Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra de Manantlán

Western Central Highlands

A 1396-sq-km swath of the jungle-clad limestone mountains northwest of the city of Colima is protected by Unesco as critical habitat. It is certainly diverse, ranging in elevation from 400m to 2960m, with eight varieties of forest ecosystem – including tropical, cloud, oak and alpine. This land counts nearly 2900 varieties of plants, 336 bird species (a third of Mexico’s total), 85 amphibians and reptiles and 110 mammals, including puma, jaguar and ocelot.

The reserve boasts spectacular limestone karsts, narrow canyons and powerful waterfalls; there are 50km of downhill single-track for mountain bikers and an abundance of trekking trails. But in recent years visitor numbers have dropped off due to the presence of drug carters in the area. Seek advice from Admire Mexico, which has run eight-hour adventure trips to the reserve in the past.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Western Central Highlands attractions

1. Playa Olas Altas

24.4 MILES

True to its name (Big Waves Beach), this attractive stretch of sand has lovely surfable breakers and is backed by a handful of simple beach restaurants.

2. Playa Miramar

24.49 MILES

Boasting the best surfing and bodysurfing waves in the area, the long and beautiful Playa Miramar is an ideal place to take the plunge and rent a…

3. Playa Santiago

24.68 MILES

On the far side of the Península de Santiago from town, this is one of Manzanillo's cleaner beaches and part of the 8km-long Santiago Bay. Buses marked …

4. Playa La Audiencia

25.35 MILES

Playa La Audiencia, lining a gorgeous cove on the west side of Península de Santiago, has tranquil water and is popular for waterskiing and other noisy…

5. Playa La Boquita

25.56 MILES

Playa La Boquita is a beach with calm waters at the mouth of a lagoon where fishermen lay out their nets to dry by day, and shove off by night. The beach…

6. Playa Azul

26.13 MILES

This 6km-long, curving strip of sand is rather steep and buffeted by Pacific surf, so it's better for sunbathing and walking than swimming. It stretches…

7. Playa Las Brisas

27.65 MILES

Just across the harbor from the old town, this long stretch of sand is backed by a fast-growing zone of hotels, restaurants and bars. Buses marked 'Las…

8. Playa San Pedrito

28.65 MILES

Around a kilometer from the main plaza, this is the closest beach to the old town, but also the dirtiest.