A Guide to Manzanillo Colima For Digital Nomads & Travellers

Dariece Swift author's bio Goats On The Road

We’ve travelled and lived in Mexico on numerous occasions, visiting everywhere from Guanajuato and Mexico City, to Valladolid and San Cristobal de las Casas – and many places in between. We love how no trip to Mexico is identical, and how each state offers unique and wonderful regional specialties, cuisine and culture.

Mexico is without a doubt, one of our favourite countries in the world. We have many friends here and find ourselves returning time and time again. It feels like our second home.

This was our first time in the State of Colima and as I sit here in our apartment in Manzanillo, we have just 6 days left in this Pacific coast city, a place we’ve called “home” for the past 6 weeks, I’m finding it difficult to sum up our time here, as our entrance into the city was a mess (24 hour journey from Japan, lost luggage for 6 days, etc.) and during our stay here there was a lot of uncertainty regarding…well, everything.

living in manzanillo colima at the beach in santiago
Nick contemplating life on the beach at Santiago, Manzanillo

Although Manzanillo isn’t known for being one of the best places to visit in Mexico, in this article, I’ll share our personal experiences living and travelling in Manzanillo including how we felt, where we ate, what we did, and where we stayed. Read on to learn if Manzanillo Colima is right for you.

Manzanillo & The State of Colima

Colima State is one of the smallest in Mexico, and has the lowest population. Known for its mountains, rivers, beaches, lagoons and 2 volcanos (Volcán de Fuego, which is active and the Nevado de Colima, which is inactive), Colima State is a place that hasn’t really been discovered by tourists.

It’s not built up whatsoever and you’ll find that outside of major holidays, you have the place pretty much to yourself.

Manzanillo is the main beach city, and is probably the only place that tourists know about in this state! It is spread out along 2 main bays: Santiago and Manzanillo, plus “centro”, which is mostly the harbour area.

☞ SEE ALSO: Things To Do in La Paz, Mexico – A List of The Top 21

Bahía de Santiago

This is the most northern area of Manzanillo Colima, and is the place you’ll want to spend most (all?) of your time. This bay is pristine with hard-packed, blackish sand perfect for long, relaxing beach strolls.

During our 6 week stay in December – January the ocean itself has been calm except for 3 days when there were a few crashing waves. Swimming here is easy and it’s a great place for all ages.

Santiago Bay - a beautiful beach in manzanillo colima
Santiago Bay – a beauty!

Near the center of the bay, you’ll find Playa Miramar, which during the high season (winter months) has many tables with chairs and umbrellas. The little restaurants here serve up typical beach fare – ceviche, seafood, tacos, nachos, beers, etc. This area is where you’ll find many Mexican tourists and Manzanillo locals as well.

Further north up the bay is Club Santiago. This is a lovely gated community (we usually don’t enjoy these), with cobblestone streets, Mexican styled homes and condos, and the highlight – Oasis Beach Club. This is a great place to spend the day.

We’ve spent a considerable amount of our time in Manzanillo Colima at this beach club. Why? The food is consistently fresh and delicious (lunch from 130 pesos, snacks from 50 pesos, dinner from 180 pesos) and the setting is stunning.

It’s a bit of an older crowd here with many gringos showing up for happy hour and 2 for 1 days, but there are also some Mexican families and couples at the club as well. Umbrellas, tables and chairs are available right on the sand, and the service here is amazing. You can also rent paddleboards (which is one of the best things to do in Cancun as well), get a massage or come by for happy hour on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Further north along the sand, about a 5-10 minute walk from Oasis, you’ll see Playa la Boquita which has more tables, chairs and umbrellas. This is where more locals will hangout, complete with soccer (football) games, loud music and large groups. It’s also where you can rent jet skis and book boat trips around the bay.

I highly recommend Santiago Bay. The beach is amazing and outside of the Christmas / New Year holiday time, it’s practically empty. This is probably the best beach we’ve seen in Mexico.

oasis beach club in santiago manzanillo colima
Relaxing at Oasis – where we spent almost every day!

 ⇒ See Also: Things To Do in Mazatlan – A Guide For Travellers

Bahia de Manzanillo

Manzanillo Bay is the central beach that we are staying on in our Airbnb. It’s also the bay which is home to the large Barcelo all-inclusive resort. The beach here has less compact sand, and is rougher that Santiago – but, it makes for great exfoliation while walking! The sunsets here are spectacular and you can see them actually hit the ocean (in December and January anyways).

Oftentimes there will be large cargo ships parked out in the bay, and if you’re lucky, you may see a humpback whale or two. In fact, whale watching is a popular activity in other parts of Mexico and if you find yourself in the Baja, this is one of the top things to do in Cabo San Lucas.

Along the beach you’ll see some condos for rent and some restaurants as well. There’s no shade on this beach, and there are no beach bars, restaurants or vendors on the sand. The swimming here is considered dangerous due to strong tides and it’s more of an “open” bay than Santiago is.

I recommend heading to this beach for sunset, or eating a meal at La Huerta restaurant while the sun dips into the ocean.

living in manzanillo colima sunsets on manzanillo bay
Sunsets on Manzanillo Bay are the best

Centro (The Harbour)

This is the industrial port area of Manzanillo. There are cruise ships, cargo ships and sailboats that all dock here. However, unlike most Mexican cities which have a beautiful plaza / meeting area in the central part of the city, and often a lovely church, this centro area isn’t picturesque.

There is no real plaza, no Spanish colonial architecture, hardly any nice streets to walk along and the sidewalks and streets are congested and somewhat dirty.

