Worth getting out of bed for...
- Take a trek in the foothills of the Volcán de Fuego (the Colima volcano) for amazing views over the surrounding valleys to the south and the smoking behemoth filling your vision to the north.
- Arts and culture
- Culture-hunters should head to Colima city and visit the archaeological sites of El Chanal and La Campana, prehispanic religious ruins. Also check out the Museo Regional de Historia (housed within a colonial mansion in the Jardine de Libertad at the heart of the city), for beautiful examples of Tarascan ceramics. The Museo de Artes Populares at the junction of Gabina Barreda and Manuel Gallardo houses a more contemporary collection of masks, hats, sandals, costumes, puppets, toys, miniatures and weapons – many of which are still used in Colima’s festivals.
- Something for nothing
- Pop into Colima’s cathedral, the tallest edifice in the state, and admire the elegant neoclassical interiors.
- In pretty Comala you can’t move without walking into a ponche shop selling the sweet fruit liqueur made from the maguey cactus, but skip the rest and head straight to Los Portrillos at 103 Avenida Caranza. The pistachio and rasberry flavours are particularly worth a taste test. In the main plaza, La Casa de los Recuerdos (20 Cap. Llerenas) has an enchanting selection of embroidered cotton shirt and dresses. Downtown Colima is dotted with antique shops stuffed with arts and crafts, but Plaza Zentralia, the large mall on Colima’s outskirts, may lack Mexican character, but it does house some great boutiques.
- Although it’s close to two and a half hours’ drive from Colima, the gorgeous colonial city of Guadalajara in Jalisco is well worth the schlep for its impressive cathedral, arty, crafty shops, and a host of designer brand boutiques for those experiencing Prada-withdrawal.
- Best beach
- Playa Olas Altas, between Plaza Santiago and Playa Miramar, is a surfer’s paradise. On the northern side of the Santiago peninsula near Manxzanillo, Playa la Audencia is set in a beautiful cove, protected from the Pacific waves and ideal for swimming, snorkelling and sun-bathing.
- Perfect picnic
- Pick up alfresco eats at the markets in Comala or Colima, and head to the Laguna de Carrizalillo, 18km north of Comala. This little lake is the ideal spot to spread out a blanket and dine against a dramatic volcanic backdrop, and there are cabins, restaurants, and opportunities for horse riding and boating in the area.
- The jungles around the Volcán de Fuego are packed with exotic birds, lush tropical vegetation and intriguing wildlife – Volcano Tours (www.colimamagic.com) arranges day-long guided hikes of varying degrees of strenuousness, with pick-ups in Colima and Manzanillo.
- Gobsmack your kids by taking them to the Zona Magica, a stretch of road near Comala where the laws of gravity don’t seem to apply – water and round objects run uphill (or appear to), due either to an unusual optical effect, supernatural tinkering, or perhaps a tear in the space-time continuum. Who knows?
- Flota Amarilla (+52 314 332-1031) operates sport-fishing trips from Manzanillo, where you can angle for marlin, dorado and sailfish. Ocean Pacific Adventures (www.mexonline.com/opafish.htm) runs beginner-friendly deep-sea excursions from La Perlita Plaza in Manzanillo – afterwards, you can have your catch cooked free at Colima Bay Café. Horse riding excursions can be arranged at Hacienda de San Antonio, or through Hacienda Don Tomas (+52 (0)1 314 334 2744) in Manzanillo.
- Fans of Bo Derek (or even Dudley Moore) may like to note that Blake Edward's 1979 film 10 was filmed at the Las Hadas resort in Manzanillo
February Like Valencia’s Las Fallas, but on a smaller scale, the Fiestas Charrotaurinas in Colima sees the city streets fill with puppet parades, traditionally parodying important state figures. March Los Paspaques de Suchitlán in Comala is a Nahua agricultural festival venerating maize. Naturally, tacos, tortillas and tamales are consumed by the plate-load.