san blas mexico tours

SAN BLAS TOURS

San Blas is the perfect setting for getting in touch with nature — vast expanses of beach and awesome mountains make it a paradise for discovering endless experiences.

Discover it for yourself!

  • Tour in the bay

Boat Ride at La Tovara

Isabel island national park.

  • Birdwatching

Sport fishing, whale watching, swimming with whale sharks, Isabel Island, seabirds observation and turtle camp.

There are plenty of interesting places to discover around san blas, such as fishing trips offshore, humpback whale watching during winter months, swimming with whale sharks, visiting isabel island and boat rides for seabirds watching..

san blas mexico tours

Ricardo Murillo - Pipilas Team

Cell phone: 323 117 9763

Local phone: 323 285 1281

[email protected] [email protected]

Social Media:

To request tours cost, please contact the specialized and authorized service supplier directly.

san blas mexico tours

Sartiaguin tourist rides

Phone number:

Cell phone: 323 108 5203

Local phone: 323 285 1297

[email protected]

Visit the Aayetsie Wakie Turtle Camp at Borrego Beach

san blas mexico tours

San Blas' Aayetsie Wakie Turtle Camp

Definitely, you can not miss this boat ride among the mangrove swamps where amazing flora and fauna are observed along two water sources, la tovara and camalota lagoon where you can visit the kiekari crocodile., you can reach kiekari through the services of la tovara cooperative by boat or even by road towards matanchén bay. it is a reproduction and protection preserve for species that have been rescued, managed by the ejido of la palma de san blas, where you can watch the local wildlife and have a dip in the water source., ride to the tovara.

san blas mexico tours

Julio Villafuentes - La Tovara Cooperative President

Cell phone: 323 106 6917

Local phone:  323 116 9997

Fixed cost per person of about $ 200

Kiekari Crocodile Preserve

san blas mexico tours

Phone Number:

Cell phone:  323 108 6321

Cell phone:  311 114 7038

About $40 pesos per person.

Isabel island National Park

Located on the pacific ocean platform, 70 kilometers northwest of san blas, it is an island of volcanic origin with an area of 194 hectares. the island ecosystem can be considered a natural laboratory and important refuge for seabirds. the diversity of species present on isabel island and its important ecological role led it to be decreed as a protected natural area in 1980., the park can be visited from san blas by hiring a park-authorized boat..

san blas mexico tours

www.islaisabel.conanp.gob.mx

There are different routes for bird watching, you can choose between hiking, lagoons, the ocean and Isabel Island.

san blas mexico tours

Jonathan Vargas

Cell Phone: 311 230 3544

[email protected]

San Blas Birding

san blas mexico tours

José Antonio Robles Martínez

Cell Phone : 311 120 9287

[email protected]

www.birdingmexico.com

san blas mexico tours

Francisco García

Cell Phone: 323 282 8835

[email protected]

san blas mexico tours

Mark Stackhouse

[email protected]

san blas mexico tours

Carlos Villar Rodríguez

  • About San Blas H
  • Legal Notice
  • Media Kit 2016

san blas mexico tours

  • National Parks
  • Discover San Blas
  • How to get here
  • Official video
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  • +52 323 285 0112 | [email protected]

San Blas Riviera Nayarit 2024

San Blas Riviera Nayarit

Birding in Mexico Logo

San Blas, Riviera Nayarit

Birds to Watch: 400+

Location: San Blas » Nayarit 

GPS: 21° 32' 35.99" N  / -105° 17' 8.09" W    ALT: 2611.5 ft

Incredible Birding from Mangroves to the Mountains on the Central Coast of Nayarit

San Blas has earned its reputation as perhaps the most famous birding destination on the Pacific coast of West-Central Mexico! In many ways it is still a quiet fishing village, but looks can be deceiving. The town has a surprising and romantic history dating all the way back to the 1700s Spanish Colonial Period, in fact. That legacy is still tangible today when you visit the impressive Contaduría Fort built on Cerro de Basilio overlooking the town and behold an almost incomprehensibly impressive, sweeping coastline, replete with guano-whitewashed islands in the distance beyond.

The town has a long and storied birding history, as well, especially where Christmas Bird Counts are concerned.  For instance, a record 292 species were recorded here during the 1983 count, and tallies exceeding 200 species are still common in current times.  One of your guides, Greg R. Homel, first visited San Blas on a 1987 countrywide pioneering birding road trip, then went on to become the Tucson Audubon Society’s count compiler one year during the early 1990s, and has regularly guided birders to San Blas most every year since!

The town’s rich natural and cultural heritage combined with lovely colloquial hotels, fresh seafood (and Banana Bread) that is on par with the world’s best, combined with a concession of readily available and skilled birding boatmen who can “easily” get birders up close and personal with a wide range of local specialties, day and night, have for decades attracted birders from the world over to this lovely coastal enclave of Nayarit.

Star birds include the country’s most readily findable Rufous-necked Wood-Rails, Ridgeway’s Rails and Northern Potoos, the only known viable Wood Stork colony in northwestern Mexico, readily findable Boat-billed Herons and Bare-throated Tiger-Herons in its mysterious mangroves, together with Mexican Woodnymphs, Military Macaws, Eared Poorwills, Mexican Barred (Cinereous) Owl s and two impressive species of large forest eagles—the Black Hawk-Eagle & Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle in the nearby mountains, etc.

Complimenting San Blas’ rich onshore birding, its offshore birding is no less impressive, as easily arranged boating excursions can bring birders to guano-covered islands just offshore, where they can glass thriving seasonal colonies of Bridled Tern, Brown Noddy, Magnificent Frigatebird, Red-billed Tropicbird, and both Blue-footed and Brown boobies, very closely, in addition to breaching Humpbacked Whales, Pacific Bottle-nosed Dolphins, and Kemps Ridly Sea Turtles in the town’s blue tropical Pacific waters.

During the last 50 years or more birders have identified a tantalizing 400+ indigenous, endemic and migratory bird species in the San Blas region, including at least 36 Mexican endemics — roughly a third of the country’s total — within a 40 Km radius of the city’s center. 

It’s no wonder Birders call San Blas paradise , and helps make clear why it has regular bird festivals each year!

Birding in Mexico happily offers 1-night , 2-night and 3-night plus special week-long birding options for birders wishing to seek out the spectacular birds of San Blas, Nayarit.  Please let us know which option appeals most to you and we’ll make it happen!

*Please enquire if you are interested in learning more about our expanded, week-long birding option at San Blas, which also includes opportunities to see rare Spotted and endemic Aztec rails at Parque Ecologico, Tepic, and the endemic Aztec Thrush, Spotted Wren and Tufted Jay at a series of lovely cabins set high atop towering pine-clad cliffs in the majestic Sierra Madre Occidental—land of the Huichol culture.

– State of the Republic:   Nayarit.

– Location:  San Blas is a sleepy seaside town located on the tropical Pacific coast of Mexico, 160 km / 99 miles north or Puerto Vallarta and 64 km / 40 miles west of the State Capital, Tepic.

– Popularity of this t our: Very popular, as San Blas has long been one of Mexico’s most exciting and productive birding destinations, and for good reason, which see in our site descriptions!

– Short description:  The area is very species rich.  To date at least 400+ bird varieties have been recorded by resident and visiting birders in a 40 kilometer radius, at altitudes ranging from Sea Level at lovely Matanchén Bay to the summit of Cerro Alto and extinct Volcan San Juan, 2,210 m / 7,250’ above Rancho La Noria, in the nearly pristine Sierra San Juan Biosphere Reserve.

Founded in 1768, and once Mexico’s most important Pacific Port, today San Blas is a sleepy seaside town located on the tropical Pacific coast of Nayarit.

In a surprisingly manageable area logistically, and now easily accessible by road, 3 hours north of Puerto Vallarta, birders will find San Blas’ myriad habitats, comfortable lodging, readily available boating excursions— replete with local boatmen who know the best locations to seek out its aquatic and marine specialties —combined with some of the best seafood and banana bread in the country.  In short:  A cheerful and inviting birder’s paradise like no other!  A literal feast for the eyes, the stomach and your life list!

Here, guano-covered Pacific islands, extensive and intact mangrove ecosystems—among the largest and best protected in Mexico—in addition to sweeping sandy beaches grading to Palm and deciduous Sinaloan thorn forest, montane tropical forest, and even high altitude encinal (pine-oak woodland) festooned in wild orchids, epiphytes and bromeliads, support a plethora of bird species that will whet any avid birder’s appetite for lifers.

See further historic details, here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Blas,_Nayarit

– A Complete Description of the Tour:  See following detailed intinerary of our 1-day, 2-day and 3-day options we offer birders wanting to visit the San Blas region.

– Itinerary: See specific details by clicking the relevant itinerary tab

– Gallery:   See Site Gallery by clicking this tour’s gallery tab

– Frequently Asked Questions or Recommendations to make your Visit as Enjoyable as Possible:  

Click on this tour’s FAQ button for specifics

1 – Night Tour

QUICK OVERVIEW

DAY #1 QUICK OVERVIEW :

  • – 06:00 – 11:30 am / Private Pickup in PV, Scenic drive to San Blas, Tropical Birding for Endemic, Indigenous & Migratory Birds at Camino al Cocodrilario / Crocodile Farm Road, Matanchén

*Out of consideration of others, please be punctual for your pick-up at 0600, sharp!

  • – 12:00 – 16:00 p.m. / Check-in, Seafood Lunch & Siesta at the Garza Canela Hotel, San Blas

*If you are allergic to or do not prefer seafood, of course other options are available 

  • – 16:00 – 19:30 p.m. / Spotlighted Waterborne Boating Safari in search of Northern Potoos of the Rio La Tovera & one Overnight at San Blas
  • – 20:00 – 21:00 p.m. / Dinner in San Blas then Overnight

*Because of today’s ambitious schedule, we will have our checklist party tomorrow during lunchtime in San Blas

DAY #2 QUICK OVERVIEW: 

  • – 06:30 – 12:15 a.m. / Rufous-necked Wood-Rails of Matanchén Bay & Waterborne Mangrove Birding—with large Crocodiles—on the Rio San Cristobal
  • – 12:30 – 13:30 a.m. Seafood Lunch & Checklist Party in San Blas
  • – 14:00 – 17:00 a.m. Scenic Return Drive to Puerto Vallarta before Sunset For more details of these tour option

2 – Night Tour

DAY #1 QUICK OVERVIEW: 

  • – 06:00 – 11:30 a.m. Private Pickup in PV, Scenic drive to San Blas, Tropical Birding for Endemic, Indigenous & Migratory Birds at Camino al Cocodrilario / Crocodile Farm Road, Matanchén
  • – 12:00 – 16:00 a.m . Check-in, Seafood Lunch & Siesta at Garza Canela Hotel, San Blas

*If you are allergic to or do not prefer seafood, of course other options are available

  • – 16:00 – 19:30 p.m. Spotlighted Waterborne Boating Safari in search of Northern Potoos of the Rio La Tovera & one Overnight at San Blas
  • – 20:00 – 21:00 p.m. Dinner in San Blas then Overnight
  • – 06:30 – 12:15 Rufous-necked Wood-Rails of Matanchén Bay & Waterborne Mangrove Birding — with large Crocodiles — on the Rio San Cristobal
  • – 12:30 – 13:30 Seafood Lunch & Checklist Party in San Blas
  • – 13:30 – 14:30 Short Siesta at Garza Canela
  • – 14:30 – 17:30 Large Forest Eagles & Tropical Forest Birding Expedition to Terracería La Palma-Tecuitata, in the Mountains near San Blas
  • – 18:30 – 19:30 Dinner & Second Overnight at Garza Canela,