Except for the boat and motorcross show that we were there to watch, we didn’t feel like there was anything else to do here.

Because of this, and the fact that there’s a lot of drug trade and trafficking around the port, I personally wouldn’t recommend hanging around this area of Manzanillo too much – not to mention, there aren’t any good restaurants.

Colima State Day Trips

We ended up doing a day trip to check out the city of Colima and the nearby attractions. While we weren’t blown away by the actual city of Colima, we did enjoy the La Campana ruins which date back to 1500 BCE. They aren’t as impressive as the ruins in the Yucatan, so make sure you visit Chichen Itza, which is one of the most popular things to do in Playa del Carmen.

The plaza in the city of Colima is very pretty, and you could also visit the nearby Colima volcano and the town of Comala.

visit manzanillo colima and see the la campana ruins
La Campana ruins just outside of Colima city

If you haven’t seen other cities of Mexico (Guadalajara, Mexico City, GuanajuatoSan Miguel de Allende, Merida etc.), then you will probably enjoy the architecture of Colima. But for us, we’ve seen some incredible Mexican villages and cities and felt underwhelmed by Colima City.

*Note, many people use and recommend Danitours as a great way of seeing the recommended sites in the state of Colima. With a proper guide, you’re likely to find more hidden gems of the region than we did independently.

travel to manzanillo colima visit colima city and the main plaza
The main plaza in Colima City

Things To Do in Manzanillo

The first thing you should know is that there aren’t a lot of things to actually do in Manzanillo. Unlike many other Mexican cities which have walking tours, food tours, numerous churches and plazas, historical sites, lots of bars, beach activities, etc., Manzanillo is more of a chill out on the beach sort of place…and that’s all.

If you’re into going to the beach every day, you’ll be happy. But if you prefer to mix it up with tours and activities, you may be disappointed. (there are numerous things to do in Puerto Vallarta, which is nearby, check out our post here.)

Here’s our list of things to do in Manzanillo Colima:

1. Visit Santiago Bay: This is the best beach in the area in my opinion! As I noted above, the food at Oasis Beach Club is great, but if you just want a drink, any of the small restaurants will do. During the high season you’ll also find some small craft markets here and in Santiago Town, there’s a Saturday market as well that you’ll see when driving out to the beach.

Swimming here is safe especially near Oasis as it’s more protected. Keep your eye out for riptides in the center of the bay and watch the flags on the beach – red meaning it’s more dangerous for swimming. We swam for 2 months out front of Oasis and it was great, apart from one crocodile sighting…

santiago bay sunset in manzanillo colima
Pretty sunset over Santiago Bay

2. Watch Sunset: Each evening, I recommend heading down to Manzanillo Bay with a blanket (or chairs) and watch the sun dip into the water. We would always go down with our camp chairs that we bought at Walmart ($12 USD), a cooler ($5 USD) with some wine and food, and enjoy the view.

3. Day Trip to Barra de Navidad: Just about 1 hour or so north of Manzanillo Bay is the small town of Barra de Navidad. It’s actually located in the Jalisco State which means you’ll have to cross through a military checkpoint – no problem though, just tell them where you came from and where you’re going. In the town you’ll find colourful little buildings, lots of restaurants, a pretty beach, and a lagoon. Lots of snowbirds from North America stay here and although it’s touristy, in hindsight we probably would have chosen this town to spend our time.

Wandering around the colourful streets of Barra de Navidad
Wandering around the colourful streets of Barra de Navidad

4. Melaque: After you visit Barra, continue north along the coast until you come to Melaque, which is on the same bay as Barra. This is another cobblestone town with lots of beachside restaurants and bars. Again, lots of Snowbirds live here in the winter. We prefer swimming at the beach here as it’s a bit more protected and the water is calmer than in Barra.

5. Go Golfing: There are 2 golf courses in Manzanillo. One is Las Hadas Golf Club ($90 USD in the morning and $50 after 3:00pm), which is located just next to Barcelo Resort, and the other is El Corazon Golf Club further outside of Manzanillo.

6. Go to An Event: During the high season, Oasis Beach Club will often have some events on – a special Christmas dinner, a mariachi party night, a cowboy night, bocce ball game for charity, etc. As I mentioned earlier, the beach club is an older expat & tourist crowd and this is especially true of the “fiestas”, but they’re still a lot of fun.

The events will be listed at the entrance to the club. When we were here at the beginning of December, there was some Motocross and Champboat racing going on at the harbour. Check online or ask your hotel / host.

7. Try Surfing: The waves at Santiago Bay aren’t huge, but they are good for those who want to learn. There’s paddleboarding at Oasis, and further south near Playa de Oro Hotel, you’ll see a surfing school with boards for rent.

8. Go Fishing: Manzanillo is famous for bill fishing and is home to an amazing billfish tournament that is entering its 65th anniversary in 2018. Even if you’re not here for the tournament, there are plenty of tours, guides and boats that can take you out. Just make sure you go with a reputable guide who has high ratings and good reviews. This is also one of the top things to do in La Paz in the Baja.

9. Snorkelling / Diving: The diving and snorkelling around Manzanillo isn’t going to compare to the amazing sea and coral life of the mesoamerican reef off the Riviera Maya, but there are some decent snorkel spots off the shore on Santiago Bay and further north. If you want to get to the best spots, it’s best to hire a boat and head out. Boats can be hired from tour offices in town or there are sometimes men on the beach offering services. Also, the wait staff at Oasis Beach Club can help you organize trips through their own contacts.

For diving, Aquatic Sports and Adventures is the highest rated and most recommended dive shop in the area. I never went diving in Manzanillo, but if you choose to you might want to check them out first.

