The access to Manzanillo (Colima
state) or Puerto Vallarta
(Jalisco state) can be done either directly by plane or by road,
the northern road from Guadalajara
via the Nayarit or the southern road via the state of Colima.
See the special chapter about Puerto Vallarta and Costalegre
Maps of the beach resort :
Because of the special interest of a village, we will take a
San Sebastián del Oeste
driving for 2 ½ hours through the Sierra de Mascota and
the forests of conifers, we reached San Sebastián del Oeste,
old mining village with 800 inhabitants, which kept its charm.
Avoid going there during the rainy season because the road could
be rough and you would need a 4 wheel drive car. From Puerto
Vallarta, follow the direction : Las Juntas-Universidad, then
Las Palmas then Mosceta-Estancia. Nine km (5 miles) before arriving
in San Sebastián del Oeste, you could stop at “La
Estancia” where you could visit a Raicilla distillery and/or
have a look at the valley from the Mirador. You will also see
some rows of Blue Agave, the plant from which tequila is made.
A new road is in construction and should be open in 2009.
The village itself is the goal of the visit. Take the time to
stroll in the paved streets finding a tortillas workshop or a
coffee factory. Under the arches of the Zócalo, step into
the grocery store of Pachita, full of little treasures from another
The Church of San Sebastian Mártir, located on the main
place, unaffected, with beautiful painted ceilings, is worth the
trip. We have been very well welcomed in this village.
Visit the organic Coffee factory “La Quinta Mary”
where you’ll be welcomed by Mary’s grand-daughter.
She will show you the complete process from coffee beans to coffee
There are no open hours. Just knock at the door if it is closed
We stayed there before going back on the road, the following
day, towards Guadalajara
via the coastal road Mex200. There are several possibilities of
lodging in the center of the village. If you have time, the villages
of Talpa de Allende or Mascota are also interesting stops on the
mountain road with a 4 wheel drive car.
What means the World Heritage List of Unesco ? Log on to the site
Tentative List of the "Historic Town of San Sebastián
del Oeste" :
Other possible visits :
When driving from Puerto
Vallarta towards the southern Pacific coast, you take a nice
220km (130 miles) long road along the Costalegre
(from Puerto Vallarta
to Barra de Navidad).
The road is nice ; it often runs close to the ocean and also crosses
little inland villages and alternates landscapes of fruit trees,
coconut trees and desert parts with cactus. Many gas stations
allow refueling all along the road.
See the map :
and Colima state
See the special chapter about
Map of the city :
The capital, Colima is one of the oldest cities in Mexico.
It is a beautiful city with 2 zócalos, 2 main
plazas with portals (arches). The main one is the Jardin
de Libertad, the other one is Jardin Torres Quinter.
The town is working very hard to restore their buildings. It is
not located along the pacific Coast but is the gateway between
the coast and Guadalajara,
the capital of Jalisco.
Only 8km (5 miles) separate Comala (whose name means, in Náhuatl
language, “place of the comales”, the clay griddles
used to cook the corn tortillas) from the city of Colima. Comala
is a “magic village”.
It is located at 600m of elevation, so dress properly (light in
summer, warm in winter). This peaceful village is guarded by an
imposing giant behind him : the Volcano of Fire. In 1988, the
village of Comala was declared Zone of Historic Monuments.
The climate of the region is tropical. Enjoy walking on the streets
in the shade of the palm and almond trees, feeling the fresh breeze
and admiring the main plaza. Facing the plaza stands the elegant
neo-classic building dating from the nineteenth century, the church
Saint Michel Archange, harmonious colonial construction by the
city hall. Once there, you can’t help but sit by the kiosk
and listen to the murmur of the fountains and the nature that
surrounds this beautiful magic and mystic village. It remained,
like in the novels of Juan Rulfo, suspended in the time. It is
a nice village with a lively Zócalo, narrow streets, and
whitewashed houses with red roofs. The Zócalo is the best
spot to admire the volcanoes, preferably in the morning.
Another interesting place is the Ex-Hacienda de Nogueras, construction
dating from the seventeenth century, where sugar cane was cultivated.
it is a museum, a cultural center and an ecological park. The
museum was set by Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo. It displays art works
and pictures of this artist from Colima.
The people of the village are clever craft men who work and carve
wood, especially mahogany and the parota to make furniture and
ornamental objects. They also make masks for the Indian dances,
straw hats of Colima style, clay griddles used to cook corn tortillas
(comales), chiquihuites and above all huaraches (sandals) called
You can also find craft made of reed in Suchitlan, a small close
by village, worldwide famous for the masks made there. The majestic
silhouettes of the Volcanoes of Fire and Nevado de Colima are
present everywhere you go hiking. The first volcano is 4000 m
(13,123 feet) high and the other one, 4300m (14,108 feet).
All along the isolated beaches of the Mexican Pacific Coast,
lined with jungle, everything seems to tend to perfection. There
are perfect sunsets with an explosion of orange and purple on
the bays; perfect and regular waves make the local surfers happy.
Here, you can find the perfect shrimps, picked and prepared by
people who have been perfecting their methods of cooking for centuries.
