La Costa Incognita: Pacific Mexico

Barra de Navidad

Aug 30, 2001
Outside Magazine

All the hype about pelagic fishing on Mexico's west coast has gone to Ixtapa, Manzanillo, or Mazatlán. But at Barra de Navidad, a village that feels like Zihuatanejo before all the development, the fishing is so good no one wants to talk too loudly about it. Here, a half-hour north of Manzanillo, you usually hit blue-water hot spots less than 20 miles out. And when the yellowfin tuna are running, January through July, you may meet boils of fish chasing bait less than a kilometer offshore. Marlin, sailfish, and dorado run year-round. With a dozen comfortable and affordable hotels and scores of restaurants, it's no wonder they call this the Costalegre—the Happy Coast. Hollywood agrees. The new version of McHale's Navy just wrapped, having employed almost the whole town as extras.
Ricky Zuñiga, a transplant from Anaheim returning to the village where his mother was born, runs the most professional fishing outfit in town, equipped with four boats and the area's only satellite thermal imaging system, which allows him to read water temperatures all along the coast. For cigar aficionados, he's also the town's best supplier of Cuban stogies. But you won't be puffing on a rope if you're perched in the fighting chair of his Z Wahoo, trying to muscle in a blue marlin. Zuÿiga's prices depend on the boat, from a mini-cruiser, at $330 for seven hours, to a super-panga, at $245 for seven hours, with all ice, bait, and tackle included. And you will catch fish. Guaranteed. Zuñiga prefers a catch-and-release policy for sailfish and marlin, but your catch of dorado and tuna will be filleted and frozen—except for a few you may want to take over to Pancho's, a restaurant on the ocean beach, where you can have them prepared a su gusto.

The Hotel Sands (doubles, $20 per night; 335-5-5018) is a slightly weathered wood-and-glass hotel that occupies the primo spot on the edge of the lagoon, just half a block from the main walking streets of the village. A more American-style but antiseptic alternative is the five-star Hotel Cabo Blanco (doubles, $54; 335-5-5136), set in a recess of the lagoon that has been converted into a mini-marina. Ask about its fishing packages.

Filed To: Fishing

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