San Blas DAY #3 QUICK OVERVIEW: 

  • – 06:30 – 10:00 Red-billed Tropicbirds, Boobies & Tropical Terns of San Blas’ Guano Islands
  • – 10:30 – 11:00 General Birding at San Blas on our Return Route between the Harbor and the Hotel Garza Canela
  • – 11:00 – 12:00 Take this time to Freshen Up and Pack in your Room before ahead of enjoying our Seafood Lunch and Checklist Party at San Blas
  • – 12:00 – 13:30 Lunch and Checklist Party in San Blas
  • – 14:00 – 17:00 Checkout of the Garza Canela, followed by a Scenic Return to San Blas before Sunset, with Possible Impromptu Birding Stops en route For more details of these tour option

3 – Night Tour

  • – 06:00-11:30 Private Pickup in PV, Scenic drive to San Blas, Tropical Birding for Endemic, Indigenous & Migratory Birds at Camino al Cocodrilario / Crocodile Farm Road, Matanchén
  • – 1200-1600: Check-in, Seafood Lunch & Siesta at Garza Canela Hotel, San Blas
  • – 16:00-19:30 Spotlighted Waterborne Boating Safari in search of Northern Potoos of the Rio La Tovera & one (1) Overnight at San Blas
  • – 20:00-21:00 Dinner in San Blas then Overnight

DAY #2 QUICK OVERVIEW:

  • 06:30-07:30 Rufous-necked Wood-Rails of Matanchén Bay
  • 08:00-12:00 Waterborne Mangrove Birding—with large Crocodiles—on the Rio San Cristobal
  • 12:30-13:30 Seafood Lunch & Checklist Party in San Blas
  • 13:30-14:30 Short Siesta at Garza Canela
  • 14:30-17:30 Large Forest Eagles & Tropical Forest Birding Expedition to Terracería La Palma-Tecuitata, in the Mountains near San Blas
  • 18:30-19:30 Dinner & Second Overnight at Garza Canela, San Blas

Day #3 QUICK OVERVIEW:

  • – 06:00-12:00 Birding the Lofty Highlands & “Hummingbird Flowering Forests” (seasonal) of the Sierra San Juan Biosphere Reserve
  • – 12:30-13:45 Lunch in Tepic, with a Possible Stop at Parque Ecologico to search for the very attractive but elusive Spotted Rail and its more common endemic relative, the Aztec Rail
  • – 14:00-16:30 Raptors & Military Macaws of Miridor del Aguila
  • – 16:30-17:30 Return to San Blas for the night
  • – 17:30-18:30 Dinner & Checklist Party at either the Restaurante Delfín or a nearby Restaurant in San Blas followed by our third overnight at the Garza Canela

 DAY #4 QUICK OVERVIEW:

  • – 06:30-10:00 Red-billed Tropicbirds, Boobies & Tropical Terns of San Blas’ Guano Islands

*Motion sickness countering tablets are recommended and will be provided as a courtesy if you want one 

*Sea conditions dependent; if conditions are unfavorable we will bird for shorebirds at Shrimp Pond Road / Granja de Camarón and the “Singayta Jungle”

  • – 10:30-11:00 General Birding at San Blas on our Return Route between the Harbor and the Hotel Garza Canela
  • – 11:00-12:00 Take this time to Freshen Up and Pack in your Room before ahead of enjoying our Seafood Lunch and Checklist Party at San Blas
  • – 12:00-13:30 Lunch and Checklist Party in San Blas
  • – 14:00-17:00 Checkout of the Garza Canela, followed by a Scenic Return to San Blas before Sunset, with Possible Impromptu Birding Stops en route For more details of these tour option

Plus special week

long birding options

Private pickup at your Vallarta hotel or an appointed nearby location, followed by participant introductions and a description of your tour’s logistics, replete with a display map so you can get your bearings. For more details of these tour option

Bird Watch List

** The number of birds per trip may change

To better prepare for the adventure that awaits you, please study the following lists of popular birds, with specialties highlighted in bold print:   

San Blas’ star birds, stratified according to habitat, include the following, in season:

A.  On the nearby Offshore Islands: Heermann’s Gull, Brown Noddy, Bridled Tern, Elegant Tern, Brown Pelican, Red-billed Tropicbird, Magnificent Frigatebird, Blue-footed and Brown boobies, etc.

B.  Extensive Mangrove Swamps: Northern Potoo; Ridgeway’s, Aztec and Rufous-necked Wood- rails; Bare-throated Tiger- and Boat-billed herons; Osprey and Common Black Hawk; Ringed and Green kingfishers; Mangrove Swallow; Northern Waterthrush and the chestnut-headed “Mangrove Warbler” form of Yellow Warbler, etc. 

C.  Fresh and Brackish Water Rivers and Lagoons: Black-bellied Whistling- and Muscovy ducks; Spotted Rail and Purple Gallinule; Limpkin; Black-necked Stilt, American Oystercatcher, Northern Jacana, and Stilt Sandpiper; Gull-billed Tern and Black Skimmer; Wood Stork;  Anhinga; Least Bittern, Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned night-herons; Roseate Spoonbill, White and White-faced ibis; Snail Kite and Crane Hawk and Louisiana Waterthrush, etc. 

D. Sinaloan Thorn Forest, Palm Forest and Tropical forest:   Rufous-bellied Chachalaca and Crested Guan; Elegant Quail; Red-billed Pigeon; Groove-billed Ani, Lesser Ground-Cuckoo and Squirrel Cuckoo; Buff-collared Nightjar; Mexican Hermit, Plain-capped Starthroat, Golden-crowned Emerald, Mexican Woodnymph, Broad-billed, Cinnamon and Violet-crowned hummingbirds; Hook-billed Kite, Black-and-White and Black hawk-eagles,  Great Black-Hawk, Harris’, White-tailed, Gray, and Short-tailed hawks; Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl and Mottled Owl; Citreoline & Elegant trogons; Russet-crowned Motmot; Golden-cheeked, Gila, Pale-billed and Lineated woodpeckers; Collared Forest-Falcon, Crested Caracara and Bat Falcon; Lilac-crowned and White-fronted parrots, Mexican Parrotlet and Orange-fronted Parakeet; Ivory-billed Woodcreeper; Masked Tityra, Gray-collared and Rose-throated Becards, Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, Greenish Elaenia, Pacific-slope, Vermilion, Dusky-capped, Nutting’s, Brown-crested, Social, Boat-billed, Sulphur-bellied flycatchers, Bright-rumped Attila, Great Kiskadee, Tropical and Thick-billed kingbirds; Golden, Black-capped, Bell’s, Warbling (the last three winter) and Yellow-green vireos; Sinaloa Crow, Black-throated Magpie-Jay, Green, San Blas and Purplish-backed jays; Black-capped Gnatcatcher; Happy and Sinaloa wrens; Blue Mockingbird; Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Rufous-backed Robin; Scrub (Goldman’s) Euphonia; Rosy Thrush-Tanager; Rusty-crowned Ground-Sparrow, Stripe-headed and Olive sparrows; Yellow-winged Cacique, Black-vented, Hooded and Streak-backed orioles; Golden-browed and Golden-crowned, Lucy’s, MacGillivray’s, Black-throated Gray, Fan-tailed and Rufous-capped warblers; Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, Yellow Grosbeak, Red-breasted Chat, Blue , Varied and Painted buntings; Blue-black Grassquit; Ruddy-breasted and Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater, and Grayish Saltator, etc. 

E. Encinal or High Altitude Pine -Oak-Juniper Woodland:  Long-tailed Wood-Partridge and Singing Quail; Ruddy Quail-Dove;  Eared Poorwill and Mexican Whip-Poor-Will; Chestnut-collared, White-naped and Greater Swallow-tailed swifts; Blue-throated Mountain-gem, Rivoli’s, Bumblebee, Broad-tailed, Calliope, Berylline,  and White-eared hummingbirds; Zone-tailed and Red-tailed hawks; Flammulated Owl, Whiskered Screech-Owl, Northern (Mountain) and Colima pygmy-owls, Barred (Cinareous), Stygian and Northern Saw-whet owls; Northern Flicker, Acorn, Hairy, Arizona and Gray-crowned woodpeckers; Military Macaw; White-striped Woodcreeper; Greater Pewee, Tufted, Pine, Cordilleran and Buff-breasted flycatchers; Bridled Titmouse; Bushtit (black-eared form); Spotted Wren; Eastern Bluebird, Brown-backed Solitaire, Russet Nightingale-Thrush and Aztec Thrush; Gray Silky-flycatcher; Olive Warbler; Elegant Euphonia; Black-headed Siskin; Green-striped and Rufous-capped brushfinches, Yellow-eyed Junco, and Rusty Sparrow; Audubon’s (Dickey’s) Oriole; Crescent-chested, Tropical Parula, Grace’s, Townsend’s, Hermit and Red-faced warblers, Painted and Slate-throated redstarts; Hepatic, Flame-colored and Red-headed tanagers, etc. 

See full eBird list of each site we will be visiting by clicking each specific bird list link, below.

All or most of following eBird Hotspots may be visited on this incredibly exciting Birding in Mexico overnight excursion, depending on whether you choose our one, two or three night San Blas options.   Please inquire for pricing then give us your preference, and we’ll gladly make it happen for you.

*A week-long option is also available for the ultimate San Blas experience.

*Space is limited, so please inquire for availability.

  • a.  Estanque de Aguas Residuales de San Blas (263 species):  https://ebird.org/printableList?regionCode=L583588&yr=all&m=
  • b.  Camino al Cocodrilario (247 species):  https://ebird.org/printableList?regionCode=L3576420&yr=all&m=
  • c.  Cocodrilario de San Blas (244 species):  https://ebird.org/printableList?regionCode=L512360&yr=all&m=
  • d.  Camino Real–La Bajada a Jalcocotán (243 species): https://ebird.org/printableList?regionCode=L5539383&yr=all&m=
  • e.  Granja de Camarón San Blas (284 species):  https://ebird.org/printableList?regionCode=L620587&yr=all&m=
  • f.  Isla del Rey (251 species):  https://ebird.org/printableList?regionCode=L454901&yr=all&m=
  • g.   Laguna de Zoquipan (163 species): https://ebird.org/printableList?regionCode=L1039953&yr=all&m=
  • h.  Mirador del Aguila (pueblo) (161 species):  https://ebird.org/printableList?regionCode=L507807&yr=all&m=
  • i.  Playa del Borrego (193 species):  https://ebird.org/printableList?regionCode=L1854981&yr=all&m=
  • j  Playa Las Islitas (127 species):  https://ebird.org/printableList?regionCode=L1248607&yr=all&m=
  • k.  Playa Matanchén (172 species):  https://ebird.org/printableList?regionCode=L1262821&yr=all&m=
  • l.  Reserva Ecológica Sierra de San Juan–Cerro de San Juan (271 species):  https://ebird.org/printableList?regionCode=L689255&yr=all&m=
  • m.  Reserva Ecológica Sierra de San Juan–La Noria (369 species):  https://ebird.org/printableList?regionCode=L502887&yr=all&m=
  • n.  Rio La Tovara (297 species): https://ebird.org/printableList?regionCode=L293450&yr=all&m=
  • o.  Rio San Cristobal (247 species): https://ebird.org/printableList?regionCode=L503034&yr=all&m=
  • p.  Roca Elefante (63 species): https://ebird.org/printableList?regionCode=L5085099&yr=all&m=
  • q.  Ruta Piedra Blanca/Bahia Matachen (61 species): https://ebird.org/printableList?regionCode=L3182614&yr=all&m=
  • r.  Tecuitata pueblo (271 species): https://ebird.org/printableList?regionCode=L689255&yr=all&m=
  • s.  Terracería La Palma-Tecuitata (184): https://ebird.org/printableList?regionCode=L2798902&yr=all&m=

Bring your Camera Gear and Binoculars

It is assumed you have your own binoculars, as this is requisite to fully enjoy all BIM outings!

