Costalegre: Manzanillo’s Santiago & Playa La Boquita – Beach Fun!

Sunrise in Manzanillo


Sunrise at Las Hadas resort A sea turtle along the Pacific Mexican Costa Alegre coast.

A sea turtle drifts by.

Sailing in Manzanillo Bay in Mexico

Mom enjoys a brilliant sail.

Villas on Playa La Boquito in Santiago Bay, Mexico

Villas on Playa La Boquita in Santiago Bay.

Villa on La Boquita Beach in Santiago, Mexico La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Mexico Playa La Boquita, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Playa La Boquita.

Playa La Boquita, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Black and brown patterned sand yields gold in bright sunlight.

Playa La Boquita, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Playa La Boquita, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Playa La Boquita, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico sv Groovy at Playa La Boquita Anchorage, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Looking out at the anchorage.

Tuba player on La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

A tuba player could be heard

every afternoon throughout

the anchorage.

Estuary on La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Umbrellas line the shores of the estuary.

Estuary on La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

A footbridge crossed to Las Palmas resort.

Las Palmas Resort on La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Manicured lawns bring a special kind of serenity.

Las Palmas Resort on La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Canoes wait for passengers.

Panga in the mangroves Las Palmas Resort on La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

A panga in the mangroves.

Swimming off the back of Groovy, La Boquita Beach Anchorage, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

81 is the new 18.

Bike shop in Santiago, Colima, Mexico

Mark talks "bike shop" with the locals.

Flea Market in Santiago, Colima, Mexico

The Santiago Flea Market offers tourist souvenirs.

Flea Market in Santiago, Colima, Mexico

Mexican sinks.

Horseback riding on Playa Miramar Bahia Santiago, Colima, Mexico

Horseback riding on the beach.

Frigate bird sits on San Luciano Shipwreck, La Boquita Beach, Santiago, Colima, Mexico

A frigate bird takes a close

look at us.

The Oasis Restaurant, Playa La Boquita, Bahia Santiago, Colima, Mexico

The Oasis gave me a perfect birthday moment.

La Boquita Anchorage in Santiago, Colima, Mexico

Late January, 2011 - We left Zihuatanejo and took our time returning north to Manzanillo.

This 200 mile stretch of coastline is very remote, and for four days of motoring and three

nights at anchor we saw only a handful of boats: tankers on the horizon by day and fellow

cruisers tucked in beside us by night.  As the guidebooks warn, the three anchorages along

here are very rolly, as they are open to the full brunt of the Pacific Ocean's waves coming to

shore from thousands of miles out.  Despite our best efforts to keep the bow of the boat into

the waves by setting a stern anchor in addition to our bow anchor, we found that the

crosswinds on the beam of the boat were so powerful overnight that our anchoring gear

strained and groaned in too much discomfort to make it worthwhile.

Heaving a big sigh, we let the boat swing freely each

night and, as expected, it chose to angle itself

beam-to against the swell, setting up a terrific side-

to-side roll that kept us rolling in our bunk all night.

One by one we found the various round and

cylindrical items throughout the boat that rolled back

and forth with a thud or clank on each side.  A

canister in a locker here, a beer can in the fridge

there, a broom handle over there.  Quieting

these relentless noises made for a lot of

detective work in the wee hours of the night.

The up-side of all this sleeplessness,

however, was that we were awake before

dawn each day, and we saw some stunning


Mexico's wind gods like to play with cruising

sailors, and they offer little but whispering

zephyrs each day along this coast.  At night

they howl ferociously, however.  Hour after hour

they shake the rigging like prisoners rattling their cell bars.  But at the first hint of sunlight

everything stops.  Just like that.  Acting like guilty children, as if nothing happened, they offer

the merest exhales once again, laughing silently as we curse yet another day of motoring.

Preferring to travel in daylight, we motored pretty much the entire way.  We were frustrated to

be cruising in a built-to-sail motorboat.  Again, however, there was a silver lining.  This coast

is loaded with turtles, and the calm seas gave us a chance to get a really good look at a few

as they drifted past our hull.

Ever the adventurer, my mom had been eagerly awaiting a chance escape the steady

procession of New England blizzards to try the cruising lifestyle on her daughter's boat.  We

swept her up in Manzanillo and took a sail to neighboring Santiago bay.  To our amazement,

the capricious winds blew perfectly that afternoon, and we had a glorious romp across the

wide bay.  Manzanillo's expansive bay is perfect for daysailing, and we took full advantage.

