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Manzanillo has been relegated to a boutique destination for cruise ships making 7- to 15-day Mexican Riviera cruises from Los Angeles and San Diego. The cruise ship season in Manzanillo extends from November through April. In 2015, you'll have around 9 hours ashore in Manzanillo to explore the city, the resorts and its surrounding areas.In 2015, Manzanillo is slated to host 20,000 passengers sailing on 9 ships.The two bays of Manzanillo, the Bay of Manzanillo and the Bay of Santiago, are the standout attractions in this lovely region. The beaches here are marvelous, and there is an abundance of water sports and activities to keep you busy for hours in or out of the water. In the past few years, tourists have discovered the wonder of Manzanillo, and as a result, the economy and the state of life in Manzanillo have both improved dramatically. A great deal of building has been done, and the port here is now one of the biggest commercial centers in all of Mexico.
Manzanillo is one of the most beautiful beach destinations in Mexico, situated on the Pacific coastline between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco in the state of Colima. Manzanillo Mexico boasts miles of golden sandy beaches fringed by lush fruit plantations and jungle vegetation and three beautiful bays shaped by the foothills of the Sierra Madre. It is often compared to the beauty of its neighbor to the south, Puerto Vallarta except without the crowds and development. Manzanillo still holds the charm and romance of an old-world Mexican fishing village with its narrow streets weaving up the hillsides, giving way to stunning ocean views, lush vegetation, and a breathtaking mountain coastline.
Set against a backdrop of the sparkling Pacific Ocean, the flowerbeds, tropical brush and mountains, and golden-sand beaches are unbelievably striking. Everywhere you walk, you will be amazed at the beauty and splendor of the region, and traveling around the bays by foot will open you up to how glorious this destination truly is. In 1995, a strong earthquake heavily damaged Manzanillo, and the years following were devoted to rebuilding and expansion. The Santiago Peninsula was completely modernized and is now the most luxurious area of Manzanillo, filled with outstanding golf courses and fabulous eateries. The downtown area is centered on the vibrant harbor. It is certainly a different scene from the calm and tranquil Santiago Peninsula. The shopping and nightlife all around the city are superb. Sport fishing and sailing are both extremely popular here, and wonderful weather makes it the perfect place to enjoy a round of golf.
Docking & Local Transportation
Cruise ships dock at the Port of Manzanillo located at Avenida Teniente Azueta 9 (314/331-1400). Taxis are waiting to take you to your destination in the city or to outlying areas.
Local buses, known as camionetas, travel along the bay of Manzanillo and to Santiago Peninsula and the Bay of Santiago to the north. You can hop on the bus for a modest $0.35-$0.70. Taxis are in no short supply in Manzanillo. Make sure to agree on a fare (which should not exceed $10 for anywhere in the area) before you get in the car.
An independent tour company runs shuttles directly from the pier into town for $2 and to Miramar Beach for $10. The local guides on-site can also make arrangements for deep-sea fishing, snorkeling and kayaking expeditions. A queue of blue taxis is located just inside the marine terminal's security gate. Prices aren't set, so negotiate the fare first. The fare to the shopping centers and resort zone on Manzanillo's outskirts should not cost more than about $15 each way.
Getting Around
There is a waterfront sidewalk -- it would be a bit of an overstatement to call it a promenade -- that connects the port to the town plaza. The walk takes about 30 minutes and passes by a beach that's popular with locals. The town center is imminently walkable, with pretty much all services and sights within a few blocks of one another.
Car Rental - To explore Mexico's provincial towns and cities — including its beach locations and the scenery and attractions near them — consider renting a car for your visit. Having your own car will give you more flexibility than using public transport options and, in some cases, offer you access to places which are otherwise difficult to visit without the use of a car. Read our guide to Car Rental in Mexico to learn what you need to know about car rental in Mexico and connect to the Mexperience Travel Center to reserve your Rental Car.
Taxis - Taxis in most of Mexico's beachside towns and cities are not metered, so agree your price before you get in. Taxi travel is very affordable in Mexico, in comparison to the USA, Canada and Europe, and so provides a viable means of public transportation in Mexico. Your hotel can arrange taxis for you; some post their rates on a board in the lobby; taxi hotel rates are usually higher than cabs you hail off the street. If you speak Spanish, you will have a distinct advantage and be able to negotiate a price with the driver. For detailed information, read the Mexperience guide to Taxi Travel in Mexico.
