Manzanillo City Guide

There are two different areas of Manzanillo, "El Centro," the downtown area, and the "Zona Hotelera," or hotel zone.

"El Centro"

Manzanillo's new maleconThe downtown area of Manzanillo consists of a Malecon, or boardwalk, about a mile long.

You can walk alongfishing boats waiting in the harbor the harbor, enjoying the view of anchored fishing boats, from the motorcruisers chartered for tourist sailfishing, to small pangas, used by local fishermen. Along the way there are numerous benches, shaded by palm trees, and sculptures done by local artists. An old ship's anchor (a cargo ship sunk in the hurricane of 1959) is an interesting conversation piece, and a good background for a photo.

Jardin in ManzanilloAs you get to the downtown area, you'll see the "Jardin," or garden, which is the town square. If you're driving, the best parking is on the north side of the Jardin. The Jardin is wherefeeding pigeons at the Jardin everyone congregates--to have lunch, get their shoes shined, or "people watch." On many evenings when it's cooler, bands play in the gazebo, and folks dance in the plaza. Feeding pigeons is a favorite pastime, too.

From jewelry to candlesJust off the Jardin is Av. Mexico, with its numerous shops offering tourist treasures. In fact, all around the Jardin are storefronts offering everything from silver to T-shirts. There are also several restaurants offering a variety of Mexican dishes and seafood at reasonable prices.

The downtown area around the Jardin is currently being renovated. Though it is closed to traffic right now and your are re-routed around the central area, the project is estimated to be finished by this coming 2003 tourist season.

The "Mercado"

Fresh chickens and eggsFresh fruits and veggiesManzanillo's mercado, or market, offers a variety of items for consumption. If you want the freshest seafood, fruits or vegetables, go from 8-10 in the morning. This is mainly a "locals" market, but tourists love it for its authentic Conures and budgies for saleMexican flavor. Of course, other items, such as piņatas, Fresh meat every daypottery and leather goods are available. The mercado area is located on Av. Francisco I. Madero, behind the Club de Leones (Lions Club), one block south of Av. Mexico.

"Zona Hotelera"

Small part of the hotel zone from the bayThe Zona Hotelera, or Hotel Zone, is actually about 3 miles north of Manzanillo, and is about 4 miles long. All of the major hotels and restaurants in the area are located in the Hotel Zone. The area has been renovated, with sidewalks, benches, shade trees and potted plants. Colorful cement umbrella-covered bus stops and pay phones are strategically located every few blocks or so. The road is called Blvd. Miguel de la Madrid, or Blvd. Costero and provides a frontage road for buses and left turns (on arrow only).

Getting around by bus

The bus windshield shows the destinationsManzanillo has a very simple bus system. Look at the window of the bus. If it says, "El Centro," or "Jardin," it's going to the downtown area. (These buses always go south.) Try to have 1 and 2 peso coins for fare. If you have U.S. dollars, they won't exchange, and if you have large peso bills, you can't get change or get short-changed. Each time you take a bus, it's about 4 pesos (depending on the quality of the bus). If you change buses, you pay again. It's best if you offer 4 pesos to the driver as you board, and act like you know what you're doing. If you ask a question in English, the driver won't understand you. If you give him 5 pesos, instead of 4, you may not get change (unless you hold your hand out like you expect it). It's just the way of poor bus drivers trying to earn a living!

Traveling by bus is totally safe and is an interesting experience if you like to mingle with the locals. Normally a bus comes by every 10 minutes, in either direction. If not, it's probably siesta time, from 2-4:30 p.m.

If it says, "Mercado," it's going to the mercado, or market. (These buses also always head south.)

If the bus says, "Brisas," it is going to the Las Brisas section (an older area with many budget-priced hotels, actually the original "hotel zone" before the harbor was enlarged). This bus will only be heading north from downtown Manzanillo. If you want to get to Las Brisas from the Santiago Bay area (or any area of the hotel zone, you will have to get off at the "crucero de Las Brisas" (traffic circle), walk across the main highway and stand in front of the "Scotiabank." Watch for a bus coming from Manzanillo with "Brisas" in the window.

