Tom, just in case any of your readers are interested, here is a long overdue trip report on our venture from Manzanillo to Colima and back, prior to spending 3 weeks in Melaque. I just sent this to someone else who was asking about the trip and thought I should forward it to a broader range of travelers.
We flew in to Manzanillo in March and spent part of a week doing the loop up to Colima and then back around to Manzanillo, before heading of to Melaque for 3 weeks. It was a really good trip and I will pass on what I remember about where to go and what to do, etc.
We left Manzanillo in mid-morning on a Friday and went up the most westerly route to Colima (returned down the eastern bigger highway). This is NOT the toll highway -- we took that one back -- and the road was fine and there were many more things to do and see along this route. It was also nice to not travel up and back on the same road. There was virtually no traffic the whole way to Colima, so we made very good time.
About 40 minutes along (I think it is Hwy 200) we stopped at a small village of Camotlan for lunch. The restaurant had been recommended in reading I had done before we left. The restaurant palapa is on the left hand side of the road at the furthest (most northernly) end of town. The food was some of the best seafood we had during our whole trip. We enjoyed their garlic fish and langostino (small lobster or large crayfish I think) [freshwater prawn that looks and tastes like lobster, I believe. -Tom]. It really is a must.
We then continued north, keeping an eye out for the El Salto waterfall and ponds that are there. It is on the right hand side of the road on an uphill curve, just outside of Camotlán, and we actually drove right by it as the sign is pretty dusty and old. Anyway, we turned around and went back. This is a great break and the falls and pools were very refreshing. There was no one else there and my son and husband cooled off in the pools (wading depth) and my husband even tried some snorkeling (he is a snorkeling fanatic) but since it is fresh water, there wasn't much to see.
From there we continued on to Colima. We got there by mid-afternoon and stayed at the Hotel Ceballos. I had called them from Canada and booked a room for that night before our trip. I believe it was 330 pesos per night w/no air conditioning and 450 if you want a/c (we didn't need A/C). The hotel was decent and in a really great location.
We wandered the zócalos at night and ate and drank from a 2nd floor open-air restaurant and watched the activities in the park in the middle of the courtyard. Colima is very beautiful with amazing architecture. We found it very clean and very beautiful. Very old-style colonial type buildings and courtyards everywhere. It was a great area to walk around.
The next morning we went to see the archeological site which is almost right in the city but at the very north western limits of the main city. There isn't much there but it was still very interesting and worth the very cheap admittance. Again, we were the only people there (on a Saturday) and had free roam of the area.
From there we drove north towards the volcano. Volcán de Fuego. We ended up stopping for lunch at a private campground which has its own very small lake with paddle-boats, campsites, etc. It was very relaxing and we would have spent the night but they hadn't renovated their rooms yet and we had no camping gear, so we ended up eating and then just doing a little exploring in some of the tiny towns along the way, always getting closer to the Volcano.
By mid-afternoon we decided that we would not spend another night in Colima. Instead, we drove back south towards Colima, past Colima and on to the main toll highway that takes you back to Manzanillo.
We decided to spend the night at the hotel at the Tampumachay archaeological site. To get there you watch for the Los Ortices turnoff on the main highway (the 110 highway). When you are heading south down the 110, this turnoff is on the left hand side of the road and is less than an hour out of Colima. There is a small hotel (the rooms aren't great, at all, but the pool is!) with restaurant and bar service. We spent two nights here as the trip inland to Colima had taken much less time than we had originally planned. There are many artifacts at the hotel and they will also take you on a tour to explore the tombs (additional cost). There is pottery, etc in the tombs and it is almost a shame they let you tromp around in them as I am sure pieces are getting crushed.
Again, we were the only people at the hotel until the 2nd day when a couple of families showed up for the day to use the pool and have dinner. They didn't spend the night. This was an interesting and worthwhile diversion on the way back down to the coast.
We then drove back to the coast and since we had expected to spend about a week on the Colima loop, but hadn't, we stopped in some small towns on the ocean. We had wanted to stay in Cuyutlán but the whole town was full of Mexican tourists and there wasn't a room to be found. We ended up driving a little further south and found a room in the town of El Paraiso.
It was very busy as well but we managed to get a room at a beach-side hotel. We were the only caucasians in the town and it made my son a little uncomfortable (he was 13, blonde hair, blue eyes) as he felt everyone was staring at him. I thought it was probably a good experience for him, as he had an opportunity to see what it felt like to be a minority.
Anyway, by the next day, everyone had cleared out and it was practically a ghost town -- I guess everyone headed up north after a weekend at the beach.
From there we headed back towards Manzanillo and on to Melaque.
This was the first time we had done some exploring. We normally just plunk ourselves in Melaque and may head out to Tenacatita or Boca de Iguana. We really enjoyed it and I think it is very worthwhile visiting Colima. You could, if you wanted to, do the loop in a day. We enjoyed the exploring and visiting the archaeological sites, etc.
Some reading on the net that I would recommend:
and check out the Colima and area info, also the articles by Wendy Devlin at the website:
I think Susan Dearing has some articles at the same website and they have done extensive travelling in the area. They suggested the great restaurant we stopped at on the way up, and also the visit to el Salto falls.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. I will try to remember what I can.