By Bus -- The camionetas (local buses) make a circuit from downtown in front of the train station, along the Bay of Manzanillo, to the Santiago Peninsula and the Bay of Santiago to the north; the fare is 6 pesos. The ones marked Las Brisas  go to the Las Brisas crossroads, to the Las Brisas Peninsula, and back to town; Miramar, Santiago, and Salahua buses go to outlying settlements along the bays and to most restaurants mentioned below. Buses marked Las Hadas go to the Santiago Peninsula and pass the Las Hadas resort and the Tesoro Manzanillo and Plaza Las Glorias hotels. This is an inexpensive way to see the coast as far as Santiago and to tour the Santiago Peninsula.
Manzanillo is located in Colima, said to be the safest (and most highly educated) state in all of Mexico. Here, as in other tourist destinations throughout the coast, there's an obvious police presence. Tourism is the area's third-largest economic contributor, after the commercial port and iron ore production, and officials want to keep it that way by making sure the port is safe. That said, it's always good practice to avoid wearing flashy jewelry or watches or carrying excessive amounts of cash. Also, when you are on shore, it's best to steer clear of tap water or ice and to observe the cardinal rule when it comes to street food: boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it.
Mexico is famous for its fishing, and Manzanillo is no exception. You will see many locals fishing off the beach or rocks, but the best way to guarantee a great day of fishing is to take a five-hour boat trip (314/332-1031). A couple of locals will take you and your group out on the breathtaking Pacific. It is not uncommon to catch more marlin, sailfish, and dorado than you can handle on one of these excursions. In the marina, you can have your fresh catch cleaned and vacuum-sealed or taken to a local restaurant to be prepared as a fresh lunch or dinner entrée.
Things to See and Do
The Archaeological Museum is located near downtown in the San Pedrito traffic circle (314/332-2256), and its eighteen thousand artifacts from Mesoamerica and Colima, in addition to its collection of contemporary Mexican art, make it the most frequented museum in the region. This is a great place to learn about Mexican heritage and history and is entertaining for all age groups.
Good Beaches
Manzanillo has lots of beaches to choose from; although not all are safe for a swim, as they face the open Pacific ocean (exposed beaches), and in the latter, the combination of waves and undertow make the sea one to watch, not one to interact with.
Surfing is a very popular pastime in Manzanillo, especially on Playa Miramar. Some of the beaches have been 'taken over' by the hotels and resorts that reside next to them; but there are still many public beaches that may be enjoyed by all, so if you're looking for some local life, Playa San Pedrito and Playa Audiencia will be good places to explore.
If you're staying at a resort, you'll have direct access to the beach outside your hotel as well; technically, all beaches are open to the public in Mexico. The beaches here are golden in color with medium-fine (not soft) sand.
Water Sports
SCUBA divers will love Manzanillo - there are lots places to have a good underwater diving experience without the need to boat out anywhere. Local firms cater for all skill and experience levels, and if you want some proper classes as a foundation to getting certified, you can do this as well. See Also: Watersports in Mexico
Local Cruises
Local Boat Tours are a great way to see remote places otherwise not accessible or difficult to get to. Your tour can include stops at good places for swimming, snorkeling and diving, give you access to remote and secluded beaches, or if you just want to relax, you can take a sunset cruise and watch the sun melt into the Pacific Ocean in style.
Away from the Water
Manzanillo is quite spread out. Unlike a lot of resorts, where all local attractions can be accessed on foot, if you want to see local points of interest you're going to need to rent a car (see Getting Around, below), take a cab, or arrange a guided tour. Local tours can include a guided tour of Manzanillo itself, as well a colonial tour of Colima (the coastal town about 60 miles south of here - it also has a Volcano)...
Eco Tours from Manzanillo
There are several lagoons along the coast which are excellent places to go bird watching and a number of fine eco and adventure tours may be undertaken from Manzanillo - including adventure travel tours to the volcano in nearby Colima. Ask locally for details and tours.
Álvarez Obregón Garden: It is the main plaza in Manzanillo, with gorgeous fountains made out of quarry stones, and a pavilion of colonial features in its central part. Artist Rancel Hidalgo, a natural from Colima, designed it. It is located before Manzanillo's jetty, a place that comes to life with the arrival of ships and cruisers come from all over the world. It is undoubtedly a good starting point to take a City tour.
Faro de Campos: It is a privileged vantage point that allows enjoying a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean, the Cuyutlán Lagoon and a large part of Manzanillo. It is located on top of one of the hills in the northern sector of Playa de Campos, a few kilometres away from the City centre.

The Elephant's Rock: It is located on the Juluapan Peninsula and less than an hour away from Manzanillo. It is an authentic caprice of the wind and erosion, which came together to carve the image of a colossal pachyderm in a rock, creating a singular sculpture that amazes locals and visitors alike.
It is located on a beach of serene and transparent waters ideal for the practice of snorkelling. It has a depth of 20 metres and its submarine landscape is plagued with coral reefs
Golf in Manzanillo
Manzanillo's claim to fame in the golf world: it boasts two of Mexico's most important golf courses. Manzanillo is quickly becoming one of the top golfing locations in Mexico; the most sought-after course is situated at the fabulous Karmina Palace Hotel and Resort.
According to Golf Digest, La Mantarraya (314/331-0101) golf course is among the top one hundred courses in the world. Located at Las Hadas, this eighteen-hole course will surely please even the most seasoned golfer. Club Santiago (314/335-0410) has a pristine nine-hole course designed by Larry Hughes.
Laguna de San Pedrito is a wonderful place for nature enthusiasts to relax and watch unique birds gather at sunset. This tranquil setting is the perfect place to stop and take pictures of the graceful white herons and pink Flamingos. Just down the road by the waterfront is Jardín de Alvaro Obregón. Also known as the zócolo, this square is ideal for a peaceful picnic lunch. Vendors are plentiful, and they will be happy to sell you anything from a fresh fish taco to a silver bracelet. At night, the area lights up with mariachis and dancers, and is a great place to embrace the culture of Mexico.
Look at the town center from the waterfront zocalo -- or plaza -- with open eyes, and it's easy to see its classic lines. Two-story stucco buildings with covered passageways frame the upper reaches of the zocalo, known for its giant blue sailfish statue by the Mexican sculptor Sebastian. (He's so famous he just has one name.) The town mascot pays homage to Manzanillo's international reputation as a sailfish capital. The claim to fame is that more sailfish have been caught in local waters than anywhere else in the world. Avenida Mexico, the main drag, is perpendicular to the waterfront malecon, or walkway. Within walking distance is the city market, a church and lots of little restaurants and shops. The town isn't going to win any beauty contests; its appeal lies more in its remarkable hospitality quotient, evidenced by welcoming smiles and friendly faces. As cruise destination consultant John Tabbutt-McCarthy aptly puts it: "This is a town with a past, with a soul. It's not yet another purpose-driven resort."
Back in the 1970's, Bo Derek memorably strutted her stuff on the beaches of the Las Hadas resort in the movie "10," showering Manzanillo with attention publicists can only dream about. After the movie, celebrities like Omar Sharif, Charles Bronson, Lynda Carter and Charlton Heston began spending time in what is now the resort district, a 20-minute drive from the town center. Not surprisingly, development followed, but somehow, it didn't have the staying power tourism officials had hoped for. Still, no visit to Manzanillo would be complete without a close-up of the area known as La Audiencia. The stylish enclave of million-dollar real estate has hillside villas, hotels, condos and time-shares located on a narrow peninsula that separates the Bay of Santiago from the Bay of Manzanillo. Las Hadas, built by a Bolivian tin king and now owned by the Las Brisas chain, has an allure that continues to enchant. How could it not with its Moorish-style, white-washed villas, perfectly manicured lawns and to-die-for views? No wonder Las Hadas means "The Fairyland." (Note: Nonguests can use the beach and pool for a fee.)
One of Manzanillo's chief draws is deep-sea fishing -- and not just for sailfish, but for other big catches like dorado and black, striped and blue marlin. Unlike other places, where you have to motor out to sea for two to three hours to find the creatures, there's an abundance of fish just minutes away from shore. As well, the cost is much less in Manzanillo, when compared to the more high-profile ports. A five-hour charter for as many as 10 people costs $200. Check with the shuttle operator at the pier or the tourism office in town at Avenida Juarez 100 for details.
It's always happy hour at Bar Social. Just steps from the plaza at Avenida Juarez 101, the local institution is popular for its cheap beer and free tortilla chips. A huge, round bar dominates the space, which is plastered with old photographs of Manzanillo in earlier times.
