The Puerto de Manzanillo is on the southern shores of Manzanillo Bay in the western State of Colima in west-central Mexico about 250 kilometers northwest of Puerto de Lázaro Cárdenas. A popular resort city, the Puerto de Manzanillo’s manufacturing and commercial economy is based on natural resources from the waters, farms, and forests in the region.
Shipped from the Puerto de Manzanillo, exports include fish, corn, copra, lemons, bananas, canned foods, wine, lumber, and minerals. Tourists come to enjoy the gorgeous beaches to the north on Manzanillo and Santiago Bays, and resorts are quickly becoming a major part of the local economy. In 2005, almost 138 thousand people called the Puerto de Manzanillo home.
The village of Tzalahua was located on the site of today’s Puerto de Manzanillo in pre-Columbian years. In 1527, the Europeans arrived. Alvaro de Saavedra discovered Manzanillo Bay in 1527, giving it the name Santiago de la Buena Esperanza (Bay of Good Hope). The new settlement was the departure point for several major Spanish expeditions.
Gonzalo de Sandoval anchored in Manzanillo Bay looking for a safe harbor for building ships. Before he left the area, Sandoval spoke with local chieftans in a cove that is called Playa de Audiencia today. Much of Sandoval’s fleet that conquered the Philippines was built in the village. Seeking the treasures of China, Hernán Cortés’ 1533 journey to the Gulf of California was supplied with ships built in Tzalahua. Cortés used the Bay two times to escape Portuguese pirates. The Puerto de Manzanillo’s history is full of tales of pirates looting and burning ships in the Bay.
The Puerto de Manzanillo opened in 1825, named after a rich grove of manzanillo trees that were used for shipbuilding. It was designated a city in 1873, and the railroad arrived in 1889. By 1908, the Puerto de Manzanillo was linked to Guadalajara by rail. The Puerto de Manzanillo was the capital of the State of Colima briefly in 1915 when Pancho Villa assaulted the city of Colima.
The harbor and port have recently been modernized to serve today’s large ocean-going vessels. The biggest port on México’s western coast, it can accommodate ships to 30 thousand DWT.
The Puerto de Manzanillo is proud of its status as the “Sailfish Capital of the World.” Fishing tournaments are held there every November and February with rich prizes. In the 1980s, the movie “10” was filmed there, and it has been the setting for several television programs.