Manzanillo has a bit of an identity crisis. On the one hand, it’s Mexico’s busiest commercial seaport, servicing cargo ships, pleasure cruises and naval vessels from around the world. On the other hand, it’s a tourist destination, attracting beach lovers to its fine golden sands (the famous slow-motion scene of Bo Derek running along the beach in Blake Edwards’ 10 was filmed here) and anglers to the self-proclaimed ‘Sailfish Capital of the World.’
The personalities don’t always match up. The beaches are often streaked with oil that washes up from the busy harbor. And for every ambitious new nightclub or restaurant that opens, another shuts down – a sign that tourism is not keeping up with development.
The government has poured millions of pesos into renovation projects such as the beautiful downtown malecón and the seaside main plaza and sculpture gardens to attract visitors, but tourism remains an afterthought in Manzanillo. Still, it’s a fine city to chill out in for a few days or to use as a base for exploring the more charming beaches north and south of town.
Manzanillo extends 16km from northwest to southeast. The resort hotels and finest beaches are concentrated about 10km from downtown on Península de Santiago, a rocky outcrop at the far northwestern edge of Bahía de Manzanillo. Just west of the peninsula, Bahía de Santiago is lined with more excellent beaches.