The community of San Blas has a lot of history. The Huichol (Wixárika) people consider the area a holy place and their origin story takes place on a small island just off the coast. For the Spanish, it was one of the most important ports on the Pacific. Gold was sent to the Philippines to buy Chinese silk and spices that were sent back to Spain. Today San Blas is a Naval training center, a fishing town (commercial and sport), and a favorite beach town for the population in Tepic.
The State of Nayarit is packed full of spectacular beaches, tasty waves, and exotic fruits. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be desensitized to the wonders around me. The rainy season has left the countryside every shade of green imaginable. From Guadalajara to Las Islitas, Nayarit, from the highlands to sea level, the scenery is incredible.
Las Islitas, Nayarit
There is another break on the inside called Las Islitas or Matanchén Bay. There was a time when it was considered the longest wave in the world by the hodads at the Guinness Book of World Records. It’s a gimmick that even the longboarders are going to get board with. Las Islitas is a good place to teach your kid or spouse to surf but not much else.
I don’t get to the beach as much as I would like but when I see a big swell on the forecast I try to get organized, even if it’s just for one day. I leave before sunrise and have to be back in Guadalajara before 7 pm. The drive should be less than three hours if I can get out of Guadalajara before the morning traffic.
There are dozens of enramadas, or rustic kitchens usually with palm frond thatched roofs and plastic chairs with a Corona logo. The specialty is grilled whole fish, local oysters, and coconut water.
Look for restaurants that have lots of people. There are a couple of restaurants that look pretty slow during the week and aren’t turning their inventory over that quickly.
The beaches further inside the bay have very small waves that are great for the kids to play in. Most days, there are absolutely no waves at the first couple of beaches. This happened to be one of the biggest swells of the season and the waves out on the point were three-to-five-foot-tall. On the inside, the waves were one-to-two-foot-tall and reeling down the line with perfect form.
After the last enramada the mosquitos come out and it feels like you are driving into the estuary.
Playa Borrego is a 3 minute drive south of the town square. It is mostly inconsequential beach break. You are not going to buy a plane ticket to surf this wave. The star of the show is Stoners Point on the northern edge of Matanchén Bay. When it’s on you should cancel your plans and spend a few days posting up in San Blas.
The road turns to unmaintained dirt, and lastly four-wheel drive only. The stretch of trail that you need four-wheel-drive for is only 300 yards long, but there are some good-sized rocks and some soft sand at the end.
Stoner’s Point is the very tip of the estuary. The river empties into the ocean just on the other side of the point. Some of the guys walk down from San Blas and swim across the river mouth. This is where the mosquitos become especially aggressive. During the early morning and late evening, the mosquitos become untolerable.
This is one of the longest waves in Mexico. It held a Guinness Record but the sand has since shifted and doesn’t connect like it used to. Even though it is no longer the longest wave in the world, it is still a very long wave. Check out this guy’s wave. I estimate that he rode this wave more than 500 meters. That is like a quarter-mile long ride.
Stoners Point needs a serious swell to wake up. If the open ocean buoy is less than 4ft it is going to be a lake. When you see a serious south-west swell you should cancel your plans a post up in San Blas for a few days. The wave runs down, has a ton of sections and quarter mile long rides are common. The wave starts off mellow with an easy drop and quickly stands up and races down the line.
Stoner’s Point is a very fickle wave. It only breaks a couple of times a year when the swell is absolutely maxing out. Keep your eye on the swell forecast to see if you can score this place. Las Islitas Nayarit is a treasure that you should visit even if the waves aren’t that big. I am sure that you will enjoy it.
How to Get From Guadalajara to San Blas
Stoner’s Point in San Blas has become my new favorite surf spot. The drive in from Guadalajara is really easy. It is all freeway without those mountainous curves that you have to go through to get to Puerto Vallarta. I can usually make it in two and a half hours depending on what the traffic is like getting in and out of Guadalajara.
The drive is 250 kilometers (155 miles) with 230 km of easy, well-marked, and mostly straight toll-freeway driving. As you leave Guadalajara it’s still dark, but as the sun rises over the Tequila Volcano you can see agave fields come out of a low hanging cloud. A little further out of town the forest starts: oak, parota, even huge cacti. The scenery is filled with cornfields then another extinct volcano that has left a black, metamorphic rock landscape.
As you cross into the State of Nayarit and approach Ixtlan del Río, keep an eye out for the ostrich farm on the side of the freeway. The landscape change and there is more sugarcane and even more cornfields.
There is a macrolibremiento bypass that lets you go around Tepic, doing 100 km/h, rather than going through the city center. It just gets greener and more tropical as you go. On the backside of Tepic is an old textile mill with an arched aqueduct and brick furnace chimney tower. This is where the elevation drops rapidly and it gets intensely tropical.
The scenery changes to trees of banana and mango and billboards warn you to watch for big cats.
This is where you get your first glimpse of the ocean. The freeway turns to a local road that parallels the bay for another 5 minutes. Turn left at the intersection with the banana bread bakeries. Make sure to stop on the way out and pick up banana bread for your wife who is home watching the kid.
If you drive in to Las Islitas you need 4×4 or at least a truck with good clearance to make it all the way out to the point. If not, you can park a half mile down the point and walk in. Make sure to visit the old Spanish fort and the abandoned 18th century church on the bluff overlooking the city. The views are awesome and the tour guides have some great stories.