Sleeping

The two main accommodation zones are the central P rez Gasga area and the surf beach Playa Zicatela. In the peak seasons the most popular places will probably be full, especially on Zicatela. Your best chance of getting into a place you like, if you haven't booked ahead, is to ask early in the day, about 9am or 10am. Many places drop prices drastically in low season from those listed here, and some offer discounts for longer stays. Several apartments and houses are available for short and long...

Baha De Navidad

The tight arc of Bah a de Navidad is ringed by deep, honey-colored sand with two resort towns at either end, waving amiably at each other. Situated 5km apart, Barra de Navidad and San Patricio-Melaque are siblings with distinct personalities. Barra is beloved for its attractive cobbled streets and aura of good living, while Melaque, the scrappier of the two, draws budget-minded travelers seeking to get back to basics in a place that shuns pretension. One visit to any laid-back Mexican beach...

Around Puerto Escondido Laguna de Manialtepec

This lagoon, 6km long, begins about 14km west of Puerto Escondido along Hwy 200. It's home to ibis, roseate spoonbills, parrots and several species of hawks, falcons, os-preys, egrets, herons, kingfishers and iguanas. December to March is the best time to observe birds, and they're most often seen in the early morning. The lagoon is mainly surrounded by mangroves, but tropical flowers and palms accent the oceanside. It makes an excellent day trip from Puerto Escondido. The best (and practically...

La Cruz de Loreto

The village of La Cruz de Loreto, west of Hwy 200 and 90km south of Puerto Val-larta, is next to a wetland estuary and nature reserve. It's also the closest village to one of Mexico's most attractive, ecofriendly and expensive all-inclusive hotels. Love for nature and luxury are in the air at Hotelito Desconocido ( 281-40-10, in the US 800-851-4130 www.hotelito .com La Cruz de Loreto r US 370, ste US 450-670 ), an unforgettable solar-powered resort. As the sun sets, the candles are lit and the...

Staples Specialties Seafood

For those who do not live near the coast, your visit will be an opportunity to sample seafood (mariscos) that is truly fresh. You will find fish cooked either whole (entero) or filleted (filete or fileteado). One of the most common ways of preparing both fish and shrimp is al mojo de ajo (with garlic sauce). The seafood is sauteed or grilled, then served with a sauce of garlic that is simmered in olive oil until meltingly tender. A particularly unique and delicious dish - a specialty of...

Roads Less Traveled

WANDERING AROUND OAXACA Two or Three Weeks Oaxaca City & Back Before seeking out roads less traveled, spend a few days on the streets of Oaxaca city (p224) enjoying the cuisine, first-class museums and galleries, and exemplary handicrafts shopping. Take a day trip to the ancient Zapotec capital of Monte Alban (p240), one of Mexico's most impressive ancient sites. Head south on the spectacular, winding Hwy 175, climbing high into mountainous pine forests then dropping precipitously to...

Wildlife Animals

Raccoons, armadillos, skunks, rabbits and snakes are common. One critter you'll encounter is the gecko, a harmless, tiny green lizard that loves to crawl across walls and squawk at night. Michoac n and Guerrero are home to more species of scorpions and spiders than anywhere in Mexico. Both black and green iguanas are common along the entire coast. Both are prized for their meat and have been overhunted, especially in Guerrero and Oaxaca. Boa constrictors are sometimes spotted in lagoons. Rarer...

Yellow Fever

Yellow fever no longer occurs in Central America. Even so, many Central American countries, including Mexico, require yellow fever vaccine before entry if you're arriving from a country in Africa or South America where yellow fever occurs. If you're not arriving from a country with yellow fever, the vaccine is neither required nor recommended. Yellow fever vaccine is given only in approved yellow fever vaccination centers, which provide validated International Certificates of Vaccination...

