This article is from the February 2002 The Mexico File
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by Gordon Jett
Gordon Jett and his wife Betty have lived in San Miguel for seven years. Gordon is a regular contributor to MF.
Playa Azul is a time warp. If you want to see what every Mexican beach town looked like 30, 40, or even 50 years ago, this is your place. Though it is in the state of Michoacan’s only beach resort, the good legislators have chosen not to develop it. Most of the streets are not paved and most of the town’s 5,000 or so inhabitants are very poor. The only thing it has going for it is miles and miles of broad, white beaches.
Two hotels stand out above several others which are too shabby to mention. Hotel Playa Azul is an older, but beautifully maintained, three-story hotel with a good restaurant and two swimming pools. One pool has a waterslide which is loaded with screaming kids on weekends. The hotel backs up to a street that runs along the beach. The beach itself has a mile or so of palapa bars and restaurants. On holiday weekends they are packed with Mexican families and greatly amplified musical groups. Hotel Azul also has a ten-space RV park behind it. Water, electricity and sewage hookups are available, but not all of the spaces have all the services in working order. Cold water showers and toilets are available to RV’ers. Manager Pedro Ambriz speaks excellent English and several others on the friendly staff do pretty well with English as well.
A newer, quieter hotel a few blocks south is called the Maria Teresa. It has 48 rooms, a good restaurant and a nice pool. The Maria Teresa can fill up on holiday weekends with tour buses. It is run by an energetic young couple, Phil and Jacqui Ochoa , who will do their best to make you comfortable and happy. Jacqui manages the restaurant and prides herself on the biggest, freshest shrimp in town. A new bar named “El Sombrero” is under construction and Jacqui assured me it will have the happiest of happy hours.
Playa Azul is so undeveloped that it does not have an ATM machine, a gas station or internet access. For those modern necessities you will have to to about five miles north to the small town of La Mira, or another twelve miles or so into the industrial city of Lazaro Cardenas. In all honesty, I must tell you that getting to Playa Azul is not half the fun. The map shows a 200 mile stretch of road south from Manzanillo to Lazaro Cardenas running along the ocean. In reality it has continuous sharp curves and steep grades with no services. Make sure you have full fuel tanks and good brakes before you attempt it. And in daylight, of course.
A new autopista (toll road) is under construction from Uruapan to Cardenas Lazaro and it will make getting to Playa Azul quicker and more pleasant. All but about 50 miles of this road are finished and usable now. Again, make sure your fuel tank is topped off before you start, because Pemex stations can be few and far between.
Due to major car trouble, I spent a lot more time in Playa Azul than I had originally planned. And the longer I stayed, the better I liked it. The people are friendly, the beach unlimited, and the pace of life was very slow. And when you get right down to it, isn’t that why you come to Mexico in the first place?