MANZANILLO OFFERS MANY ATTRACTIONS,
but none as breathtaking as its warm, tranquil underwater world.
A secret, mysterious realm awaits the snorkeler or diver, no matter what your level of ability.

One of the most exciting things about diving the Pacific coast is that it’s known for the unknown. Because Manzanillo doesn’t see a lot of divers, everything in our sea is still natural and untouched. 

The visibility ranges from 25-100 ft. with water temperatures averaging between 72 to 86 degrees F, depending on the location and time of year. There are rarely strong currents in the many dive locations along Manzanillo’s rocky coastline.

IF YOU’VE NEVER TRIED this interesting and relaxing sport before, Manzanillo is the perfect place to learn. There are numerous easy beach entries and qualified instructors here with years of diving experience.

If you already know how to dive and need to rent or buy your gear, state-of-the-art equipment can be found here in Manzanillo.

You can also schedule a guided boat trip to numerous small coves along the coast. See  “The Dive Store,” for complete information.

If you’re already an accomplished diver, there are several spots you can visit on your own.

PLAYA LA AUDIENCIA is the bay in front of the Hotel Sierra (above). 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 on the Peninsula de Santiago, you can visit another beach that is actually in La Audiencia Cove. A road to the right of the Las Hadas entrance takes you to Club de Yates street. Bear right and follow Yates to its end where there’s a white rock wall and parking. The beach is below, and you can snorkel or dive on either side. (By swimming right you’ll end up back at Audiencia Beach.) About 300 yards straight out are several small rocks–a 10-minute swim. On calm days it’s an interesting dive with a maximum depth of 55 feet. 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, south of Hotel La Posada, is a popular spot that is easily reached. There are Moorish idols, schools of grunts, needlefish and sergeant majors that swim effortlessly in the manmade 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 is 48 feet. On the harbor side, you’ll see different types of corals and sponges, but the visibility isn’t as good because of the heavy boat traffic and sediment. 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 in an orchestrated dance around the rocks.

BOAT DIVES

For serious certified divers, there are many spots that are sure to make Manzanillo diving memorable.

Remember, however, Pacific coast diving is quite unlike the Caribbean, in that diving conditions change daily. Before you go out on your own, check with the local dive shop, Underworld Scuba/Scuba Shack, for an update.

LOS FRAILES (The Friars) is a group of rock pinnacles that reach a depth of 120 ft. About 10 minutes from shore, visibility is normally 50-100 ft. The area is teaming with grouper, hogfish and triggerfish. The volcanic rocks and are covered with large gorgonians, starfish, encrusting stony corals and brightly-colored sponges. On almost every dive, a large green moray can be seen poking his head from a protective crevice.
ROCA ELEFANTE (Elephant Rock) features underwater tunnels through the mountain, two swim-through underwater arches (the first opening into a high-walled canyon with a white sand bottom, squeeze-through crevices, shallow reefs, and a booming, surging blow-hole. Schools of 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, zebra and jewel morays, parrotfish, and stingrays. Depths from 20-60 ft.
LOS CARRIZALES (The Reeds) is a quiet, deep bay about 25 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. There are 5 or 6 different dives at Carrizales, some for beginners and others for advanced divers. Depths from 25 to 100 feet.
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. There is also a small cave that is always filled with a huge school of grunts and big-eyed squirrelfish. There are sometimes currents, and a lot of surge in shallow water, but the underwater scenery is fascinating and you’ll see different fish every time.

PEÑA BLANCA is an enormous white rock that is often visited by whales and giant pacific mantas.Aptly named because its color is due to bird droppings of the brown booby, its underwater landscape consists of volcanic fissures and crevices and huge coral-encrusted boulders. The deeper depths make this dive worth remembering, though in one area nearer the shore, you can keep your depth to 50-60 ft. Prolific sea life, black coral, virtually unexplored regions. Sometimes sharks visit this area, but have never been known to bother divers. About a 40 minute boat ride, this diving area is designed for experienced divers. Because this is one of the most remote dive sites in Manzanillo, there is an extra charge to dive it. Depths from 45 to 100+ feet.
LOS PIRÁMIDES (The Pyramids) is one of the most unusual areas in Manzanillo to dive. The rock formations look like–you guessed it–pyramids! Swimming in and around them is fascinating, and there are dozens of photo opportunities with large schools of parrotfish, king angels, yellowtail surgeonfish, and several species of puffers, including  “balloonfish” and guineafowl puffers. The sea life is prolific, and the pyramids and their shadows are dramatic. You could do several dives in this area and still not see it all. Depths are from 25 to 70 ft. and normally this is an easy and fun dive.

THE COPPER BELT, so named because a streak of copper-colored rock runs through the cliff near this site. This is an easy, shallow dive with lots of fish of different species, including the giant damselfish, octopus and lobster (when in season), jewel and green morays, and Cortez angelfish. The colorful broccoli and encrusting stony coral heads are teeming with rainbow wrasses, cardinalfish, squirrelfish, triggerfish, coral crabs, sharp-nosed puffers, and Pacific box fish. Other speices of not include a bright blue sponge, and spots of hydrocoral. Only 25-40 ft. with lots of cracks and crevices to look into.

All of these areas make Manzanillo’s diving and snorkeling something to remember, especially when winter-summer water temperatures range from 73-88 degrees. According to REEF (Reef Environmental Educational Foundation), Manzanillo has more species and greater numbers of fish than anywhere in the Tropical Eastern Pacific region. Find out how you can take a tax-deductible dive vacation and help REEF.


For more information about Manzanillo and scuba diving, check out the 180-page tourist guidebook, “Manzanillo and the state of Colima, Facts, Tips and Day Trips.”

Go to www.gomanzanillo.com for more info on Manzanillo.