Plaza de toros bullring

Porfiriato - Porfirio Diaz's reign as president-dictator of Mexico for 30 years, until the 1910 revolution PRI - Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party) the political party that ruled Mexico propina - tip different from a mordida, which is closer to a bribe Pte - abbreviation for poniente (west), used in street names puerto - port pulmon a - special type of open-air taxi similar to a golf cart Quetzalc atl - plumed serpent god of pre-Hispanic Mexico raicilla -...

Tick Bites

To protect yourself from tick bites, follow the same precautions as for mosquitoes, except that boots are preferable to shoes, with pants tucked in. Be sure to perform a thorough tick check at the end of each day. You'll generally need the assistance of a friend or mirror for a full examination. Remove ticks with tweezers, grasping them firmly by the head. Insect repellents based on botanical products, described above, have not been adequately studied for insects other than mosquitoes and...

Info

Activities 47-54, 279, see also individual Aquiles Serd n Amphitheater 75, 4, 6 Cort s de Buenaventura, Fransisco 27 cell phones 289 Centro Cultural Acapulco 208 Centro Cultural Vallartense 72 Cerro de la Santa Cruz 139 Chacahua243-4 Chacala 137-9 Chagas' disease 306 chemists 304 children food 59 health 309 travel with 279 Chimo 73 cholera 304 churches Bas lica de la Soledad 229 Colima cathedral 169 Iglesia de La Compa a 229 Iglesia de San Juan de Dios 229 Iglesia de Santo Domingo 229 La...

Barra de Navidad

The charming town of Barra de Navidad (usually simply called 'Barra') is squeezed onto a sandbar between Bahia de Navidad and the Laguna de Navidad. Barra de Navidad first came to prominence in 1564 when its shipyards produced the galleons used by conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Father Andr de Urdaneta to deliver the Philippines to King Philip of Spain. By 1600, however, most of the conquests were being conducted from Acapulco, and Barra slipped into sleepy obscurity (a state from...

Infectious Diseases Cholera

Cholera is an intestinal infection acquired through ingestion of contaminated food or water. The main symptom is profuse, watery diarrhea, which may be so severe that it causes life-threatening dehydration. The key treatment is drinking oral rehy-dration solution. Antibiotics are also given, usually tetracycline or doxycycline, though quinolone antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin are also effective. Only a handful of cases have been reported in Mexico over the last few years....

Hepatitis B

Like hepatitis A, hepatitis B is a liver infection that occurs worldwide but is more common in developing nations. Unlike hepatitis A, the disease is usually acquired by sexual contact or by exposure to infected blood, generally through blood transfusions or contaminated needles. The vaccine is recommended only for long-term travelers (on the road more than six months) who expect to live in rural areas or have close physical contact with the local population. Additionally, the vaccine is...

Surf Fishing

Surf fishing is a fun - though not always easy - way to put food in your stomach, especially when you're camping. No license is required when fishing from land, as many Mexicans still make their livelihood this way. You don't have to bring a pole - just find a local tackle shop (they're in any sizable fishing town, and some are listed in this book) and purchase a hand reel (a small piece of wood wrapped with fishing line) or rollo de nylon (spool of nylon) and some hooks, lures and weights....

Activities

With a season lasting from late March through November, Mazatl n sports several noteworthy surfing sites and a couple of great surf shops to boot. The most famous waves include two that break near downtown. Off Punta Camar n is a dependable right-hander, and north of the old fort is a famous lefty known as the Cannon. Off Isla de la Piedra (Map p112) you'll find a beach break with perfect peaks, but unless there's a decent swell you're better off grabbing a beer and watching from the beach....

Detour Monte Albn

The ancient Zapotee capital of Monte Alb n ( 951-516-12-15 admission US 3.75 h 8am-6pm) stands on a flattened hilltop 400m above the valley floor, just a few kilometers southwest of Oaxaca. It's one of the most impressive ancient sites to be found in Mexico, and it has the most spectacular 360-degree views. Its name, pronounced 'mohn-teh ahl-bahn,' means White Mountain. At the site's entrance are a very good museum (with artifacts from the site, including several skulls and a re-created burial...

