San Blas



Founded by the Spanish in the 16th century, the small Pacific-coast town of San Blas, Mexico, lies between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta about 140 mi/225 km northwest of Guadalajara.

Located on the northern tip of Nayarit, San Blas is a low-key port town and will interest travelers who don't care for an Acapulco-type tourist resort but still want to spend time in the water.

San Blas features various statues and monuments, as well as ruins, commemorating its past. A must-see is La Tovara National Park, where you can take a motorized, but quiet, boat ride through the mangrove-filled canals. On these excursions, you'll likely see crocodiles, turtles and rare birds. The jungle-boat trips are especially good in the morning, when the animals are most visible.

The winter months are when bird-watchers will want to visit San Blas: Thousands of migratory birds can be seen then (more than 400 species have been observed in one season). It's very laid-back and really enchanting.

San Blas is also home to many beaches and a bustling seaport. Nearby Las Islitas on Matanchen Bay has the best beaches in the area and has long, gentle waves that make it one of Mexico's best-kept surfing secrets.

However, San Blas is not for those who demand comfort. And don't confuse it with the San Blas farther north, in Sinaloa. This San Blas is in the state of Nayarit and is surrounded by mangrove swamp, so take plenty of insect repellent to ward off the constant swarms of mosquitoes and jejenes, the local version of no-see-ums (biting gnats).

Also visit Fort San Basilio overlooking the town for great views of the surrounding countryside. A government plan to develop 13 mi/21 km of coast that ends in San Blas may change things as upscale resorts and attractions come onboard.

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