Downtown Manzanillo, Colima

Guadalajara to Manzanillo: How to get to Manzanillo, Colima

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Thinking about a trip to Manzanillo, Colima?

Manzanillo, Colima is an under-the-radar destination for most English-speaking travelers. Colima is the name of a small state and the capital city located 200 km south of Guadalajara. The beach town and major international port of Manzanillo is just a little bit further at 300km from Guadalajara. It is a much faster and easier drive to Manzanillo than it is to Puerto Vallarta. Getting from Guadalajara to Manzanillo is easy whether you choose to take the bus or drive. 

The port of Manzanillo is responsible for a large portion of Mexico’s international trade in the Pacific specifically with China. It is second only to Veracruz in volume and the port infrastructure extends to the freeway out of town. Drivers will share the toll road with tractor-trailers loaded with shipping containers. There are wonderful beaches and some of my favorite beach resorts and restaurants. It is hard to say what creates more jobs, tourism or cargo. 

If you are staying in Guadalajara and don’t know Manzanillo or Colima they are very enjoyable and easy getaways from the big city.

Peninsula de Santiago, Manzanillo, Colima

Click here to read about the beaches of Manzanillo

Where is Manzanillo, Colima

Manzanillo, Colima is on the Pacific coast of Mexico in the State of Colima (19.085220, -104.359743). The state of Colima is south of Jalisco and north of Michoacan. Manzanillo is southwest of Guadalajara and southeast of Puerto Vallarta

Map of Manzanillo, Colima

How Far is Manzanillo from Guadalajara

Are you thinking about the ride from Guadalajara to Manzanillo? It is 300 kilometers (187 miles) from Guadalajara to Manzanillo. It takes about 3.5 hours to drive from Guadalajara to Manzanillo if you can get out of Guadalajara without much traffic. Friday afternoons on a three-day weekend will be longer. 

  • Manzanillo Airport to Santiago Peninsula, Manzanillo: 33 km
  • Puerto Vallarta to Manzanillo: 280 km of the best beaches in Jalisco
  • Colima City to Manzanillo: 105 km
  • Tecoman to Manzanillo: 68 km
  • Cuyutlan to Manzanillo: 45 km
  • Lazaro Cardenas to Manzanillo: 350 km
Approaching Manzanillo from Guadalajara along the toll highway.

Driving from Guadalajara to Manzanillo

The drive from Guadalajara to Manzanillo is fast and easy, especially when compared to the road to Puerto Vallarta. The route is almost exclusively a four-lane toll road freeway with a center divider and shoulder. 

Getting in and out of Guadalajara on Avenida Lopez Mateos Sur will be the most traffic-prone section of the drive. It is not recommended to be on the road at rush hour or on a Sunday afternoon after a three-day weekend because the traffic sucks. 

Avenida Lopez Mateos turns into the 80 as it leaves Tlajomuilco and later the 54D toll road not far past the macrolibremiento. Passing the macrolibremiento the road begins to drop going downhill. There are some curves and a fairly complex intersection of highways that divide the free road from the toll road. Make sure to keep your speed down. People have been known to change lanes suddenly when they see their offramp coming up. 

After the toll plaza, it is almost perfectly straight for 100 km to Ciudad Guzman. You don’t need to get off the freeway in Ciudad Guzman but it is a cool place to hang out and get some tostadas in the plaza. There are some cool restaurants and historic architecture in the plaza. 

Passing Ciudad Guzman the Nevado de Colima Volcano will come into view. 

Volcano on the way from Guadalajara to Manzanillo, Colima

Just before the turnoff for Tuxpan, Jalisco the toll freeway reduces from four lanes to two lanes. Going downhill it isn’t so bad because the semis are moving at a reasonable speed. Going back up the hill towards Guadalajara there will be a peloton of semis heavily packed from the port moving at 25 km/h and not a lot of room to pass. 

Tuxpan has some great tacos and a soup called cuaxala sold at the old train station. Stop in the pueblos to eat. It is usually worth it. 

The section of the highway with only one lane in each direction is only 25 kilometers long and is usually not too bad. There are a couple of tall bridges and signs saying how high the bridge is compared to the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan. The views are stunning, especially in the rainy season. 

