La Costa Grande

Acapulco and the Coast

At the end of my last post I had just arrived in Acapulco. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know that I tend to avoid big touristy destinations and prefer to discover less known, less traveled places. Acapulco is the antithesis of this idea. But as it was directly on my route I had to pass through. I only stayed two nights though, and that was only because I had some errands to run and shopping to do.

Acapulco became famous as the place for Hollywood’s stars to vacation in the 1950s and 60s. Rita Hayworth celebrated her 28th birthday on Errol Flynn’s yacht there, Elizabeth Taylor and producer Mike Todd married there (with Debbie Reynolds as matron of honor and Eddie Fisher as best man). A group of stars including Johnny Weissmuller and John Wayne bought and ran the Los Flamingos hotel as a private club. JFK and Jackie Kennedy honeymooned there. Frank Sinatra was a frequent visitor…you get the idea.

But personally I find I just don’t like the noise and density of people in these big cities. Acapulco is great for most people though, it has everything from Irish pubs to sushi restaurants, Walmart, Starbucks, great local cuisine, great beaches, night clubs and discos… but I did not do much after running my errands. I didn’t even go to the beach. Everything is just a little bit more expensive there, and I’m on a strict budget.

In recent times Acapulco has been affected by the drug violence which plagues Mexico. Tourism is down considerably.

Here is one photo of the main drag in Acapulco for the record.

You can take a horse drawn carriage around town. Poor horse. I bet he is thinking, “How did I end up here? Is this what my life has become?”

A view of a bay near Acapulco.

Leaving Acapulco I rode a short way to Pie de la Cuesta, a small beach town up the highway. This is my kind of place. I got a cabana right on the beach. After a swim in the ocean, I scarfed down several shrimp tostadas and rested in a hammock. I had the place to myself, not one other guest was staying there. So I ended up talking to myself. This has been happening more often lately.

The view from my hammock.

You  can rent a horse and ride the beach at sunset.

Getting some exercise on the beach. Nice.

This stretch of the coast is called la costa grande, as opposed to south of Acapulco which is called la costa chica. La costa grande is much more well known and contains the popular cities of Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan.

I passed through dozens of beach towns since Acapulco. I have tried to keep them all straight for the record. If you see a place you like let me know and I can tell you about it.

The coast is rather hilly, at least for me. In this heat I hate to plan on going more than 1500 feet in elevation in one day. So again I rely on google maps to tell me the terrain when planning. So for example I am checking maps when I see then next town is about 47 km away. This isn’t far, but maps tells me the elevation gain is about 1500 feet. So I will probably call it quits at that town just because I know I will be pretty pooped after climbing those hills. On the other hand, I may plan on 80 km if the terrain is flatter.

Near San Jeronimo I crossed this big river and they had made a small waterpark right in the river. Cool.

I passed a lot of little stands where people sold juice and fruits. My favorite is coco frio, cold coconut water. They serve it right out of the coconut.

I chatted with this couple while sipping my coconut water, They were so impressed by my trip they did not even charge me. Mexico is great! A typical coconut water would cost about $1.

Another beach town, another hammock. This was in Playa Larga, just south of Zihuatanejo.

Another sunset. They never get old.

Kids running on the beach.

My hotel/restaurant one night. A typical dinner is $5-$8 which gets you shrimp, fish or octopus with tortillas, rice and salad. Lobster is a bit more, $10-$15.

Yawn…another gorgeous sunset on Playa Larga.

I continued up the coast going at a moderate pace until I reached Zihuatanejo.

Here is a trivia question for you: In what 1994 movie was Zihuatanejo mentioned?

Need a hint? Here is a clip from the film.

After Zihua I decided to take a bus for 150 km. The day I rode into Zihua three trucks passed very close by me. It was too close for comfort. The road had no shoulder so I was forced to ride in the lane. With lots of traffic both ways it was dangerous. I don’t know how close they came to my left pannier but it felt like just a few inches.

