The small fishing village of San Blas, 70 km northwest of Tepic, the capital of the state of Nayarit, was an important Spanish port from the late 16th to the 19th century. San Blas has the amenities of a small beach resort town, yet it retains the character of a typical Mexican village. Today's visitors come to enjoy nature -isolated beaches, abundant, exotic birds (250 species counted so far), a thick tropical jungle, estuaries and a navigable river. In San Blas you can visit the old fort and customs house, which hark back to the port's importance in colonial times. It was once a shipbuilding center, and the point of departure for exploring the Pacific Northwest. Ships were built here for the Philippines' trade and once warships hid out in Matanch Bay, on the lookout for pirates.