West of Tepic lies the coastal plain: sultry, marshy and flat, dotted with palm trees and half-submerged under lagoons teeming with wildlife. You have to travel through this to reach SAN BLAS, once an important port but now an enjoyably laidback travellers’ hangout. For such a small town (with around fifteen thousand inhabitants), San Blas manages to absorb its many visitors – who come mainly in winter – without feeling overrun. During the summer it’s virtually deserted, but in January and February the town is a magnet for birdwatchers, and in February the city also hosts its biggest festival in honour of San Blas (St Blaise). Do not come here without insect repellent or you will be eaten alive: legions of ferocious sand flies (jejénes) plague the beaches mornings and late afternoon, and the mosquitoes descend en masse at dusk.