Playa Las Brisas is slightly further from the city; it is used by guests at several resorts but is also open to the general public.
Playa Azul is a long beach that curves around the Bahia de Manzanillo Bay.
Our favorite beaches in the region are on the northern side of Las Hadas Resort in the Bahia de Santiago.
Playa Olas Altas is a very popular beach stretching around much of Bahia de Santiago. Vendors selling umbrellas roam the beach in search of customers. I highly recommend renting an umbrella to escape the intensity of the very hot sunshine.
Due to its location, the surf is strong enough that one can go surfing or body boarding directly from the beach. It is not as sheltered as some of the other nearby beaches. It is long and wide and located right next to the road which means one does not have to walk very far to reach the water (parking is alongside the road).
Miramar Beach is the most northern beach in the immediate vicinity of Manzanillo. This beach is also good for body boarding or surfing; one can rent a variety of water related gear here.
Playa La Audencia is my favorite beach in the area; it is located alongside a small cove at the end of a street (parking is on the sides of the street). This beach is on the same peninsula as Las Hadas Resort – turnoff before reaching the resort. I highly recommend arriving early, (before 9am), as visitors fill up the limited number of parking spots very quickly. Vendors sell T-shirts and other souvenirs. They price of the souvenirs tends to be quite high because they cater to a variety of tourists and guests of Las Hadas Resort. They do have a good selection though. Of all the items we saw for sale, the t-shirts were priced the most reasonably.
All sorts of gear for water activities can be rented here. Do not hesitate to bargain. We discovered that the men renting equipment will quote you a price depending on how they feel at that particular moment. And based on multiple inquiries over several days, they never were in a good mood.
They rent wave runners (quite expensive at around $60 per 1/2 hour), snorkeling equipment, paddle boards, small boats to tour the bay, and also sell tickets for rides on a banana boats. The snorkeling equipment (fins, mask, and snorkel) wasn’t very expensive but it was in bad condition. If you own snorkeling equipment, I would highly suggest using it rather then renting. I found that quality of rental equipment was not dependent on location. Every place that I rented equipment from had old and often beaten up equipment. The renters let the equipment degrade until someone finally breaks it and then they charge that person extra for breaking their equipment.
Playa La Audencia is not a huge beach, but is large enough to accommodate the general public as well as the guests of the local resorts. The waves are extremely gentle and among the most easiest to deal with out of all the beaches we experienced in Manzanillo. Snorkeling is fabulous with the best conditions in the southern part of the small bay. An incredible variety of fish and sea life lurks just underneath the surface of the waters. I was swimming with schools of brightly colored orange, red and purple fish. The small coves in the bay contained some of the most diverse sea life I have ever seen. Bring your GoPro. If you have never swam in the ocean before, I would recommend to take a small bottle of freshwater along with you. Perhaps hook it to your belt. This water will be a welcome relief after swimming in the bay for a while. In my case I was constantly sucking in saltwater which was causing some queasiness – having some freshwater along would have eliminated this for sure.
A large resort is situated about 10 feet from this beach. You can people staying at this resort by the ones wearing pink bracelets. In my opinion the best part of this beach is on the southern end. This section far enough away from most of the crowds – and also offers some overhanging trees for shade.