Playa Cayaquitos Ojo De Agua

At Km 160 (78km southeast of Zihuatanejo), Hwy 200 rolls through the nondescript town of Papanoa, where you can gas up and purchase basic provisions. At the southern outskirts of town, Hotel Club Papanoa ( 555648-36-89 www.hotelpapanoa.com Hwy 200, Km 160 r from US 75 ) overlooks the beautiful, and almost always deserted, Playa Cayaqui-tos. The hotel, built in 1963 and well worth a few days' stay, has a good restaurant, a lovely sundeck and a clean swimming pool the rooms are spacious and...

Gay Lesbian Travelers

Mexico is more broad-minded about sexuality than you might expect. Gays and lesbians don't generally maintain a high profile, but rarely attract open discrimination or violence. There are large, lively gay communities and or gay tourism scenes in Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara (especially), and also in Mexico City, Mazatl n, and Acapulco. Gay men have a more public profile than lesbians, however. Discrimination based on sexual orientation has been illegal since 1999, and can be punished with...

Sights Activities

The University of Colima's archaeological museum (Map p164 332-22-56 cnr Ni os H roes & Glorieta San Pedrito admission US 1.50 10am-2pm & 5-8pm Tue-Sat, 10am-1pm Sun) presents interesting objects from ancient Colima state and rotating exhibits of contemporary Mexican art. At the time of research the museum was undergoing renovation it is scheduled to reopen in January 2007. C1 Ocean Pacific Adventures 3 B1 Underworld Scuba 4 C1 Brisas del Mar Hotel & Villas 5 Brisas Las Hadas Golf...

Copala

Also founded in 1565, the charming little town of Copala, 25km past Concordia on Hwy 40, was one of Mexico's first mining Travelers grown weary of the bright lights of the city are increasingly drawn to this tiny fishing village at the tip of an isolated peninsula, 126km to the south of Mazatl n at the border of Nayarit and Sinaloa. Surrounded by a rich mangrove ecosystem and in close proximity to several pristine beaches, Teacap n is prime territory for escape artists and nature buffs. The...

Playa San Francisco

You just might leave your heart in San Francisco known locally as San Pancho . The big appeal here is the beach, of course -a wide, long expanse covered in thick sand and edged with crashing waves that attract surfers from miles around. Plenty of restaurants tend the more sedate tourists who'd rather lounge while sipping a margarita. From September 26 to October 4 the town dresses up and takes part in the nine-day festival called San Pancho Days. There's a casa de cambio exchange bureau cnr Av...

Punta de Mita Playa El Anclote Around

Almost at the very northern tip of Bah a de Banderas is the Punta de Mita peninsula. Here lie some creamy strands of beaches, including Playa El Anclote, which is popular with surfers and boogie boarders. Ubiquitous seafood palapa restaurants on the beach offer great views of the bay and a distant Puerto Vallarta. Not a bad deal for those who also come to enjoy the beach, go on boat trips or try their balance in the surf. Playa El Anclote is in the village of Nuevo Corral del Risco. To get...

Information

For its size, Acapulco is woefully lacking good bookstores. The shop in the Fuerte de San Diego p207 maintains a good supply of art, architecture and history books, though most are in Spanish. Sanborns La Costera 1260 Map p204 481-24-80 La Costera 1260 h 7am-1am La Costera 209 Map p206 482-61-67 La Costera 209 h 7am-11pm You can almost always find a small selection of books and magazines in English at these department stores, as well as good road and city maps for all of Mexico. Locatel...

Playa Los Ayala

Considerably earthier and more sedate than its neighbor Guayabitos, Playa Los Ayala is shared by sun worshipers and fishermen who spend much of the day sitting in a kind of manly sewing circle, mending their nets. Boats are for hire on the beach for snorkeling trips to Isla Islote and Boca del Naranjo. A 15-minute jungle hike over the headlands at the southern end of the beach will drop you down into a secluded cove and beach called Playa del Beso Beach of the Kiss . You'll likely have it all...

