Top Things to Do in San Blas Mexico

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November 29, 2023
7 min read

San Blas is a beautiful Mexican city located in Nayarit state on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. It is known for its incredible beaches, lush jungles and colorful culture. Whether you're looking for a relaxing vacation or an action-packed weekend, San Blas is the perfect destination.

It's filled with stunning landscapes, delicious cuisine and diverse activities. There is plenty of things to do here for everyone. From beach days to crocodile excursions and historical monuments, I'm here to share with you my top picks for the best attractions in San Blas.

With it's location about an hour away northwest from Tepic, this is a great spot for a weekend trip from Guadalajara.

Looking for more tips on traveling in Mexico? Click here to see our comprehensive country guide to Mexico.

Unforgettable Sea Adventures: Whale Watching

You cannot miss this when visiting San Blas in the winter. This is by far one of the best seasonal tourist attractions. You can do this trip on a boat with a local guide and it is a great way to see the marine life up close. You can even see sharks, however we weren't able to during our excursion.

If you are visiting between December and March you will have the chance to see whales in the area. I cannot recommend this enough! It was an awe inspiring visit in the ocean.

While we were out on the waters, we were able to see a group of whales on the top of the water. We also watched a couple of whales that were jumping out of the water! Truly an experience that I think everyone would enjoy.

How to See the Whales in San Blas

We did zero planning (I know, I know) and ended up needing a second day to get on the water. You can call ahead or email to prepare for your tour or just show up at the pier. There's a couple of local guides just across from the Casa de Las Cocadas, which is also where you'll be leaving from. We went with Pipila Eco-tours and I highly recommend them.

If you are going to just show up, arrive before 8 am. Most want to leave out before 9 am and may already be full for the day if you show up late.

On another note, if you get sea sick easily you may want to take something before you go out. The water is quiet in the morning but on the way back to port the seas get choppy and rough. Nothing too bad but there will be a lot of rocking.

Historical Sites: Fuerte de San Basilio

A top the hill in San Blas, just after you enter the city, you will find La Contaduria or the Fort of San Basilio. This fort was important in the story of Mexican independence and was built by the Spanish in 1770. You can tour the remains of the old fort and do some sightseeing. You really get a view from the fort unlike any other in the area.

Local Museum in San Blas Mexico
Entrance of the Museum in San Blas

Visit the Local Museum: Learn about Local Cultures

This wasn't really my idea but Elisa wanted to stop by the museum. As luck would have it, not only did we learn about the local native tribe "the Coras del Nayar" but we also learned about the meaning of Mexico. It was an eye-opening experience.

Coras del Nayar Exhibition
Part of the Coras Exhibition

The museum opened in late 2022 and was brand new. The exhibit featuring the Coras was colorful and educational and represents the people here and their ruggedness. They are related to the Aztecs and an indigenous tribe that inhabits Nayarit. They were one of the last groups to be conquered by the Spanish and fortunately their culture has been preserved well and still alive today.

The guide at the museum spoke good English and let us in on a little secret about the birth of Mexico. The Aztecs originally came from this area, Aztlán, and were known as the Mexica people. You can read more on my discovery of the origins of Mexico and Mexica people here. It was an eye opening experience that we were so lucky to have stumbled across.

Local Cuisine: Seafood and Street Food

Being next to the sea, there is now shortage of tasty an cheap seafood. From ceviche to smoked fish and lobsters, the food here is delicious.

Seafood plate with lobster and fish in San Blas Mexico
Tasty Lobster plate at Giselle's

One of our favorite places to get seafood was called "Giselle". It's a small spot near the entrance of town, the seafood is fresh and smoked. They have lobster, marlin, fish and more. They also have a variety of sauces for you to choose from.

The best part about this place is that it's super cheap! For around $400 MXN (around $20 USD) you can get a huge meal complete with drinks for 2.