10. Go to a Movie: Ok, so we’re reaching a bit here! Normally going to a movie wouldn’t be on our list of things to do overseas, but as I said, there aren’t many things to do in Manzanillo Colima, so the movies it is. There are 2 Cinepolis theatres here and you’ll just have to check online or at the theatre to see which ones are in English. Some movies are dubbed in Spanish, while others will have Spanish subtitles (which is what you will likely want to look for).

Where to Eat in Manzanillo

As self proclaimed foodies, we struggled with the food here. Many restaurants served up sub-par meals, and if the food was good one time, it usually wasn’t the second time. However, there are a few places that we found to have consistently good food. Check out these restaurants in Manzanillo:

Oasis Beach Club: Can you tell that Oasis is our favourite / most recommended place?! The breakfast, lunch and dinner menus here are affordable and flavourful. There’s a proper chef in the kitchen, the food is fresh, well-seasoned, perfectly executed and most importantly, delicious. Every meal we’ve had here we enjoyed. Try the tuna “sushi” curricanes, shrimp tacos, caesar salad, roasted chicken, fresh fish fillet, breakfast burrito…it’s all good. Menu is in English and Spanish.

manzanillo mexico eating lunch at oasis beach club
A grilled chicken salad with black beans, corn, avocado and pico de gallo! Yum!

El Vaquero: This is a steakhouse with fun Mexican decor and tasty meat. If you’re looking for steak or fajitas, this is the place to come. Most of the menu is beef (which they grill to perfection), but they also have chicken if you ask for it. You’ll also find salads and a couple of fish dishes on the menu. The menu is in Spanish only. Click here for directions.

La Huerta: Our favourite restaurant / bar outside of Oasis, we visited this oceanside restaurant two times and both times the food was tasty and the service was excellent. Plus, with views over the water, you really can’t beat the location. We had the fish fillet, sopes, ceviche and quesadilla and all were great. The menu is in Spanish. Click here for directions. Note: the restaurant has been renovated since the photos on TripAdvisor and Google – the decor is beautiful!

Taco Loco: If you’re’ looking for meat tacos, this is the place to come. Here you’ll find amazing al pastor tacos, plus other “unusual” kinds such as brain, stomach, eyeball and more. This restaurant is very clean, the service is great and the tacos are cheap (around $0.50 each). the menu here is in Spanish. Click here for directions.

Mahalo: Another restaurant on the water. This Tiki style place has cool decor and good service. The food here is a bit hit and miss, but the garlic shrimps with rice and salad have never disappointed us. The menu is in Spanish. Click here for directions.

mahalo restaurant in manzanillo colima
The view from Mahalo restaurant is great

Cafe Bean: The location here isn’t special, but the coffee is great! They have a large breakfast menu and I’ve seen people working from their laptops here. It’s a busy place with friendly staff and good prices. The menu is in English and Spanish. Click here for directions.

Food Truck: Just next to Walmart you’ll see a red pickup truck serving Mexican food. Tacos, quesadillas and tortas are what they mostly offer with your choice of meats. There’s a selection of sauces and veggies to add to your tacos as well. The women running it are very nice and the food is so good! Tacos are around 11 pesos each.

food truck taco stand in manzanillo colima
The food truck serves up amazing, local food! Don’t be scared, give it a try

Taqueria Don Julio: Another good spot for typical Mexican fare – ceviche, tacos, quesadillas, tortas and more. Menu is in Spanish. Click here for directions.

Other Options: La Pergola Restaurant – some of our meals were good, others weren’t. Toscana – Nice setting on the water, but so-so food. The spaghetti bolognese was pretty good, but nothing else was. Monster Burger – we didn’t eat here, but the online reviews are good. Restaurante Juanitos – again, we didn’t eat here, it’s American owned and the reviews are good.

You’ll also find some typical American chains such as Starbucks (a good place to work on your laptop), Carl’s Jr., Pizza Hut, Burger King, Dominos and KFC.

Where to Stay in Manzanillo

We are staying on Manzanillo Bay in an apartment. It’s worth noting that almost all of the buildings in this city are run down and aren’t well maintained. The outside of our building and the neighbouring apartments look condemned, but thankfully the inside of our place is nice and bright.

Manzanillo Bay offers restaurants, grocery stores (Walmart, Sam’s Club, Soriana & La Comer), a couple of gyms, the American chains I noted above and the movie theatres. You will also see sunset from this bay. However, this area is loud as it’s right along the highway, and isn’t the most secure area of Manzanillo Colima (more on that below).

manzanillo colima walking along manzanillo by at sunset
Wandering along the Manzanillo Bay at sunset, a pretty place for a stroll

If we were to return to this city, we would probably stay out in Santiago area and in particular at a condo or house in Club Santiago. It’s so peaceful, beautiful, well-located and most importantly, secure. The only downside is you would have to drive into town to get your groceries when you needed them, and if you wanted to eat anywhere else from Oasis, you’d have to drive about 15 minutes.

We’re all for living like the locals and have always done that during our travels. Meeting people is what it’s all about, but here in Manzanillo Colima, I’d recommend staying at the Las Hadas peninsula or further out at Santiago.

Click here to sign up for Airbnb and receive $34 off of your first stay!

When searching on Airbnb, make sure to search for “Club Santiago” if that’s the area you want to be in or look on the map to ensure you’re near the Las Hadas Area. If you search for “Manzanillo”, Club Santiago won’t come up in the search results.

Shopping & Amenities in Manzanillo

If you’re looking for a large shopping mall, you won’t find one here. There are a few strip malls which offer some clothing and other items for sale. Check out Plaza Punto Bahia and the Marina shop for clothing and other household items.