If you are also an avid bird and / or wildlife photographer, BIM offers select Bird Photography Expeditions with world renowned photographer, writer, lecturer and bird tour leader Greg R. Homel, throughout Mexico… and the world, for that matter.

Please inquire if you are interested in learning more about our bird and wildlife photography-oriented expeditions, or take a look at our website.

Our day trips—unless otherwise specified as bird photography-centric—are focused on birding specifically, and photography as an exciting sidebar.

It goes without saying that you will be glad to have a camera on this expedition, just for the scenic value alone. So bring your camera if you have one!

Regardless of the venue, all tour participants should consider themselves encouraged to bring their cameras and practice this enjoyable pastime during any excursion.

Recommended equipment should include digital cameras with telephoto lenses equal to the equivalent of at least 400 mm or greater (in 35 mm terms) for your bird photography efforts to be worthwhile in the first place. Bird photography tours aside, tripods are not recommended, since it’s reasonable to assume they may interfere with other participants’ freedom of mobility and our general logistics.

Most modern lenses and many of today’s cameras are equipped with motion countering technology, anyway, making a tripod unnecessary under the conditions we will be operating within.

Please don’t forget to bring extra batteries, chargers and memory cards specific to your camera brand, as well.

Lens tissue should also be considered requisite to keep your lenses clean or to wipe incidental water droplets off of their (and your binoculars’) objective elements, as environmental conditions are unpredictable in the often wild regions we will be visiting. If you do not have “lens cleaning tissues,” don’t fret—in a pinch normal, one ply, unscented, napkins or toilet paper will work just as well as expensive lens tissue.

Cloth and clothes will not work to clean your camera or binocular lenses, as they often absorb skin oils and grease and can smudge these on your optics, with predictable results.

Use paper to clean all lenses for best results and clear images.

*Please inquire about loaner binoculars if you or one of your party does not have binoculars but would like to partake in this excursion. We may have one or two available, free of charge, to lend you. Apologies in advance if the loan binoculars are already claimed or unavailable for this tour.

Recommended footwear for today’s excursion?

All-terrain shoes with ankle support are recommended for our trips into the Sierra San Juan Biosphere Reserve; tennis shoes are also acceptable— especially in the San Blas lowlands —if you do not have high-top all terrain footwear, but we highly recommend the former due to possibly rough, rutted, rocky or slippery surfaces, all of which are dependent on recent weather conditions, especially in the mountains.

What kind and Color of Clothes should I Wear?

Lightweight clothing—especially light weight slacks—displaying neutral or earth tone colors (no bright colors or whites please, as they may alert often shy birds—such as the skulky Rufous-necked Wood-Rail—to our presence from afar, preventing our close approach) are recommended.  Short sleeve shirts are fine, but if you have lightweight, long-sleeve tops, so much the better.

We also recommended you don a hat or cap with a visor or brim (again, no bright colors or whites), to avoid glare, water reflections and sunburn in the tropical, often quite hot climate we will be operating within at San Blas.

Except at our hotel or when swimming at the beaches, we discourage your wearing of shorts, skirts, bathing attire, or cutoff shirts that expose the mid-rift while on expedition.

*Please click on the button covering Insect Repellent for a detailed explanation about biting insects at San Blas.  Thank you for your understanding.  

Weather on this excursion—especially during the summer Monsoon season—is highly variable according to altitude. We will visit a diverse array of habitats and elevations on this excursion, ranging form Sea Level to as high as 2000 m / 6561’ at Rancho La Noria and surrounding peaks.

However, tropical weather is unpredictable at best, so be prepared for this contingency, knowing that at any time of year San Blas’ weather can turn surprisingly wicked, so please carry a light duty windbreaker and a fleece to provide comfort during a sudden downpour while on our boating excursions, and to provide warmth during the sometimes chilly early morning hours in the surrounding mountains, respectively.

There can also be a marked difference between daylight and nighttime temperatures, so be sure to carry a windbreaker and a fleece on any of our nocturnal Northern Potoo / American Crocodile excursions to La Tovera Springs.  It’s better to have a windbreaker and not need it, than to need it and not have it, if you catch our drift!

Sun Protection?

YES. San Blas is famous for its clear skies and sunny conditions. This is the “tropical sun” however, so those unaccustomed, beware! We will be exposed to direct sunlight while on our boating excursions, in particular.

For these reasons we recommended using sun screen with a minimum Sun Protection Factor of 30 (preferably 50 SPF or higher) on your face and other exposed skin to avoiding sunburns, especially in the coastal and marine environments we will be visiting by foot, vehicle or watercraft, or all of the above.

Insect Repellent?

YES. San Blas is as famous for it’s Jejenes or “no-see-ums,” as it is for its great birding, but mosquitos are not too much of a problem during the dry season (November-May).

Insect repellents containing DEET will vastly improve your outdoor comfort on this expedition.

Biting insects can seem almost absent on most of our regional expeditions, and for most of the daylight hours, but can appear unexpectedly, so be prepared by arming yourself with both knowledge and technology.

At San Blas, when its infamous biting insects do make their appearances, you’ll know it right away. They have a cultural significance here, and are likely part of the reason San Blas was never despoiled by mass tourism and towering resort hotels. And besides, as mentioned, they are easily repelled using modern insect repellents containing DEET. In a way, we can be thankful for their presence, and the birds who depend on them as food certainly are!

They are most likely to be active during the humid, still, early morning and especially during late crepuscular hours, when it’s cloudy or overcast. This is a time when birders are likely to be outdoors, as well… so come prepared!

Surprisingly, they can even get you while standing in the shade at mid-day here, or while enjoying seafood and refreshments in the shade of any of the covered, palapa-style beachside restaurants that abound at Bahia Matanchén, for instance.

They do not seem to like direct sunshine, and retreat into the shadows for the same reasons you do. So again, be ready for this contingency.

This is why Birding in Mexico discourages you from wearing short pants or skirts during our San Blas outings.

Interestingly, and perhaps counterintuitively, biting insects are not much of a nuisance on our boating trips through the mangroves of the Rios San Cristobal or La Tovara, at San Blas, even at night. Perhaps they are not adapted to expect their “meals” (i.e., YOU!) to arrive via watercraft on the otherwise barren liquid surfaces of area rivers….

To be sure to avoid being bitten by black flies (i.e., “Jejenes” or “No-See-Ums”) or Mosquitoes, we recommended that you carry repellent with DEET as its active ingredient wherever you go on expedition, applying it liberally on an impromptu basis to counter these blood suckers, while spraying your pant cuffs and socks for chiggers before every outing, regardless of the season.

You’ll be glad you did, especially during the wet season (June-October)!

Where chiggers are concerned (as chiggers like and are spread by livestock and livestock may be present at any of the interior destinations we will be visiting from the lowlands to the mountains), you may not even realize you’ve been bitten until 12-24 hours after exposure if you do not preempt by spraying your socks, shoes and pant cuffs; and by then it’s too late and the itching can be formidable.

Thankfully, it’s easy to avoid chigger bites by applying repellents containing DEET, and spraying them liberally, as mentioned, onto your pant cuffs, socks and shoes before every outing, regardless of the season.

We recommend a repellent that is sprayable via a non-aerosol propellent, since the pump style repellents may leak inside your daypack, potentially ruining your food, camera gear, or other often expensive equipment carried. Roll-on-style repellents do not efficiently cover your skin’s surface, nor your pant cuffs or socks, so you are discouraged from using them in favor of a propelled spray.

Bring your Camera Gear

If you are an avid bird and / or wildlife photographer, Birding in Mexico offers select Bird Photography Expeditions with world renowned photographer, writer, lecturer and bird tour leader Greg R. Homel throughout Mexico… and the world, for that matter.

Please inquire if you are interested in learning more about our bird and wildlife photography-oriented expeditions.

Regardless of the venue, all tour participants should consider themselves welcome, or even encouraged, to bring their cameras to practice this enjoyable pastime during any excursion.

Where San Blas is concerned—this is an overnight excursion during which there will be many opportunities to photograph birds and wildlife, including possibly large American Crocodiles.

Recommended equipment should include digital cameras with telephoto lenses equal to the equivalent of at least 400 mm or greater for your bird photography efforts to be worthwhile in the first place. Tripods are not recommended on excursion, since it’s reasonable to assume they may interfere with other participants’ freedom of mobility—especially on boats—and our logistics.

Most modern lenses and many cameras are equipped with motion countering technology, anyway, making a tripod unnecessary under the conditions we will be operating within.

Please don’t forget to bring extra batteries and memory cards specific to your camera brand, as well.

Lens tissue should also be considered requisite to keep your lenses clean or to wipe incidental water or sea spray off of their (and your binoculars’) objective elements, as environmental conditions are unpredictable in the often wild regions we will be visiting, by land, river and sea. If you do not have “lens cleaning tissues,” don’t fret—in a pinch normal, one ply napkins or toilet paper will work just as well as expensive lens tissue sold by photography outfits.

What is this Expedition’s Level of Physical Difficulty?

Visitors to San Blas will generally encounter easily negotiable roadside birding and foot paths (some with ruts, rocky stretches or muddy conditions, depending on recent weather) in the lowlands, grading to more moderately challenging walks in the highlands… where you may also notice the effects of altitude, as at Cerro’s Alto, San Juan, and at Rancho La Noria, in the Sierra San Juan Biosphere Reserve.

You may also be required to board floating watercraft (we have able bodied staff to assist you), and may have to wade in shallow water between the shoreline and your boat on occasion and during unexpected “expedition stops,” though this scenario is unusual.

Nonetheless, you should be prepared for this contingency with good cheer and a spirit of adventure.

We will provide free of charge, motion sickness options for our offshore excursions, though this is not necessary on any of our mangrove-ecosystem boating excursions along the Rios San Cristobal or to La Tovera, nor is it necessary at Laguna de Zoquipan.

Walking conditions here range from EASY to MODERATE throughout the excursion.

There is 2000 m / 6561’ potential altitudinal gain on this excursion—depending on whether you choose from our 1-3 night options—and you should be prepared for this, though our vehicle will be doing most of the “climbing” for you as we access altitudinally stratified birding habitats within the mountains, especially the highlands of the Sierra San Juan Biosphere Reserve.