If a bus says, "Las Hadas," or "Tesoro," and has a small blue dolphin logo on the front, it is going to the Peninsula de Santiago, where the 5-star hotels, Las Hadas, Hotel Tesoro (formerly Hotel Sierra) and Los Tucanes (formerly Plaza Las Glorias) are located.

If a bus has "Miramar," on the window, it takes you north to Miramar Beach where the tianguis (open air tourist markets) are located.

"Santiago," or "Salagua," means the bus will take you to the center of these small villages, about 6 miles north of central Manzanillo.

If a bus says, "Com. Mex," "Commercial," or Com. Mexicana," it will take you to the Plaza Manzanillo shopping mall, with the Commercial Mexicana supermarket/department store.

If the bus says, "Soriana,"  that is another mall/supermarket/department store.

Take a ride!

Getting around by taxi

Taxis can be very reasonable, as long as you ask the price BEFORE you get in. You should be able to get almost anywhere in Manzanillo (except for Vida del Mar and L'Recif Restaurant) for 35-50 pesos or less. However, some hotel taxis charge a premium rate because they've paid a higher union fee to sit in front of the hotel. For example, if you take a taxi from the Hotel Tesoro to the Kiosko convenience store (about 6 blocks), the fee is 25 pesos. If you walk out to the street and hail a taxi, or go up the hill to the employees' entrance, the taxi fee is 15 pesos. You do not tip taxi drivers. The tip is included in the price.

Make sure you have small change. Taxis will not carry change so they can keep yours. If you ask the price before you get in, also ask if they have change for whatever bill you plan to give them. If not, they'll stop along the way at a taxi stand to make change. Do not pay in American or Canadian dollars.

If several of you are going to the same place, share the taxi. They also have vans (called "combis" for large groups of up to 8 people). By law, cars can carry up to 5 passengers. The rates are the same for one person or five.

If you need a restaurant or hotel recommendation, do not ask a taxi driver. Often, his version of "the best food" is his uncle's place, or a spot where he gets a commission for bringing you there. Restaurants usually close one day a week, particularly on Sundays and Mondays. Ask your hotel to call and confirm that the restaurant is open. Some taxi drivers will take you there even if they know it is closed, just so they can take you somewhere else and collect a double fee. Don't let your taxi driver take you to any place other than the one you want to go. Sometimes the driver will tell you of a "better" restaurant, but that only means it's better for him and his pocketbook.

You should always get the number and "sitio" (site) of the taxi. There are over 800 taxis in Manzanillo, and without the number and "sitio," you will never be able to track down any article you accidentally left in the backseat. You wouldn't believe how many tourists have left cameras, wallets, purses, cellular phones, sunglasses and other stuff in taxis. If you don't get the "sitio" and taxi number, say "adios" to your valuables.

You can also hire a personal taxi for the day. Tell the driver where you want to go and negotiate the price. If you really don't want to drive, find a driver you like, and go exploring, and use the tourist guidebook featured on this web site as your guide. The going rate is $50-80 U.S. dollars per day, depending on where you want to go.

If a taxi offers to wait for you while you're doing an errand, such as confirming your flight reservations, remember, you will pay for it. His time is money. He's not waiting just to be a nice guy; he's hoping for a little extra tip. If you don't want to pay extra for his services, it's very easy to get another taxi, no matter where you are in Manzanillo.

Despite the above cautions, most taxi drivers here are very friendly and honest. It's a good idea to take a taxi when you've had a few too many tequilas, and stumble out of Colima Bay Cafe at 2 a.m.

This information has been taken from the 150-page tourist guidebook, "Manzanillo and the state of Colima, Facts, Tips and Day Trips," written by Susan Dearing.

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