Soriana, Walmart and Sam’s Club have lots of household items, toiletries and clothing for sale…as well as food. And of course, there are lots of restaurants to eat at as well.

Eating a massive grill full of meat at El Vaquero Steakhouse manzanillo mexico
Eating a massive grill full of meat at El Vaquero Steakhouse

For wine lovers, there’s a wine shop called Vinos America which offers some good wines from around the world – a much better selection than the grocery stores. Click here for directions.

If you need to get some laundry done, check out Lavandaria ON vip. The service is fast and it costs 15 pesos per kilo. Click here for directions.

For fitness, check out Capital Fitness Plus in the Punto Bahia mall. The equipment here is in good shape and the facilities are clean (according to reviews). Click here for directions and information.

Working Online in Manzanillo

For those wanting to work online while here, I recommend heading to Starbucks and Cafe Bean. The wifi isn’t very fast, but it’s free if you buy something. You could also work at the restaurant tables at Oasis and you really couldn’t ask for a better office. There aren’t a lot of plugins there however.

The best option is to purchase a SIM card and a data plan for your phone and tether your computer. Head to the TelCel shop to get this done. It’s 200 pesos for 1GB of data, 1GB of social media and unlimited calling to Canada, the USA and Mexico. There are many packages available. Click here for directions to TelCel.

☞ SEE ALSO: Things To Do in Cabo San Lucas – A List of the Top 21


Unfortunately in Mexico, if you want to rent a car, they will tack on a $15 – $20 (depending on your bargaining skills) per day insurance fee. No matter what it says on any rental site online, a further charge of $15 – $20 per day will be added to your fee.

We bargained with many of the rental companies on the phone before choosing one and ended up paying $21 / day including insurance with Thrifty. The car was rented over a period of 2 months, which is part of the reason we got such a good deal.

You can choose to take the bus around the city, which run up and down the main highway. It’s around 5 pesos for each journey. The buses aren’t in great condition and are normally packed with people, but it’s a cheap and easy way to get around.

Taxis are another option in Manzanillo. It’ll cost about 400 – 500 pesos to the airport and about 50 pesos from Manzanillo bay to Santiago Bay. It’s best to flag one down on the street to get the best price.

Is Manzanillo Safe?

Before coming to Manzanillo, we couldn’t find really any information from travellers on what it was like here. There was 1 article which was written years ago, another article from a blogger listing a few things to see and do, and some TripAdvisor reviews.

On top of that, most of the biggest travel publications like Lonely Planet didn’t have a lot of nice things to say about the city:

Guide to Manzanillo Colima
Snippet From LonelyPlanet.com

Having now been here for almost 2 months, we’ve learned a lot from speaking with the locals – and from our own personal experiences and we’ve formed our own personal opinion about Manzanillo.

One of our Mexican friends who has lived in Manzanillo for 15 years said this of the city:

“I love other cities in Mexico, but Manzanillo isn’t very beautiful. It looks like a highway truck stop and there isn’t much to do here”.

Another Mexican man told me that ever since he was caught in the middle of a cartel-related shootout three years ago, he hasn’t felt safe in the city.

santiago manzanillo colima
Love it all – on the beach of Santiago

The past 3 years have seen a huge increase in Cartel activity in the Colima area, which is due to Manzanillo having the busiest port in Mexico. Not surprisingly, if you’re a drug group, you’re going to want control of this port. Just 5 days ago, the US Government travel website listed the States of Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas as Level 4 – Do Not Travel (the highest level of warning).

We’re not ones to “obey” what the government websites say, and if you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll know that we’ve travelled to many destinations that the government travel websites have deemed “dangerous” in the past – such as Iran, Lebanon, Colombia, Egypt, Kenya, etc.

We always form our own opinions, do our own research, and gauge the situation before travelling. And each time, we’ve been perfectly safe.

During our 6 week stay here in Manzanillo, we heard sirens a few times so I checked the local Twitter page. What I found wasn’t good news. There were 4 different shootouts (with deaths), a double homicide drive-by, 65 kilos of cocaine confiscated at the port, and instances of mutilated body parts found in car trunks with threatening letters just a few hundred meters from our doorstep.

Day trips to Barra de Navidad were great mexico
Day trips to Barra de Navidad were great

It wasn’t like these horrible crimes were happening at night when we wouldn’t be out, and it wasn’t just nightclub activity, sometimes it was in broad daylight on the street. These drug-related things happened a little bit too close to our apartment, which made us feel uneasy during our stay here.

It’s possible that this has been going on in other places that we have stayed in Mexico (or other countries) and we just didn’t know about it, but the fact that we knew about these events wasn’t a great feeling.

Despite all of this, there are lots of “Snowbirds” staying out in Santiago and Las Hadas and they’re all enjoying the warm weather and beautiful beach. If you’re a tourist staying at the resorts in the city, or if you’re staying out at Santiago Club or Las Hadas, you’ll likely not encounter any issues.

And, the drug cartels aren’t after tourists, they’re fighting with the other cartels for control of certain areas. The problem is, you don’t want to get caught in the crossfire of their wars, or be witness to anything gruesome.

Why did we choose to come here and stay here?

Well, a family member is retiring here in Manzanillo due to great prices on condos right on the beach, and a nice (retired) expat community. We chose to make this our base because of this and had numerous family members coming down to see us.

All flights were booked and paid for, and all accommodation as well. We didn’t know anything about the crime issues before we came, or the lack of activities available and we were excited to explore somewhere new.

manzanillo colima visiting with family
Having family members come and visit us really made our trip to Manzanillo a memorable one – 15 people came down at different times!