If this coast of Nayarit State was once isolated, it is not the
case anymore: in 2007, the Mexican government renamed it «Riviera
Nayarit», with the hope of attracting more tourists. Thousands
of Americans and Canadians looking for a holiday home also discovered
this perfect place presenting itself as an affordable paradise.
The ” Riviera Nayarit” covers 161km (100 miles), from
Puerto Vallarta at
the south, to the fishing village of San Blas at the north. Between
these two places, there are hundred isolated beaches and picturesque
fishing villages - all oases for tourists that will soon be discovered.
On “Riviera Nayarit’, there are very expensive suites,
especially at Four Seasons, and spas to pamper oneself while doing
yoga in the jungle. There are also basic training surf camps and
modest Bed and Breakfast. In order to enjoy the whole coast, it
is better to rent a car and take Highway 200, a new but narrow
road that opened most of the area to the tourist business. The
highway winds between mountain passes, parallel to the coast.
Every visit of the region starts in Puerto
Vallarta. Unlike Cancun
and Los Cabos, Puerto
Vallarta was a city before it became a holiday destination.
Its paved streets and old manors evoke a past glamour era. Puerto
Vallarta is also known as one of the culinary capitals in
Mexico. Even if the city offers several luxurious
restaurants critically acclaimed, we found exquisite dishes in
the modest «taquerias» of the narrow streets. At Taco
Loco de Felipe, two blocks from the Malecon, we enjoyed one of
the most memorable dishes of the trip : shrimp burritos filled
with creamy vinaigrette, pieces of mango and crab meat.
If you drive forty minutes north from Puerto
Vallarta, you end up in the very select Punta Mita which marks
the start of the “Riviera Nayarit”. It was once an
isolated peninsula, but it became the favorite of famous people
such as Bill Gates. There are some luxurious hotels and holiday
condos, away from civilization. Beaches may be shared with a sunning iguana, or a noisy chachalaca. During the summer months, watch the release of baby sea turtles as they make their first voyage out of sea. Whales and dolphins can be spotted swimming in the offshore waters during winter months. Punta Mita is bordered by a coral reef that projects many small marine species, while the Pacific Ocean hosts an abundance of fish including swordfish, sailfish, grouper, snapper, and catfish. As the Punta Mita resort was developed, special care was taken to respect and blend into this environment, preserving and protecting the flora and fauna here.
Sayulita, about 48km (30 miles) north of Puerto
Vallarta, is located along a bay with waves regulated like
a metronome. It was discovered ten or twenty years ago by adventurers
seeking pleasure. Until now, there are still not all included
huge resorts and the dirt roads are in bad condition but the city
welcomes many surfers and tourists. Playa de los Muertos (Beach
of the Dead), an unbelievable small beach located 1,5 km (1 mile)
from downtown, is named so because the trail that leads to it
crosses a spectacular cemetery made of tombs and altars scattered
in the middle of the jungle. If you go early in the morning, you
can share the beach only with hermit crabs. During the summer,
you can have some good deals in hotels. At the wonderful Boutique-Hotel
Los Amores, we found a huge ocean front suite for 1700 mxn$.
Chacala, a minuscule fishing village with 500 inhabitants, is
considered as being the jewel of the new Riviera. It is located
about 56 km (35 miles) north from the winding highway 200. This
part of the road is dotted with many colorful fruit stands where
you can find exotic fruits such as jackfruits. On summer time,
Chacala is one of the holiday destinations for the Mexicans of
the region. The beach becomes the festive meeting place for travelling
musicians, surfers and oceanfront restaurants serving fresh shrimps.
Chacala means «Place where the shrimps are», and the
local cuisine brought honor to the name of the village.
There are many kinds of lodging in Chacala, from the very luxurious
hotel offering spa + yoga and meditation for 2450 mxn$ a night
to an innovative local program that allows tourists to stay at
people’s places. This program is named «Techos de
México» (Mexican Roofs). It allows locals to obtain
low interest loans in order to extend their house by adding a
floor. It is a way to distribute the money of tourists among the
Where to stay ?
Villa Amor (www.villaamor.com),
a complex of 33 ocean side luxurious villas, offers breathtaking
views of Sayulita Bay. It is located close to the Beach of the
Dead. A luxurious one bedroom costs 1700 mxn$ in August and September
and 2210 mxn$ during the other months.
The holistic resort Mar de Jade (www.mardejade.com)
offers yoga, meditation and spa treatments in a jungle environment
close to the beach. A bedroom is 1780 mxn$ per person per night
and 615 mxn$ less during the summer.
Techos de México (www.techosdemexico.com),
or Mexican Roofs, offers the opportunity of staying at people’s
places in an extension of their house built on purpose. Prices
range from 245$ to 490mxn$ per night.
Where to eat ?
El Tacos Loco de Felipe
They serve unbelievable shrimp burritos in this humble restaurant
opposite park Hidalgo. Let you tempt by the duo shrimp-crabs for
about 86 mxn$.
In Chacala, Las Brisas is the best of the many restaurants lined
with palm trees along the beach. It offers some of the best shrimp
dishes that we have ever tasted.
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