Aquatic Sports and Adventures Logo

Getting Here!

Getting to Manzanillo so you can Dive Manzanillo!

Getting to Manzanillo (airport code ZLO)! There may be other Mexican places that are a bit easier to travel to but none as nice as this. If you want to experience a bit of the real "Old Mexico" you want to visit a place that isn't going to be like Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan or Acapulo. Those places aren't really Mexico. While Manzanillo is growing and has the infrastructure in place to support tourists, and Cruise Ships, it's still a little on the sleepy and undiscovered side. You'll find a lot of things that you will recognize and make you feel more "at home" but you'll also find a lot of the real Mexico.

Weather: When to visit Manzanillo?

Manzanillo has perfect weather but as with most tropical destinations, the Méxican Riviera consists of two very different seasons...

"Dry" Season (November through May - Tourist High Season)

Temperatures range from 74-84° Fahrenheit Ocean temperatures range from 79-84° Fahrenheit. Rain is rare. Humidity is at its lowest, making it the driest season of the year. Although The Méxican Riviera has tropical vegetation year-round, a gradual transition begins as the local plants begin to dry up from the seasonal rains, slowly reverting the Méxican Riviera from tropical "jungle" to a tropical "desert," complete with many varieties of giant cactus.

"Green" Season (June through October - Tourist Low Season)

Air temperatures range from 82-89° Fahrenheit. Ocean temperatures range from 82-86° Fahrenheit. Rain is common, but not expected daily. Afternoon rains of 2-3 hours are common every few days. Humidity is high. With the first rain of the season, the Méxican Riviera explodes overnight into a tropical green paradise. The surrounding area comes alive with the vibrancy of plants hit with a welcome deluge of water. The foliage grows at an alarming rate, and within days the transformation to "jungle" is complete, with exotic flora of all shapes, sizes and colors.

Regardless of the season, the Méxican Riviera's climate assures the sun-seeking visitor plenty of warm rays and summery temperatures year-round. Enjoy one of the few places in the world where you can experience arid desert and vibrant jungle at different times of the year.

Air Travel - Updated 22/January/2013

Flying directly to Manzanillo will save a lot of time. This is the best option if you can find good flights with good connections. Depending on where you are coming from, and the time of year (high or low season), you may have to make a connection some place along the route. Remember that flying during the week is generally less cost than flying on a Friday/Saturday/Sunday but make sure you try several date combinations to get the best price. Try a Saturday, Sunday, Monday etc. Here is a map showing a high level overview of cities, not specific airlines that have, or have had, flights to Manzanillo:

Flight Paths from USA and Canada to Manzanillo

Manzanillo's Playa de Oro International Airport lies between a long and secluded white-sand beach and tropical groves of bananas and coconut, 35km northwest of Manzanillo's Zona Hotelera on Hwy 200. It is about a 30 minute drive (22 to 28 miles) from/to the airport and it's a beautiful drive overlooking some valleys and winding through hills.

Airline flights to Manzanillo can be "seasonal" with more flights during the winter months and fewer during the summer. You may need to work with a travel agent that has software available to allow various searches not available to the public. A travel agent can make it easier and will be able to look into the future to see what will be available during your travel dates.

Here is a short, but NOT complete, list of airlines that service Manzanillo (ZLO). Updated August 2, 2016. Our staff has used Alaska, United, Delta and American Airlines. Charter companies may fly to Manzanillo in the high season and other airlines may add additional flights in the high season. We have had good luck using KAYAK dot com for searching flights (also Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz etc.) but also will check the actual airlines website as well. It takes a little patience but you may save up to $1K in US dollars if you work the days of the week, the dates and possibly flying into Puerto Vallarta or Guadalajara rather than directly to Manzanillo (see note below).

As a connecting flight, these airlines provide direct service to/from Mexico City (MEX):

One alternative that we have also used, as have many of the Americans and Canadians here, is to fly from/to Puerto Vallarta (PVR) or Guadalajara (GDL). Once in one of these two locations you can either rent a car (the fastest option), take a connecting flight within Mexico or take a bus. Understand that taking the bus in Mexico is common and if you select a good bus company and "first class" you will be amazed at the comfort, convenience, economy and speed with which you can travel. Also understand that either PVR or GDL are both only 175 miles away. The route from PVR is 2-lane through the mountains and is much longer than a ride from GDL.

Local Travel - Updated on 22/Jan/2013

Driving Times

From Guadalajara:

To: Hours Tolls Total Cost
Manzanillo 4.5 3 $360.00 PESOS*

From Puerto Vallarta:
To: Hours Tolls Total Cost
Manzanillo 5.0 - 8.0 0 $.00 PESOS

* Tolls are subject to change (and often do) without our knowledge. It is best to bring some extra pesos just in case.

From experience the times above are close to reality! There is also a huge difference in the drive times and terrain. Drive time estimates as low as 3.5 hours from Guadalajara to Manzanillo and 4 hours from Puerto Vallarta exist but very few actually make drive times that fast. The Guadalajara drive comes down from the mountains on improved roads with very few stops and no local roads or villages to pass through. Scenery is "ok". Bus service will drop you at the airport for your return flight but on incoming flights you will need to take a shuttle bus to the bus station. The Puerto Vallarta drive comes through the mountains and across beautiful valleys, rain forest and spectacular vistas. The road is windy and uses local roads where you must slow down for the topes (the worlds most fierce "speed bumps") every few miles. Primera Plus, Servicio Coordinato and Chiuatlan-Pacific travel to Manzanillo from Puerto Vallarta. Guadalajara has much better bus options and providers including TAP and ETN. There will also be more frequent bus trips to and from Manzanillo.