So, we stayed in Manzanillo and we all made the most of it. And, apart from one aggressive man at a gas station, we didn’t have any personal problems and made some wonderful local friends.

Even though there wasn’t a lot to do, we had a great time at the Santiago beach, Barra Navidad, in centro during the events and enjoyed family and friends’ company at our condos.

Would We Travel to Manzanillo Again?

If we had to do this trip all over again, sorry Manzanillo, but we would have stayed farther north in Barra de Navidad, Melaque or Puerto Vallarta. For the sake of our friends and family here, I truly hope that the crime rates decrease and something is done to help improve the security of the innocent locals.

I almost feel as though Santiago and Manzanillo, although very close to each other, are entirely different places. Had we chosen to stay out in Club Santiago or somewhere along Santiago Bay or Las Hadas, we would have likely had a much different experience.

Overall I would say that Manzanillo, or rather, Santiago, is a great place for a beach holiday or for retirees looking to escape the winters of Canada, but for digital nomads and longer-term travellers who are looking for culture, architecture, good food and lots to do, Manzanillo town itself probably isn’t the best place. 

If you’re planning to stay longer than 2 weeks, I would have to say that Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Escondido or somewhere in the Yucatan Peninsula may be a better place. Plus they are all currently much safer than Colima State.

If you do plan to come to Manzanillo, try to find a place in Club Santiago or somewhere along Santiago Bay or Las Hadas. Rent a car for the duration of your stay and only head into Manzanillo city for groceries and the occasional night out at one of the restaurants in town.

Santiago Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve seen on the Pacific side of Mexico and many Mexicans from nearby Guadalajara (and further afield Mexico City) choose this place for their holidays — and rightly so. It’s one of their closest coastal towns and there’s a lovely beach at Santiago Bay, making it a good place for a 1 – 2 week beach holiday.

Of course everyone’s opinion of travel destinations and digital nomad hubs are different, but we feel it’s important that we’re fully honest with you about how we felt in Manzanillo. We hope that no matter where you plan to spend your time in Colima, this guide will help you out.

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“A Guide to Manzanillo For Digital Nomads & TravellersThe Ultimate Guide To Manzanillo, Mexico“A Guide To Colima For Digital Nomads & Travellers


Dariece Swift author's bio Goats On The Road

Written by

Dariece Swift

Dariece is a co-founder of Goats On The Road, and an expert in saving money, finance management, building an online business and of course... travel. She loves meeting new people, trying new cuisines, and learning about the unique cultures of our world. She has over 12 years of experience helping others to realize their travel dreams and has worked in numerous jobs all over the world to help pay for travel.

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44 thoughts on “A Guide to Manzanillo Colima For Digital Nomads & Travellers”

  1. Hi
    thanks for the info on Mexico.
    I will be honest in that I have not read it in depth merely skimmed through it quickly.
    Please do not take offence I have done a lot of backpacking and avoid as much as I can looking at too many pictures or reading more than I really need too.
    Of course I have read the basics .
    I deliberately avoided the pictures of Machu Picchu in my guide book for instance before I got there.
    When I arrived there I still genuinely had absolutely no idea what it looked like or what to expect.

    Anyhow I am a solo traveller more by necessity than choice but I do make friends easily.
    I have decided to book a ticket for Mexico from London maybe for around 12 weeks or so.
    I feel no shame in saying that I am not particularly good alone and I thrive on the sociabilty of hostels and dorms and the backpacker life.
    I also need a beach or beaches for a few weeks preferably where I will meet cool nice people to hang out with when I choose to.

    Any pointers must do’s suggestions etc would be fab.

    It was either Mexico or Egypt partly because as of yet I have never set foo in Africa ever.
    No I am not obsessed with pyramids lol.

    Mexico for me appeals as I think that it will be backpacker friendly in the sense that there will be places where I can meet similar people to us.
    Cost is appealing.
    Culture and art oh and what was the other thing
    oh beaches did I mention I want a beach with a nic evibe and easy living.

    I was traveling to Mexico last year from Colombia I got as far as Nicaragua and got called back to London.
    I had to book a flight there and then to come home.

    Thanks to anyone in advance if you reply or add a comment .

  2. Hi ‘Goats’
    I now regret that i kind of ‘lost touch’ with you guys for awhile. I lived in Manzanillo from July to end of October 2016.
    Came over here to Lake Chapala to house-sit (T.H.S.)and decided to stay. Could have been a nice day trip for you guys.
    $25 bus-ride from Manz. to Chapala thru Colima City and a beautiful big ,clean lake. A lot of expats living here; we may start a Saskatchewan Club, there’s so many of us here from all over Canada. The Canadian Club had over 700 members when i arrived for Turkey dinner that year.
    I would say I totally agree with your assessment of Manzanillo.

  3. Please go away and do not come back. I have lived here full-time for 14 years and your “blog” does not reflect reality. Maybe for you it does. Did you speak any Spanish, did you visit with any locals, or was all your time with the foreign community speaking English. I think we all know the answer to that. Come to the community, get away from the gringos and their hangouts and you can truly appreciate and enjoy Mexico.

  4. Hi George,

    Apparently this article offended you! If there’s one thing we’ve learned from travelling is that everyone has a different opinion of each place. Unfortunately our idea of Manzanillo disagrees with yours. We do speak Spanish and our Mexican friends in Manzanillo really made it more enjoyable, but we have valid points about the town itself and prefer to be honest with our readers about how we feel about each place. Glad you enjoy it.



