30 Best Things to Do in Manzanillo, Mexico | 2024 (with Photos)

Mary Adelana

Mary Adelana - Travel Writer

Last Updated: March 25, 2024

Hey there! I'm Mary, a travel enthusiast with a passion for exploring hidden gems and sharing unique experiences. Let's dive into the top activities and attractions in Manzanillo, Mexico to make your trip unforgettable!

Best Things to Do in Manzanillo, Mexico

Manzanillo, Mexico, offers a plethora of experiences for travelers seeking sun, sand, and adventure.

Nestled between the shimmering Pacific Ocean and lush tropical landscapes, this hidden gem boasts an array of attractions that cater to all types of visitors.

In this article, we will unveil the 30 best things to do in Manzanillo. We'll highlight activities and attractions, and showcase its rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and thrilling outdoor activities.

So pack your bags and get ready to immerse yourself in the enchanting charms of Manzanillo and the Santiago Peninsula.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Santiago Peninsula.

Top Choice Hotel

Barceló Karmina is the Top Choice Hotel in Manzanillo, Mexico.

Our Top Choice Restaurant

El Marinero

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Bora Bora Bar

Average Temperature

Warm and pleasant with occasional tropical heat waves.

Transportation Options

Taxis, buses, rental cars, and private drivers available.

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

When in Manzanillo, make sure to visit the beautiful beaches, such as Playa La Audiencia, where you can relax under the sun and enjoy crystal-clear waters - a perfect spot for swimming and snorkeling.

For a taste of Manzanillo's vibrant culture, take a stroll through the mesmerizing Miramar Market, where you can savor local delicacies, browse through handcrafted souvenirs, and immerse yourself in the lively ambience of this bustling marketplace.

What You'll Need to Bring

Passport, sunscreen, swimwear, comfortable walking shoes, hat, sunglasses, camera, travel adapter, cash, and a guidebook.

Depending on your personal preferences and activities planned, you may also want to bring insect repellent, beach towel, snorkeling gear, flip flops, lightweight clothing, a travel journal, and a reusable water bottle.

What Not to Miss

  1. Beaches: Playa de Oro, Miramar Beach, and La Audiencia Beach
  2. Las Hadas Golf Course
  3. El Centro (downtown)
  4. Santiago Peninsula
  5. Manzanillo Bay
  6. La Boquita Beach
  7. Whale watching tours
  8. Isa's Garden art gallery and coffee shop
  9. Iguanario Archundia (Iguana Sanctuary)
  10. Colima Volcano National Park

What to Avoid

  • Touristy restaurants
  • Overpriced souvenirs from tourist shops
  • Unsafe areas at night
  • Drinking tap water
  • Flashing valuable items in public places
  • Ignoring local customs or traditions
  • Booking accommodation without reading reviews first
  • Engaging with illegal activities or drugs
  • Overpacking unnecessary items
  • Trusting strangers too easily

1. Walk Along The Malecon

The Malecon

The Malecon in Manzanillo is a lovely seaside promenade offering an array of shops, restaurants, and breathtaking vistas.

Recently revitalized, this picturesque stretch near the El Centro area guides you along the shoreline near the bustling port of Manzanillo.

Don't miss the iconic Manzanillo sign near the plaza area, close to the cruise ship dock, where you'll also find the striking Manzanillo Sailfish sculpture (Monumento al Pez Vela).

2. Surf at Playa Miramar

Playa Miramar

Rent a surfboard from one of the vendors stationed at Playa Miramar and ride the gentle waves that gracefully crash along the expanse of the beach.

Conclude your exhilarating surf session by indulging in fresh seafood at one of the charming, palm-thatched seafood restaurants by the shore.

Browse the craft stalls that line the road behind the beach, offering an array of souvenirs, and stroll around Las Peñitas Lagoon, where you can spot various outdoor wildlife.

3. Snorkel at Playa La Audiencia

Playa La Audiencia

Grab your snorkeling gear and explore the crystal-clear waters of Playa La Audiencia, where a fascinating world awaits beneath the surface.

Encounter tropical fish, octopuses, and cool sea plants as you dive into the ocean. Engage in exhilarating water sports like kayaking, swimming, scuba diving, and windsurfing, or simply unwind on a beach lounger.

Indulge in delectable cuisine at one of the cozy shoreline eateries and savor the captivating sunset as it paints the western headland with its warm hues.

