If you’re looking for couture shops, glitzy clubs and over-developed resorts, take your vacation somewhere else. While La Manzanilla is a visual and aesthetic joy, it’s very much a spot for casual, remarkably lazy days along the unfettered beach that laps up against a tropical jungle. Your stay is for flip-flops and naps. For quiet adventures and hearty meals. For strolling the sand bar, where your only accomplishment may be giggling at the fact that you’ve seen not one soul.
La Manzanilla is uncomplicated, and that’ what the locals prefer. Even repeat visitors to this hidden gem are shy about touting it’s simple virtues. Some are even known to plead with others to keep the secret that is La Manzanilla a secret. So, leave your ball gowns and platinum cards at home. Dive into the crystal waters and the warm embrace of the content townsfolk. Drown in the relaxing atmosphere that will assuredly slow life down to a gentle smile.
Located along the Costa Alegre, La Manzanilla, population 3500, should not be mistaken for the booming port of Manzanillo, population 100,000+. The town itself is small, with only one main street where locals prepare regional fare and fisherman return from a day in the bay. It is after all, nothing more than a once dusty little fishing village with no dearth of history and a strange population of American Crocodiles. Little "La Manz" has a long, curving, gently sloping beach and lies in the sumptuous protected southeastern reach of the Bay of Tenacatita, where wavelets dot the horizon. The winter season sees a few hundred “snow birds” descend on La Manz but don’t fret, this town never seems over-burdened with tourists or stress.
Even in a town known for losing ones self in nothing, there is a surprising amount to do. Water sports – swimming, fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, diving – are plentiful and reasonably priced along the beach. For a more adventurous day, explore the surrounding jungles. For shoppers, there are a few quirky galleries and of course, some spectacular local restaurants with fresh fish and unique regional fare. Throughout the year, there are a number of festivals: Fiesta de Independencia, September 16, celebrating the 1810 rebellion leading to the independence of Mexico - La Fiesta de Toros, the first weekend in February, complete with bull riding, parades and “Gringo Days,” - Semana Santa (Easter holy week), a major holiday throughout Mexico -
Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, August 15, a 9-day celebration with a morning and evening parade every day.
Check with your travel agent as many airlines offer charter services to both Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo during the high season. The most direct route is to fly to Manzanillo Airport (ZLO). Manzanillo Airport is approximately 45 minutes south of La Manzanilla.
First class bus service is available between Puerto Vallarta and Melaque, the town just south of La Manzanilla. Buses between Melaque and La Manzanilla run five times daily, cost 10 pesos, and the ride is approximately 30 minutes.
Taxis are usually parked next to the jardín (town square). It's always a good idea to ask the price before you get in. Taxis are approximately $50 USD each way between the Manzanillo Airport and La Manzanilla and there are plenty of taxis available as you exit the airport.
You can rent a car at the Manzanillo Airport from many of the well- known US car rental companies.