So I sat in a bus for about 1 ½ hours then rode 20 km to yet another beach town. In fact, I am now in Michoacán state, and this stretch of highway is known as the costa Michoacána. The road hugs the coast for 250 km and is dotted with hundreds of beaches. Many uninhabited, many others that support small fishing villages.

Finally! A bike lane! The first one in Mexico. The road ran through a coconut plantation.

My next stop was Playa Azul just north of Lazaro Cardenas. This guy convinced me to buy a piña colada from his roadside stand. Well, it did not take much convincing.

Cool sand formations and boy playing in the small village of Caleta de Campos

A view of la costa grande Leaving Caleta.

Plenty of Fish in the Sea

Fishing boats in the town of Pichilinguillo.

I continued northwest along the coast passing by one rustic town after the other. In Maruata, a small fishing village, I got a great cabana with a hammock 100 feet from the beach. There were about 20 guys fishing. Evidently the larger fish were feeding on the millions of minnows swimming in schools. The large fish seemed to work as a team, forcing the minnows toward shore where they had nowhere to swim. At that point the larger fish could easily gobble them up.

So the fishermen would look for these large schools of fish near the shore. The water was bubbling due to all the fish near the surface. They would run like crazy to the spot and fling their lines and lures into the water. Someone usually came away with a pretty big fish. They reeled the fish in and immediately set out again. Not wasting a minute. The kids were assigned the task of carrying the fish home. It was interesting to watch. Here is a short video.

Young boy struggling to take the fish home. They were still flopping around so he had a tough time.

Another successful catch.

A guy reeling in his catch,

These guys had nets which they threw into the swarm.

This is what all the fuss was about. The bottom of the food chain. These guys are about 1 1/2 inches long.

The beach was great as usual. This coast of Mexico is so incredible. If you like just chilling out in rustic fishing villages with few people, great weather and great beaches there are dozens along the Michoacán coast. But don’t expect much in terms of luxury. No cell service, no internet, no hot water. But there are shops for basic stuff and several basic seafood restaurants.

The view from my cabana as my clothes were drying.

My cabana. Pretty basic.

Birds feeding on a dead fish.

Well I think that’s enough for one post. I am currently in Tecoman, in Colima state and will be heading for Manzanillo  soon which is in Jalisco state. By the look of it there’s more beaches and hammocks in my near future. Stay tuned.

5 thoughts on “La Costa Grande

  1. Capt. don Sr. February 25, 2018 / 1:23 pm

    Betty and I spent a week at Xtapa and we would take the bus to Zihuatanejo every day to absorb the culture. My friend, Roger Wolf, wants us to come to visit him in either Mexico City or Alcapulco, but he is concerned for our safety, as he is you. We will someday, I suppose. Wolf and his girlfriend were in Copper Harbor on Labor Day of 2016.

    I’m more concerned about Montezuma’s revenge than I am about my safety.

    Stay safe, Kevin. We have an extra bedroom for your visit in Florida.

    • Kevin Koski February 26, 2018 / 5:22 pm

      Thanks, I think the safety thing is overblown. Violence against tourists is very rare and if you use common sense you should be ok. Montezuma’s revenge is a different story.

  2. Ben Kilpela February 26, 2018 / 10:36 am

    When the horse sees you on your bike, I wonder if he thinks: How did that guy end up here on that god-forsaken bike? 🙂

  3. Ben Kilpela February 26, 2018 / 10:43 am

    BTW, Kev, occasional reports on temps at the time you take the photos, morning, day, and evening, would be nice. I look at the great photos and wonder about the temp all the time.

    • Kevin Koski February 26, 2018 / 5:25 pm

      Hi Ben, the temps are 80-100 in the day with 70-80% humidity. Nights get cooler…down to 70-80 area. It’s been that way ever since I got to the Pacific coast. Great for laying around on the beach, but tough when you are grinding up steep hills.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *