NEE-yo) is not a typical seaside resort town. A certain paradox prevails between
resort luxury and bustling commercialism and undeveloped remoteness. It is a popular weekend
destination for Guadalajara residents and also attracts American and Canadian vacationers searching for a less developed,
more serene setting.
can be divided into two zones. The downtown area (restored and beautified in 1996)
is first and foremost a commercial port. Thanks to its fine natural harbor and trade with
the Pacific Rim. In contrast, a few kilometers up the coastline you enter Manzanillo's
luxurious and pleasantly understated resort zone.
Two large bays of golden
sand and sometimes rough surf are connected by a coastal highway that leads past mini-malls, souvenir shops, restaurants
and a couple of night spots. BahÂa de Manzanillo (to the south) carries most
of the development, while BahÂa de Santiago (further up the coast) is largely undeveloped
except for two resorts, Club Maeva and Hotel Vista Playa de Oro.
The two bays
are separated by the Santiago Peninsula, home to the area's significant
resort development. Here is located surely one of Mexico's most opulent beach resort: Las Hadas. Conceived and built in the early 1970's
by a Bolivian tin baron as an exclusive, ultra-deluxe private getaway, Las Hadas literally put Manzanillo on the tourist map.
Its Mediterranean village atmosphere and sophisticated amenities have made it one
of the super stars of Mexican resorts. Until the 1980's Las Hadas was one of the only
recognized visitor attractions in the area.
attractions have broadened somewhat. For many visitors this slow-paced expansion
is a blessing, since Manzanillo has remained largely undeveloped and unspoiled. Tropical
fruit plantations and verdant jungle vegetation are abundant. Long continuous stretches
of untouched beach are easily accessed from the area's resorts.
Outside of the bustle
of downtown, the pace is slow and casual. Shopping, dining, nightlife and sightseeing
are subdued by comparison to other Mexican Riviera resorts. A main draw for sports enthusiasts
is the areas excellent deep sea fishing. The sailfish catch here is excellent.
While Manzanillo has yet
to fully blossom as a major resort center, the city does serve as a gateway to the unspoiled and littleknown Costa Alegre region of Mexico's Pacific Coast. This
coastal area to the north of Manzanillo (towards Puerto Vallarta) is one of Mexico's great undiscovered treasures. Stretching 240 km along Highway
200, this secluded yet accessible area is sprinkled with some of Mexico's loveliest beaches and bays.
It is also home to
several posh resort hideaways and rustic seaside villages. The Isla Navidad
resort complex is in full swing. The Grand Bay Hotel & Resort
opened in early 1997, along side a fine 27-hole golf course and 700-slip marina.