  5. Truly written from the point of view of “travelers” who prefer to be around other ex-pats and don’t explore or appreciate their surroundings.

    Probably shouldn’t have spent 3/4 of your short six weeks among fellow Canadian ex-pats at Oasis; and actually explored all the things there are to do in Manzanillo and the surrounding area: waterfalls, hikes, ATV tours, the Saturday shopping market, various artisans festivals, day trip to the Volcano, the city of Tequila, deep-sea fishing, etc.

    Why mention restaurants to “avoid” without providing an explanation?

    There is a plaza, in fact many of them in Manzanillo and Santiago. The port area has great restaurants and shopping; but if you’re too turned off by the “dirty streets” and acting like you were accosted by drug cartels, you wouldn’t have noticed.

    Crime in Mexico is directly related to the drug trade and is not random. As in most other countries in the world, don’t get involved in illegal activity and you’re perfectly safe. I feel safer alone in Manzanillo as a single woman than I do in my home city in the US where crime and shootings are at random.

    Manzanillo is actually a major tourist city for Mexicans. Were you not in town for Navidad or Santa Semana?

    Enjoy the “safety” and pretentiousness of Barra de Navidad and Puerto Vallarta in your future travels.

  6. Hi Juliet,

    We did explore a considerable amount of Manzanillo. It doesn’t take long to form this opinion however. If you read above, it’s very similar to that of Lonely Planet’s opinion and many other travel guides. Manzanillo just isn’t the most charming of Mexican beach towns in our opinion.

    Why avoid the restaurants we mentioned? Terrible food. The plaza in Manzanillo isn’t really nice or a nice place to hang out like many other Mexican towns. Compare it to Oaxaca, Guadalajara, Guanajuato, Mexico City, San Miguel… the list goes on… Manzanillo’s plaza doesn’t offer much.

    Crime is directly related to cartel which we made very clear in the article. We also said that it’s still dangerous to have 5 shootouts within a kilometer of your front door. One Mexican friend of ours was nearly shot in his truck in Manzanillo because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. We didn’t ever say we were accosted by drug cartel and made it very clear that the crimes are not on tourists.

    Manzanillo may feel safer than the US, and we agree. We feel safer in almost every other country than we do in the US because there is so much gun crime there. 100% agree.

    We were in town for Navidad. It was our favourite time because we were surrounded by Mexicans on the beach and in town and everyone was having a good time, but that doesn’t take away from our opinion that Manzanillo isn’t the most charming Mexican city. I think anyone who visits Manzanillo and a few other places in beautiful Mexico would agree. The country is blessed with hundreds of amazing sites and stunning cities, Manzanillo simply isn’t one of them.

    Lastly, we’ve travelled to some of the most “dangerous” cities and countries in the world and have almost always written positive about them. It’s not like us to even mention crime. Manzanillo has seen an insane amount of violent crime rising in the past few years. With such a small place and so many murders happening within the city, it’s not the safest place to visit in Mexico. That anyone can agree with.

    Sorry you took such offence to our article. I recommend you don’t read Lonely Planet, USA Today or pretty much any unbiased honest travel publication as they are much more harsh than we were. We love the beach there, and mentioned it may be a decent spot for retirees. But there are nicer places in Mexico. That’s all.

  7. I’m sorry you felt that the article was condescending. It’s getting a great response from other travellers who have visited the city and agree with our assessment. Some won’t agree. That’s why we said that travel is a personal experience in the article. No need to take offence.

  8. Hey Izy, the man at the gas station made a physical advance on Nick but it wasn’t overly violent. He was in the car and we simply rolled up the window and drove away. We had never seen the man before in our lives, but he seemed to be angry with us about something. He said something about “Americano” but he was drunk so we couldn’t make it out. It wasn’t serious so we didn’t feel the need to elaborate in the article. Maybe he mistook Nick for someone else!

  9. Hey Bill,

    I’m glad you agree with the assessment and glad to have you back reading! Thanks for the recommendation! We’ll see if we can visit Chapala next time we’re in the area.

    Happy travels!

  10. We spent 2 weeks in manzanillo for Christmas and have to say I find your assessment completely accurate. Having seen much of Mexico this was the only place we have been that we will probably not return. Terrible food, dirty and smells like a monkey’s armpit.

    I may bee too pretentious for Manzanillo but I prefer the smell of flowers and ocean to garbage and vomit.

    Oasis club was also our saving grace otherwise we would have been on the first plane home.

  11. Hi goats!

    Thank you for your honest opinion on this locale in Mexico. I feel like your take was honest and would say that I found Manzanillo to be a very nondescript Mexican city.

    Probably won’t be returning here in the future, not a lot for my children to do besides the beach.

  12. Manzanillo is where they filmed the beach scenes from the Movie 10…
    Babs and James Brolin were here 2-3 times a year when they were a couple
    the reason people love it here, its uncomplicated ….no GOATS
    as for your Club Santiago ,thats where many of the cartel members live.
    the 2 volcanos are referred to as Heaven and Hell, since one is ice covered, and the other erupts
    at night hell has a red glow often from it many nights……bottom line is, if you want to kick back and drink 50 cent beer and get a tan no place better….if you want to pay out the a** go else where,

  13. I will be changing this article into a warning shortly, rather than a travel guide. Comments that say “I feel safer than the US” and “It’s a great place for cheap beer” are completely irrelevant and it doesn’t take away from the fact that Colima, Mexico currently has the three most dangerous cities in the country with the highest murder rates. Manzanillo is number 3. The highest murder rate, Tecomán (64 km from Manzanillo) has 102.42 murders per 100,000 people. That’s 10 times more murderous than the most murderous state in the US. Manzanillo at 67.2 is 6 times more murderous than any state in the US. The city and the state is actually rivalling Venezuela as the most murderous place in the world.

