Mexican Homes & Gardens 1

Last week we visited Sayulita, Mexico, a small town of around 4,000 people about 40 miles north of Puerto Vallarta. The town is mostly locals with a smattering of U.S. expats and other vacation home owners from around the world. We stayed with friends that had recently finished building a home (and a garden) on a steep hill over looking the Pacific.

We couldn't keep our daughter out of the pool.
When I say steep, it is no exaggeration. It was a 15-minute walk to the beach and a 30-minute walk back up. (For those that are tremendously fit, like my wife, it took 20 minutes to get back up.) Our friends tell us that in California, driveways can have a maximum grade of 17°. Theirs is 38°. That's almost a 45° angle! When you're driving up the driveway, you only see sky. When you're driving down the driveway the fright factor is multiplied – because it's also a corkscrew turn.

Planting their garden on a steep grade is only their second greatest challenge. The first would be no rain from November to May. June through October is the ceaseless rainy season. These plants have to really love it here to survive. They had to learn a whole different genre of plants for their garden here, as opposed to their 20th-floor, penthouse, wrap-around terrace in NYC. Yeah, they're living well.

The driveway was a killer after a day at the beach.
Their casa looks like it came right out of the pages of Architectural Digest. They had the opportunity to design it with their architect. All the glass walls facing the ocean fold up completely so the entire house is open to the outdoors. Infinity pool, hidden bookshelves, great finishes, carefully-selected artworks, wonderful tile-work, custom everything – including the architect-designed sofa and palapa-roofed (thatched-roofed) observation deck. Stunning.

We stayed in the separate casita, or small apartment, on the lower floor, designed for future vacation rentals, which opens up completely also – right into a patio and their front hillside garden. I you're ever interested in renting it, let me know I can find out more for you.

The walls opened up to the deck, making
the whole house open to the outdoors.
While there, they were kind enough to bother their expat friends to let us go on a little "casa & garden" tour. Over the next few week, leading up to Cinco de Mayo, I'll post photos of some of the gardens we visited. As a tease, I share here what I can from their casa & garden. It's tough to photograph because of the steep hill, but I hope you can get a sense of it.

Our thanks to friends E&J for sharing heir home with us for the better part of a week – and the better part of our year so far. They're threatening to visit for Garden Walk this year. I'm not sure we can compete with gardens in Sayulita!

Looking down into the garden from the main floor deck.

The view of Sayulita.
The corkscrew driveway. The green house was built after theirs
and ruined their view of the mountains beyond.
The thatch-roofed observation deck would be fully furnished with just the hammock, in my opinion.
I took a nap here one day, and intend to in the future too!
The entrance to the rent-able casita.
Didn't get a good oto of this, but this was their commissioned copper backlit house number.
There is a local community not far from Sayulita that specializes in copper artworks.
The casita patio garden.
Looking into the hillside garden from the casita.
The path through the front garden. In time, these
will be replaced with stone & masonry work.
Bougenvillain bloom after not having had rain in months.
The "backyard" main entrance to the casa. Killer Bougenvilla.
The front yard garden from the palapa deck.
The "sideyard" garden.
From the top of the driveway, the "sideyard" garden, looking down.
The palm trees around the front of the house will eventually reach up over the top patio.
Two Mexican craftsman built these stairs
and multiple low walls around the gardens.
Sunset over the Pacific. Though it looks more like Luke Skywalker's
Tatooine with two suns setting with the reflection over the water.


  1. Pretty amazing location. It really looks like a dream house and garden. No kidding, architectural Digest should be looking into this one.

  2. Hi to the rest of you that were blessed to visit this paradise and J & E's beautiful casa, with the bottom floor casita. I was in line ahead of you and can surely say, it was a special vacation experience. J, a gifted designer in his own right, reflected the amazing color of the environment within the sliding glass walls. I came back to my Northern California home and am still trying to figure out which walls I can turn into sliding glass.
    For anyone up for an adventure in luxury within a peace-filled environment, spend a week or so at this Sayulita Casa overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Thanks J & E!

  3. Anonymous,
    I guess we just missed you in the airport. J was dropping you off just as we were arriving. We feel lucky and blessed to have been able to spend the better part of the week there -- let alone having such great company. You didn't get the poolboy (E.) to serve you margaritas in the pool though. You'll have to go back.


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