4. Relax at Playa la Boquita

Playa la Boquita

Located at the northernmost point of Manzanillo Bay near the Santiago Peninsula, you'll find Playa la Boquita.

This hidden gem is a family-friendly and kid-friendly place with calm waves and lovely seafood restaurants.

It's the perfect spot for sunseekers to bask in the sun, take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, and enjoy the sound of ocean waves.

Spend a lazy afternoon at Playa la Boquita, or head to nearby Playa Las Brisas for bigger waves and enjoy surfing and bodyboarding.

5. Chill at Playa Olas Altas

Playa Olas Altas

Situated on the serene Santiago Bay, Playa Olas Altas is a quiet beach that is perfect for leisurely strolls along the water and offers great views of both sunrise and sunset.

With its powerful waves, Playa Olas Altas attracts surfers and those craving adventurous water activities.

Along the shore, you'll discover a handful of charming restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy some Mexican cuisine and sip on delightful cocktails.

6. Swim and Sunbathe at Playa San Pedrito

Playa San Pedrito

Playa San Pedrito is a popular beach and the closest one to the Manzanillo town center.

Slip into your swimsuit and enjoy a refreshing swim in the tropical waters at Playa San Pedrito, or select a cozy spot on the beach to bask in the sun's warm embrace all day long.

Explore the vibrant souvenir stalls that dot the area, offering an assortment of unique souvenirs.

Alternatively, savor a delectable fish dinner at one of the charming beachfront restaurants at Playa San Pedrito, treating your taste buds to a delightful culinary experience.

7. Discover Oro Beach

Oro Beach

Discover the glistening golden sands of Oro Beach, where you can embark on a leisurely stroll along the tidemark, keeping an eye out for extraordinary seashells that adorn the shoreline.

Locals believe that remnants of gold from a shipwreck over 150 years ago occasionally wash ashore at Oro Beach.

Seek out a tranquil spot to indulge in sunbathing on the golden sand and enjoy a lazy afternoon accompanied by a book and the sound of waves crashing upon the shore.

8. See the Harbor at Manzanillo Bay

Manzanillo Bay

Nestled gracefully along the coastline, Manzanillo Bay unveils its beauty as a captivating harbor, offering a picturesque setting to witness the arrival and departure of ships.

The bay thrives with bustling activity, as container ships tirelessly transport goods to and from Mexico City, contributing to its vibrant atmosphere.

Located in proximity to "El Centro," the bay serves as a gateway to an array of tourist shops, the iconic Sailfish Statue, and the Manzanillo welcome sign.

For those arriving via cruise ship, the upper decks provide a vantage point to relish the splendid views of the bay.

9. Hike to Casa Abandonada

Casa Abandonada

Take a fun hike up to the abandoned building in the Club Santiago area.

This hike is a pleasant experience in itself, but the highlight awaits at the deserted building, where you can ascend to the summit and marvel at the breathtaking bay views.

To reach the abandoned structure, simply follow the path indicated by the Condominios Asturias sign, taking a left turn. This route will lead you directly to the vacant building.

Alternatively, you can opt to venture to the far end of Playa la Boquita, located at the tip of the Santiago Peninsula. There, you will find a pedestrian bridge that connects to a paved road.

10. Play Golf

Las Hadas Golf

Indulge in a round of golf in Manzanillo, where golf enthusiasts will find three splendid courses: Las Hadas, El Corazon, and Club Santiago.

Las Hadas offers a particularly challenging course, while El Corazon boasts impeccable grooming and breathtaking vistas.

Club Santiago, on the other hand, is a casual 9-hole course with alternating tees for the second nine, offering a subtly demanding experience.

After a fulfilling day on the greens, take a leisurely stroll along the relaxing area's beautiful beaches and treat yourself to the culinary delights offered by its top-notch restaurants.

11. Visit Las Hadas Golf Resort & Marina Manzanillo

Las Hadas Golf Resort

Las Hadas Golf Course stands as a true gem in Manzanillo, ranked among the top 100 Golf Courses worldwide.

Las Hadas Golf Course is an 18-hole course designed by renowned architects Pete & Roy Dye. Enjoy the extraordinary experience of playing 15 of those holes directly above the shimmering waters.

Enveloped by a stunning landscape adorned with over 4,000 swaying palm trees, this golf course offers a captivating escape for golf enthusiasts seeking an exhilarating and picturesque experience.

