If you're looking for a hidden gem in Mexico, San Blas is the place to be. A small town on the Pacific coast of Nayarit state, it's a great escape from the hustle and bustle of bigger cities like Guadalajara or even Vallarta.
A former important Spanish colonial town, San Blas is steeped in history and culture. Known as the "Mexican Riviera", it's famous for its pristine beaches and rich biodiversity. Located about 185 miles northwest of Guadalajara, this charming seaside village offers visitors an authentic Mexican experience without all the crowds.
Purpose of the Guide
I wrote this guide to help you get to San Blas from Guadalajara with ease. We'll cover transportation options including driving and taking bus services. We'll also provide useful information on what to see and do in San Blas once you arrive, where to stay and other helpful tips.
If you are traveling from the coast of Jalisco make sure to check out our guide on how to get to San Blas from Puerto Vallarta.
Looking for more information on San Blas? No worries, we've created the San Blas, Nayarit city guide for you.
Get to San Blas from Guadalajara
San Blas, Mexico is a beautiful coastal town that is located about 271 kilometers northwest of Guadalajara. If you want to explore this charming town, you have several transportation options available to you:
Driving to San Blas can be an adventure itself. There are two main routes: via Tepic or via Compostela. Both routes will take you through scenic landscapes and offer breath-taking views.
The route via Tepic is shorter and takes about four hours to reach San Blas. However, the road can be challenging for inexperienced drivers with steep inclines and sharp turns. You can pull off and look down on the Tequila valley and take some great pictures of the city below.
On the other hand, the route via Compostela takes about five hours but offers a smoother ride with less challenging terrain. It is very mountainous and curvy between Tequila and Tepic.
Taking a bus is another option for getting from Guadalajara to San Blas. Several bus companies operate between these two cities.
The trip takes around six hours and offers comfortable seating with air conditioning. While it may take longer than driving, taking a bus offers advantages such as sightseeing opportunities that you may otherwise miss.
The Road Trip to San Blas
Driving to San Blas from Guadalajara is a great option for those who like to take their time and enjoy the scenery. There are two main routes you can take, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
If you take the route via Tepic, you'll need to drive north on Highway 15 until you reach Tepic, the capital of Nayarit. From there, take Highway 200 heading west towards San Blas. This route is slightly longer than going through Compostela, but it has fewer tolls and less traffic.
The driving time from Guadalajara to Tepic is approximately 2 hours, while the distance from Tepic to San Blas is around 120 kilometers (75 miles), taking about 1 hour and a half on average.
Expect some winding roads through the mountains before reaching sea level again in San Blas. It’s very curvy but so beautiful crossing over the mountains into the tropical side of the mountains.
Tolls will cost you about $750 MXN each way on the road through Tepic.
A more direct route would be via Compostela. To get there, head west on Highway 70 until you reach La Mira intersection then turn right onto Carretera Federal 200 heading north for around another hour till arriving in Compostela.
Although shorter than going via Tepic (90 km /55 miles) this road has more tolls and higher traffic on some stretches mainly when passing Puerto Vallarta so It could be slower depending on circumstances.
Road Conditions & Safety Tips
Both routes have some mountainous areas with winding roads that require extra caution when driving. Some parts of the road may not be in perfect condition either, so be sure your vehicle has adequate ground clearance if going by car and check brakes and shocks before hitting the road.
It's important to take frequent breaks to avoid getting fatigued while driving, especially if traveling during the summer months when temperatures can get quite hot. Also, keep an eye out for speed bumps in towns, especially around schools or residential areas.
When driving through small towns and villages, be sure to follow posted speed limits and watch out for pedestrians and livestock crossing the road. It's always a good idea to have some cash on hand in case you need to buy gas or food along the way since card payments aren't always accepted in rural areas.
Driving to San Blas is a great option if you're looking for flexibility and enjoy taking your time on road trips. Just remember to take precautions when necessary and enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way.
Bus Travel to San Blas from Guadalajara
If you're looking for an affordable option to get to San Blas from Guadalajara, taking a bus is a great choice. There are several bus companies that offer trips to San Blas, and the journey takes around 6-7 hours depending on the route and stops along the way.