San Blas and surrounding birding areas are not wheelchair accessible.

If possible, we tend to adjust our walking pace to match the physical capabilities of each group.

In the event that two leaders will accompany your group (which is not guaranteed), it is possible that we will split the group to accommodated clients of varying athletic capabilities.

If you have specific concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us in advance of your trip and we will do our best to provide you with accurate information pertinent to your specific needs, while advising you whether or not you would gain commensurately from the excursion you are contemplating.

What is Included on my Tour?

  • All Birding in Mexico excursions include one or more specialized, Government-certified (applicable to Alejandro Martinez, a Mexican Citizen, or other Mexican guides), bilingual guide(s)
  • Your guide(s) will carry their own private binoculars at all times during the tour, and where productive, a high quality spotting scope, as well
  • Complimentary Birding in Mexico checklists specific to the region will be handed out at your pickup point and an excellent regional field guide authored by Greg R. Homel will be offered for sale
  • Breakfast-snacks are included
  • Throughout this tour, all meals, lodging, ground and water-borne transportation, entrance fees, complimentary snacks, fruit, purified water, and soft drinks are provided with pleasure
  • Private ground transportation with pickup and drop-off between Puerto Vallarta and San Blas is also included
  • For your safety and wellbeing a First aid kit is carried on all Birding in Mexico excursions
  • If you are not a Mexican Citizen, please carry a valid copy of or your actual Passport (or Passport Card) on all Birding in Mexico excursions, since occasional government or military  “Puestos” (road checks) may be encountered and require this.
  • Mexican Citizens should have valid government-issued identification with them, as well
  • Also it is wise to bring sufficient cash and your ATM card (please know your PIN), to cover unexpected expenses in the event of an emergency

Check Availability for San Blas, Riviera Nayarit

  • Half day tour  $95 dlls per person. (5-6 hrs)
  • 3/4 day tours  $140 dlls per person. (6-8 hrs)
  • Full day tours  $190 dlls per person. Including early night time birding

For tours of more than 2 days or multi-day packages please ask us.

*Minimum 2 people per tour. We handle packages and private tours to meet all customer needs.

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One of Nayarit’s most special natural areas is La Tovara, San Blas! On this relaxing boat ride you will witness the merging of brackish lagoon water with fresh water from natural springs, and the abrupt change in vegetation where this takes place. We start out by meandering through the mystical mangroves at a slow pace and enjoying the company of the water birds that perch in the trees or fly alongside the boat. As the vegetation begins to change, spectacular views of the nearby mountains open up.

From La Tovara we travel just a few minutes to the city’s fort. Once considered the most important naval station in New Spain, the fort of San Blas was built as a sea-coast defence. It was from here that Spanish priest, Junípero Serra, departed for California and began the creation of the California Missions in 1768.

Another impressive sight on this trip is the ruins of the ‘Templo de Nuestra Señora del Rosario’, also known as ‘Templo La Marinera’, where sailors would go to pray before long, dangerous voyages.

Before our return, we head to the beach for a delicious lunch and some free time, then enjoy a short stroll in the city’s main plaza.

DATES & PRICES

Flexible dates, subject to availability.

Please contact us to request dates of your choice.

6 people or more: $1,500 pesos per person.

4 people: $2,000 pesos per person.

3 people: $2,600 pesos per person.

2 people: $3,600 pesos per person.

Does not include meals or tip for your guide.

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A Bird-Filled Mangrove Boat Tour – San Blas, Mexico

San Blas, on the Nayarit coast between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, sits on an almost-imperceptible high spot which is surrounded by a sprawling mangroves which can be explored by boat for bird watching and mosquito swatting.

san blas mexico tours

Our prow pushed silently through still water as we floated through the mangrove toward La Tovara Springs in San Blas, Mexico.

Exploring the San Blas mangroves by boat

For around 360 pesos (about US$25) for up to four people, captains for hire who loiter in a median in the road as you enter town will take you on a three hour cruise up the Estuary San Cristobal through the federally protected mangroves and  waterways that lead to the La Tovara fresh water spring. Add about an hour and another 80 pesos (US$4.25) if you want to continue past the spring to a crocodile farm where the animals are bred and released.

san blas mexico tours

A juvenile osprey eyed us as we floated through the mangroves below.

After waiting around for over an hour hoping two other travelers would show up to share the cost of the boat, we finally gave up and convinced a captain to take just the two of us for 300 pesos.

great blue heron san blas mexico

This great blue heron stood almost three feet tall.

The moment we stepped into the small, open, brightly painted wooden boat and started to move we relaxed thanks to a shockingly quite and non-stinky motor, a languid pace and dozens of birds and crocodiles to look at.

san blas mexico tours

This small crocodile, one of many  we saw during our boat trip, didn’t budge from its sunny log as we floated by.

san blas mexico tours

An egret stood motionless above the glassy water looking for the movement of lunch below the surface.

Our ultimate destination was the La Tovara fresh water spring where the boat docked and we got out to gawk at the amazingly clear water and its population of happy fish. This spring actually feeds the town of San Blas.

san blas mexico tours

The crystal-clear water of the La Tovara Spring.

There’s a restaurant here with shady tables and you can even swim in a pool that’s been built up at the mouth of the spring. Be warned, however: at least one swimmer has been attached by a croc here and though there’s now a big weighted chain link fence separating the pool from the river itself we decided against taking a dip.

san blas mexico tours

This bad boy was the largest crocodile we saw in the mangrove and he did not pay any attention to us as we passed.

You can get the trip for less if you walk or drive across a bridge or go even further out of town moving closer to the springs itself. However, if you ask us, the most serene and “mangrovey” sections of the trip occur in the first 20 minutes so cutting out that stretch to save a few pesos doesn’t make sense, even to us.

san blas mexico tours

A black iguana warming up.

The great San Blas banana bread mystery

San Blas’ other (absolutely unsubstantiated) claim to fame is as the birthplace of banana bread. All over town bakeries swear they invented the stuff and you can hardly turn a corner without bumping into a chance to buy a slice or loaf of pan de platano .

We succumbed at a bakery called Juan Bananas. Why there? No idea, but the banana bread was very tasty and the label that came on it can’t be beat: it features a crude line drawing of a palm tree and a banana tree with a hammock strung between them in which a sated customer (one supposes) slumbers as gargantuan mosquitoes swarm about. We told you there were epic bugs here…

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The content of these resource is really awsome and self inspiring.

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This is not the Mexico one normally thinks of when visiting the country, but I am always amazed how diverse the country is… it really has it all. stay adventurous, Craig

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I’m glad you liked the trip to San Blas. I am from San Blas and many of my relatives live there. One of my aunts actually owns a restaurant by the Playa El Borrego. Its the ramada “Federico y Lucia”. :)

Yes, San Blas is a beautiful and peaceful place to visit and I hope you agree.

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I took the trip back in the 80’s and swam at the spring. No fencing then. The boat ride was very relaxing, the lunch was good, but the best was swimming in the spring.

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San Blas tour

Full day birding trip, western mexico birding tours.

Mazatlan Tours by Johann & Sandra

MAZATLAN JUNGLE TOUR

Venture well outside of Mazatlan to the neighboring state of Nayarit, where we will tour the colonial capital of San Blas and the nature preserve of La Tovara.  Known as "The Mexican Amazon", the river carries us through the La Tovara wildlife sanctuary, where we can see white egrets, rufous-necked wood rails, turtles, giant blue iguanas, crocodiles, and all kinds of other wildlife and migratory birds.

Our tour will also take us to the colonial port of San Blas, and the ruins of the old fort, where you will get an incredible view of mountains, ocean, beaches and a jungle of palm trees.  We will end our full day tour of one of the great jungles of Mexico with a delicious Mexican lunch at the La Tovara restaurant.

Cruise Passengers: Sorry, this tour is too early for most cruise ship schedules. If you're in doubt, ask us .

Runs:  Wednesdays and Saturdays at 6:30 AM.

Duration : 12 Hours Approximately

Departs: Pick-up at your Mazatlan Hotel

Round-Trip Transportation

Expert English S peaking G uide

Bottled Water, Beer and Soft Drinks Onboard

Boat ride through the La Tovara Jungle

Lunch (No drinks included)

OR MAKE IT PRIVATE!

La Tovara Tour Mazatlan

Don't Forget:

  • Sunscreen and Hat
  • Extra Cash for Drinks, etc.
  • Swimsuit and Towel
  • Comfortable Shoes

Kids:   All ages are welcome. Kids prices apply from 5 to 10 years old.  Kids under 5 are free.

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Riviera Nayarit

Visit San Blas Mexico in Riviera Nayarit

Fortress surrounded by rainforests in San Blas Riviera Nayarit Mexico

San Blas & Bahía de Matanchén

Located just 67-km north of Las Varas , San Blas Mexico on the Bay of Matanchén (Bahía de Matanchén) is the type of destination that is perfect for a weekend getaway with family and friends. San Blas is also just 42-km from Guayabitos and 147-km from Nuevo Vallarta .

Along the seven kilometers (four miles) of fine sand beaches of Bahía de Matanchén you can enjoy impromptu soccer games, languid walks along the shore, or the thrill of riding the Pacific Coast waves on a surf board.

Playa Las Islitas Nayarit

Not far from San Blas Mexico and flanked by impressive palm trees and the green hills that border the crystal-clear waters, you’ll find Playa Las Islitas Nayarit. This secluded beach on Bahía de Matanchén is in a protected bay and renowned for some of the best surfing conditions ever.

The formation of cliffs near the shores of San Blas is a popular place for adventurous visitors seeking that perfect memory photo. All along this beach you will find traditional thatched-roof huts serving up a variety of delicious traditional dishes such as freshly-prepared ocean fish and local seafood from the region. In Playa Las Islitas Nayarit and San Blas Mexico your tasty meal can even be accompanied by a refreshing drink and the notes of a traditional Mexican folk song.

Dining here is truly a mouth-watering tradition that you mustn’t skip. When leaving, be sure to visit some of the businesses lining the San Blas-Tepic Highway. Here you will find great products for sale such as banana bread,  cocadas  (coconut candy) and other traditional favorites from the region.

La Contaduría San Blas Mexico

“What say the Bells of San Blas/To the ships that southward pass/From the harbor of Mazatlan?/To them it is nothing more,” recites José Nicolás Quirarte, while he contemplates the scenery of this Nayarit port.

He speaks the verses of this famous poem in Spanish and English from the hill on top of which we find the Contaduría. La Contaduría San Blas Mexico is one of the many buildings located in this important port where history continues to live on and flourish despite the passing of the years.

“Here, we have a lot of stories,” affirms José, a proud 78- year old resident that has dedicated his life to sharing the history of the area with the many people who visit the port every day.

Visiting San Blas is like stepping back in time; to a time when things moved much slower. Here, even simple daily activities such as strolling along the streets or drinking a cup of Mexican coffee take on a new dimension with a heightened sense of enjoyment.

Playa Islitas beach in Riviera Nayarit

Natural Wonders of Nayarit

As you explore the streets of San Blas Mexico you will relive the events of years past that have marked the history not only of the state of Nayarit but of the entire country of Mexico.