12. Take a Day Trip to Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta

Nestled along the coast in the state of Jalisco, you'll find the charming resort town of Puerto Vallarta.

Enjoy the El Malecon Boardwalk and the stunning Las Caletas Beach. For panoramic views of the city, head to the Mirador del Cerro de La Cruz lookout point.

In the center, you'll find the Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe church, as well as many boutique shops, restaurants, and bars.

Puerto Vallarta is known for its vibrant nightlife, offering some of the finest clubs, lively fiestas, and captivating music festivals in Latin America.

13. Take a Trip to Barra de Navidad

Barra de Navidad

Barra de Navidad, a coastal town located just an hour north of Manzanillo, is one of the area's hidden gems.

From tranquil spots with calm waters perfect for snorkeling to larger waves that entice surfers, Barra de Navidad provides a diverse range of aquatic activities.

Enjoy boat rides and kayaking adventures, or explore numerous other water-based activities in the coastal town.

Barra de Navidad also has a marina that positions sportfishing as a top activity, with abundant fishing boat charters ready to whisk you away for an unforgettable angling excursion.

14. See the El Salto Waterfalls

El Salto Waterfalls

Hiking, swimming in natural pools, scenic beauty

Situated just north of Manzanillo, the magnificent El Salto waterfall stands as the crown jewel among all waterfalls in the state.

A trip from Manzanillo to El Salto, a short 50-minute drive, transports you to stunning landscapes.

Towering over 100 feet in height, this natural wonder is formed by the majestic Minatitlán-Marabasco River.

From November to May, El Salto showcases a mild climate, providing the perfect opportunity to witness the crystal-clear waters cascading in all their glory.

15. Visit the Iguana Sanctuary

Iguana Sanctuary

In the heart of downtown Manzanillo, near the central plaza known as Jardin, you will find the Iguana Sanctuary.

Operated by a local family, this sanctuary is home to an impressive population of large iguanas and a personal favorite with families visiting with children.

The sanctuary provides a haven for endangered iguanas and also serves as a refuge for a few other animals, such as crested caracara and coati mundi.

With its immersive environment, the sanctuary guarantees an enjoyable experience for visitors of all ages, particularly children who will delight in the up-close encounters with these fascinating creatures.

16. Explore Local Markets

Municipal Market

Wander around the local markets in Manzanillo, where a treasure trove of unique finds awaits. Local Manzanillo artisans offer an array of delights at each indoor and open-air market to suit every taste.

Discover authentic Mexican food and a kaleidoscope of colorful rugs, captivating jewelry, exquisite paintings, and intricately crafted pottery.

One market that should not be missed is the Oaxaca artisan market, a seasonal gem that springs to life every January.

You'll find numerous stalls offering a colorful assortment of goods, including clothing, leather goods, ceramics, toys, regional liqueurs, and pottery.

17. Go Horseback Riding

Horseback Riding

Riding a horse or a pony, if you visit with children, is a great, eco-friendly way to see the sights of Manzanillo.

From the sunny beaches to the verdant tropical trails surrounding the Las Peñitas Lagoon, prepare for an immersive journey through captivating landscapes.

Follow the well-maintained trails and encounter a myriad of fascinating waterbirds, including crocodiles, herons, and egrets in their natural habitat.

Riding along the black volcanic sands near Miramar Beach, you can enjoy the amazing vista of the entire 5-mile-long Santiago Bay.

18. Snorkel at the San Luciano Shipwreck

San Luciano Shipwreck

Located on the Juluapan peninsula near Playa La Boquita in Santiago Bay, the San Luciano stands as Manzanillo's sunken treasure.

This remarkable steel cargo vessel, measuring 300 feet in length, was deliberately sunk in 1959 following severe damage caused by a category 5 hurricane.

Resting in approximately 25 feet of water, the San Luciano now serves as a vibrant habitat for numerous marine creatures, hosting a thriving ecosystem.

To reach and explore the wreck, it takes approximately 10-15 minutes to swim from the shore.

19. Take a day Trip to Colima

Jardín Libertad

Take a trip to the thriving city of Colima, the capital of the eponymous Mexican state.

Situated near the central Pacific coast, Colima is nestled within a picturesque valley south of the Colima Volcano.

The city's main square, Jardín Libertad, serves as a focal point, showcasing a charming 19th-century Belgian kiosk surrounded by palm trees and verdant foliage.