Bus Schedules and Fares
The most popular bus companies that travel to San Blas from Guadalajara are Primera Plus and Pacifico. Both of these companies offer multiple daily departures, with fares ranging between $30-$40 USD per person each way.
You can purchase tickets online or at the bus station. It's important to note that during peak travel times like holidays or weekends, tickets may sell out quickly, so it's best to book in advance if possible.
Tips for a Comfortable Bus Ride
When taking a long bus ride like this one, there are a few things you can do to make your trip more comfortable:
- Dress comfortably - wear loose-fitting clothes and bring layers since temperatures can vary on the bus.
- Bring snacks and drinks - although some buses have snacks available for purchase, it's always good to have your own supply just in case.
- Pack entertainment - whether it's a book, music or movies on your phone or tablet, having something to keep you occupied will make the time go by faster.
- Choose your seat wisely - if you're prone to motion sickness, try sitting near the front of the bus where there is less movement. If you like scenery views opt for a window seat near the center of the vehicle.
- Take breaks - if the bus stops at a rest area along the way, take advantage of the opportunity to stretch your legs and use the bathroom.
By following these tips, you'll arrive in San Blas feeling refreshed and ready to start your adventure.
Things to do in San Blas
If you are looking for an off-the-beaten-track adventure in Mexico, San Blas is the perfect destination. This small town on the Pacific coast offers visitors a unique blend of history, culture and natural wonders. Here are some of the top things to do in San Blas.
I made this post of the top things to do in San Blas.
Popular Tourist Attractions
San Blas is a treasure trove of tourist attractions that will delight any visitor. One of the most popular is La Tovara National Park, home to a lush mangrove forest and an abundance of wildlife. Visitors can take a boat tour through the park and spot crocodiles, turtles, and exotic birds.
The beaches of San Blas are some of the most beautiful in Mexico. Playa Las Islitas is one that stands out with its calm waters and golden sand. It's perfect for swimming or just relaxing under the sun.
The town has a rich history dating back to pre-Hispanic times. The historic Fort of San Basilio was built by Spanish colonizers to protect against pirate attacks. You can tour the fort and learn about its fascinating past.
A trip to San Blas would not be complete without exploring its stunning natural reserves. Aside from La Tovara National Park, visitors can also visit Cora Sierra del Nayar Natural Reserve - home to crocodiles, jaguars, pumas, deer and other rare animals.
San Blas has several local markets where visitors can buy traditional handicrafts made by local artisans such as pottery, woven baskets, clothing and more.
San Blas is a fishing town, and visitors can experience the thrill of deep-sea fishing. Fishing trips can be arranged by local operators, and it's an excellent way to catch your dinner and enjoy the stunning Pacific ocean views.
San Blas will give you an unforgettable adventure with a unique mix of history, culture and natural beauty. With so many things to do in San Blas, you'll never run out of reasons to come back for more. I’m actually planning another trip soon!
Where to Stay in San Blas
San Blas offers a variety of accommodation options that cater to different budgets and preferences. Whether you are looking for a luxurious stay or a rustic experience, there is something for everyone.
If you are looking for an upscale and unique experience, boutique hotels are the way to go. These hotels offer personalized services, luxurious amenities, and often have their own restaurants and bars. Some popular boutique hotels in San Blas include Hotel Garza Canela and Hotel Hacienda Flamingos.
Vacation rentals give travelers more flexibility and privacy than traditional hotels. You can rent an apartment or house for the duration of your stay in San Blas. Vacation rentals also allow you to cook your own meals if you prefer not to eat out every day.
If you love camping, then San Blas has some great camping sites that offer stunning views of the coast. Camping is ideal for those who want to be close to nature without sacrificing comfort as most campsites have basic facilities like showers and toilets.
San Blas is an amazing destination that, albeit a little remote, offers so much, from beautiful beaches, historic ruins to natural reserves. Whatever your travel style or budget may be, there's always a place waiting for you in San Blas! So don't hesitate; book your trip, pack your bags and get ready for an adventure!