Be sure to book one of the San Blas hotels like Hotel Garza Canela or Hacienda Flamingos and plan to stay awhile. In this town, time seems to progress at a different pace, almost standing still with its haciendas, historic buildings, and quiet streets – down which residents ride bicycles they have modified in the most curious of ways.

This is, of course, complemented by the impressive natural wonders that abound in San Blas Mexico that offer plenty of activities for the adventurous. Come discover the navigable canals surrounded by mangroves, the small islands, and the annual arrival of more than 300 migratory birds (perfect for bird watching ), which makes this one of the best Nayarit destinations . San Blas is a must-see, unforgettable paradise.

History of San Blas Mexico

The origins of San Blas Mexico date back to the late seventeenth century, a time when the port was constructed as a shipyard and point of departure for the colonization expeditions of the Spanish Crown.

This town was founded by Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán in 1530, although King Charles III of Spain did not recognize it as a deep sea port until 1768. This was the same year that Franciscan friars led by Friar Junípero Serra headed out of San Blas towards the Nuestra Señora de Loreto Mission on a quest to colonize the Californias.

In San Blas Mexico, the first maritime customs house on the Pacific was established, and the town became the most important of the region during the Colonial period. Be sure to visit the historic buildings of the port to learn the history of San Blas first hand through the stories of its chroniclers, people, and architecture; silent witnesses to the events of the past.

Your tour can begin in the Contaduría, a stronghold constructed in 1770 atop the San Basilio Hill, and where the accounting offices of the colonial hacienda were established.

Just a few steps down the hill are the ruins of the Nuestra Señora del Rosario Temple, constructed in 1769. Here, you will feel as if you have stepped into a scene from a period film. You will soon begin to imagine how life must have been for the first faithful followers who lived the splendor of San Blas Mexico in the early centuries.

The building, near the pier where the Culture House currently stands, was once the Former Maritime Customs House, erected in the nineteenth century to control the traffic of merchandise that came through the port. San Blas Mexico also played an important role in the war for Mexico’s Independence.

The essential involvement of the Port of San Blas Mexico can be seen in a sculpture located high up in the Contaduría of priest don José María Mercado. He was an insurgent that fought to defend the freedoms of Mexicans, a fight that would eventually take his life.

Also earning a place in history is the Battalion of San Blas Mexico, which honorably defended the capital of Mexico in 1897 from North American invasion.

Planning a vacation in San Blas on the Pacific Coast of Riviera Nayarit ? Visit our Nayarit hotels page to check out accommodations.

Palapa huts on stilts near La Tovara Rivera Nayarit

Beaches of San Blas Mexico

A visit to this historic gem on the Pacific Coast of Mexico wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the San Blas beaches. El Borrego, whose fine golden sands stretch for three kilometers (two miles), is one of the most frequented destinations among lovers of big waves. And after a quick boat ride, you can explore the wonders of Isla del Rey, a paradise of natural beauty where you can not only bask in the Pacific Ocean and relax on the sand, but also sample some of culinary delights of San Blas Mexico.

Also essential is a visit to the Piedra Blanca, a small rock formation off the coast of San Blas Mexico where the image of the Nuestra Señora del Rosario Virgin —also known as La Marinera— is found. This virgin is the patron saint of sailors, and San Blas residents pay homage to her every year on October 7. The Piedra Blanca is also an important ceremonial center for the native Huichol people.

La Tovara National Park & San Cristóbal River

The area around San Blas Mexico offers plenty of activities and attractions !

Natural wonders of area around the Port of San Blas Mexico include a tropical marsh that includes the El Pozo estuary, the La Tovara National Park, and the San Cristóbal River. La Tovara National Park is located two kilometers (1.2 miles) from San Blas Mexico and is one of the region’s most impressive natural attractions.

Here, you will have the opportunity to explore by boat and appreciate a beautiful variety of mangroves, home to turtles and birds such as boat-billed herons and white herons. You can also appreciate first hand the floating wood homes, occupied by some of the first settlers. These houses were recreated for the filming of the movie Cabeza de Vaca.

Farther down the San Cristóbal River is a community crocodile sanctuary where you can admire reptiles and a variety of animal species, as well as take part in important wildlife research and protection efforts.

To round out this unforgettable experience, head over to Isla Isabel —located 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the Port of San Blas Mexico. Isla Isabel is a natural rock formation of volcanic origins and home to a wide variety of birds.

Another great option is to visit the Cora community of Singayta (located just two kilometers [1.2 miles] from San Blas Mexico) and delve into this interesting culture.

Your trip to San Blas Mexico, just like the essence of this Mexican port, will be truly remarkable.

San Blas Frequently Asked Questions

What time is it in san blas mexico.

San Blas in Riviera Nayarit Mexico is in Central Mountain Time, the same time zone as Mexico City.

Where is San Blas Mexico?

San Blas in located on the Pacific Coast in Riviera Nayarit Mexico approximately 97 miles (156km) north of Puerto Vallarta airport.

How to get to San Blas Mexico?

From Puerto Vallarta airport it takes about 3 hours to travel by car to get to San Blas in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico.

What to do in San Blas Mexico?

San Blas Nayarit boasts a 4-mile-long beach and plenty of water activities including excellent surfing for all skill levels.

Where to stay in San Blas Mexico?

There are several resort hotels in San Blas Riviera Nayarit including Garza Canela, Casa Manana, Posada del Rey, and Hacienda Flamingos.

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The San Blas you’ll love is the Mexico you’ll find beyond the beach

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Passengers arriving at the airport in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, practically vibrated with anticipation as they headed for the exit. I felt a sense of excitement too, but instead of Puerto Vallarta I was heading for a long weekend in San Blas, about 95 miles north on the Pacific Coast. I was hoping to find the Mexico I remembered from a trip with my parents when I was in grade school. I had booked a boat tour for my husband, Steve, and me in La Tovara National Park , known for its mangroves, marshes and rare birds. And I had reserved a room at the Hotel Garza Canela , owned by chef Betty Vázquez, a TV personality on “MasterChef Mexico.” The tab: $620 for hotels (four nights), $830 for meals and $160 for a car rental.

Once I learned that Vázquez and her family owned the Garza Canela ( “boat-billed heron” in Spanish), I had to try it. From the street the hotel resembled a house. But when I stepped onto the patio, I realized I was in a traditional walled hacienda, with 35 rooms and eight cottages. The 5-acre garden was bursting with fruit trees and flowers. “My father loved these trees,” said Vázquez, who stopped to introduce herself. “He planted every one.” After a day exploring San Blas, our reward was a swim in the pool and a tall, cool drink on the third-floor balcony of our 1980s-retro room.

The dishes at El Delfín , Vázquez’s restaurant in the hotel, were so varied it was hard to choose. The Cordon Bleu Paris-trained chef blends Mexican, Spanish and French ingredients and styles with elements of indigenous cooking. To start, we ordered a gently flavored cream soup made with corn, shrimp and poblano chiles and served with cotija cheese and bacon. My entree, the baked fish filet, caught that day, was lightly bathed in a sauce of an orange and white wine. Steve chose the flank steak with a red wine sauce, served with chorizo and beans. We lingered over the strawberry-mango ice cream and a bottle of wine.

San Blas is historic to its roots. The small town, established in 1531 on the Santiago River, was a freshwater stop for Spain’s “treasure” ships sailing from the Philippines. As a naval base in the 17th century, it was charged with supporting Spain’s expeditions as well as Father Junípero Serra, founder of the missions, who sailed from San Blas. The fort atop San Basilio Hill, known as the Contaduría , is the town’s pride and joy. We prowled through the chamber where silks and spices were stored and admired the 180-degree view of the town and ocean far below. The stone ribs of the church still stand, a popular wedding venue.

THE LESSON LEARNED I thought I knew Mexico, but the Riviera Nayarit proved me wrong. In Sayulita , I wandered on tree-shaded streets lined with art galleries and craft shops. In San Francisco , a.k.a. “San Pancho,” I sampled six kinds of tacos at a beachside restaurant, then toured the backstreets, dreaming about vacation rentals. The biggest surprise was Matanchén Bay, near San Blas, the world record-holder for the “longest surfable wave,” at 5,700 feet. Riding a board on a breaking roller for more than a mile? Now that’s a trip.

Hotel Garza Canela , 106 Paredes, San Blas, Mexico. Doubles from $90.

El Delfin Bar & Restaurant , Hotel Garza Canela. Entrees from $10.

La Tovara National Park

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Mexican Routes

  • Nayarit / Towns & Cities

Free Mexico Travel Guide and Travel Information

by admin · Published August 25, 2018 · Updated October 8, 2023

San Blas is both a municipality and municipal seat located on the Pacific coast of Mexico in Nayarit.

San Blas is a port and a popular tourist destination, located about 160 kilometres (99 mi) north of Puerto Vallarta, and 64 kilometres (40 mi) west of the state capital Tepic. The town has a population of 8,707.

The municipality had a population of 37,478 in 2005. The Islas Marías, site of an infamous prison colony, are part of the municipality.

Geo & Climate

The area is noted for its surfing. Playa de Matanchen was famous for having the longest surfable wave in the world, as listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. A hurricane and subsequent storm surge filled part of the bay with sand, greatly reducing the size of the waves.

The town is also a gateway, along with the nearby village of Matanchen, to the La Tovara park, an extensive mangrove forest and federally protected nature preserve accessible by small boats.

The formerly elegant Playa Hermosa, built in 1951, is on a lonely and 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 discovered San Blas for fishing. The hotel is now abandoned.

History & Timeline

San Blas was founded in 1531, but the official date of founding is 1768, when Don Manuel Rivera and 116 families arrived on the orders of the Viceroy of New Spain, Marqués de Croix, under the supervision of José de Gálvez, who was visitador general (“inspector”) of New Spain.

San Blas was the port from which the Spanish priest Junípero Serra, Father President of the California Missions, departed for California. He left on March 12, 1768 from the nearby Las Islitas beach on Matanchen Bay, on the locally built barque Purísima Concepción.

On March 16, 1775, the San Carlos was set to depart San Blas, Mexico, for San Francisco Bay, stopping in Monterey to unload supplies for the mission there. The vessel was a product of the shipyard established on the Santiago River. Her length was 58 feet, the officers and men numbered 30. The voyage was delayed 3 days, until the first officer, 30-year-old Juan Manuel de Ayala, subdued the commander, “who had lost his wits and had to be taken back to port.” The captain had been threatening the crew with loaded firearms and “without proper safeguards”. Officer Ayala shot himself in the right foot while securing the weapons, but they sailed for San Francisco on March 19 under his command. They reached Monterey Bay on June 25. After a month there, she sailed, and arrived off the “yet unexplored Golden Gate”. A land party had seen the south bay having traveled overland from Monterey. A first mate named Jose de Canizares entered in a long boat, being the first recorded European to enter what is now known as San Francisco Bay.

From its founding, the naval base provided logistical support for the Franciscan missions of Alta California. As the number of missions grew, San Blas was required to send supply voyages more frequently, taxing the naval base’s small fleet and finances. San Blas also became the base for Spanish expeditions to the Pacific Northwest. From 1789 to 1795, San Blas was responsible for establishing and maintaining the Spanish post at Nootka Sound and Fort San Miguel. For about twenty years in the late 18th century, San Blas was one of the busiest ports and shipbuilding centers on the Pacific coast of the Americas, rivaling Acapulco, the eastern terminus of the trans-Pacific Manila galleon convoy.