The road from Guadalajara to

The San Marcos toll plaza just before the Colima state line where the road goes back to two and later three lanes in each direction and perfect pavement. 

I enjoy getting off the freeway and seeing the areas around the volcanos. Not far before the state line the second volcano, the Volcan de Fuego, comes into view and occasionally sends some smoke into the air to say hello. 

There are some great restaurants like the Jacal de San Antonio and a quaint coffee-growing community. Read the Juan Rulfo classic Pedro Paramo. 

Just before Colima City in the blink-of-the-eye town called El Trapiche is the Colima Beer factory and factory store. They have a beautiful beer garden with excellent food. This is where you should stock up on beer before heading to the beach.

The section of road between Colima City and Tecoman is called the 110 and is not a toll road even though it is in perfect condition. Watch your speed on the downhill sections and the curves.

After Tecoman the road changes name again to the 200D which will take you all the way up to Downtown Puerto Vallarta. The toll road goes as far as Manzanillo but more is on the way. 

All and all the drive from Guadalajara to Manzanillo is much easier and faster than the drive from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta. 

It sounds cliche but… don’t drive at night, don’t drive tired, and don’t drive under the influence. 

A toll plaza on the way from Manzanillo to Guadalajara

How much are the tolls from Guadalajara to Manzanillo?

Toll BoothCost
3San Marcos II$168
Total Cost of Tolls From Guadalajara to Manzanillo$477

Taking the Bus from Guadalajara to Manzanillo

There are a number of buses to Manzanillo from Guadalajara leaving from different places and at different price points. They leave just about all day long. The more expensive buses are direct and the less expensive buses will stop in some towns along the way and are significantly slower.

First off, let’s talk about bus stations. In the Guadalajara Metropolitan Region, there are several long-distance bus terminals. The Central Nueva bus station in Tlaquepaque and the Periferico Sur bus station also in Tlaquepaque are the two most common ways to reach Manzanillo from Guadalajara. The Central Nueva is the largest bus station in the region but it is on the outskirts of the city and not near the road to Colima. The Periferico Sur bus station is a small, one-terminal station directly adjacent to the road that leads to Manzanillo. You can save at least 30 minutes of traffic by departing from the Periferico Sur station as opposed to the Central Nueva

In Manzanillo, the long-distance bus station is in a sketchy part of town by the port that I would not recommend walking around after dark. It is very close to the Las Brisas neighborhood in Manzanillo. Club Santiago is still some distance away. 

The long-distance bus stations in Guadalajara

The road from Guadalajara to Manzanillo

FAQs: How to Get from Guadalajara to Manzanillo

Can I fly from Guadalajara to Manzanillo?

Yes, but not directly. Flights from Guadalajara to Manzanillo will have a layover in Mexico City making it substancially longer to fly than to drive. Additionally, the Manzanillo ariport is a ways outside of the city.

Is There Uber in Manzanillo?

Yes, there is Uber in Manzanillo but the market is not as fluid as it is in the bigger cities. It may take a little bit longer for an Uber driver to reach the far side of the bay on a busy weekend.

Playa la Audiencia on the Santiago Peninsula of Manzanillo

Some Final thoughts: How to get from Guadalajara to Manzanillo

I have been in Guadalajara since 2009 and Manzanillo is an integral part of the beach options for the city folks. In fact, it was the beaches of Colima that originally brought me to live in Guadalajara. Boca de Pascuales, Cuyutlan, Manzanillo, and Barra de Navidad all have great surf and an authentic beach culture.

It is hard to justify the 5 hour drive to Puerto Vallarta for a weekend. Nobody wants to be stuck going throught the curves after dark on a Friday night. Sunday afternoon heading back to Guadalajara from Puerto Vallarta is just as bad. The road from Manzanillo to Guadalajara is much shorter and a much easier drive. It is much more likely that a family from Guadalajara will choose Manzanillo as their destination for a three-day weekend over Puerto Vallarta. If they have the entire week off like semana santa the drive to Puerto Vallarta becomes a smaller percentage of the total vacation time.

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