Photo: Christian Frausto Bernal, Vista desde la caja de agua en el cerro de las antenas
Tepic (elevation: 900 meters or 2,950 feet) is one of Mexico’s most magical cities and one of its cleanest. As a travel hub, it’s hard to miss if you’re visiting the Pacific coast. It’s the bustling state capital of Nayarit.
Tepic sits in a high altitude basin near a trio of volcanoes: Sanganguey in the east, Tepetiltic to the south and San Juan in the west.
Plaza Principal is the heart of the city and one of the nicest town plazas in the country. Located here are the large cathedral and Palacio Municipal (city hall).
If you want to understand the Indigenous and mestizo cultures here, be sure to check out the Museo de Artes Populares, Hidalgo #60 Ote, which has the best examples of regional crafts. Maps in the exhibition rooms identify where various groups of Cora and Huichol people live. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 2 to 7 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
The Regional Museum at Avenida #91 Norte has fine exhibitions.
Many of the stores in the city sell Huichol crafts.
This city is now the urban outpost of the Cora and the Huichol.
Fifty kilometers (31 miles) south of Tepic is the Laguna de Santa Maria del Oro, a 3-kilometer-wide lagoon that is the crater of an extinct volcano. This park is off the tourist trail, but the place can be busy on weekends.
On the coast is the fishing town of San Blas, just 69 kilometers (43 miles) from Tepic. While the town is well-known for birding, it is also notorious for pesky sand flies. State officials will try to convince you that a nearby jungle trip to La Tovara is environmental tourism. Could be – if it weren’t for the noisy motorboats. While the freshwater spring is pleasant for swimming, the noisy boat ride to the resort is awkward at best. If they aren’t scared by the noise or polluted by the petrol, you might catch a glimpse of raccoons, iguanas, turtles, boat-billed herons, egrets, and parrots. The boat ride leaves at the bridge outside San Blas.
A more traditional destination is Mexcaltitán, a small village laid out like a wheel. The town occupies an island in the middle of a saltwater lagoon. Streets are underwater during the rainy season, prompting the use of boats that ferry people around. If you want to visit, you’ll need to take a wooden boat (lancha) from La Batanga, a small wharf outside the town of Santiago Ixcuintla, 60 kilometers (37 miles) northwest of Tepic.