town and municipal seat of San Blas Municipality, Nayarit, Mexico

San Blas is a city and port of about 10,000 people (2010) facing the Pacific Ocean in Nayarit state of Mexico. It is a relaxed beachside town, complete with a lively village plaza, historical attractions, and jungles and swamps full of wildlife for the nature lovers in the family.

Understand edit

Sculpture on the Muelle de San Blas

During Mexico's colonial era, San Blas was established as a port city with connections to the Spanish Empire's Asian outposts via Manila. During this era, Acapulco was the primary commercial port while San Blas took on the role of primarily serving the Spanish armada as a military base and a shipyard for repairing naval vessels. (The town still has a naval base, and visitors may sometimes see patrol boats going in and out of the harbor.)

At one point San Blas was earmarked for tourism development. The town (and beach) are plagued by small biting no see-ums, and as a consequence no mass-scale tourism happened.

Get in edit

Map of San Blas (Mexico)

It is about 160 km (99 mi) north of Puerto Vallarta, and 64 km (40 mi) west of the state capital Tepic, and three hours drive from Guadalajara.

Small bus station beside the Plaza. You are able to catch buses direct from Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta. It is easiest to transfer buses in Tepic.

Buses from Tepic run hourly.

  • 1 Central Camionera, Sinaloa 47, Centro, +52 323 113 0366. 24 hours. Bus station in downtown San Blas. Serves Nayar, Pacifico and other bus lines. Best service to Tepic.

Get around edit

Kiosk in the plaza

San Blas is a small town and you can get to the beach and most restaurants and bars by foot.

You can catch local buses to towns along southern Nayarit's Pacific Coast, some going as far as Puerto Vallarta.

From the Muelle, ferries go to Islas Marias, a former penal colony turned offbeat weekend destination. Ferry info and reservations can be made on the official Islas Marias website.

See edit

  • 1 Fuerte de San Basilio (San Blas Fort), El Cerrito, +52 322 285 1180. Daily 08:00 - 17:00. Historic Spanish fort on a hilltop overlooking the harbor. The fort includes a ruined stone church, barracks for the soldiers, and a customs house. The site recalls a period in Colonial Mexico history when San Blas was a port city for trading between Mexico and the Philippines. Excellent views, but bring insect repellant. Free parking and generally handicap accessible.
  • 2 Muelle de San Blas. Beautifully renovated city pier with concrete walkways, a park area with trees and benches, a pavilion housing a number of surrealist modern art sculptures, vendors and more. Ferries and excursion boats can take you to Islas Marietas. El Muelle de San Blas is much more than just an awesome song by Grammy-award winning rock artist, Mana.
  • 3 Playa Hermosa. This once-glamorous luxury hotel, built in 1951, is on a lonely but beautiful stretch of beach about a mile from the plaza. In the 1960s, Hollywood had a brief hideaway flirtation with San Blas when actors, including Lee Marvin, Elizabeth Taylor, and Richard Burton discovered San Blas for its fishing and its well-appointed bedrooms. Jim Morrison came to drink and get high as he wrote L.A. Woman during his more lucid moments. The sprawling hotel complex is now abandoned but could make for an eerie Urbex adventure.

Do edit

  • Surfing. You are able to hire surfboards on the street running between the plaza and the beach, and also from beachside restaurants. San Blas has some of the best surfing conditions in Mexico with a number of challenging surfer beaches close to town.
    • Matanchen Bay offers legendary breaks. In fact, many surfing enthusiasts consider this area to have the world’s longest most rideable waves (allegedly riding a mile on one wave)!
    • Stoners, which gets its name from surfers who spent more time on the beach smoking weed than out on their boards riding the waves, is on the outer point of Matenchen Bay and offers high quality waves that break frequently.
    • Lolas is slightly remote but can be reached by panga from the San Blas waterfront. Because its remote, the beach is mercifully crowd-free with the only people there likely to be fellow surfers. Lolas offers reliably good surfing conditions, and is known for some of the best barrel surfing in San Blas.
  • Chill out on the beach. There are many palapa restaurants and bars where you can sit in the shade, buy meals, and enjoy a cool beer or a frosty margarita. San Blas is blessed with several beautiful beaches. More distant beaches include Playa los Cocos, Playa las Islitas, and Bahia de Matanchén (which has a malecon and a muelle). Beaches in town include:
    • 1 Playa el Borrego
    • 2 Playa del Rey
  • Relax in the plaza, there are many stalls to browse and cafes, restaurants, and liquor shops in the surrounding streets.
  • Jungle boat tour of the mangrove swamps in the Tovara reserve.
  • Birdwatching. * The area has an abundance of migratory birds in the surrounding estuaries and lowland palm forests, attracting significant numbers of birders. The Audubon Christmas Bird Count regularly finds well over 200 species in San Blas, with a record 292 species in 1983.
  • 3 La Tovara, Carr. San Blas - Tepic, +52 323 116 9997. Daily 09:00 - 17:00. La Tovara is a large nature reserve consisting of mangrove swamps and coastal wetlands with natural channels and spring-fed pools. The reserve is home to more than 200 bird species as well as jaguars, crocodiles, turtles, and a variety of snakes. Jungle boat tours depart from the Matanchen bridge whenever enough passengers are ready to go. Bring water and mosquito repellant. Boats stop at a cool, spring-fed pool where tourists can get out of the boat and swim. Locals say that very few of the tourists have been eaten by crocodiles recently. M$160+.