A Walmart supercenter, or "the American embassy" as it's been called, opened recently on Boulevard Miguel de la Madrid, the unattractive thoroughfare that links the town center to the ritzy resort zone. Starbucks, Burger King and KFC have all staked a claim in this strange little area. Walmart is not only popular with locals, but also with U.S. and Canadian ex-pats and snowbirds who call this region home.
Activities in Manzanillo revolve around its golden-sand beaches, which sometimes accumulate a film of black mineral residue from nearby rivers. Manzanillo's public beaches provide an opportunity to see local color and scenery. They are the daytime playground for those staying at places off the beach or without pools.
Manzanillo's beaches, known for their black, white and gold volcanic sand, are nice for a quiet respite. You can rent shade umbrellas and lounge chairs at most of the beaches. There are also concessionaires, offering boogie boards, kayaks, snorkeling equipment and the like. Playa Las Brisas, Playa La Audiencia and Playa Miramar are all favorites.
Beaches -- Playa Audiencia, on the Santiago Peninsula, offers the best swimming as well as snorkeling, but Playa San Pedrito, shallow for a long way out, is the most popular beach for its proximity to downtown. Playa Las Brisas, located south of Santiago Peninsula as you're heading to downtown Manzanillo, offers an optimal combination of location and good swimming. Playa Miramar, on the Bahía de Santiago past the Santiago Peninsula, is popular with bodysurfers, windsurfers, and boogie boarders. It's accessible by local bus from town. The major part of Playa Azul, also south of the Santiago Peninsula, drops off sharply but is noted for its wide beach.
Birding -- Birding is good in several lagoons along the coast. As you go from Manzanillo past Las Brisas to Santiago, you'll pass Laguna de Las Garzas (Lagoon of the Herons), also known as Laguna de San Pedrito, where many white pelicans and huge herons fish in the water. They nest here in December and January. Directly behind downtown is the Laguna de Cuyutlán (follow the signs to Cuyutlán), where you'll usually find birds in abundance; species vary between summer and winter.
Diving -- Underworld Scuba-Scuba Shack (tel. 314/333-3678; www.divemanzanillo.com), located at Blvd. M. de la Madrid Km 15, conducts professional diving expeditions and classes. Many locations are so close to shore that there's no need for a boat. Close-in dives include the jetty, and a nearby sunken frigate downed in 1959 at 8m (26 ft.). Divers can see abundant sea life, including coral reefs, sea horses, giant puffer fish, and moray eels. A two-tank boat dive costs $95 per person ($10 discount if you have your own equipment). "Discover Scuba" for beginners, which starts with instruction in a pool and continues with an ocean dive, costs $85 and lasts about 4 hours total. You can also rent weights and a tank for beach dives for $10. A three-stop snorkel trip costs $45. All guides are certified dive masters, and the shop offers PADI certification classes in intensive courses of various durations. The owner offers a 10% discount on your certification when you mention Frommer's. MasterCard and Visa are accepted.
Fishing Trips
Sports Fishing is big here - with year-round trips available. Around the third week in November, the International Sailfish competition takes place in Manzanillo. It's recommended that you book in advance as the fishing trips are extremely popular and you are likely to be disappointed if you don't. Also See: Mexperience guide to Sports Fishing in Mexico.
Particularly sailfish. Marlin and sailfish are abundant year-round. Winter is best for dolphin fish and dorado (mahimahi); in summer, wahoo and rooster fish are in greater supply. The international sailfish competition is held around the November 20 Revolution Day holiday, and the national sailfish competition is in February. You can arrange fishing through travel agencies or directly at the fishermen's cooperative (tel. 314/332-1031), located downtown where the fishing boats moor. A 5-hour fishing charter costs about 3,000 pesos for up to eight people.
Golf -- The 18-hole La Mantarraya Golf Course (tel. 314/331-0101) is open to nonguests as well as guests of Las Hadas. The compact, challenging 18-hole course designed by Roy and Pete Dye is a beauty, with banana trees, blooming bougainvillea, and coconut palms at every turn. A lush and verdant place (12 of the 18 holes are played over water), it remains a favorite. When the course was under construction, workers dug up pre-Hispanic ceramic figurines where the 14th hole now lies. It is believed to have been an important ancient burial site. The course culminates with its signature 18th hole, with a drive to the island green off El Tesoro (the treasure) beach, in front of the Karmina Palace Resort. Greens fees are 1,950 pesos for 18 holes, 1,070 pesos for 9 holes; cart rental costs 650 pesos for 18 holes and 455 pesos for 9 holes. It's open daily from 7am to 7pm.
