We have spent the last month on the Mexican Riviera bouncing back and forth between Bahia Tenecatita and Manzanillo with stops in Barra de Navidad Marina (twice) and lagoon, Ensenada Carrizal, Santiago Bay (twice), and Las Hadas. We arrived in this area in the middle of March and the cruising season had already started to come to an end and most of the boats had left to head north into the Sea or south to Central America. We were in this area 3 years ago at the height of the season and all of the bays were packed with boats so it was nice this time to have some space. We were in Manzanillo and Santiago during 'Semana Santa', Easter week and the beaches were packed with people with jet skies and water skiers zooming throughout the bays.
Barra de Navidad - This town is full of decadent treats for boaters.
First is the French Baker, an honest to goodness Frenchman who has a bakery in town and delivers to the boats at anchor and in the marina fresh baked pastries, bread, and pies every day (except Wednesday). His French Bakery store in town has all of the fresh baked items plus the best coffee in town.
Second, the water taxi system for those on anchor in the lagoon or for those on one side of the lagoon (e.g. the resort marina) who wish to get to town. For 20 pesos each return it is a great trip and adds to the magic of the place.
Third, the town of Barra which is a laid back tourist town with some great restaurants. You can eat here daily and never get bored. It's not the cheapest place but is moderately priced. If only they had a good fish taco stand.
The Super Hawaii grocery store in Malaque. Get on the bus in Barra and take the 15 minute ride to Malaque to get to one of the best grocery stores we have found outside of a big city. They have Tillimok Cheese, boxed wine, Miracle Whip, pretzels, good coffee, and pickles. All it lacks is a fresh meat dept. It's doesn't look like much from the street but it is a treasure.
Big Bay Resort & Marina. We never stay in resort marinas but we did this time because we heard they lowered their prices to $.60 pre foot per day from the normal $2.60 per foot they have charged in the past. For us that's $27.60 vs. $120 per day. For that price you can live in a 5 star resort like a rich person without going broke.
Manzanillo & Bahia Santiago
Bahia Santiago is a large, open bay that provides great protection from any weather from the north and some protection from west or south seas. It has great holding in 30' of water and could hold dozens of boats. When we were there it was busy with all of the vacationers but we had fun watching all of the entertainment for a few days. After awhile the constant buzzing by the jet skies became tiring and we decided to move on.
The anchorage in Manzanillo is off of the Las Hadas resort in a small bay surrounded by hotels and condos. We took the dinghy into the resort marina and grabbed a taxi over to the shopping area and bought some supplies and had a latte at Starbucks. We also went out to dinner at the Paradise restaurant with some friends anchored in the bay. The food was disappointing and overpriced but the company was good. Again the bay was full of jet skies and water skiers and the music from the disco lasted until early in the morning so we only spent one night there.
This bay was a pleasant surprise. Located just 5 miles north of Santiago it has no houses or development, just steep, rocky sides with a small beach at the head of the bay. The bay is opened and gets waves bouncing around off of the rock walls but it's like a little bit of wilderness along this coast. There are also some blow holes on the outer end of the bay that are fun to explore in the dinghy and provide a periodic booming sound around the clock.
We first arrived in this area in mid March and the daytime highs and humidity were in the mid 80's but in April the temps dropped to the high 70's and the humidity was around 65 making it very nice to walk around town and work on the boat. Water temps were around 80 in most locations so we swam almost everyday while on anchor.
After 2 weeks in Barra de Navidad at the marina we are leaving to head north. First stop will be Tenacatita for a few days and then work our way to La Cruz in Banderas Bay for 2 weeks before returning to Mazatlan for the summer.