Buy edit

There are many stall on the plaza selling Mexican crafts: hammocks, jewelry, carved wooden animals, decorated ceramic plates, artwork, etc.

Eat edit

  • 1 Mr Camarón Obelisco, C. Canalizó Sur 57, Progreso, +52 323 285 0035. W-M 11:00 - 17:30, closed Tu. Big, modern dining room serving big portions of seafood at reasonable prices. Good choice when you're hungry and don't mind the cafeteria atmosphere. M$200.
  • 2 La Isla, Paredes 33, +52 311 232 4525. Daily 14:00 - 21:00. Casual kitschy restaurant serving regional seafood and grilled meat entrees. Lots of seashell decorations everywhere! Kid friendly. M$200.
  • 3 Restaurante Playa Bonita, Turístico Playa del Borrego 19, +52 323 122 7458. Daily 09:00 - 18:00. Seaside palapa restaurant serving regional seafood dishes. The zarandeado pescado is recommended. Large, ice cold drinks. Stunning sunset views. M$250.
  • 4 Mysis III, Playa las Islitas, +52 311 244 0489. Daily 10:00 - 18:00. Seaside palapa restaurant serving regional seafood dishes. Try the camarones ala momia (shrimp wrapped in bacon with cheese then grilled). Big drinks, incredible sunsets. M$250.

Drink edit

  • 1 Coco Loco, Calle las Palmas 5 (near the naval base), +523232850055. Daily 10:00 - 02:00. Beach dive bar with a friendly crowd and good drinks. House specialty is the Coco Loco which is made with Malibu coconut rum and can definitely hurt your head if you're not careful. M$100+.

Sleep edit

  • 1 Hotel Hacienda Flamingos, Calle Juarez Pte. 105, Sin Nombre, Centro, +52 323 285 0930. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Upscale historical hotel in an old hacienda. Rooms are large and comfortable and situated around a garden courtyard. Breakfast included. Convenient location, 2-block walk to zocalo. M$1100.
  • 2 Casa de las Cocadas, Av. Benito Juarez 145, +52 323 285 0960. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Spacious, clean, comfortable rooms. Small pets allowed. Good breakfast. M$1200.
  • 3 Hotel Marina San Blas, Cuahtemoc 197, +52 323 285 1437. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Servicable moderate hotel with some rough edges. Pets are not allowed in rooms but a kennel is available. Pleasant garden area. M$1200.
  • 4 Hotel Garza Canela, Paredes 106, +52 323 285 0112, . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Beautiful small hotel set around a courtyard featuring a large swimming pool. Rooms are spacious and feature upscale linens and soaps. Off-street parking, pets allowed. On-site restaurant is well regarded in its own right with innovative nouveau Mexican cuisine (the octopus with dried apples is a winner). M$2000.
  • Restaurant Mar y Sol have cabinas for rent right on the beach. Negotiate a weekly rate.
  • Playa Isletas has cabinas for rent on the beach.
  • Stoners Surf Camp - also on the beach.

Connect edit

Cell coverage is good in town and along the highway connecting beach towns in southern Nayarit. Mostly 4G service. Most hotels and restaurants have internet available with free WiFi.

Go next edit

This city travel guide to San Blas is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.