This Southern part of the Pacific Coast doesn’t get one-half the visitors the Northern Pacific Coast and Central Pacific Coasts do. I’ve been writing about driving tourism to Mexico since the early 1980s and it hasn’t always been a poor relation to Jalisco et al. It’s not that it lacks in attractions. Hardly. There are stunning beaches with much better waves for surfers than anything farther north. There are jungle-like forests with unique bird species. There are turtle sanctuaries galore. There’s even a “made-for-tourists” resort at Ixtapa with all the luxury and first-class hotels to compete with Cancun.
So what’s the problem? Times have changed. People’s expectations of travel have compacted. I don’t believe there are nearly as many American and Canadian tourists who want to explore beyond the tried and true. They want to get to a beach and stay there. Few are driving for the sheer joy of discovery. Of course, some do and I love talking to customers like that. But more and more are driving because it is the most economical, least stressful way to get where they are going. Getting there is no longer perceived as the adventure it used to be. Traffic is up for the Pacific coast from San Carlos, Sonora, to Puerto Vallarta and down the hump of the coast just before Manzanillo. There are more RV parks in the Vallarta Corridor today than there were 10 years ago. For those driving cars and trucks, there are plenty of new hotels with comfy beds to rest their weary heads.
After Manzanillo, there are few hotels, fewer new ones and even fewer RV parks. Part of the decline (before Covid-19 blew up the tourism industry) is understandable. You’d have to have your head in the sand to miss the frequent news stories about cartel violence and the taking over of entire towns in Michoacán. Acapulco is presented as a shooting gallery strewn with headless corpses. This area of the coast is mostly in Michoacán and Guerrero. Heck, neither of these sound like places to relax and catch a
few waves. If all I knew about the area was what I read in the papers (or on the Internet), I’d be scared to go too. Fortunately, I have the perspective of having visited these areas for forty years. And I have the perspective of geography.
You see, Michoacán is a medium-sized state. The troubles are going on mainly in the NW parts of the state with Apatzingán at the center. The toll road MEX-37D goes through this area. The citizens of Michoacán are very proud of that highway and always recommend it, no matter how far out of the way it takes you. I don’t. The coast road MEX-200 is a better choice, IMO. In a way, this part of Mexico is ahead in taking safety measures against Covid-19. Before the pandemic, several little towns in the area had a “local guard” with roadblocks on the highway. They wanted to make sure only “good” people like you and me drive through. Today, these intermittent stops may also check your temperature for health reasons. This is just one more reason to stick with the old road.
Major RV Parks from Michoacan to Guerrero
These are the most established, “regular” RV parks in the area. There are many less organized, suitable for small rigs or camper vans or pickup trucks only. These are usually right on the beach with limited facilities. Still, those who stay in them usually rave about them. One caveat – do not save a few pesos and camp on the beach. While this is a pretty safe area, being stupid anywhere usually gets you in trouble. Also, I’ve noticed a number of restaurants with camping have pit bulls and resident drunks, who like their music loud from 10 PM to 3 AM. If you’re going to try an “unauthorized” camping spot, check it out before you decide.
La Placita, Michoacán
Rancho Bugambilias RV Resort
- GPS: N- 18.51139, W -103.58417
- Phone: 619-385-1133 or 619-458-1133
- Website: https://ranchob.com/
For those of you who’ve been traveling Mexico for a while, you might experience déjà vu or think I screwed up. Neither is true, at least this time. This venerable old park was open for years and a favorite on this trail. Then it closed. Now, it has reopened. This is a testament to the increased traffic returning. This place is a dream come true for those of us who tire of overcrowded trailer parks. It is 8 ½ acres on a hill with a view of the deep blue Pacific. The sites all have full hookups and are 6 to 7 meters wide.
Tenting is okay. 10 Boondock sites. 12 large sites. 6 sites of 50 feet.
El Manglar Trailer Park
- GPS: 17.6262, -101.5444
- Locale: Playa La Ropa
- Phone: (755) 554-3752
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElManglarRvPark
- 52 755 554 3752
This is a well-established RV Park. It has 10 spaces EWS. Sometimes nearly full at capacity during the winter.
Real de la Palma RV Park
- GPS 17.62459, -101.54189
- Locale: Playa las Gatas
Not to be confused with the hotel by the same name. This is closer to El Manglar. I found one rave review on iOverlander, but few details. Checked with another source and it exists as of Jan 2020.
Fonatur Ixtapa RV Park
- GPS: 17.696638, -101.646714
- Locale: Blvd Playa Lind
- Telephone: (755) 552-0295, Telephone 2: (755) 552-0296
This is the best place for big rigs. It has decent Wifi. Site have 30 AMP hookups. Amenities include a swimming pool. It is a long way from town. The beach is not the best. They do not allow pets. If you sneak one in, be careful as there are alligators in the estuaries.
Troncones RV Park and Casa Canela
- GPS: 17.777222, -101.716667
- Locale: Troncones Beach
- RV Park Website: http://www.tronconesrvpark.com/
- Hotel Bungalows Website: http://www.casacanelatroncones.com/
- Telephone: 011 52 (755) 103-0081.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Beach Road, Troncones, Guerrero, Mexico
This park and hotel is 20 minutes north of Ixtapa. Unique spot for unique visitors. The RV Park has only 3 sites. The park motto is: “No Concrete. No Crowding. No stupid Rules.”
They have all hookups. It’s a great place to learn about the local area. Activities include fishing, surfing. Things you’ll see include turtles, whales, and overlooks a pristine beach.
Besides the RV spaces, they now have two rental cabins to share the view. (Casa Canela Troncones). They do not allow pets. The rentals are called ” mini-resorts”, so you can expect to get more than your money’s worth if you stay here. Very friendly and erudite owners. Also onsite a pool, bar, BBQ etc.
After arriving in Troncones, turn left on the beach road. We are 500 meters long, on the left-hand side. See the sign for Casa Canela. Use the second gate
Playa Azul, Michoacán
H. Playa Azul
- GPS: 17.982106, -102.353741
- Locale: Av. Venustiano Carranza s/n
- Telephone: (753) 536-0088
11 EWS back-in sites for rigs up to 30 feet. Only offering 15 AMP service.
The Hotel has 2 pools, it’s an older park. The hotel is a
favorite of mine. It is inexpensive, mainly Mexican clientele, and friendly. A good deal.
Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacán
Hotel Playa del Aguila
- GPS: 18.02045, -102.48747
- Locale: Ctra. 200, Acalpica KM 16, Las Peñas
- Email: email@example.com
- Telephone: 753-110-6596
Amazing considering this is an oil town. Resort-like in front of the ocean. Pool. Tropical trees. This hotel is of good value.
“Mexico” Mike Nelson has been writing about Mexico for forty years. He currently offers road logs (guidebooks) for drivers and personalized trip-planning from his website, https://www.mexicomike.com
MexInsurance.com® – providing quality RV and Car Insurance for Mexico online since 2003.