Here is some help on "first class" (primera clase) and "second class" (segunda clase). Both options will get you there for usually a small difference in price. First class buses are generally a little newer and better equipped. They make few stops along the route and have a bathroom. Second class buses may be a bit older, still have comfortable seating, a/c and TV but do not have bathrooms. They also make many more stops. If you can get to Guadalajara the trip down is much faster by bus, probably 4 hours. From Puerto Vallarta a first class bus trip will be about 5-6 hours and a second class trip could be 8 hours. If we can't fly directly from/to Manzanillo for a decent price we have found the cheaper option will usually be Puerto Vallarta (tourist city vs. business city). Then we use the bus.

If you rent a car both Budget and Alamo have offices here in Manzanillo. Otherwise all of the major rental agencies are present at both Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara airports. Take the insurance! Your home insurance is no good here. Get the complete coverage. We do not recommend driving at night, especially from Puerto Vallarta. Roads are not well lighted and you could encounter livestock lose on the road.

If you take the bus, here are some recommended bus lines and a few links to assure you that it is a comfortable and safe ride. Our staff has taken the bus from Puerto Vallarta and to Mazatlan and Guaymas/San Carlos where it was comfortable, had bathrooms, movies, beverages and reclining seats. Even second class fares offer air conditioning and perhaps movies but not a bathroom. Second class buses stop more frequently. Travel first class on the bus where you can. There are other good bus lines too so you should be fine even if they aren't listed here. Sevicios Autocoodinates is a line that handles Cihuatlan-Pacific (may still see signs for Cihuatlan Plus). None of these has a web site but Cihuatlan-Pacific runs regular and frequent trips between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo.

Is it safe? - Updated 22/Jan/2013

The geography surrounding Manzanillo makes it difficult for a hurricane or tropical storm to make a direct hit. With two large bays and large mountains surrounding the area, Manzanillo is protected from the bad weather, as most storms are directed north towards Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. Hurricane season is officially from mid-June through October, but the last major hurricane to hit Manzanillo was in 1959.

In terms of safety around the "drug wars" it is important to remember that most all of these events and unrest take place in a very few border towns and the people involved are drug cartels battling each other. These have been much overplayed by news media. Mexico has 2500 counties of which 18-25 are known to have some problems. If you do the math you'll find that 95-98% of the country is as safe as your own home town and maybe safer!

As a reference, here are three links with information that seem pretty accurate from south of the border on the economy, visiting, safety, investing, drug wars and swine flu etc.:

Travel Tips

Customs Check:

Manzanillo Airport (ZLO) is very small and you will be easily ushered through customs / immigration. They randomly check baggage (press a button and get a red light = inspection / green light = pass). The random check is like this at all MX airports. With luggage restrictions most people don't bring too much but you are allowed all of the "essentials" (clothing, sunscreen, bug spray, medications and vitamins in original bottles, music players, phone, camera, sporting equipment like mask, fins, snorkel, 2 liters of liquor).

Required Documents:

You will need proof of citizenship. You will not be able to board the flight without a proper Passport.

Currency Exchange and Cash:

The exchange rate fluctuates daily but is currently (22/Jan/2013) about $1.00 USD = 12.5 MXP It has gotten harder for smaller merchants to accept credit cards and it can be hard to deposit US or Canadian dollars. You should consider bringing PESOS with you. Search for the best rate you can find and consider changing dollars into PESOS before you leave. You can use local ATM's but there is often a big foreign transaction fee. Let your credit card companies know you will be traveling to Mexico, or any foreign country, to avoid the hassle of having a card locked so you can't use it.

The Water

Our bodies are used to different flora and fauna so use bottled water that can be purchased or make sure that you are getting "aqua purificado" (purified water) which many hotels leave in bottles in the room. Exercise a little caution and alter your morning routine so you don't inadvertently use tap water by mistake. You are on vacation, don't mess it up.

Thing you should know / Packing Tips:

ALL BAGS should be tagged with your name. You don't need an electrical adapter in most hotels in Mexico. Lots of sunscreen will be needed as well as bug repellent just in case. Bring sun protective hat, your camera and sunglasses. Dress is mostly casual.

What to do? Where to stay?

Rather than add more detail to this page, let me refer to you some fantastic websites that will give you more than the information you want.

Aquatic Sports and Adventures
Address: Privada Los Naranjos #30, Santiago, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico  28860
Phone in the USA direct to the shop in MX: 909-266-0271
Phone Internationally to MX: 011-52-314-334-6394
Phone from MX: 314-334-6394
Contact Aquatic Sports and Adventures

Scuba Diving in Manzanillo   Scuba Training Classes and Certification   Dive Sites Around Manzanillo Mexico
Aquatic Life Around Manzanillo Mexico   About Aquatic Sports and Adventures   Articles Written by our Staff
Contact Aquatic Sports and Adventures   Information About Manzanillo Mexico   Getting to Manzanillo Mexico