The Best Things to Do in Manzanillo, Mexico

Comala, Col., Mexico
Mexico’s Pueblos Mágicos (Magic Towns) program was launched in 2001 by the country’s secretary of tourism, whose goal was to draw visitors to smaller municipalities that were typically under the tourist radar. Many of these towns have preserved their colonial architecture and traditional culture. Magic towns near Manzanillo include Nogueras and Comala, and a guided tour will introduce you to the charms of both.

What started as an initiative to protect the region’s sea turtles has expanded to include the management of other species, including crocodiles, iguanas and even the estuary and mangroves they all call home. Since the center’s founding in 1992, its staff and volunteering visitors have helped more than 2 million baby turtles make their journey from land to water. Learn more about their work and the creatures they protect during a visit to the center.

Valle Dorado, Manzanillo, Col., Mexico
One man’s effort to rescue and rehabilitate an injured iguana turned into a large-scale project that now encompasses the care of more than 300 of these reptiles. His “iguanario” is a bit of a one-man circus (and on a haphazardly maintained property to boot), but his devotion to the cause he’s taken up tends to charm visitors, who also appreciate the animal photo ops.

Av Tecnologico Sn, Villa de Alvarez, Villa de Álvarez, 28979 Villa de Álvarez, Col., Mexico
Not as well-known as Chichén Itzá in the Yucatán or Teotihuacán near Mexico City, La Campana is nonetheless one of the country’s important archaeological sites. In fact, this center of the Capacha people was the largest pre-Hispanic settlement in western Mexico and has been inscribed on the national archaeological registry since 1917. Open to the public since the mid-1990s, La Campana, which is located just north of the city of Colima, has pyramidal structures, ball courts and tombs—and a visit offers a chance to explore an ancient city with far fewer visitors than those found at some of Mexico’s other archaeological sites.

If you’re not scuba-certified—or you just don’t have time for a dive—snorkeling the waters of Manzanillo can be just as rewarding. Various outfitters can lead you on an aquatic excursion that includes snorkeling around a shipwreck. Keep an eye out for colorful fish species such as the rainbow wrasse, as well as corals and jeweled moray eels, among other marine fauna and flora.

Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico
Taking a turn around the town center is a long-standing tradition in most of Mexico‘s pueblos and even its biggest cities. It’s in these centers where you’ll find small and charming shops, cafés and restaurants, live music and public art installations. Manzanillo’s center is tiny and not as traditional as many others in Mexico, but still offers the opportunity to get a glimpse of daily life.

The 18-hole bayside golf course at this upscale hotel features all sorts of challenges for both novice and expert golfers, with the first hole—bounded by sand traps—offering a taste of the tough tees to come. If you start to feel tense, just take a breather and enjoy the scenery; the course is surrounded by 4,000 palm trees and plenty of water.

Delfin 15, Residencial la Jolla, Club Santiago, 28860 Manzanillo, Col., Mexico
The internationally inspired fare (Asian and Italian, mostly) at Oasis Ocean Club is good, but most guests patronize this spot for its enviable views and its lively atmosphere. Sitting right on the waterfront, the two-level restaurant looks out onto the bay and truly is one step from the beach. Live music and an exceptionally friendly staff draw repeat visitors.

5 de Mayo 28200, Centro Histórico, 28200 Manzanillo, Col., Mexico
Local markets remain a staple of Mexican life, and are typically a one-stop shop for a variety of needs. Manzanillo’s municipal market is no different, offering basic home goods, food staples and several on-site services, such as tailoring and minor repairs. Even if you don’t intend to buy, it’s worth it to take time to browse.

Boulevard Costero Miguel de la Madrid 13, Peñitas, 28868 Manzanillo, Col., Mexico
The Miramar flea market is comprised of a string of outdoor kiosks where vendors sell everything from flip-flops to jewelry crafted from shells. They’re exactly the kinds of items you’d expect for the locale, which is right along the beach. Less expected, perhaps, are the vendors selling locally made candies. Traditional sweets include cajeta, a milk caramel, and other goodies created with regionally sourced ingredients, including tamarind.

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