Crocodile Encounters: Crocodile Farm

If you're looking to spend some time next to some reptiles, then this might be the attraction for you. The Crocodile farm located about 10 minutes south of San Blas is a reserve where you can see the Crocodiles up close and learn more about their environment.

la tovara mangroves san blas mexico

Outdoor Adventures: La Tobara

This is a must. Getting out on a boat and traveling thru the lush mangroves and and seeing crocodiles and wildlife along the way was amazing. To top it off, once you get to the end of the waterway, you can hop off and stay at a swimming hole with clear waters. There is also a restaurant there for some snacks and bathrooms. 

Swimming and jumping into the clear water was super refreshing. You can stay as long as you want there since the boats come and go, you'll just need to hop on the next one going back (they usually try to fill it with at least 6 people).

Playa Matanchen in San Blas Mexico
So Picturesque, here is Playa Matanchen just south of San Blas

Beautiful Beaches in San Blas

The beaches in San Blas are picturesque with mountains in the background along the coast. Playa Matanchen just south of the city (on your way to San Blas) about 10 minutes away by car.

I will note that this is not a built up beach. There are some hotels that are beach front but they do not have seating or parasols. Actually there wasn't even vendors walking up and down it either. So be prepared to have to bring your own towels and seating if you plan on visiting.

If you are looking for cabanas and more western beach hotels I would suggest staying in the city. Along the coast there are a couple of accommodations with lounging areas on their beaches.

How to Get to San Blas Mexico

I would suggest renting a car for your trip, the nearest international airport is Guadalajara, and San Blas is around 3.5 away by car. By renting a car you can travel up and down the coast and easily get to nearby attractions.

Be mindful that the quickest route will take you on toll roads. It cost us about $800 MXN in tolls (both ways).

RometoRio Map outlining the route to San Blas from Guadalajara

By bus, you would need to take a trip to Tepic and then change to another bus line to get to the coast.

Getting Around in San Blas

If you have your own car it is pretty easy to get around the cobblestone streets. Just be mindful of the one way streets downtown. If you don't have a car, there are plenty of taxis in the area and they line up at the main plaza downtown if you want to just go and not have to call. 

Where to Stay in San Blas?

I would recommend either staying in town, near the harbor or near Playa Matanchen. We stayed at BAOS hotel. We didn't know it at the time but it also doubled as a beach night club on the weekend. And let me tell you, it's the place to be. So if you're looking for some nightlife in San Blas, be sure to check out BAOS. They have a pool and lounge area along with valet parking and the DJ playing on the beach well into the AM.

Matanchen Beach Sunrise, San Blas Mexico
Sunrise at the beach

If you're looking for a beach an some service, then staying along the coast in the city will be what you want. There they have cabanas and sunshades. Matanchen is mostly remote. You can bring your own things but it didn't look like any of the hotels offered anything other than just beachfront access.

Is San Blas Safe?

San Blas is home to a Mexican Marine base and I would consider it very safe. There are also plenty of local police and tourist police patrolling the city and surrounding areas (along with the Marines). 

I never had a bad vibe when sightseeing around the town and the people were friendly and helpful. It seemed very safe. 

You can read more here about my tips on safely traveling in Mexico.

How Many Days Should You Stay in San Blas?

I would recommend 2 to 3 days. Especially if you are here during the whale season and can go out for a day at sea to see them. Spending a day in town and a couple of days on the beach is a great way to relax and getaway from things and not too long to be bored.

Our weekend getaway to San Blas in Mexico passed by too quickly. After two days of exploring this sleepy coastal town and its many attractions, I'm feel so grateful for the opportunity to have connected with local culture and experience all that it had to offer. 

The atmosphere in this town is very laid back and easy going. Everywhere I went, people were friendly and welcoming and the streets were peaceful. Looking back, we had amazing memories enjoying local seafood and  were mesmerized watching whales swimming in the sea. 

I believe we will be making more trips here in the future. I can't help but think about how much fun I had here over the past couple of days!

Click here to see more photos of San Blas, Nayarit.


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Written by:

I consider myself a world-travelling nomad and a foodie at heart. Born in Germany and raised in East Tennessee, my passion for exploration has taken me all over the planet - exploring unfamiliar lands and cultures is what truly inspires my soul!
I live outside of Doha and consider myself an inside expert on all things Qatar. I love exploring all the country has to offer and look forward to giving you valuable insights of where I call home!
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