In many ways, San Blas was a poor choice for a deep sea harbor and settlement. The harbor was so small that it could never hold more than four ships at a time. Silting caused by the nearby Río Grande de Santiago resulted in the need for the harbor to be regularly dredged. The climate’s stifling humidity and torrential rains from July to October, coupled with extensive mangrove swamps that surrounded the settlement, resulted in San Blas being plagued by clouds of voracious mosquitoes. A variety of sicknesses were endemic, including dysentery, typhoid fever, malaria, and other fevers. Naval officers and workers regularly complained about the climate. When Alessandro Malaspina visited in 1791, he found San Blas’s climate so unhealthy that he refused to stay there, instead transferring his operations and some of San Blas’s ships and personnel to Acapulco. San Blas’s location was useful and logical, however, because it minimized travel time from Guadalajara and Mexico City without increasing the total distance to the Californias. Also, the area around San Blas had a plentiful supply of hardwoods useful for ship building and repair. Fresh water was also available year round.

A hillside fort was built in 1770 to defend the town’s extensive sea trade with the Philippines. Its front has stone carvings of the kings of Spain. On the hill behind the fort are the ruins of the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, built in 1769. The ruins once contained the bronze bells that are said to have inspired Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “The Bells of San Blas”. The ruins of a 19th-century customs house are on Calle Benito Juárez, three blocks from the main plaza.

At its height, the town had 30,000 inhabitants and became headquarters of Spain’s General of the Southern Seas.

Yaqui deportations

During the 1900s, San Blas served as the arrival port for thousands of Yaqui men, women and children forcibly removed from their lands and sold into slavery. At San Blas, these families were forcibly marched 200 miles to San Marcos and its train station. Those who did not die on the march were sold into slavery at San Marcos, where they were deported to the sugar cane plantations in Oaxaca, the tobacco planters of the Valle Nacional, and the henequen plantation owners of the Yucatán for use as slave labor. Most of the enslaved workers died within the first year of their captivity.

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San Blas State of Nayarit

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San Blas 3 Day Tour Guests on Isla Perro San Blas

San Blas Overnight Package – Visit 4 islands in 2 days

Tour overview.

We know that once you set foot onto a San Blas islands, you will want to stay longer than just one day. For those travelers who want to take advantage of their stay in San Blas paradise we have created this custom package, where guests get to choose the islands they stay on, depending on their budget and preferences. Each island has its unique charm with different types of cabins. Included in this package are all meals and a San Blas Day tour to 2 other islands and the Natural Pools.

When booking you can select from one of the following island cabins (see extra items section during booking process). Please check out details and photos for each island on below links:

Isla Asseryadup - Private Cabin, Private Bathroom (Included)

Isla Yansailadup - Private Cabin, Shared Bathroom (Included)

Isla Diablo - Private Cabin, Private Bathroom (+ $10 additional)

Isla Perro - Private Cabin, Private Bathroom (+ $15 additional)

Isla Wailidup - Private Cabin Over-the-Ocean, Private Bathroom (+ $20 additional)

INTERESTED IN ANY OTHER ISLANDS? CONTACT US AND WE WILL CUSTOMIZE YOUR SAN BLAS VACATION

WHAT'S INCLUDED

1) San Blas Day tour in the Lemon Cays

Visit two other islands and the famous Natural Pools. For find more details here

2) Private cabin, private bath

While all island cabins are very basic and do not offer much luxury, it is still nice to stay in your private cabin with a private bathroom. For that reason we are offering private cabins on different islands. All you have to do is choose what island you prefer to spend the night on.

3) Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Breakfast consists of Ojaldre ("Puff pastry"), fresh fruit and coffee

Lunch and dinner consists of fresh fried fish, chicken or mixed seafood accompanied by rice, plantain and salad. Vegetarian option are available upon request.

4) All island taxes and fees

5) Snorkel & Mask during San Blas Day tour

6) Extended departure day lunch

Checkout from your cabin is at 8:00am. The San Blas Day tour boat will pick you up from the island between 9:30am-10:00am. Included in the San Blas day tour is a lunch and a beverage.

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

1) Shared roundtrip Transfer from your lodging in Panama City to Port of Carti 

We recommend you select our shared shuttle service, picking you up from your Panama City and Playa Bonita lodgings between 5:00am and 5:45am. The drive to San Blas takes around 2.5 hours, with the last hour over slow and windy roads. PLEASE PREARE ACCORDINGLY, IF YOU ARE PRONE TO MOTION SICKNESS.

If you plan to drive on your own, please note that only SUVs are allowed into the Guna territory. All other type of cars will be turned around!

2) Kuna Entrance Fee ($22 for Internationals, $7 for Panamanian residents)

When entering the territory everyone has to pay an entrance fee in cash. PLEASE DO NOT FORGET TO BRING YOUR PASSPORT.

3) Roundtrip boat transfer from the Port of Carti to Isla Yansailadup

Please meet our lancha boat in the Port of Barsukun no later than 8:30am. When arriving at the port you will be directed to our lancha boat that is waiting for you.

***Please not that we recommend you select our car shuttle service from Panama City or Playa Bonita (optional at checkout) to ensure you arrive on time.

Drinks can be purchased on the island (i.e. water, soda, wine, beer and rum)

TOUR ITINERARY

If choosing our roundtrip shuttle service, our driver will meet you up between 5:00am - 5:45am (shared transportation in a SUV with up to 6 guests) arriving in Port of San Blas by 9:00am.

9:20am: After a short 20-30 minute boat ride you will arrive at your island, checking into your cabin and changing into bathing suits. Start enjoying the beaches and meet some of the native Gunas.

Spend the rest of the day on your island and acclimatize to the island life style.

Lunch is served by 12:30pm

Dinner is served after 6pm

Breakfast is served after 7am

After breakfast you will be picked up by our lancha boat, which will take you on a San Blas island tour in the Lemon keys. Visit 2 other islands and snorkel over colorful reefs. Stand waist deep in the Natural Pools and find sea stars.

At 3:30pm the boat will return to the port of Carti, where your driver will be waiting for you (if choosing our car transportation service). You will return to Panama City by 7:00pm.

WHAT TO BRING

  • Comfortable and adequate clothing to protect yourself from the sun and thus avoid the use of sunscreen. Creams (even biodegradable ones) are polluting and for that reason we do not promote their use
  • Comfortable and safe footwear (sandals or water shoes)
  • Sun glasses
  • A reusable bottle to fill with water during the day
  • Insect Repellent

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER - PLEASE READ

While San Blas is a beautiful island archipelago with stunning beaches and clear waters, it also has its downsides, for which we would like to make you aware off.

  • No aircondition
  • No luxury facilities
  • Electricity only available between 6pm and 6am
  • Water is a precious commodity in San Blas. It is either brought in by boat or pumped from the island well. Oftentimes pumps can malfunction and cause water outages.
  • Beds and mattresses can be uncomfortable
  • Car transportation (the ride to San Blas takes 2.5 to 3 hours, with 1.5 hours over slow, curvy roads with potholes. For those with motion sickness, please prepare accordingly)Boat transportation (depending on weather and ocean conditions, the 20-40 minute boat ride might be bumpy and wet with ocean spray).
  • Island cabin management (cabins are very rustic and facilities, such as showers and bathrooms are often “home-made” with PVC pipes. Some guests have complained that sheets are old).
  • Island kitchen (meal plans are repetitive and food might taste bland)
  • Trash is a worldwide problem and unfortunately San Blas has not been spared from the ever increasing issue. During certain tides and ocean and wind conditions plastic trash from throughout the Caribbean ocean accumulates on the beaches of San Blas. While the local Kuna are working hard to collect the constant trash washing up on their beaches, guests will nevertheless find evidence of plastic spread out on the island.
  • During the wet months (April - December) or during windless days, all of San Blas experiences sandflies, which are little blood-sucking flies that leave itchy marks. Please ensure to bring natural insect repellent and prepare to return to Panama City with a few itchy memories.

We kindly ask our guests to lower their expectation when visiting San Blas and to focus on the beautiful paradise that San Blas has remained despite the effects that modern society has ceased to them. The Kunas are very gentle and kind people, but can also be somewhat shy at times. When approaching them with a smile and an open heart you will be guaranteed an innocent, happy smile in return.

CANCELATION POLICY

Please read our Tour Cancelation Policy before booking.

TOUR CANCELATION POLICY

Tao Travel 365 strives to deliver the best possible customer experience. If at any point you have a question or concern about our service, please call us at +1 (213)-212-3708 or by WhatsApp at +507-6109-3118.

TOUR POLICIES

Due to the nature of our business, we do not offer full refunds. A partial refund of 50 percent will be granted if Tao Travel 365 receives notice at least 48 hours in advance of the tour start time. All sales are final. If you are unable to attend the tour, contact us as soon as possible and we will try to arrange and reschedule the same or different tour for you.

If you are not at the designated meeting point by the time of your tour start time, Tao Travel 365 reserves the right not to provide a refund. However, we will always try our best to locate you at the meeting point and call your WhatsApp number, if one was provided. After all, we want you to come on the tour and to have fun. That is our goal!

CANCELED OR POSTPONED TOURS

Occasionally, tours are canceled or postponed due to weather or ocean conditions, mechanical failure, or other unforeseen events. Should this occur, we will attempt to contact you about the cancellations and to inform you of refund or exchange procedures for that tour. For exact instructions on any canceled or postponed tour, please contact us. In the case of a cancellation of your tour by Tao Travel 365, we will refund your tour or schedule you for another tour, as detailed below.

All sales are final. No refunds are available unless a tour is canceled or postponed, or we are given 48 hours advance noticed whereby a 50 percent refund will be awarded. We will offer refunds of the full face value of the tour(s) that are canceled or postponed (or, if a discounted tour, then instead the discounted tour price paid). No refunds are offered on any service, payment processing or convenience fees.

To receive a refund for a canceled or postponed tour, contact us at [email protected] within 3 days of the tour cancellation and write "refund" in the subject line. Instructions will be provided in order to obtain your refund.

TOUR EXCHANGES

No tour exchanges are offered by Tao Travel 365. While in some extreme cases we may offer this service (such as a cancellation by Tao Travel 365), it is not guaranteed and often impossible. Contact us directly by phone at +1 (213) 212-3708, by WhatsApp at +507-6109-3118 or by email at [email protected] to inquire about tour exchanges. Fees may apply.

COVID 19 CANCELATION POLICY

If you have a booking with us that isn’t covered in the policy above but has been impacted by COVID-19, you may still be eligible to change or cancel your booking if:

  • You are impacted by the travel and/or disease control restrictions implemented by your local authorities or the authorities in your destination of travel.
  • You are a medical professional and must perform duties in connection with the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • You have been diagnosed or are suspected of being infected with COVID-19 by health authorities.In any of these cases, you may cancel your booking with a 100% refund, less service, payment processing or convenience fees. Please note that we require official proof of how Covid 19 has impacted your travel plans.

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  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Island Taxes Included

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  • Day Tour San Blas Islands
  • Private Day Tour
  • Island Hopping San Blas Islands
  • Overnight Island Stays
  • Speedboat Panama to Colombia
  • Speedboat Colombia to Panama

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Send your booking request until 1pm the day before the tour – we confirm within several hours! No prepayment or deposit required during booking.