Eating Out
Manzanillo's many beachfront restaurants are perfect for relaxing with a margarita while watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean or enjoying one of the many delectable local seafood dishes. For Continental cuisine with a Mexican flare, Legazpi can be found at Las Hadas Hotel (314/331-0707). Shellfish lovers come back time and again to enjoy the coconut shrimp served with a tangy remoulade sauce. Another favorite is freshly caught fish accompanied by an unforgettable tropical salsa. Impeccable service is another bonus at this one-of-a-kind dining experience. El Vaquero Campestre is another memorable restaurant in the area (314/333-0475). Classic grilled steaks served by weight are the favorite here. The extensive saloon décor is reminiscent of the Old West and is a perfect accompaniment to the menu.
For rousing entertainment, Boom Boom (at Club Maeva) is the most popular spot for drinking and dancing. With its intricate lighting and thumping dance music, this club rivals many of the famous clubs found in Puerto Vallarta. The Colima Bay Café (Boulevard Costero 921, 314/333-1150) is famous with locals and tourists alike for its great music and carefree environment. This is the place where visitors learn the meaning of vacation and locals forget they have to work the next morning.

By no means is Manzanillo a 'shopping mecca' on the Pacific, but if you're looking for some traditional Mexican art or craft work, you'll be able to find it locally in downtown Manzanillo. Check in the shops in and around the main plaza. For items you forgot to bring, like a floating body-board, beach sandals, or sunglasses, all of the resort centers have on-site shops, which charge slightly higher prices than you'd pay elsewhere (for the convenience), but are not extortionate.

There are a few quaint shopping areas we like to go in Manzanillo. One of our favorite spot is to go to the flea market in Miramar. This is a maze of small vendors with booths on the promenade in Miramar across from the Grand Festival hotel. There are a few vendors open every day, but the best time to go is on the weekends when all the vendors come to life. It is common to shop around and compare prices and then try to negotiate the best deal. They have everything from local handicrafts, souvenirs, beach toys, baskets, t-shirts, a wide array of jewelry…all the usual items found in Mexico. Santiago and the flea market are located only 10-15 minutes north of the hotel on the main street in town; Miquel de la Madrid. There is also a flea market in Santiago that is only open on Saturdays.
Another great spot is Las Primaveras in Santiago in front of the local “Mercado” market.  It is a large shop spanning two floors that sells everything from beautiful hand painted pottery and tile, flowers, jewelry, and more. This is about a 10 minutes’ drive north of the hotel.
Head to Maria Cumbe Boulevard, located at Miguel de la Madrid (314/333-0561), for great handmade clothing and souvenirs. For beachwear and souvenirs, your best bet is Plaza Manzanillo, a rather large shopping center located at Km 7.5 on Manzanillo Road. For folk art enthusiasts, Centro Artesenal Las Primaveras (314/333-1699) is a great place to find unique gifts and keepsakes.
There are also a few “modern” strip malls in the area that have grocery stores. The three big ones near Dolphin Cove Inn are Plaza Manzanillo, Soriana and Wal-Mart. All three are close to each other so you can check them all out during your stay and decide which one you like best.  All three are an easy 10 minutes’ drive south of the hotel on Miquel de la Madrid which is the main thoroughfare in Manzanillo. Commercial and Soriana are located in strip malls with other stores that are fun to poke around in. The indoor air conditioning also offers a nice reprieve from the heat of the day. Wal-Mart is a freestanding  “Super Wal-Mart” that offers a full grocery store in addition to all the usual Wal-Mart items. Plaza Manzanillo. It is a bigger enclosed mall with lots of cute shops. They have a few surf shops.  All three shopping centers are open 7 days per week. It is nice to tip the baggers at the grocery stores as they are not paid by the hour and the tips they earn is their only source of income In the Soriana shopping center you will find a big Cineplex movie theater. They offer some movies in English (with Spanish subtitles). Other movies are dubbed in Spanish so be sure to read the fine print and make sure you know what you are getting. Also in this area along Miquel de La Madrid you will find other big name franchises such as Office Depot, Burger King, Dairy Queen, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and even Starbucks!

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