o my buddy Andy and I have decided to do a little Mexican vacation, but opted to avoid the typical all-inclusive resort. We’re flying in and out of Manzanillo (airport code ZLO), and doing a seven-day backpacking/beaching adventure around that area. The beachy coast is referred to as the Costa Alegre, “Coast of Happiness.” Sweet!
The two provinces we’ll be visiting are Colima and Jalisco, both of which are on the Pacific Coast. The big cities around are Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, Colima, and Manzanillo, all within a 5 hour bus ride of each other.
Rather than bussing it, we’re going to rent a car. If we were travelling for longer, we wouldn’t have bothered with the car, but it’s just so inexpensive. We’re renting from Thrifty at the Manzanillo airport. For a 7 day rental of a compact car, with a manual transmission, unlimited kilometers, it costs $CDN 105 with all taxes (advertised price was $US 67) and fees. Insurance is seperate, and closer to another $100, but you buy it at the time of the rental.
We set our itinerary based on the stuff we read online, as well as the the PDF copy of the Lonely Planet guide for that area. It looks something like this:
Day 1 and 2 – Manzanillo. Sounds like a great little city, busiest port in Mexico; lots of surf, sand, and nightlife, as well as plenty of hotel options. Good place to get our bearings.
Day 3 – Colima. We were curious what the non-beach part of Mexico looks like, and apparently the volcano near Colima is really something to see. Planned on doing a Sunday walk, eat at a nice restaurant, and maybe get some nature in. There is a large biosphere reserve in the area.
Day 4 – Cuyutlan/El Paraiso. A couple of beach town about 50 km south-east of Manzanillo, with black sand beaches. Not well travelled by fellow North Americans. Inexpensive and family oriented, might be a great place to experience some authentic Mexican family culture.
Day 5-7 – Melaque/Barra de Navidad – Decidedly the most touristy destination on our trip; beach after beach after beach, street-food, and lots of fellow Canadians.
Hotels or Hostels?
We decided to try to book the following hotels, given a budget of about $US 20 / per person / per night, which is just slightly above what local hostels charge. To be honest, we were not excited about the hostelling prospects in the area: there aren’t many, and the reviews online have been bleak.
We made a list of small hotels that we would try to book, based on online reviews and mentions in the Lonely Planet guide. So hoping to make reservations (there were no online reservation options), I decided to give a few of them a call. Unfortunately, nobody on the other end spoke English, so the process went poorly.
Me: “Hola, speak English?”
Them: “No English.”
Me: “Ahh, ok. Reservation, por dos hombres, dos noches?”
Them: “Lo siento, no English ..” <saddened tone>
Me: “OK, buenos noches.”
We asked a Mexican friend to call and get prices for a room with two beds, for two people. All phone numbers start with +52.
1. Hotel Colonial – (314) 332-1080 – 600 pesos.
2. San Jose – (314) 332 5105 – 400 pesos.
1. Hospedajes Del Rey Hotel – (312) 313-3683 – 450 pesos, no A/C.
2. Dinastia – (312) 330-4002 -498 with A/C, 264 no A/C.
1. Posada del Sol – (313) 326 4029 – ??
2. Hotel Morelos – (313) 326 4013 – 390 pesos per person, includes 3 meals / day.
Melaque/Barra de Navidad
1. Bahia - (315) 355 6894 – 500 pesos.
2. Las Brisas – (315) 355 5108 – 450 pesos.
3. Trivento – (315) 355-7068 (in Barra de Navidad) – ??
It feels much more real now than a few days ago, and I’m starting to get excited and nervous.