Why Book With Us?

  • Local Business from San Blas
  • No-hassle best price guarantee
  • English-speaking customer care
  • Over 12 years of experience

Got a Question?

Do not hesitate to get in touch! We know the islands the best and we are happy to talk to you.

[email protected]

(+507) 6807-2764

San Blas Islands Day Tour incl. Return Transport

  • 5:00am-7:30pm
  • San Blas Islands (Cartí area)
  • Offered daily
  • Pick-up and drop-off at your hotel
  • No pre-payment & free cancellation

Discover the most beautiful beaches of the 365 islands in the San Blas Archipelago during this San Blas Islands day trip from Panama City . Wander tropical beaches on deserted islands, snorkel colorful reefs and enjoy delicious, freshly caught sea food during a freshly prepared lunch on the beach. Snorkel the famous sunken ship on Isla Perro or choose to go for some quieter, uninhabited islands.

Start & End of Tour

Pick-up between 5-5:30am at your hotel in Panama City Drop-off at ca. 7.30pm at your hotel in Panama City, depending on traffic

For Veracruz/Playa Bonita earlier pick-up/later drop-off plus additional charges apply

Price Includes

  • Round-trip from your hotel to San Blas and back (shared SUV/4x4 for max. 6 persons)
  • Shared boat to and between the islands (incl. safety vests)
  • Visits to at least two islands and a natural pool with star fish, incl. island entrance fees
  • Lunch on the beach (catch of the day or chicken + sides or: vegetarian/vegan)
  • Beverages, drinks, snacks (can be purchased or brought along)
  • Sunscreen, towels and personal items
  • Governmental entrance fee to San Blas and dock fee ($20+$2 for foreigners, $5+$2 for nations/residents)

Discounts for Children

  • Children 5-8 years: $75 (50% of tour price, full price for car ride)
  • Children 0-4 years: gratis tour excl. food (lunch can be ordered extra), car ride either on parent's lap or 60$
  • Governmental Entrance Fee: free entrance for children 0-8 years old

What to Expect - San Blas Islands Day Tour

For this day trip, you’ll dive from the bustling city of Panama City into the tranquility of the San Blas islands, one of the top destinations in Central America! The San Blas islands are part of Kuna Yala, an indigenous territory along the Caribbean Coast governed by the Kuna indigenous group. A trip to Kuna Yala won’t look like any commercial vacation you’ve experienced in the past. Instead, you’ll get to embrace the local customs and cuisine. But keep in mind, there’s no WiFi, or credit card payments, and US dollars are the only acceptable form of payment.

Expect a stunning paradise, untouched nature and a proud and independent indigenous culture. Trust us, at the end of the day you’ll be sad to be leaving this slice of paradise already! 

  • Island hopping in an archipelago of 365 paradise islands
  • Feel like Robinson Cruisoe when exploring uninhabited islands
  • Swim in crystal-clear waters
  • Snorkel colorful reefes
  • With a bit of luck, see starfish, dolphins or turtles

Impressions

Itinerary san blas islands day tour.

No fixed itinerary, but let us know during the booking process if you’d prefer visiting either the sunken ship on Isla Perro (one of the highlights of San Blas, but tends to be rather crowded on weekends) or more quiet, uninhabited islands (for example Kuanidup, Iguana or Anmardup). Itinerary subject to change and decided on the day of the tour (depending on weather, covid restrictions, weekdays etc.)

Morning Arrive in San Blas and enjoy the beach

You will be collected at your accommodation in Panama City between 5-5:30am and head in a comfortable 4WD straight for the San Blas hills. After ca. 3h in the car and a quick passport control upon entering the Comarca of Kuna Yala , you’ll arrive at the small dock in Cartí. From here, a small boat will bring you in a short boat ride (ca. 30mins) to the first island, where you can enjoy a beautiful beach, crystal-clear waters or go snorkeling. 

Lunch Delicious Sea Food

For lunch,  enjoy a delicious fresh meal with the catch of the day (vegetarian/vegan options or chicken available on request) right next to the beach and surrounded by palm trees.

Afternoon Island Hopping

After lunch, let’s go and explore an uninhabited island and a place where we can spot some sea stars (no touching!) before the day has come to an end and we are heading back to the dock in Cartí. Your driver will bring you back to Panama City from here (arrival ca. 7:30pm, depending on traffic).

The itinerary might be slightly adapted if required, e.g. for weather circumstances, in case of closure of some islands or to avoid too large crowds.

Who is this tour for?

We recommend this tour for everyone that would like to get to know the San Blas Islands but does not have the time to stay overnight or prefers to visit only during the day. Children are highly welcome, although we recommend that children are 6+ years old given that it is quite a long day (5am to 7pm).

Which islands will be visited?

You will visit 2-3 islands and a natural pool (star fish!) during this day tour. Our day tour does not follow a fixed itinerary but let us know during the booking process if you’d prefer visiting either the sunken ship on Isla Perro (one of the highlights of San Blas, but tends to be rather crowded on weekends) or more quiet, uninhabited islands (for example Kuanidup, Iguana or Anmardup).

We will try to accommodate your wishes. Our guides put together a daily itinerary, depending on several factors such as weather, season and how crowded the islands will be on that particular day

What are lunch options?

For lunch, you can choose between the catch of the day, chicken or a vegan/vegetarian option with a side of rice, plantains or vegetables/salad. Drinks and beverages can be purchased or you can bring your own.

Will there be an English-speaking guide?

While we try to hire English-speaking guides and drivers, we cannot guarantee that there will be one with you during the tour. In San Blas, only Kuna people (the indigenous tribe living on the San Blas Islands) are allowed to work, and unfortunately there is only few Kuna guides that speak English AND fulfill our high quality standards. Therefore you might find a Spanish-only guide on this tour. But don’t let this discourage you from joining, usually communication still works well.

What should I pack?

You’ll be spending an entire day out on the ocean and in the sun so we highly recommend dressing accordingly! 

Please bring mandatory: 

  • Passport : mandatory, it will be checked upon entering the Comarca of Kuna Yala (San Blas)
  • Sufficient cash: in US Dollars to pay for the trip in cash, to buy drinks, snacks, souvenirs on the island (small bills of 1 USD and 5 USD highly recommended) – Credit cards are not accepted and there is no ATM in San Blas 

Additionally, we recommend: 

  • Sun protection: for the island and the boat ride (sun blocker, hat, T-shirt with sleeves, towel)
  • Water to drink: Water/soft drinks are not included in the package, please bring sufficient or purchase on the island
  • Swimming gear
  • Sandals, flip flops (no closed shoes)
  • Wetbag or plastic bag for your valuables in case of a wet boat ride or rain
  • Snorkeling equipment

Please wrap sensitive items and put them in a waterproof bag as the boat ride to and between islands might get bumpy and wet at times. Have your passport and cash with you during the car ride and ready to present when entering the Comarca of San Blas (passport check + payment of the governmental entrance fee).

Which currency is most widely accepted on this tour?

San Blas is cash-only, there are no ATMs or card payments in San Blas. Please bring sufficient cash (US Dollars), preferably in bills of $1 or $5 for paying for snacks, water, taxes etc. since locals rarely have sufficient change. 

Why is there a governmental fee to enter San Blas?

All visitors to the Comarca Kuna Yala, and thus to the San Blas islands, have to pay a fee upon entering. For this purpose, there are inspection points at all entrance points to Kuna Yala, such as along the only road, all ports and all airports. This fee is used to protect the rich biodiversity of the Kuna Yala rainforests. 

It is $20 for foreigners and $5 for nationals and residents. 

Can I drive to San Blas myself?

San Blas cannot be reached via public transport and entrance to the area is strictly controlled by the local government. A limited number of independent drivers are certified to bring tourists to the San Blas islands in SUV/4WD as sort of chartered taxis at a fixed price. It is currently NOT possible to drive in your own car to San Blas or hire a taxi-service and the transport needs to be organized together with your tour/stay. 

We organize the transport to San Blas and back for you together with your stay and for this collaborate closely with a selected number of licensed drivers. 

Do you also offer private tours?

Yes, we also offer private day tours! Reach out to us for more info on options and pricing. 

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TravelinFamVA

Spectacular/Unique Private Islands Tour: You will find many mixed reviews of this day trip from diff operators but we had an awesome time, taking a private tour from Panama City to the Guna Yala protected islands (of whch there are several). It took us a lot of back and forth in advance picking the right tour company but San Blas Frontera lived up to everything they detailed in our messages and our requests. The day starts early around 530am and ends with a return to the hotel around 7pm. There was definitely a lot of behind the scenes coordination that happens between the tour operator, 4×4 driver, Guna Yala tour guide and boat captain (so while you may feel in the dark – as long as you have arranged in advance , it was very smooth and organized contrary to many reviews – we were in our boat within 15 min of arrival). We chose to do a tour just for our family which permitted us to have our own 4×4 (which typically will fit only 5 adults comfortably plus the driver) and our own boat launch (which typically holds about 14). The 4×4 drive starts on paved roads leaving the city, with a stop at a convenience store and then the last 1.5 – 2 hours is through the rainforest (which as of end of March 2023 was being paved slowly). You arrive at the port and the launch is either there or arrives from an island. Yarmachi contacted us the night before, so that we could pick from a few options on which islands and activities to do (This is only possible on a private trip) and also determined by weather and winds. The boat ride can be a bit rough as well but our captain was very mindful to make it as smooth as possible. On the trip, we visited an island for some beach time, the sunken ship park, the natural pool and lunch on a “remote” island too. The pool was super wild but we didnt spot any starfish. We travel a lot and this was an out of this world experience with our 2 children (8 and 10) – they even prepared veg options for 2 of us. The island hopping lasts abt 5 to 6 hours and then you take the same 4×4 back to your hotel. I recommend bringing some cash for drinks, snacks and tips. You can also pack some snacks and towels for yourself to use on the islands. We also brought snorkeling gear for the ship.

san blas mexico tours

A perfect way to experience the beauty of Guna Yala We booked a day trip to Guna Yala through San Blas Frontera and had a fantastic experience. Yarmachi was prompt and helpful on email in advance of the trip, and provided clear instructions for our preparation and pickup. We opted to pay extra for a private car, and our driver arrived at our hotel at exactly 5 am, as promised. We stopped at a grocery store along the way to grab breakfast and additional snacks for the excursion. Yes, the drive to the port is long and winding. But if you can take some motion sickness medicine and try to relax and enjoy, it is part of the adventure. We enjoyed the scenery and animals through the windows, and our guide Jorge provided interesting stories and information as we went.

You will get out of the experience what you put into it. If you are able to relax and embrace some of the unknown and unexpected that is inherent in the trek, and meaningfully engage with the experience, it is very powerful and you can learn a lot.

At the port, our driver introduced us to our guide for the day and told us to listen clearly to everything they said. It was a little busy with several boats loading and unloading, and we waited a few minutes until she pointed to us to get us into the boat. Then we took off for the islands and entered paradise.

It is hard to describe the beauty of these islands and the overall setting. It is simply magical. We arrived at Yani and were greeted warmly at the dining area. We were given clear instructions (in english and spanish) and were free to enjoy. Lunch was delicious and the water and sand were magnificent. Then we went to a natural pool to snorkel a bit, and on to Perro Chico.

