Airports: (Airport Code ZLO): The Playa de Oro International Airport (ZLO) is a small airport located about 35 minutes north of Manzanillo along Highway 200. The airport offers international and national flights. In addition to flights to and from the USA, the airport has international service to and from Canada.
Currency: The Peso is the official currency of Mexico, although the US Dollar and other major currencies are widely accepted as well.
Climate: The daytime temps are in the 80s and night temps are in the 70s year round.
Water Temperature: The water temperature pushes 90 degrees at the end of summer, then gradually drops down to the low to mid 70′s by the end of winter.
Language: Spanish is the official language of Mexico, but English is widely spoken in the tourist areas.
Signature Dive Sites:
PLAYA LA AUDIENCIA is the bay in front of the Hotel Sierra . Enjoy an easy underwater experience with bi-colored damselfish, schools of yellowtail, at least 2 species of moray eels, sting rays and soft corals. Swim through narrow crevices and over coral-encrusted boulders. Enjoy the fascinating feather duster and Christmas tree polyps that pop back into their tubular homes whenever you brush your finger near them. The maximum depth of the south side is only 20 ft. and there’s never a current. Occasionally, there’s a heavy tidal surge (usually around full or new moons), but generally staying 3-4 feet from the rocks will avoid scrapes.
On the right side, many favorites, such as the Cortez Angelfish, Trumpetfish or Balloonfish await your arrival. The underwater terrain consists of large boulders, rocky ledges and crevices, with a maximum depth of 60 feet at the point.
This side is excellent for night dives; it’s usually safe and calm and during the evening hours you’ll see sleeping giant parrotfish, lobsters and octopus. The beach is located at the Las Hadas turnoff (Km 12) where the cobbled road dead-ends. CLUB DE YATES: By following the signs to Las Hadas in the Peninsula de Santiago, you can visit another beach, that is actually in Audiencia Cove, but midway out on the south side. A road to the right of the Las Hadas gate takes you to Club de Yates street. Bear right and follow Club de Yates to its end where there’s a white rock wall and parking area. The beach is below, and you can snorkel or dive on the left-hand or right-hand side. (By swimming right you’ll end up back at Audiencia Beach.) In front of the beach, about 300 yards out, are several small rocks–a 10-minute swim. On calm days it’s an interesting dive with a maximum depth of 55 feet to the center of the bay. Take a compass heading and go for it!
L’RECIF has a magnificent coral reef right off the beach on the right-hand side, but conditions can change rapidly, and are unpredictable, so dive with extreme caution.
The beach entry is over rocks and pebbles, so having boots and heel-strap fins can make it less painless to get in and out. Although this area can be very calm (usually in the morning and at sunset)) sometimes the waves crash against the rocks with astounding force. This is not an area for poor swimmers or beginners, or those not familiar with the ocean. THE LAS BRISAS JETTY just south of the Hotel La Posada, is a popular spot that can be reached by car, bus or taxi. The most memorable thing about this area is the huge schools of striped grunts, needlefish and sergeant majors that swim effortlessly in and around the manmade rock habitat. You’ll also see bright yellow colonial cup coral, fluorescent green encrusting stony coral and pale pink gorgonians gracing the granite boulders that divide the harbor from Manzanillo Bay. Maximum depth at the point is 48 feet. On the harbor side, you’ll see different types of corals and sponges, but usually the visibility isn’t very good because of the heavy boat traffic and sediment in the stagnant harbor. On the plus side, though the visibility declines when you get to the point, the amount of fish multiplies, until you’re literally dizzy watching as millions of fish swim an orchestrated dance around the rocks. LOS FRAILES (The Friars) is a group of detached rock pinnacles in the open ocean that reach a maximum depth of 100 ft. About 10 minutes from the mainland, visibility is normally 50-100 ft. The area is teaming with grouper, hogfish and triggerfish. The rocks are volcanic in origin and are covered with large gorgonians, starfish, encrusting stony corals and brightly-colored sponges. On almost every dive, a 5-6 foot green moray can be seen poking his head from a protective crevice.
“SAN LUCIANO SHIPWRECK”: Sunk in the hurricane of 1959, this 300-foot-long behemoth sits in only 25 feet of water only 300 yards off shore. One of Manzanillo’s most popular diving and snorkeling attractions, the “San Luciano” has HUGE puffer fish inside, and an area outside known as “Puffer Fish City.” You’ll never see more balloonfish anywhere! In addition, seahorses enjoy this shallow, protected habitat, and during every dive, we’ve seen 1-5 of these miraculous creatures. Seahorses are good at camouflage, however, and it takes a trained eye to spot them. Other amazing creatures on this 84-year-old wreck include eels, octopus and huge schools of grunts. ROCA ELEFANTE (Elephant Rock) is another site that can only be reached by boat. This dive features underwater tunnels (about 50 yards in length) through the mountain, 2 swim-through underwater arches (the first opening into a high-walled canyon with a white sand bottom, squeeze-through crevices, shallow coral reefs, and a booming, surging blow-hole. Schools of yellowtail surgeonfish and king angels swim by, right under the boat, and several species of puffers frequent the area. Other noteworthy dive buddies we’ve seen include turtles, a 30-foot whale shark (a harmless plankton eater), zebra and jewel morays, dolphins, giant Pacific mantas, and electric rays. Depths from 20-60 ft. LOS CARRIZALES (The Reeds) is a quiet, deep bay about 20 minutes north of Audiencia Beach, where it is said that more than a million dollars of Spanish gold and silver were lost in a storm more than 400 years ago. One never knows whether divers will happen across the treasure while exploring this uncharted bay, but it is guaranteed they will discover other living treasures of the sea. The “Grand Canyons of Carrizales” are awesome, and the numerous cracks and crevices in shallow water serve as habitats for octopus and lobster. Depths from 25 to 100 feet. There are at least 4 different dives you can do in this area with depths from 25 to 100 ft. LA AHOGADA or (Drowned Rock) is aptly named because with good visibility you can see a huge boulder about 25 feet beneath the surface. Walls and canyons make this an interesting dive with depths of up to 70 feet. It can only be reached by boat, and dived when calm. A swim-through cave with millions of cardinalfish make this a great dive. Sometimes there is a strong current. PEÑA BLANCA is an enormous white rock (aptly named because its color is due to bird droppings of the brown and blue-footed booby) that is often visited by whales and giant pacific manta rays. Volcanic fissures and crevices, caves and deeper depths make this dive worth remembering. Prolific sea life, black coral, virtually unexplored regions. About a 40-minute boat ride from La Audiencia Beach, this diving area is designed for experienced divers. Depths from 45-100+ feet. There are many other coves north of Santiago Bay, with interesting names such as “Horses Ear,” or “The Elevator.” A recently discovered barge, sunk in the hurricane of 1959 is a new challenge and it’s in shallow water. Every location where you drop anchor has something special to offer. In 1995, two artificial reefs were installed–one to the south of Manzanillo in an area known as Tepalcates, and the other to the north, near Elephant Rock. Last year a new shallow reef was discovered in the Bay of Santiago. In July of 1998, several sea mounts (mountains under the sea) were discovered 5 minutes from Audiencia Beach in open ocean, whose tops are only 30 feet beneath the surface. All of these areas make Manzanillo’s diving and snorkeling something to remember, especially when winter-summer water temperatures range from 76-86 degrees.