magnificent beach where one can enjoy the beautiful waves and stunning sunsets from the perfect vantage point. The town center includes a wide array of restaurants, mini-groceries stores, gift shops and parks. The enchantment and rich culture of San Pancho is bolstered by its vibrant community centers and the lively art and music scene.
San Francisco or San Pancho… what is the name of this Mexican Village?
The official name that you will see on maps and road signs is, San Francisco. The common nickname for Francisco in Spanish speaking cultures is “Pancho”. Therefore, San Francisco, Riviera Nayarit has become affectionately known to locals as San Pancho!
Why San Pancho?
San Pancho is a slice of paradise, hidden along the largely unspoiled coast of the state of Riviera Nayarit, Mexico. This quaint little fishing village has become increasingly popular with people from all over the world who come to enjoy the peaceful setting, sparkling sea, lively community and consistently incredible sunsets.
Here you can enjoy everything from delicious street tacos to sophisticated European dining experiences.
San Pancho supports a healthy lifestyle both physically, with activities such as beach walks, a fitness center, fitness park, skate park, basketball court, soccer field and pilates/yoga studios and emotionally, with a tight knit community.
San Pancho’s close proximity to Puerto Vallarta and the International Airport (PVR) allows for easy access to the many amenities it holds as one of Mexico’s most popular tourist beach cities. This also means it’s easy to scurry back here at the day’s end to the tranquility that defines it.
What is the Weather like in San Pancho?
San Pancho is surrounded by a lush palm rain forest, the Sierra Madre mountain range and the Pacific Ocean, which provide locals with a warm, tropical climate. Generally, during late October through mid-May, San Pancho enjoys warm days but somewhat cooler mornings and evenings with very little rainfall. June through early October tends to be hot and humid with a sporadic tropical rainfall throughout the day, the entire jungle is fresh and green with abundant plant life.
Where is San Pancho located?
San Pancho is located on a pristine beach of the Riviera Nayarit, Mexico. Exit Mexico’s Highway 200 at the road sign for San Francisco, 25 miles (40 km) north of the Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR), 3 miles (4.5 km) north of Sayulita and 6 miles (9 km) south of Rincon de Guayabitos. Click here for a Google Map Location.
What is the layout of San Pancho?
The main San Pancho, Riviera Nayarit beach extends for a half mile on both sides of the town. In order to explain the area, the locals usually refer to the north end of the San Pancho beach as the “Costa Azul” side and the south end of the beach as the “pueblo” side. The Costa Azul beachside of San Pancho is the residential area where the majority of the beachfront and ocean view homes are located along with a beach club, boutique hotels and a mezcaleria. The Costa Azul area is about a fifteen minute walk, along the beach or by cobblestone road, to the San Pancho pueblo. The pueblo side encompasses the majority of San Pancho’s local restaurants and businesses, which tends to be livelier with all of the local hustle and bustle. Nearly all of the pueblo homes are conveniently located nearby the local restaurants, mini-grocery stores, parks, community center and shops.
What is the History behind San Pancho?
Luis Echeverria, Mexico’s President from 1970-1976, is well accepted as the founding father and architect of the charming pueblo of San Pancho. President Echeverria loved San Pancho, Riviera Nayarit so much that he continually invented reasons to spend time here, landing his presidential helicopter on the beach at times up to once a week to pass time sipping coffee and visiting with the local fishermen, farmers, and their families. At the end of his presidency, he decided to exercise his political privilege and authority, and claimed the entire area of San Pancho for his own.
Echeverria set out to shape San Pancho into a model of self-sufficiency that third-world countries everywhere might emulate, hence the name of San Pancho’s main street, Tercer Mundo which translates to “Third World” in English. Additionally, of the other street names in the pueblo of San Pancho are named after third-world countries.
The San Pancho homes that existed pre-1975 were simple grass huts or roughly constructed cinder block houses, all without electricity or running water. Echeverria spent hours outlining his plans to the locals, who had come to admire and trust him, in order to enlist them in helping him to realize his dream. He convinced them to bring friends and families from neighboring towns to help with the labor. In return, these workers were each given a nice plot of land and a fully furnished home.
The newly recruited workers labored long hours over the next year to lay the cobblestone streets, to install plumbing and electricity, and to build twenty to thirty modest homes (many of which are still standing today). All of these houses were in the area from the beach to the church and a little east toward the hospital. Each house was identical and each came with standard furnishings, much like the old “Company Towns” of the depression era in the United States.
The houses were built very close to the sidewalk with fairly large parcels of land behind them as part of their land grant. As the children grew and married, they constructed their homes in the compound, behind their parents’ houses. The San Pancho project also included the building of a kindergarten, primary and secondary schools. The town plans also included an agricultural university, but it was never finished.
The re-creation of San Pancho also included the construction of a then state-of-the-art teaching hospital (which still serves San Pancho and the surrounding villages). The land surrounding the pueblo was fertile and vast, so acres of fruit orchards were planted in the unused land. Factories were then built to process all that fruit, providing yet another source of income for the new residents. Those factories still stand at the entrance to San Pancho, however, are no longer used for their original purpose. Today you will find workshops and community centers such as Circo de los Ninos, Bodega Teatro, Entreamigos and a Collective Fitness Center.
Because fishing was, and for some, still is the passion and livelihood of the locals, Echeverria erected a modern fish processing center (still standing, but unused) located just behind the town plaza. This is where the fisherman would bring their day’s catch to clean, display, and sell. Today, restaurant owners from San Pancho and other villages still come to San Pancho to buy fish, however, now they go directly to the fisherman’s homes to make their purchases.
In Mexico, the church is the heart of the community, so early San Pancho settlers built themselves a small church and a town plaza in order to have a place to congregate and celebrate the many events of their lives.
Echeverria had planned to live out his life in San Pancho, so he staked out the most beautiful plot of land, the beachfront peninsula located on the far south end of the main San Pancho beach, which separates Sayulita and San Pancho. He built an 87,836 square foot palace with nearly a mile of beachfront, which has since been sold multiple times to private investors.
After Echeverria left, San Pancho went on to survive and thrive on its own and it continues to, albeit with challenges that we as its residents must strive to overcome.