It is important to remember that Guna Yala is a community, it is not a resort. You are not there to be treated like a VIP 5 star guest. You are there to experience another culture, to listen, to learn, and to be respectful. Do not expect that everyone will speak Spanish or English. A few basic words and phrases in Guna will go a long way.

(If you will be in Panama City before your trip, visit the Mueso de la Mola in Casco Viejo for an excellent introduction to the history, art, culture, and language of Guna Yala.)

I am very grateful to have had this experience, and next time will plan to stay for an overnight or two to have even more time in Guna Yala.

Definitely Worth It So this company organized our San Blas Islands Day Trip and it was very easy to navigate (and everything to expect was clearly listed in the info for the tour – don’t listen to some of the reviews that said the drivers didn’t speak any English and it was a chaotic mess – our driver spoke some English and the Port want nearly as chaotic as I was Oriya thinking based off of reviews). The company listed everything we would experience and even said although it may appear to be chaotic at times, everyone knew what they were doing – and they were right! (Also, if it helps, this company quickly responded to any inquiries I had via email and they were very friendly and helpful!)

So do be aware that getting to the island are rough. From Amador Causeway, the journey to the port took 3.5-4 hours. The first hour or so is just bumpy highway, while the next couple hours is awful (but it wasn’t the tour’s fault by any means). The “road” is a windy, up-down, washed out (at certain points), pot hot filled trek that will probably leave some people motion sick (I got really motion sick on the way back – my group referred to this road as nature’s roller coaster). I HIGHLY suggest taking something for motion sickness. Again, this is at no fault of the company (and all companies have to travel this road to get there).

But the islands are absolutely worth enduring nature’s roller coaster. Stunning, Crystal clear waters, chill vibes, conch, sand dollar, and starfish sightings; Snorkeling around a ship wreck (very close to a beach); all of this was well worth the trek out.

If you are physically able to endure rough roads, I highly suggest you take this trip with this company.

san blas mexico tours

Loved the excursion! San Blas is such a beautiful place, my daughter and I felt as if we were in paradise!

san blas mexico tours

Had a great time on the tour, although I would have enjoyed having more time on the islands. Next time I will probably book an overnight stay.

IMAGES

  1. ≫ Îles San Blas (que voir et comment s'y rendre)

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  2. San Blas Jungla Tour

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  3. Archipiélago de San Blas Excursiones de un día: lo MEJOR de 2022

    san blas mexico tours

  4. San Blas

    san blas mexico tours

  5. Tour La Tovara San Blas Nayarit

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  6. San Blas: una verdadera joya del Pacífico, en la Riviera Nayarit

    san blas mexico tours

VIDEO

  1. #Ponytrippin cape San Blas, Mexico Beach Fl. Port st. Joe

  2. 3rd day in San Blas Islands

  3. North Florida, Lost Coast

  4. Crocodiles in La Tovara, San Blas: Mexico's treasure in the Pacific

  5. San Blas, Todo Por Descubrir‬

  6. Celebrating Life in San Blas, Mexico

COMMENTS

  1. San Blas Eco River Tours & Birding in Riviera Nayarit Mexico

    San Blas Bird Watching. San Blas eco river tours in Riviera Nayarit are worth the experience. This area of Nayarit is world renowned as "the" best destination in all of Mexico for bird watching. From the brown pelican and Rufous-bellied Chachalaca to the Neotropic Cormorant, the Anhinga, the Great Egret, Tricolored Heron, White-Faced Ibis ...

  2. La Tovara Springs

    About. This three-hour guided boat trip takes you through the estuary and mangrove swamps to a natural pool at La Tovara Spring, where guests are encouraged to swim with an (allegedly) tame crocodile. San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico. Meets animal welfare guidelines. Contact.

  3. Tours

    Local phone: 323 285 1281. E-mail: [email protected] [email protected]. Social Media: facebook. To request tours cost, please contact the specialized and authorized service supplier directly. Sartiaguin tourist rides. Phone number: Cell phone: 323 108 5203.

  4. San Blas, Riviera Nayarit

    - State of the Republic: Nayarit. - Location: San Blas is a sleepy seaside town located on the tropical Pacific coast of Mexico, 160 km / 99 miles north or Puerto Vallarta and 64 km / 40 miles west of the State Capital, Tepic. - Popularity of this tour: Very popular, as San Blas has long been one of Mexico's most exciting and productive birding destinations, and for good reason, which ...

  5. San Blas

    Before our return, we head to the beach for a delicious lunch and some free time, then enjoy a short stroll in the city's main plaza. Flexible dates, subject to availability. Please contact us to request dates of your choice. 6 people or more: $1,500 pesos per person. 4 people: $2,000 pesos per person. 3 people: $2,600 pesos per person.

  6. La Tovara, San Blas, Mexico

    A trip on the Jungle Boat Ride to La Tovara will be the highlight of your vacation in San Blas. With the mangrove wetlands as your backup you will see rare tropical birds as well as turtles, iguanas and crocodiles. This is an excellent trip for birdwatchers. Be sure to stop at the crocodile farm where they breed crocodiles for repopulation. La ...

  7. San Blas Mexico Mangrove Boat Tour

    A Bird-Filled Mangrove Boat Tour - San Blas, Mexico. San Blas, on the Nayarit coast between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, sits on an almost-imperceptible high spot which is surrounded by a sprawling mangroves which can be explored by boat for bird watching and mosquito swatting. Our prow pushed silently through still water as we floated ...

  8. San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico EcoTours

    La Tovara Jungle Boat Tour. See salt water crocodiles, turtles and tropical birds in the wild. This tour is an 8-mile round trip through the twisting waterways of the San Blas mangrove zone where wildlife is around every corner. The tour takes you through tunels of overhanging mangrove branches in which iguanas, tropical birds and waterfowl ...

  9. San Blas tour

    San Blas is one of the main places for bird watching on the Western Hemisphere and the west coast of Mexico thanks to its diverity of habitats that include, Rainforests,mangroves and marshes, sea and beaches, estuaries and lagoons, mountain forests of pine and oak, and islands, all of which host easily accessible birding sites.

  10. Diving Beyond Adventures

    Join the adventure in San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico! This website provides tourist information about San Blas ecotourism: Birding, whale-watching, jungle boat tours, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, ... Jungle Boat Tour : Archeology: Mexico Cultures : Hotels & Bungalows : San Blas Map & Weather :

  11. San Blas Jungle Tour

    Book this tour with a small deposit and pay the rest the day of the tour. All prices are in U.S. Dollars and include all taxes. OR MAKE IT PRIVATE! PRIVATE SAN BLAS & LA TOVARA (10 PEOPLE) Hotel Price. Our Price. You Save! $1450.00. $1290.00.

  12. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in San Blas

    Bodies of Water. This beautiful bay lined with restaurants and sandy beaches is the best place to swim in San Blas. 2. Las Islitas. 100. Beaches. Beach on Matanchen Bay. 3. Contaduria.

  13. San Blas Overnight Tour Package

    6) Snorkel & Mask during San Blas Boat tour 7) Extended departure day lunch. Checkout from your cabin is at 8:00am. The San Blas boat tour boat will pick you up from the island either 9:30am-10:00am or after lunch, depending on your island selection. Included in the San Blas day tour is a lunch and a beverage. WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

  14. Mexico: San Blas

    PACE OF THE TOUR: As with all tours in the tropics, we'll try to be in the field around dawn which, given the configuration of planets, sun, and local time zones, means 6:30 a.m. Most birding sites are within 5 minutes' walk to 30 minutes' drive of our hotel in San Blas, which puts on great buffet breakfasts before we leave in the mornings.

  15. San Blas Mexico

    San Blas & Bahía de Matanchén. Located just 67-km north of Las Varas, San Blas Mexico on the Bay of Matanchén (Bahía de Matanchén) is the type of destination that is perfect for a weekend getaway with family and friends.San Blas is also just 42-km from Guayabitos and 147-km from Nuevo Vallarta.. Along the seven kilometers (four miles) of fine sand beaches of Bahía de Matanchén you can ...

  16. Mexico: San Blas

    Call 1-866-547-9868 (US or Canada) or (01) 520-320-9868 or click here to email. * Tour invoices paid by check carry a 4% discount. Details here . This tour is limited to eight participants with one leader. WINGS Birding Tours to Mexico: San Blas - Mangroves and Forests - Itinerary. WINGS is a worldwide birding tour company based in Tucson ...

  17. Full-Day San Blas Tour From Puerto Vallarta

    San Blas Tour offers an immersive full-day experience in the captivating port town of San Blas, allowing travelers to explore its rich history and explore its picturesque surroundings. The cancellation policy allows for a full refund if canceled 24 hours in advance, with no changes accepted after the cancellation deadline .

  18. Craving a Mexico trip? Try San Blas, a quick flight from L.A.

    The San Blas you'll love is the Mexico you'll find beyond the beach. By Anne Z. Cooke. Feb. 20, 2020 8 AM PT . Facebook; Twitter; ... I had booked a boat tour for my husband, Steve, ...

  19. Visit San Blas, Nayarit

    San Blas. San Blas is both a municipality and municipal seat located on the Pacific coast of Mexico in Nayarit. San Blas is a port and a popular tourist destination, located about 160 kilometres (99 mi) north of Puerto Vallarta, and 64 kilometres (40 mi) west of the state capital Tepic. The town has a population of 8,707.

  20. San Blas Overnight Package

    Day 2: Breakfast is served after 7am. After breakfast you will be picked up by our lancha boat, which will take you on a San Blas island tour in the Lemon keys. Visit 2 other islands and snorkel over colorful reefs. Stand waist deep in the Natural Pools and find sea stars. Lunch is served by 12:30pm.

  21. San Blas Islands Day Tour incl. Return Transport

    5:00am-7:30pm. San Blas Islands (Cartí area) Offered daily. Pick-up and drop-off at your hotel. No pre-payment & free cancellation. Discover the most beautiful beaches of the 365 islands in the San Blas Archipelago during this San Blas Islands day trip from Panama City. Wander tropical beaches on deserted islands, snorkel colorful reefs and ...

  22. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in San Blas

    Matanchen Bay. This beautiful bay lined with restaurants and sandy beaches is the best place to swim in San Blas. 2. Las Islitas. Beach on Matanchen Bay. 3. Contaduria. Old hillside fort built in 1770.

  23. Visit the Islas Marias and Explore the Legendary ...

    How to visit Las Islas Marias, Mexico. So far, the only way to get to the Marias Islands (arriving at Puerto Balleto) is sailing from the port of Mazatlan or San Blas via ferry, an approximately five-hour journey (flying to the Islands will be possible by the end of 2023). The trip will cost around 5,500 pesos (270 USD) per person for two nights.

  24. Help: 2,5 Week Itinerary for August/September

    Day 2 - PC (Panama Canal Tour) Day 3 - PC (Nationalpark next to the city + exploring the city) Day 4 - San Blas Tour day 1. Day 5 - San Blas Tour day 2. Day 6 - San Blas Tour day 3, return to PC. Day 7 - Depart PC, arrive at Valle de Anton (by bus or shuttle) Day8 - Valle de Anton. Day9 - Valle de Anton. Day10 - depart Valle de Anton, arrive at ...