    We’re not ever scared by government warnings (the US currently has a “do not travel” warning in Manzanillo), but this place is no joke. There have been numerous murders and mutilated bodies found in recent weeks and many of them are happening right where tourists hang out, like around Walmart, Soriana, Main street Oxxo etc. It’s not a safe place and acting like “you feel safe” and telling people it’s “okay to go” would be irresponsible and dangerous.

    Please review these references and really consider what you’re commenting about and where you recommend people enjoy cheap beer. I have family in the city now and I am deeply concerned for their safety.






  14. Those are great sources as well. We used #NoticiasManzanillo on Twitter every time we heard sirens and military vehicles go by our house. That’s partly how we were informed of the incidents.

  15. Thanks for your refreshing and honest take on Manzanillo. I went through the area in the mid 90’s and didn’t stay long. Everywhere has a “vibe”, and Manzanillo’s didn’t resonate with me. People were friendly, food was decent, but there was a certain “je ne sais quoi” about the area.

    Keep up the great work, and keep sharing your opinions. Always appreciated!

  16. Ha ha! You are SUCH gringos! Culture my ass, you hung out every day at the most gringolandia place in town. You didn’t even find Dagas Adventures, the best hiking/kayaking/pilgrimage tour operator around. You looked for white food among white people. You’ve got a long way to go to be real adventurers. Your recommendations of Barra and Vallarta show that you long to be surrounded by whites and english. Losers.

  17. How long were you in Manzanillo???? You are incredible! HOW ON EARTH CAN YOU BLOG ABOUT A PLACE YOU WERE BARELY AT? HOW??
    Oasis? That has to be THE MOST EXPAT GRINGO restaurant in town. It is a nice place to go on payday but come on, you hung out there every day!? There are so many restaurants in Manzanillo to choose from ……. I do believe that you forgot to mention that you are BLIND!
    Nothing to do? Did you actually look for something to do or were your white asses too comfortable in expat territory?
    You are an embarrassment to true travelers. Go home!

  18. Thank you for your comemnt. We were in Manzanillo for almost 2 months actually and have been travelling for 10 years – so yes, we do know about culture and where in the world is worth a visit. In our opinion, there are far better places to visit in Mexico (a country we’ve spent over 6 months in) – Guanajuato, Mexico City, San Cristobal de las Casas, Valladolid, Oaxaca City, Puerto Escondido, Guadalajara, Isla Holbox, etc. etc. Colima State simply isn’t safe at the moment, and there isn’t much to do in Manzanillo, nor does it have any charm compared to the other places in the country. Sometimes places aren’t “touristy” simply because there’s nothing there to attract people. Manzanillo is one of those places.

    Have a great day!

  19. What a constructive comment! When we travel, we ALWAYS seek out the local cuisine. As we are foodies, we were seriously disappointed with the shortage of street food or amazing traditional restaurants available in Manzanillo. Mexico has a fantastic culture of cuisine! We’ve been travelling full time for 10 years, so i highly doubt we have a long way to go to becoming real adventurers – nor do you know where we’ve been. It was a family trip, the family was bored as there isn’t much to do in Manzanillo – especially when compared to other parts of Mexico (of which, we’ve spent 6 months).

    Have a great day!

  20. Enjoyed your review on Manzanillo and agreed mostly with your comments on almost every restaurant. Wanted to add a few of my own. We have been coming to Santiago Bay after spending a few weeks first in Puerto Vallerta, then driving down to Santiago Bay for about 20 years. We owned a timeshare on the hill(to the right of the beach) with a beautiful view for years however the villas went residential so now we stay at Las Hades but return daily to Club Santiago for some meals and swimming.We have never felt any kind of danger in these areas. Total relaxation. On our return trip to PV I would highly recommend The Grand Bay Hotel. about 20 miles north of Santiago Bay. Beautiful rooms, wonderful pool with a “secret” roof top pool, and a small boat ride to Barre de Navadid (!.00) The breakfast room, which is included in the price, is wonderful. Also a great golf course and club house. Hopefully we can continue making this trip and feel the safety of our drive .

  21. We travel to Mexico several times a year and rent a car each time. For the first five or so years, it was very frustrating when they tacked on additional insurance costs. For the last 10-years, I have not had one problem with additional insurance costs. I just take TPL coverage (mandatory) and book it with my Chase Sapphire card. The Sapphire card provides all the additional coverage you need. On a few occasions when returning the car, I have been charged for some damage but I file a claim with Chase and they cover it 100% with very little hassle. It is zero deductible. I would be interested in other peoples comments about this matter.

  22. Hello. Going on a trip with my sisters in a couple weeks for 11 days. We can’t decide if we should stay at an air bnb in Santiago Bay near Oasis Ocean Club. Or at the Dolphin Cove Inn in Manzanillo Bay. We are interested in walking along the beach. Swimming in the ocean. And eating at local restaurants within walking distance of our accommodations. What would you recommend??

  23. Hi Carol,

    I would suggest Santiago Bay. You can’t swim at Manzanillo Bay as the surf is too strong most of the time. Santiago Bay near Oasis is quite calm – a stunning beach great for walking as well because the sand is more “packed” rather than soft. You can eat at Oasis, at the other little local restaurants on the beach, or take a super cheap taxi / the bus into town for a meal there.


  24. We’ve found the Blueberry Cafe delightful and tasty in each of our three visits to eat in Dec. 2018. Recommend that your readers give it a try. Agree that the Oasis is also a gem.

