Creatures From the Manzanillo Lagoons

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Travel Weekly Crossroads' associate editor, Judy Koutsky, spent the holidays on a chartered cruise along the Pacific coast of Mexico. The following is Part Four in a series of reports:

ABOARD THE OCEAN MAJESTY-- Manzanillo, a city of 90,000 is about 150 miles from Puerto Vallarta and a little more than that from Guadalajara, so it doesn't attract the tourists like other coastal cities. Here, visitors are able to get a taste of an authentic Mexican town.

Upon entering the city, clients will notice that this looks more like an industrial town than a resort area (the main industries being fishing and iron-ore mining, followed by tourism). The city, however, recently started a beautification program: widening the streets, planting palm trees and refurbishing some of the older buildings. For clients seeking a nice, quiet ambience and some good beaches, Manzanillo is not a bad place to start.

The three excursions offered today were the city tour, horseback riding and snorkeling. Although all sounded promising, horseback riding up the mountains and along the beach sounded the most appealing.image The three-and-a-half-hour excursion was well worth the soreness that followed. We rode by lagoons and spotted alligators and a wide variety of birds. We continued right down to the beach and trotted in shallow water with a view of the sun reflecting off the water and mountains. The locals waved, and the children practiced their English on us as we rode by.

Then, up to the mountains we went, ignoring the mosquitoes (note: wear insect repellant) and enjoying each other's company and the view. This excursion was one of my favorites on the trip so far, and I strongly recommend it for the active client.

We were in port only four hours, and some passengers chose to spend that time shopping. There were some great places offering leather goods, silver and hand-painted jewelry. Many of the shops are in the downtown plaza, or clients can enjoy the new American-style malls in Santiago -- a short cab ride away.image

Deep-sea fishing and bird-watching are also favorite activities here. For bird-watchers, there are quite a few lagoons along the coast. (Those who go on the horseback-riding excursion also will pass some lagoons and see and hear a variety of birds). Two lagoons that stand out are Laguna de Las Garzas (Lagoon of the Herons), where white pelicans and herons can be spotted, and Laguna de Cuyutlan where a diverse number of birds can be found. Clients can sign up for deep-sea fishing excursions at the port.

Manzanillo also is known for its beaches with volcanic sand, a combination of black, brown and white. For good swimming, visitors should try Playa Audiencia. But if they want to stay near their ship, the Playa San Pedrito is not far from the downtown area and is clean. Water sports, including diving, can be found at most beaches.,
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Judy Goes to Mexico, Part 1: 'Little Boat' Makes for a Cozy Cruise to Mexico

Judy Goes to Mexico, Part 2: Acapulco Boasts Restored Infrastructure, Energy

Judy Goes to Mexico, Part 3: Traditions Still Alive in Mexico's 'Twin Cities'

Judy Goes to Mexico, Part 4: Creatures From the Manzanillo Lagoons

Judy Goes to Mexico, Part 5: Whale Sightings Start the Year Right in Baja

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