Las Hadas Resort.
"The Fairies" ("Las Hadas").
Las Hadas Resort and the marina basin.
Manzanillo's main port is on the horizon.
Barceló Resort and Playa Salahua.
Las Hadas Resort.
Playa La Audiencia.
Las Hadas Anchorage.
Groovy hangs out by the 18th hole.
Iguana sunning on the rocks.
Monkeys at the back of a restaurant.
Whimsically pruned bushes line the waterfront.
A tribute to a bygone era of
Corn tortilla "factory."
Pineapples are tossed and loaded onto a handcart.
A wheelbarrow load of body parts goes to market.
Xilonen V, a 162' megayacht fills the marina.
The megayacht dwarfs the boats
on either side.
Fellow Hobie riders.
Ready for the brochure.
Hobies lined up on Playa La Escondida ("Hidden Beach")
A slot canyon in the ocean.
Las Hadas Anchorage, Manzanillo, Colima Mexico
Early February, 2011 - Las Hadas Resort at the northwest end of Manzanillo Bay is so
picture perfect that anyone with even the simplest camera in hand will find it easy to
take perfect pictures. We enjoyed this spot so much we couldn't stay away. For
several weeks we alternated between this breathtaking cove, embraced by the
enchanting Las Hadas resort, and the soaring openness of the expansive anchorage
over at Playa La Boquita a few miles away in Bahía Santiago. Motoring from one
anchorage to the other, we would take advantage of having the engine running both to
make fresh water and to heat the water in our hot water tank. On a few occasions we
had a blistering sail when the afternoon winds kicked up. Groovy heeled nicely while
the knot meter park itself in the mid-8's.
Las Hadas begs to be explored on foot,
and with each foray onto the cobbled
paths that climb the steep hillsides, we
found more discoveries. "Las Hadas"
means "The Fairies" (the origins of the
resort's name are explained here), and
we found two rather stern looking fairies
just beyond an underpass leading to the
resort's front door. I'm not sure if these
two gals were knighting
some obedient resort
workers or granting
three wishes to
Hiking further up the hill, the views grow ever larger, until you can
see clear across the resort, it's anchorage and the marina to the
smoke stacks of Manzanillo far across the bay. The road twists
and turns in exhilarating switchbacks that leave walkers panting
and some bus riders wishing they had worn seasickness bracelets.
Next door to Las Hadas is the Barceló Karmina Palace resort. It is
much more modern and swank, offering visitors a truly high end lap
of luxury. But its mammoth marble and glass-filled foyers and grand
open spaces lack the otherworldly prettiness, coziness and charm of
Las Hadas. As we trudged higher and higher over the hilly peaks we
paused to catch our breath and marvel at the beauty spread out
The Las Hadas
anchorage is rimmed with restaurants overlooking the
cove. One has a huge sign offering discounts to
boaters (along with their wifi password), and we
treated ourselves to an afternoon of gazing out at the
anchorage and Manzanillo's busy port across the bay.
Banana boats, water skiers and jet skis zig-zagged
among the boats, throwing white wake patterns
We discovered the source of all this action on the water was
Mexico's Constitution Day weekend. It seemed that half of the
huge inland city of Guadalajara had come to vacation on this bay.
This national holiday celebrates the signing and approval of
Mexico's constitution on February 5th, 1917 and, like the Fourth
of July, is clearly fully worthy of an afternoon of being towed at full
speed across the water followed by a raucous evening of happy
partying to loud music.
While walking the beach we
came across an iguana
sunning himself on the rocks.
Just a few weeks later we
discovered these guys can
swim, and we watched one
make its way across a
stretch of calm water, its
head bobbing up every so
often to get some air and
This is an easy climate for keeping
an exotic pet caged outdoors, and
we have seen loads of parrots,
parakeets, canaries and doves
caged outside all kinds of stores from flower shops to small groceries
to beachwear boutiques. The squawk of a macaw drew us to the back
of a restaurant we were passing, and to our surprise, in addition to the
huge colorful birds, we found three large cages filled with monkeys.
They nimbly and silently climbed up and down the cage bars and
nibbled on fruits while staring us down.
The resorts and villas around Las
Hadas and Sanitago are the most
scenic parts of Manzanillo, but we took
the bus into the more gritty downtown area for a change of pace. Manzanillo is a bustling port
with an urban heart, however whimsy and history can still be found. The road leading into
town is lined with creatively pruned bushes, and we passed bushes shaped as hearts and
anchors and dogs. A ficus tree pruned to look like a small boat caught my eye, as did the
bronze sculpture of a seaman at the helm of ship from another era. Four hundred years ago
the Spanish used ports along this southern Pacific coast of Mexico as a link for trading goods
with the orient via Manila in the Phillipines.
I have gradually come to realize that
Mexico is a true blend of indigenous
Indian and foreign Spanish heritage,
beautifully expressed by the rich dark
complexions and lively Spanish
language of the people we encounter.
At one street corner in Manzanillo I said
something to a street vendor-beggar in
my passable American accented
Spanish, and she shook her head at me with that blank look of "No hablo
español" that is so familiar on gringo faces here. There are pockets of
people throughout Mexico, especially in the southern areas, who speak
only their indigenous language, not Spanish.
Music is a universal language, however, and we found street musicians playing
wonderful tunes and rhythms on xylophone and drums.
Growing up and living in
the sanitized world of
that have been delivered
by tractor trailers on the
interstates, it is always
surprising to encounter
other methods of food
distribution. Here on the
streets of Manzanillo we
watched three people
unload a pickup truck full
of pineapples into crates on
a handcart to roll into the central
market. They tossed the
pineapples to each other with
ease. Does our food really get
thrown around like that? A little
further on, another wheelbarrow
full of what appeared to be
lambs' heads, shanks and
backbones was ready to be
rolled into the market as well.
At the far opposite end of the reality scale, a megayacht pulled into the
Las Hadas marina, dwarfing all the boats around it. Xilonen V is 162 feet
long, and when it was med-moored to its spot (tied to the docks at the
stern with a bow anchor thrown into the middle of the marina basin), the
bow of the ship was plunk in the center of the marina.
We had seen a couple float by the back of our boat on matching yellow
inflatable Hobie kayaks, just like ours, and we joined them to get a closer
look at this megayacht. Xilonen V is staffed by a captain and crew of
11 people, and three of them were busy polishing the decks when we
floated by. Of course all we could really see up close from our vantage
point was the waterline!
Lots of cruisers carry a hard-shell kayak or two on their
deck, but we haven't seen any other inflatable Hobies.
These new friends of ours have a condo in the area, and
when they bought their Hobies their neighbors all
thought they were so cool that they bought Hobies too. Now the
building's kayak rack is filled with seven bright yellow inflatable
Hobie kayaks. It looks like the final inspection and shipping
department at the Hobie factory.
We landed the kayaks on a private little beach, Playa La Escondida
("Hidden Beach") around the corner from the resort and took some
photos we thought worthy of a Hobie ad.
At one end of the little beach there is a kind of slot canyon that fills with
swishing waves as the tide rises and falls. When the water swept back to
reveal the soft sand bottom, I walked in a little ways. Suddenly a wave
roared in behind me and rushed around my legs and out the other side,
nearly knocking me off my feet.
It was finally time to venture to some new grounds, so at long last we left
Manzanillo Bay and putted 25 miles north to Barra de Navidad. More and
more cruisers had started reaching this part of the coast during their winter's
cruising in Mexico, and on that brief trip we saw five other sailboats, a record.
Find Manzanillo on Mexico Maps
Visit Anchorages on the "Mexican Riviera" (northern Pacific coast) to see more cruising posts from this area!