Once the anchor was down around the corner off Playa La Boquita in

Santiago Bay, we took the dinghy ashore to check out the beach.  The

beach is almost four miles long, and is quite wide, fairly flat and stroked

endlessly by large, fluffy waves.  About a third of the beach is lined by

beautiful villas that belong to the huge gated community Club Santiago.

Each home is more lovely than the last, and the cruisers gaze at

the large flower filled balconies and picture windows with as

much admiration (and possibly envy) as the vacationers do

looking out at the yachts swinging in the bay.

The beach is filled with a

mixture of brown and black

sand that makes fantastic

patterns as the waves wash

in and out.  From certain

angles the sand glittered

brilliant gold too, making it

seem as though a little bit of

panning might help out the

cruising kitty.  Our eyes

were cast down at the

patterns at our feet as

much as they scanned the

colorful views around us.

From the boat we had

heard the oom-pah of a

tuba, and once ashore

we had to go find the

source.  It didn't take

long.  A tuba player and

his little band were

walking up and down

the line of umbrellas at

the public access end of

the beach, offering

songs to anyone willing to part with

a few pesos.

At the furthest west end of the

beach we discovered a little estuary,

and we followed it slightly inland.  A

small bridge took us

over the water, where

a beautiful resort, Las

Palmas, was waiting

on the other side.

Perfectly manicured

lawns and shrubbery

offered a feeling of

utter peace and

tranquility.  We could

easily imagine

overworked executives

coming here to escape

the responsibilities of a

stressed life.  The only

sounds were birds

chirping in the trees;

the rustle of the palm

leaves were like a

chorus of librarians whispering "shhh."

Even the pound of the surf and

excitement of the rugged sandy beach

just over the little footbridge seemed a

world away.

Canoes were ready for guests by the

shore, and a panga that could host a

guided tour was hidden in the


Spirits sky high, we returned to the boat

where we found, to our utter shock, the

water was crystal clear.  Our

guidebooks have lauded the crystalline waters of many anchorages throughout our stay on

the Pacific coast of Mexico, but this year those waters have eluded us.  Wave after wave of

burgundy, yellow and forest green colored "red tide" has filled every bay, cove and even

the open ocean, making it impossible to see more than a few feet into the water.  Suddenly

being able to see clearly 20 feet below the boat had us all jumping into our swimsuits in

one motion.  Mark was over the side with a woosh, and mom was right behind.  What a role

model she is, announcing "81 is the new 18" and taking to the water like a 10-

year-old.  The aqua-cize classes have paid off in spades, and she demonstrated

her moves, making light of the very strong current that threatened to whisk us all

away from the boat if we weren't careful.

On another day we wandered into Santiago itself where a large enclosed public

market offers everything from fresh produce to sweet smelling straw baskets to

freshly filleted fish.  The streets around the market are filled with little shops, and

Mark found friends at the local bike shop, trying in his best Spanish to explain that

he used to have a bike shop in his garage too.

Every Saturday the town hosts a large flea market.  This turned out

to be more of a tourist-oriented enterprise than we expected, but it

was fun to wander among all the brightly painted ceramics and

beautifully carved wood pieces.  Pale sunburned gringos lined up on

one side of the flea market to find souvenirs for loved ones at home

while a few locals roamed on the other side, sifting through the

bargain clothing offerings to find more practical fare.

Taking the dinghy along La

Boquita beach, we saw groups

of horseback riders along the

water's edge.  Following their

tracks in the sand later it

seemed they paralleled the

weaving water line perfectly,

never getting their hooves wet.

At one end of the anchorage lies San Luciano a 300'

long steel cargo ship that sank in a 1959 hurricane.

What remains is just a skeleton, but the birds love the

remnants of the masts that stick up above the waves.

We have watched frigate birds soaring high over our

boat, masters of the sky, and at times of the smaller

birds nearby.  Now we had a chance to see the face of

one up close.

Back on the beach on my birthday, we asked both fellow

cruisers and land dwellers where a good spot would be to

celebrate turning 51.  Everyone pointed to The Oasis, and

we spent a lovely afternoon perched on their balcony looking

out over the pounding surf.

To one side of the view, the boats in the anchorage stood

out in brilliant white relief against the towering dark mountain

behind them.  On the other side we could see the little white

villas on the backside of Las Hadas resort.  It was a perfect

birthday moment, and I couldn't help myself as I said to

Mark, "It's like we're living in the pages of some glossy

magazine called Perfect Vacation Hideaways."  With that in

mind, we decided we would stay in the Manzanillo area a

little longer.

Find Santiago (Manzanillo) on Mexico Maps

Visit Anchorages on the "Mexican Riviera" (northern Pacific coast) to see more cruising posts from this area!