Manzanillo's pristine, unpopulated beaches are undeniably the most beautiful on the western coast of Mexico.
Large and small, with majestic crashing waves or surf tranquil enough for children to play in, Manzanillo has it all--except people to enjoy them!
Continue reading for a brief description
North of town, at km 30-1/2, you'll see a small sign directing you to this little-known beach with a very famous history. As you drive 7 km on a washed-out cobblestone road, you may start to wonder what all the fuss is about, but once there, the untouched spectacular beauty of this area will never be forgotten. But how did this "Beach of Gold" get its name? True, visitors are treated to miles of golden sand flecked with bits of mica, but the area's name originates with a shipwreck.
In July of 1862 a paddle steamship called the "Golden Gate" sailed from San Francisco with 337 people and $1,400,000 of gold. Off the coast of this beach, the Golden Gate caught fire and sunk. Only 80 people were saved and the gold was lost. In 1864, several cases of gold were recovered, but the majority remained until an American, who lives in Manzanillo today, headed a massive salvage operation in the 1960s.
Since the major part of the wreckage was located less that 50 yards off shore (where the treacherous waves break), it is believed that much of the gold still remains to be discovered. Locals tell stories of an occasional gold coin found washed up on the "Beach of Gold." Whether or not a trip to this beach nets you any treasure, it is still excellent for beachcombing, nude sun bathing or walking.
The waves are high with a strong undertow, and
Playa de Oro is not recommended for swimming. The cliffs overlooking the sea are
breathtaking, and are covered by several types of cactus. In one rock close to the sea
there's a small cave where you'll find a family of bats, and there's plenty of scrap wood
for a campfire.
Another unpopulated beach is Peņa Blanca, km 24, where Rancho Peņa Blanca offers ATV adventures and Jeep tours to this once quiet haven. Fortunately they don't have much business as yet, so the long expanse of beach is still unpopulated. During various times of the year, the beach is closed so that the endangered turtles may lay their eggs. During that time the beach is protected by human volunteers and Mexican Navy personnel, who guard against poachers. The area got its name from the great rock pinnacle, visible from the beach, called Peņa Blanca, or "White Rock," after the bird droppings that give it its color.
Come just for the view, both above and below the water. A word of caution: at this site the ocean conditions can change rather quickly, so if you plan to be in the water be aware at all times. The photo-taking opportunities from the top of the hill will make your trip enjoyable, no matter what. You must go beyond the Vida del Mar complex gate in order to enjoy this beach. It is not open to the public, but you can see it if you go to the L'Recif restaurant (open only December through April).
Various activities are available for the young and young-at-heart, from horseback riding, boogie-boarding, banana boat rides, swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. It's great for shopping, too. Bargain with the vendors for hammocks, toys, jewelry, T-shirts and more!
Start out your delicious seafood lunch with a shrimp cocktail (Mexican style), or fresh oysters and clams caught that morning by the local fishermen. At Marildo's (our favorite restaurant), choose from a varied menu of seafood for the main course, such as shrimp, filet of dorado, red snapper, or lobster.
A specialty is "pescado sarandeado," which is fresh red snapper grilled on a mesquite fire, and brushed with a tangy sauce. Another specialty is "almejas de la talla," or clams grilled over mesquite in their shells. The opened clams are filled with a mixture of Magi and Worcestershire sauces, cilantro and onions, then placed over the fire. Melted butter is then dribbled on to make the grill flare up and quick cook them. Unbelievable! While you're enjoying one of the best seafood lunches in Manzanillo, have the strolling musicians play you a few Mariachi tunes while you drink a cold brew under the shady palapa. Ahhh....
Half the fun is sampling all the home made treats, such as "raspadas" (snow
cones). Enjoy a coconut (drink the milk and eat the meat with lime, salt and salsa)!
Other treats are mangos on sticks, and "coco locos," a drink you can
enjoy fresh out of the coconut, loaded with several types of liquor, such as
tequila, rum, vodka & gin. Do you wonder why it is called a "coco