Friday, January 13, 2006

Trip report - Manzanillo Colima November 2002

Trip report from Manzanillo November 2002

I've been to the Melaque/Barra Navidad area before but have wanted to visit Manzanillo and the beaches in the area. The interesting information found on the Go Manzanillo web site and Rolly Brook's Rolly Brook - Manzanillo were my reason for seeing for myself.

Full Report of the 2002 Trip

Manzanillo Waterfront

I bused into the main bus station from Guadalajara and walked 20+ blocks to the central waterfront where most of the downtown hotels were. One block from the water is the Colonial Hotel, a classic from 1940's, very well kept, nice restaurant and only 200 pesos ($20us) a night for a single. The new waterfront development is mostly completed, is very well done and a stark contrast to the rest of downtown - but then contrast is what Mexico is all about. The multi-colored houses in the downtown area climb the steep hills that surround - with stairs and walkways winding between.

There is no beach in the downtown area so I grabbed a taxi to Santiago which is a complete little Mexican town on the northern edge of Manzanillo. My taxi driver pointed me to the perfect little motel in the center of town (off the main road) called Ma (Maria) Christina (210 pesos). Santiago is great for walking either back into town by the Plaza del Toros (Bull Ring), the walking bridge that crosses the river - or to the beach which is only two blocks from the Plaza. The beach there is called Olas Altas (big waves) but I found it to be a fun beach with fisherman, surfers, families and lots of walkers. (March 2006 - Just stayed at Ma Christina and prices are $250mx single and $390 for two people).

Santiago Sunset

After about three days in Santiago I wanted to see more of the area so I rented a car from National Rentals for two days and drove north to the Manzanillo airport and south to Tecoman and the beaches south. National Rentals is between Sorianna and Commerical Mexicana shopping centers and close to Susan Dearings dive shop on the Santiago Peninsula. The Internet Cafe in the Commerical Mexicana is also the best I found.

I took the highway 200 (libre-no tolls) to Tecoman to see the countryside, small towns, coconut and banana plantations and passed the "brick yard" where they make them. About 2/3 of the way to Tecoman is the turnoff to Cuyutlan, a little beach town that looks to be waiting for weekend and holiday tourists and was nearly deserted. Cuyutlan has a number of hotels from what I'd call 3 stars to very cheap, black sand beaches, large waves and the turtle sanctuary.

Cuyutlan Beach

The Cuyutlan turtle sanctuary is definitely worth a visit and is south of town along the beach road (look for the sign at edge of town). When you arrive go up to the restaurant and buy your admission ticket (15pesos). There are tiled and covered "pools" with turtles of all ages, salt water and fresh water turtles - and a Caiman or two. If an older guy comes up to you acting as a guide and then offers a boat ride into the Laguna - don't be put off, he's a great guy and is authorized by the sanctuary. The boat ride is 40 pesos for a single or 50 for a boat load and well worth it - but have your Autan (repellant) ready, mosquitoes can be fierce. You will see, red and white mangroves, huge termite nests that like the soft wood of the white mangrove, lots of birds, beautiful scenery and possibly a caiman mother on her nest.

Turtle Pools

Back to Highway 200 and on south to Tecoman, a clean and busy working class town. Trying to find the beach roads can be tricky so I just wandered through downtown streets until I found a busy one heading west. After 3-4 miles I came out in El Real Tecuanillo on the beach. "El Real" is mostly beach palapas and a number of them have mini-waterparks. If you continue north on the beach road (partially washed out by hurricane) you end up in Boca de Pasquales - the surfing beach. Boca is much smaller, again black sand and very quiet. I got my first and only surfing pictures here.

Boca de Pascuales Surf

On the return to Manzanillo I took the toll road (quota) after a full days trip, returned the car to the rental agency and spent 3 more days relaxing in Santiago before heading to Melaque. Next trip I will include tours (guided) into the Colima and Comala areas and a scuba/snorkeling trip. Manzanillo is a great area if you are traveling independently or staying at an all inclusive hotel.

Address of Hotel Maria Cristina

Hotel Maria Cristina
28 de agosto No.36 Colonia Santiago Manzanillo
Colima C.P. 28860
telefonos (314) 333-09-66
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