The town of Manzanillo overlooks the East side of an enchanting bay; on the Western side a set of luxurious resorts were built, including the marina complex in front of which we anchored. when we arrived in the evening, we found several other boats at the anchor. In fact, the site is just perfect for a long term anchorage, as it is well protected from the swell and it is easy to land the dinghy at the marina and take a bus into town. The next morning, while we were going to the marina with our dinghy, we were invited by a nearby boat to have a coffee together. It was a couple of Canadian sailors, who have been leaving in French Polynesia for more than 15 years, and that decided to buy a boat and take a trip to Alaska; when we met them, they were on their way back to Tahiti. It was a very interesting and pleasant encounter, so we planned to meet in the evening for an aperitif on their boat. We continued our trip to town by bus, enjoying from a distance the beautiful view of the bay.
Downtown Mananillo is located right on the water, where fishermen and the Mexico Navy share the harbor, creating a curious contrast between the colorful little fisherman pangas and the large gray warships. Just in the center of the green and well maintained public garden is a huge blue sculpture symbolizing a marlin fish.
In front of the park stands the local library, where we entered to poke around. We were very pleased by the welcoming attitude of the lady at the entrance desk who let us in. As it was about 12:30 pm, we decided to go to the municipal market and have lunch there. It is a well organized structure with a huge variety of fruits, vegetables, meet, etc. At the second floor we found the food court, where many of the stands serving food were closed for lunch break! In fact, we discovered that they start serving food at 6 am when the market opens. we were anyhow able to try the pozole, a filling soup made of white corn and pulled meet. We do not know if it was the best “pozole” of Mexico as advertised by them, but it was definitely very delicious and inexpensive (3$ for two people). We accompanied the soup with several fresh vegetable and fruit juices. We took the chance to make some provisioning at the lower floor before returning to the boat.
Though we really enjoyed staying in the bay of Manzanillo, we decided to leave, leveraging some favorable winds, heading to Barra de Navidad. We said goodbye to Paul and Susanne, the Canadian couple with the hope to meet again the future. Although we experienced great sailing conditions, our next stop was not too far away, a few miles NW. Bahia Santiago was worth a stop as it holds a large wreck that has become an “aquarium”, where all sorts of marine species found home. We reached the beach by dinghy, experiencing the Pacific challenge of taking it up the shore, safe from the incoming tide. Miguel, a local fisherman, offered his help to bring it in front of the “palapa” – the beach restaurant – where he worked. We hiked up the hill from where you could enjoy the view of the bay as well as the lagoon where hundreds of birds were busy fishing. Of course, we had lunch at Miguel’s place, where we enjoyed for the first time delicious local oysters and clams.
The following day we continued our trip to Barra de Navidead, making a stop in Bahia Carrizal, famous for its snorkeling sites that we could not experience because of the was very cloudy weather .
On February 1st we reached Marina Barra de Navidad, a beautiful facility located inside a a huge lagoon and part of a luxurious resort. Differently from most of the marina we visited, it was crowded with sailboats (not only!), many of them owned by North American people who converged there to watch the next day the Super Bowl. Upon suggestion of our sail book, we walked to the other side of the peninsula to reach Playa de Coco, a desert beach where we spent a relaxing afternoon enjoying the show of the waves crashing against the rocks on the edges of the beach.
On the way back we got a car ride by a local lady who manages several properties in that area. She mentioned that from November through April, Barra de Navidad is mainly inhabited by Canadian people, who spend the winter abroad with the subsidiary of the government that encourages the citizens to save heating resources. From April to October the town hosts mainly Mexican vacationers.
In the evening we reached by water taxi the little village of Barra de Navidad, just on the other side of the lagoon, where we had a delicious dinner at Restaurante Manglito, that was recommended by the lady we met in the afternoon. Although we had planned to leave on Monday, we decided to stay one more day as it rained cats and dogs all day long. We took advantage of this to do some computer work in the lobby of the resort. On Tuesday 4th we left heading to Puerto Vallarta.