This is the second of 4 articles that originally appeared on Dave’s Travel Corner about select locations in Mexico. The first one was about Oaxaca City, and the 3rd and 4th articles include Colima City and Guadalajara. A 5th article about Xcalak on the Yucatan Peninsula is also available.
The beautiful town of Manzanillo is located in the state of Colima, Mexico. It is probably best referenced geographically by using Puerto Vallarta as a reference point. Most people, especially those from the United States have heard of Puerto Vallarta. It is, after all, a popular get away for Americans during the winter months. Manzanillo is located about 150 miles south of Puerto Vallarta on two small bays located on the coast.
Manzanillo in some ways has a feel of Puerto Vallarta but it is not nearly as touristy. Oh sure, there are parts of Manzanillo where all you will find are the all inclusive resorts, where you see people lounging around with pink bracelets on their wrists or obese folks hanging around the pool with heavy gold and silver necklaces drooping from their necks. Yes, there is this aspect of Manzanillo but there is much more if you give yourself the chance to explore.
Manzanillo is an extremely old seaside town. The two bays near the town are partly responsible for its growth. They offer protection from the ravages of the sea. Bahia De Santiago is the most northern bay, and Bahia De Manzanillo is the Bay directly north of the town of Manzanillo.
Manzanillo most likely was trading with the Orient before the Spaniards arrived in Mexico. It was eventually settled by Europeans who used the town as departure points for other locations, not only in Mexico, by other parts of the world as well. Latin America’s first shipping yard was established in Manzanillo in 1531. Even though this is a good town for tourism and laying around the beach, and relaxing, it is still first and foremost a commerce and shipping town. The downtown has an industrial feel and you get a sense that this is a real working city. It wasn’t until the mid 1970’s that Manzanillo began attracting mainstream tourists. Advertising its recreation as a “seaside playground” Manzanillo soon became much more popular with American tourists. The filming of the 1979 movie “10” starring Bo Derek certainly didn’t hurt Manzanillo’s image for tourists.
What really secured the areas place among the Mexican tourist giants was the opening of Las Hadas in 1974. I remember my Grandparents visiting this resort from a cruise ship soon after it opened. I always remember their rave reviews and awe. Las Hadas was started by a Bolivian tin baron.
Besides the shipping industry and tourism, people come to Manzanillo to fish, fish, and fish some more. Manzanillo proudly boasts of its waters as being the “Fishing Capital of the World.” The nearby waters are supposed to have some of the best sailfish fishing in the world. The sailfish season is from November to March. In fact Manzanillo holds a large international fishing tournament in November. Smaller tournaments are held in February. Other fish readily caught in these waters are marlin, red snapper, sea bass, yellowtail, and tuna.
One other thing worth mentioning is the beautiful tidal lagoons that you can see from the main highway both north and south of Manzanillo. If you are into bird watching these would be the places to do it. Herons, pelicans, and flamingos are often seen in and near these lagoons.
Lastly, Manzanillo does not appeal to shoppers simply because there is a fairly limited selection of shops. The zocalo or main square has several shops but they mostly sell cheap touristy type trinkets.