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Manzanillo is the Pacific Coast's strangest resort city. The Bahías Gemelas (twin bays)—separated by a huge burl of craggy rocks and lush foliage—provide beaches of black-and-gold volcanic sand, so it ought to be a tourist's dream come true, times two. There's certainly no denying the fantastic quality of its fanciest resorts, nor the quirky cool that permeates some of its out-of-the-way
places. But Manzanillo is mostly preoccupied with its other job—that of a working port—so shopping is uneventful, cultural sights are few, and tourism-related building seems to only happen in fits and starts.
Thanks to its geography, Manzanillo feels more like three towns than one. The breathtaking Peninsula de Santiago is covered with wealthy enclaves—epitomized by the anachronistic Moorish mini-city of Las Hadas resort—and is worlds away from the tightly packed, bustling downtown where there's nary a gringo in sight. The connective thread between the two is one long stretch of gold sand paralleled by a traffic-clogged road that is alternatively too built-up (if you need an Office Max or Home Depot, have no fear) and seemingly in decline.