Where is Manzanillo?
Manzanillo is one of those secluded hide-a-ways that you'll never forget--if you can just get there. Since, during the summer months, there is only one direct flight, on Alaska Air from Los Angeles (LAX) to Manzanillo's airport, Playa de Oro (ZLO), finding a hassle-free, inexpensive way to get here can be a pain. But here's several ways to make it easier, and once here, you'll understand why it's worth the extra effort!
Many major metropolitan cities have direct flights to Puerto Vallarta (PVR) or to Guadalajara (GDL). Once in either of those two cities, you can either rent a car and drive yourself, or take a first class bus!
There is also a direct flight to and from Manzanillo by Aereo Calafia, leaving PV at 10:40 a.m. twice a week. Cost is about $85 one way with fare and taxes. Go to their web site at www.aereocalafia.com.mx for more details.
There are always special deals to Pto. Vallarta. We've seen airfares as low as $199 round trip. Search the internet for an "air only" price, or call your travel agent. Check the travel section in your local newspaper. Summer rates to Pto. Vallarta from all major American cities can average about $250 round trip, or less, if you watch for specials.
Manzanillo is only 4 hours south (165 miles) of Pto. Vallarta, so rent a car! It's a beautiful, safe drive along Pacific Coast Hwy. 200. By renting a car at the airport, it will take you about an hour just to get through noisy, congested PV. But once out of the traffic and heading south, you'll see miles of coconut and banana plantations, small Mexican villages, and spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean! The road, although a very good two-lane, has a few hills and curves. You'll reach an altitude of 4,400 feet, where you'll enjoy a forest of pine trees and wonderful smells, and you'll drop down to sea level to experience the ocean breezes. You'll see various birds and other assorted wildlife, such as armadillos, deer, iguanas or coatimundis (raccoon-like creatures). There are numerous places to stop along the way for a refreshing soft drink or ice cold beer.
If you'd like to do a little
along the way,
MISMALOYA BEACH: Famous for the 1964 film "Night of the Iguana," starring Richard Burton and Ava Gardner, Mismaloya is a beautiful bay with many thatched roof restaurants and calm seas.
BOCA DE TOMATLAN: About 25 minutes south of PV, the little fishing village of Boca stands out as being very picturesque, although somewhat touristy. The Cafe Primitivo boasts a beautiful view of the small bay, and also has a pet coatimundi. There are also other restaurants on the beach, and a small convenience store.
EL TUITO: About an hour out of PV, this town is famous for its Mexican moonshine, called raicilla. Brewed up in the hills, you can buy it for about $12/liter from one of the roadside restaurants. It is reputed to be an aphrodisiac and a few other qualities that you'll have to experience!
FORTUNA, CHAMELA, PERULA AND ROSADAS BEACHES: About another hour to the south, you'll see signs to these areas--small villages with thatched-roof restaurants on the beach. Generally large waves for body surfing and boogie boarding in some areas, and shell collecting and swimming in others. There's inexpensive, overnight camping in Chamela in case you'll want a stopover.
VILLA POLYNESIA: You're halfway to Manzanillo! This started out as an idyllic copy of a Polynesian village, but its remoteness didn't quite help its popularity. They have "tropical huts" to sleep in, and also tent-shaped cabins, a restaurant (usually not open during the summer), and a wide expanse of beach. The roadside restaurant is a good stopping point for lunch (the busses stop here), the food is Mexican, tasty, and inexpensive. There is also a hotel, nothing fancy, but reasonably priced.
EL TECUAN: Formerly, there was a very nice, rustic hotel, tucked away off the main road is in this beautiful forested location. The site is now abandoned and for sale. On the 15 minute drive to the hotel, you can see all types of wildlife. Parts of the movie, "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" were filmed here. You'll recognize the turn-off by the lighthouse on the right (west) side of the coastal highway.
TENACATITA: Another beautiful white sand beach, with areas for snorkeling and diving, beachcombing and thatched-roof restaurants with excellent fresh seafood. Other small beaches, such as Playa Mora and La Boca are often used for camping. Each small beach is an individual treasure for you to explore. Driving in to Tenacatita, the road will "T." To the left are several small hotels. By taking the right for, you'll pass numerous restaurants on the beach, and a hill at the end. By going up and over the hill, you'll find a shade tree, and a white sand beach perfect for snorkeling the huge coral reef system in shallow water.
LA MANZANILLA: This little fishing town as several hotels, and a few restaurants. You never know what will be open or closed, but where else can a person stay for $15-30/night? If you need to make a phone call you can do it here. You're only an hour from Manzanillo.
BARRA de NAVIDAD & MELAQUE: Since you're only about 40 minutes from Manzanillo, you'll probably want to save this for a special trip. There's lots to do and see here, and it's worth spending some time a little later in your vacation. The water taxi will take you to Colimilla, or you can do a 40-minute tour around the lagoon.
MANZANILLO BY BUS: If you choose to take a bus to Manzanillo instead of driving yourself, a taxi to the bus depot will be about $15 U.S., even though it is only about 4 minutes away! There's a bus leaving for Manzanillo only twice a day, the last one being about 3 p.m. Taking a bus to Manzanillo, usually involves an overnight stay in Puerto Vallarta. Your plane should arrive in PV no later than 12:30 if you want to make the last bus out. We recommend the bus lines Primera Plus, or La Linea Plus. (Be sure and ask for the "directo" bus; it's a 5½ to 6-hour trip with only one 15 min. stop at the the restaurant in Villa Polynesia. If you don't get the direct bus, you'll enjoy about an 8-hour bus trip with about 20 stops in between.) Cost, depending on the bus line, is about $30 U.S., but bring pesos (money exchange at airport).