On weekends, the square features live music, creating a fun atmosphere. 

Colima boasts an array of fresh seafood restaurants, where you can try traditional dishes such as "Ceviche" prepared with the finest ingredients from the sea.

20. Hike to the Top of Cerro del Toro

Cerro del Toro

For those seeking a challenging hike, the ascent along the road leading to the communications towers atop Cerro del Toro is a great workout and a chance to enjoy the fresh air and the outdoors.

Starting near the town of La Central, this trek offers a true measure of fitness, taking approximately two hours to reach the summit for those in good shape.

The descent is equally rewarding, taking nearly as long.

Upon completing this exhilarating journey, treat yourself to a refreshing cold cerveza as a well-deserved toast to the memorable experience.

21. Go on a Deep-Sea Fishing Trip

Deep-Sea Fishing

Set sail from the port of Manzanillo, as the first rays of sunlight grace the horizon, and venture into the vast expanse of the azure waters.

Almost immediately upon departure, you'll feel the thrill of your lines being tugged by the small Bonito fish. Enjoy a warm-up for your fishing charter and an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the rods and reels.

Your experienced captain will expertly guide you through the schools of feeding fish and diving birds, leading you to the very best fishing grounds on the Pacific Coast of Mexico.

22. Visit the La Campana Archaeological Site

La Campana Archaeological Site

While not as widely recognized as Chichén Itzá in the Yucatán or Teotihuacán near Mexico City, La Campana holds significant importance as one of Mexico's noteworthy archaeological sites.

La Campana archaeological site is included in the Mexican archaeological heritage list and is situated near the city of Colima.

Serving as the largest prehispanic settlement in western Mexico, La Campana features bell-shaped structures resembling pyramids, dating back as far as 1500 BC.

23. Zipline on a Canopy Jungle Tour


Feel the rush as you soar high through the tropical jungle on the most thrilling canopy zip lines

Nestled in the breathtaking hills around Manzanillo, a nature preserve serves as an Eco-Tourist and Adventure camp, catering to teens, young adults, and nature lovers seeking thrilling experiences.

The main highlight of the camp is a series of zip lines that transport visitors from one point to another using cables and pulleys.

Initially, zip lines were constructed between treetops, hence the term "canopy tour." However, on this tour, the zip lines extend from hilltop to hilltop, elevating the excitement and offering longer and higher thrills.

24. See the Peña Blanca Rock Formation

Peña Blanca

Pena Blanca, also known as White Rock, is a remarkable rocky promontory that juts out of the sea, capturing attention in front of the Playa de Oro beach.

The rocks' white hue results from the accumulation of aquatic bird droppings, as this natural refuge serves as a home to thousands of these birds.

To reach this location, board a boat from Santiago, Las Hadas, or the La Perlita pier downtown. 

The 3-4 hour coastal trip offers a splendid opportunity to appreciate the scenic coastline and witness a captivating display of wildlife, including dolphins.

25. Go Up to the Campos Lighthouse

Campos Lighthouse

Perched atop a hill around 120 meters high, the Campos Lighthouse offers a delightful hike that spans approximately 1.7 km and features a fully paved trail.

Residents often enjoy hiking, running, and cycling in this area.

Constructed in 1906, the Campos Lighthouse is conveniently located just 20 minutes away from Manzanillo's Historic Center.

Although the lighthouse's entrance is restricted to authorized personnel, there are small viewpoints accessible to visitors, offering excellent panoramic views.

26. Discover the Elephant Rock

Elephant Rock

Roca Elefante, known as Elephant Rock, is an enchanting site that can only be accessed by boat.

This dive spot offers a captivating underwater experience, featuring extensive tunnels spanning approximately 50 yards through the mountain. 

There are two swim-through underwater arches, the first leading to a canyon with towering walls and a white sandy bottom.

The area teems with vibrant marine life, including schools of yellowtail surgeonfish and king angels that swim right beneath the boat.

Depths range from 20 to 60 feet, providing ample opportunities for exploration and underwater discovery.

27. Dive at Los Carrizales

Los Carrizales

Los Carrizales, also known as The Reeds, is a serene and secluded bay located approximately 20 minutes north of Audiencia Beach.

Legend has it that over 400 years ago, during a storm, more than a million dollars worth of Spanish gold and silver was lost in this area.

