For this trip in November & December of 2019 we decided to try something different, going by bus from Puerto Vallarta all along the Mexican coast ending in Huatulco (La Crucecita), a distance of 1,467 km.
I was super busy renovating my studio plus putting on a major art show, which resulted in no time for trip planning. At one point Al told me he had looked into bussing our way down the coast and, “we may have bitten off a bit more than we can chew. Some of those bus rides are going to be 15 hours!”
A bit of last-minute research on my part showed that a) none of the rides were 15 hours and b) buses in Mexico are difficult to check out online.
Since we have friends who think they might want to duplicate the PV to Zihuatanejo portion of the trip I am putting down here the things we learned on this coastal meandering.
Booking the bus from PV to Manzanillo.
Checking out this bus trip online, the excellent (but somewhat lacking in oversight) website RometoRio produced a link to Grupo Estrella Blanca which had a 5 1/2 hour bus ride to Manzanillo.We spent one morning in PV on a mission to locate the bus station, the mythical ‘El Central’. Catching a local bus we asked the driver to let us know when we had arrived at the right stop.
On the way we met a couple from Quebec who, dragging their suitcases aboard, were headed for the airport. There was, they said, a bus station right in town that had buses, “at least to La Manzanilla”. The airport appeared, they got off. But apparently we weren’t there yet.
Or yet, or yet, or yet. Finally the driver indicated that we were THERE! We got off staring at the dusty roads. Asking a few locals had us heading down a street but no bus station appeared before us.
Another set of directions and we found a bus station! But not the right one, leading me to point c) in Mexico, different bus lines often have a different bus stations.
Finally, in the middle of nowhere, we found the Central Camionera. Here there were buses to Manzanillo, both the Estrella Blanca ones we had seen online plus additional Primera Plus ones that I hadn’t seen before.The important thing to note here is that the Primera Plus schedule is not that great for Manzanillo. The 8:00 bus is too early to catch and the 16:30 arrived in Manzanillo too late so we ended up booking the 1:00 pm (13:00) Grupo Estrella Blanca bus for December 1st and left the station quite pleased with ourselves. Getting back into the town of Puerto Vallarta was another complicated story and I will leave it to your imagination.
At any rate on December 1st we caught a 250-peso taxi to the bus station. We arrived 20 minutes beforehand, we waited, the bus arrived. Our luggage was loaded onto the bus – Al holding out his hand for the luggage tags, the luggage loader holding out his hand for a tip. An exchange was made. Before we were allowed on the bus we were each handed a lunch bag and a cold drink.
And we were off, backtracking through Puerto Vallarta all the way we had come in the taxi, and then further along past the Botanical Gardens, taking almost 1 3/4 hours to cover what was well-travelled territory.
At this point I would like to note that our friends D+E , who are planning to follow roughly the same route as us, also mentioned a ‘bus station’ in town.
I told them, “But the bus never stopped into town – he just kept going along the highway.”
“He would have stopped if you had bought a ticket there,” my friend declared. This turned out to be true. Once in Mexico, my friends left from the Carranza Street Primera Plus station (exactly where they thought it was on the map) at 8:45 arriving in Melaque around noon, thus saving three-quarters of an hour’s worth of bus travel and a 250-peso taxi ride. There is also 12:30 bus to Melaque, probably arriving in central Puerto Vallarta around 1:15 and in Melaque about 4:15. Melaque is not a bad place to spend a few days with easy local bus access to Barra, La Manzanilla and Colomilla plus a choice of several full-fledged buses going to Manzanillo an hour or so away. So back to our trip. The lunch bag we received contained a Bimbo croissant with ham and cheese and some galletas (cookies), both quite edible and accompanied by a peach yogurt that I had purchased in town.
The bus made only one stop, at Melaque, and the snack vendors crowded on to sell their wares before we departed. When I had checked out Manzanillo online I had seen that the ‘Bus Station’ in that city was only a few blocks from the hotel we had booked. But I was forgetting that c) in Mexico, different bus lines often have a different bus stations. So in fact, the bus we had caught in the middle of a dusty industrial zone in PV arrived in the middle of a dusty industrial zone in Manzanillo.
Because of this we decided to book the next leg of our trip to Lázaro Cárdenas while we were still at the station…