  25. Don’t like Manzanillo? No good food? Run down buildings throughout the city?
    You WERE NOT in Manzanillo!
    Oasis was your favorite? Next time you would stay at Club Santiago??
    Holy shit! Talk about closed mined tourists!!
    That’s ok. We do not need your kind here.

    *From a Canadian that has been living in Manzanillo for 30 years! FULL TIME! 30 years! VIVA MANZANILLO!!!!

  26. I’m glad you enjoy living in Manzanillo! After our 6 week stay (going many more places than just Oasis, obviously), we just didn’t find the vibe that other areas of Mexico have – nor the activities. And yes, it’s very run down. It’s our personal opinion based on having spent over 6 months travelling in other parts of Mexico. What one person might like, another might not. All the best to you and enjoy the sunshine

  27. I think you’re right, Manzanillo is not an “exciting” town for tourists, especially for snowflake millenials. Especially ones who think they are foodies and their favorite restaurant is the Oasis. Wow…
    What Manzanillo is a great place for retirees, housing prices are substantially less than Vallarta, and you don’t have a town dedicated to New York tourists, but to regular Mexican people living ordinary lives. Navidad is a great place for ex hippy Canadians who like to smoke dope and pretend they’re still 20 years old

  28. As a local from other big touristic place in Mexico; I would like to kindly request to avoid write such articles regarding safety because in all places in Mexico or any other country or important city in the world there is crime and the most of the time the people involve are not really doing very good things. Meaning if you are with the incorrect people… in case of the tourists I do not think would be safe to go 3AM to Atlanta down town, would be?, or Manzanillo down town or any other place you should not go.
    I dis agree with your opinion about it! Let’s not comment without responsibility.

  29. As someone who knows Manzanillo well, I read this article and the comments with some interest, though I got bored with the recommendations for Oasis. Yeah it’s a nice place, we got the point. It’s ironic you didn’t notice Club Santiago has its own golf course 3 minutes walk away from Oasis so there are 3 golf courses in Manzanillo (4 if you include Isla Navidad)

    Manzanillo doesn’t have dangerous areas, there is not much petty crime and I never ever heard of tourists being robbed or attacked, but you rightly point out the risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time in the very violent cartel war. Same applies in a lot of Mexican cities. It’s also true that Manzanillo isn’t a beautiful historic or colonial city (Colima is but you guys seem to have missed that) The beauty of Manzanillo is in its people, and you certainly only meet one small segment of them if you hang out at Oasis all the time. Many of them have come from all parts of Mexico and settled here and it’s a great vibe.

    However I really take issue with the claim that there are not enough good food places. The commenters are right that it seems you went to mainly to tourist hangouts. There is lots of great street food, seafood etc. You just have to ask around. It looks like you used Tripadvisor to find restaurants. Manzanillo is a strange market and locals don’t use Tripadvisor much, so the rankings there are very much skewed towards places that expats and tourists visit. Like anywhere, certain restaurants focus on certain types of clientele. There is another whole world of good food out there in Manzanillo. What about the Las Brisas area that is full of cool restaurants these days and is quite close to where you seem to have stayed? Did you miss that? Or just go to market in Santiago (not Walmart!!!), buy some of that morning’s fresh catch and grill it!!! Foodie heaven.

    Overall it’s a very very superficial review and I think that is obvious to people who know the city. That is why it would be easy to find it offensive. But I guess that’s what you want as Google will love it and it helps you rank your other pages.

    Manzanillo is a great place to rent an apartment by the month and do proper remote work. Nobody will bother you or ask too many questions, immigration is easy going, and there is not to much to distract you during your working day. Parts of Manzanillo have fiber optic connections though many parts still don’t. I really wonder how much proper work anyone can get done from Starbucks or with 1GB of Telcel internet.

  30. Hey Mark,

    Thanks for your comment. We did manage to go to a lot of other places besides Oasis and spent months in the city (and surrounds) checking out different places (we also went to Colima).

    Travel is very personal and different people will have different experiences and opinions to your own. That’s simply the way it is.

    I’m sorry you didn’t agree with the article, but that’s the great thing about blogs. There are often personal thoughts published on them and it’s okay if not everyone agrees. It would be much better for Google and for our business to write positively about everywhere we go, but we prefer to be honest to help our readers better understand the places we visit.

    Happy travels.

  31. Hey Mark, you CANNOT include the golf course at Isla Navidad as being in Manzanillo. It isn’t. It is in/across from Barra. No cheating.

  32. We will be leaving for our 6th vacation in the Manzanillo area next week. We always stay at the very end of Playa Las Brisas at La Posada for a week and then travel north to a favorite rental for a week or so in La Manzanilla. I agree that too much info about what is going on in the seedier areas of Manzanillo can be a little unnerving. We never stay out late at night or go to the bars after 9pm or so. We always rent a car so we are not on foot except when exploring the downtown shops or markets. We usually take the local jalopy bus downtown a couple times to shop and eat wonderful early evening street food. I think Manzanillo has a lot to offer value wise with a relaxing vibe for a casual, down-to-earth, no frills Mexican beach vacation. I will agree that each little town outside Manzanillo offers something different. Barra, Melaque, San Patricio, Cuastecomate, La Manzanilla all are unique and worth exploring. We usually spend a day in Colima and another day or two at Tenacatita (north of La Manzanilla) where the snorkeling is pretty fantastic. Last time we drove to the volcano and found that all the vanilla fields were blooming! The smell was unbelievable. Hope you will give Manzanillo a try again the in future. I think when you know what to expect it can be pretty fantastic!

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