The "Grand Canyons of Carrizales" is a sight to behold, offering awe-inspiring underwater formations.

Shallow waters with numerous cracks and crevices are habitats for fascinating creatures such as octopuses and lobsters.

28. Discover Parque Nacional Volcán Nevado de Colima

Parque Nacional Volcán Nevado de Colima

Volcán Nevado de Colima National Park, situated in western Mexico, safeguards the upper slopes of two volcanic mountains, Volcán de Colima and Nevado de Colima, spanning the states of Jalisco and Colima.

For an immersive mountain experience off the beaten path, the El Nevado de Colima hike is a must-try. This trail offers scenic beauty and is relatively untouched by tourism.

Nevado de Colima, one of the volcanoes within the national park, presents an opportunity for summiting.

Meanwhile, Volcán de Colima, also known as El Fuego (The Fire), is an active volcano, surpassing even the activity levels of Popocatépetl, and is not suitable for hiking.

29. Hike Up to The Nogalito Waterfall

The Nogalito Waterfall

The hike to Nogalito waterfall in Puerto Vallarta is not among the most popular and you can expect to meet very few other tourists along the river.

This secluded hike presents a challenge, as it involves maneuvering through rocks in the river rather than following a designated trail.

However, the serene atmosphere and the reward of having the Nogalito waterfall and swimming hole entirely to yourself make the exertion truly worthwhile.

30. Enjoy Manzanillo's Nightlife

Club Oasis

Manzanillo offers a vibrant and exciting nightlife scene, making it an enticing destination for those seeking entertainment after the sun sets.

Whether you want to dance the night away or simply look to unwind with some drinks and live music, Manzanillo has something for everyone.

For those seeking a lively and energetic atmosphere, Club Oasis is a popular choice, with an energetic dance floor and a wide selection of drinks.

For those who prefer a more laid-back setting, El Faro Lounge Bar is an excellent choice, with its stunning ocean views and relaxed vibe.

FAQs about the Best Things to Do in Manzanillo, Mexico

Now, let's answer some common queries relating to the best things to do in Manzanillo, Mexico.

What is Manzanillo Mexico known for?

Manzanillo, Mexico, is known for its stunning beaches and vibrant fishing industry. It is often referred to as the "Sailfish Capital of the World" due to its exceptional sport fishing opportunities.

The city also offers a charming historic center, delicious seafood cuisine, and a laid-back atmosphere that attracts both beach lovers and adventure seekers.

Is Manzanillo worth it?

Absolutely! Known as the "Sailfish Capital of the world,'' Manzanillo boasts pristine beaches, warm calm waters perfect for swimming and water sports, and a range of activities for all interests.

Whether you want to spend a carefree afternoon on the beach, explore the local culture, or take special interest tours, Manzanillo offers it all and is definitely worth visiting.

Is Manzanillo touristy?

While Manzanillo attracts tourists with its popular beaches, it is not as touristy as some other Mexican destinations.

The city has managed to maintain its authentic charm and relaxed vibe. The city is served by the Manzanillo Airport, which provides convenient access for both domestic and international tourists.

Can you go snorkeling in Manzanillo Mexico?

Yes, you can go snorkeling in Manzanillo, Mexico.

The warm Pacific waters surrounding the area are home to diverse marine life and offer excellent snorkeling opportunities.

Several tour operators and beachfront resorts offer snorkeling excursions and equipment rental.

Which is better, Manzanillo or Mazatlan?

The choice between Manzanillo and Mazatlan depends on personal preferences.

Manzanillo is known for its tranquil beaches and relaxed atmosphere, making it an ideal destination for a laid-back vacation.

On the other hand, Mazatlan offers a vibrant nightlife and a charming historic center, attracting visitors who look for entertainment venues and seaside activities.

Summing Up: Best Things to Do in Manzanillo, Mexico

As you can see, there is no shortage of incredible things to do in Manzanillo. This place offers an abundance of unforgettable experiences for every traveler.

From the sun-drenched Manzanillo beaches and snorkeling alongside colorful fish to the vibrant local markets, this destination captivates the senses.

Discover the top Manzanillo attractions, hidden gems, and fun day trips to explore the surrounding areas, uncovering new adventures.

We hope this guide to the 30 best Manzanillo activities and attractions will help you make the most of your visit.

So plan your trip to Manzanillo today and discover the wonders of this beautiful city for yourself.