Beaches

Only two beaches, Playa Olas Altas and Playa de los Muertos are handy to the city center they're both south of the Rio Cuale. The most significant of the two is Playa de los Muertos, a mile-long stretch of yellow sand dotted by palapa thatched-roof restaurants and beachfront hotels. The surf is gentle and there's rarely an undertow, making for good swimming and family-friendly conditions. From the recently constructed pier at the terminus of Francisca Rodriguez, water taxis depart for...

Snake Scorpion Bites

Venomous snakes in the region include the bushmaster, fer-de-lance, coral snake and various species of rattlesnakes. The fer-de-lance is the most lethal. It generally does not attack without provocation, but may bite humans who accidentally come too close as its lies camouflaged on the forest floor. The bushmaster is the world's largest pit viper, measuring up to 4m in length. Like other pit vipers, the bushmaster has a heat-sensing pit between the eye and nostril on each side of its head,...

Baseball

Mazatl n's baseball team, Los Venados www.vena dosdemazatlan.com makes its home at the large and modern Estadio Teodoro Mariscal Map p112 the season starts in early October and continues through March. The box office opens at 10am on game days US 1 to US 9.50 admission . Mazatlan's gay scene isn't nearly as effervescent as that in Puerto Vallarta p92 or Guadalajara, but as long as your expectations are kept in check a reasonably good time is possible. Forget cruising in Plaza Principal you'll...

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

Travelers are just starting to catch on to the traditional little Mexican fishing town of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. Fidgety sorts may find the pace of life here underwhelming, but those who enjoy simple pleasures might fall under its spell. Get to know the locals or hear the interesting stories of the expats who've made this home. Hold court in the pretty plaza, conjugating verbs beneath a shady tree, or watch a fisherman skillfully throwing his net out from the shore. Local lore puts forth that...

Wetland Depletion

Mexico's rich coastal lagoons and wetlands have experienced considerable harm in recent years from shrimp farming. Shrimp farms contribute to the destruction of mangroves, permanent flooding of lagoons, the privatization of communal fishing waters, and the introduction of massive amounts of fertilizers and chemicals. The industry is booming in Sinaloa, Nayarit and Oaxaca, and receives heavy investment from the Mexican government and the World Bank. The biggest market for Mexican-farmed shrimp...

Food Glossary

Arroz mexicana a-ros me-khee-ka-na kye-ro a-gwa mee-ne-ral a-gwa poo-ree-fee-ka-da es pee-ko-so la kwen-ta por fa-vor fried tortilla strips cooked with a red or green chili sauce, and sometimes meat and eggs chilies stuffed with meat or cheese, dipped in pastry turnover filled with meat, cheese or fruits huevos revueltos nopalitos papas fritas picadillo hwe-vos free-tos hwe-vos ran-che-ros hwe-vos re-vwel-tos no-pa-lee-tos pa-pas free-tas pee-ka-dee-yo corn tortillas dipped in chili sauce,...

Sleeping Eating

As with most places along the coast, unscreened rooms and sometimes screened rooms come with mosquito nets over the beds. Un Sue o www.unsueno.com d tr q US 55 70 90 At the east end of Playa San Agustinillo, Sue o boasts four large, freestanding beachfront cabanas. Each has its own terrace with hammock, table and chairs, and artistic touches throughout, especially in the bathrooms. Fans augment the breeze coming through slatted-shutter windows. More cabanas were being built at the time of...

Buceras

From the freeway, Bucer as looks like another road-straddling town you'd just as soon zoom by on your way to somewhere else. But turn toward the sea and you'll find a restful, traditional town that warrants an unloading of baggage and a day or two of repose. More than a few visitors have found the place so much to their liking that they've stuck around and put down roots, resulting in a smattering of smart restaurants and a choice of quality lodging. The main draw, naturally, is the expansively...