Soak in the full natural beach experience at San Blas’s most economical accommodation, Stoner’s Surf Camp (Playa el. Borrego, www.stonerssurfcamp.com). Stay in their rustically snug bamboo and thatch cabañnitas, complete with fan, mosquito net, towels, and sheets, for $20 s, $15 d high season, $10 s and $15 d low, with shared toilets and showers. Amenities include restaurant, use of kitchen, use of surfboard ($3 for all day) and bikes for cabaña guests. Camping, with use of kitchen, runs $3 per person; tent rentals are available.
Slightly up the economic scale, the family-run casa de huéspedes (guesthouse) Casa María (corner of Canalizo and Michoacán, tel. 323/285-1057, $18 s, $23 d) makes a reality of the old Spanish saying, “Mi casa es su casa.” There are about 12 rooms around a homey, cluttered patio, and María offers to do everything for guests except give them baths (which she would probably do if someone got sick). Not spic-and-span, but very friendly and with kitchen privileges, fans, hot-water showers, and washing machine included.
You can also get a comfortable room at María’s adjacent original guesthouse, Casa Morelos (108 Heróico Batallón, tel. 323/285-1345, $14 s, $18 d), operated by her daughter, Magdalena, who rents by drop-in only.
A few blocks away, a block west of the plaza, the Hotel Bucanero (Calle Juárez 75, tel. 323/285-0101, $15 s, $20 d) appears to be living up to its name. A stanza from the Song of the Pirate emblazons one wall, a big stuffed crocodile bares its teeth beside the other, and a crusty sunken anchor and cannons decorate the shady patio. Despite peeling paint, 32 rooms (with ceiling fans and hot water) retain a bit of spacious, old-world charm, with high-beamed ceilings under the ruddy roof tile. (High, circular vent windows in some rooms cannot be closed, however. Use repellent or your mosquito net.) Outside, the big pool and leafy old courtyard provide plenty of nooks for daytime snoozing and socializing. A noisy nighttime (winter–spring seasonal) bar, however, keeps most guests without earplugs jumping until about midnight.
Although the facilities of the four-star Motel Marino Inn (Av. H. Batallón s/n, tel. 323/285-0303, $45 s or d) look fine on paper, the place is bare of most usual hotel amenities. The 60 rooms, although plain and mostly bare-bulb, are comfortable enough for a night or two, with air-conditioning, a pool (if it’s working), and private balconies. You’ll find it on the north edge of town, a few blocks before the beach. Credit cards are accepted.
In the same palm-shadowed, country fringe of town not far from Playa el Borrego is the Motel-Suites San Blas (Calles Aticama and Las Palmas, tel. 323/285-0505, vimais66 [at] hotmail [dot] com), left off H. Batallón a few blocks after the Motel Marino. Its pool, patio, playground, game room, and spacious but somewhat worn suites with kitchenettes (dishes and utensils not included) are nicely suited for active families. Another plus here are the several rooms with private view verandas overlooking the neighboring lush, wildlife-rich forest. The 23 fan-only suites include 16 one-bedrooms for two adults and kids ($27) and 7 two-bedrooms accommodating four adults with kids ($50); credit cards are accepted.
The lively family-operated Hotel Posada del Rey (Calle Campeche 10, tel. 323/285-0123, www.sanblasmexico.com/posadadelrey) seems to be trying hardest. It encloses a small but inviting pool and patio beneath a top-floor viewpoint bar (and high-season-only restaurant) that bubbles with continuous soft rock and salsa tunes. Year-round asking rates for the 13 rooms (with a/c) are about $32 s or d, but bargain for a low-season discount; credit cards are not accepted.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Puerto Vallarta, 7th edition