In the mountains of Colima the night before we made the “big decision” on wether to drive the lost coast or head inland to Guadalajara, I could tell that Sam really wanted more beach time so I told him we should definitely head back to the ocean and drive the 250 kilometers of the lost coast. Decision made!
Michoacan is one of the most picturesque states in Mexico, it is not very developed, it is the agricultural heart of Mexico growing produce such as avocados, limes and coffee, and it has jaw dropping scenery. It is also one of the states in Mexico that is considered dangerous to travel in due to the large amount of drug activity in it. Highway 200 has advisory warnings for driving it because of road blocks and hijackings (mostly at night). My Mom keeps sending us articles about the drug war escalation that is happening in the state, and from the news articles it looks scary as shit to travel in. The good news is I read all of this after we spent eight blissful days driving highway 200 along the stunning coast with not one run in with banditos.
We could tell fairly quickly by the huge military convoys and check points that this might be a hot zone (there were sometimes 3 or 4 trucks with 20 men at a time ready for battle). However, we felt safe, especially because this area is so sparsely populated. The police are doing a good job locally and the military presence is everywhere, even on the busier beaches. I feel more “at risk” in huge urban cities in the US to be honest. The people in the towns were kind to us and we never felt in danger. We spent most of our time almost alone on beaches, and if we were not alone, we were surrounded by Mexican families enjoying the beach with their kids. It was the first time I really felt like I was in “old school” Mexico. This is what we had been looking for.
This area of Mexico is almost completely undeveloped and gives you a feeling of what the Pacific coast of Mexico was like 40 years ago before the beach resorts and condos took over. We had only two “official” campgrounds the entire week, the rest of the time I asked people if we could camp near their restaurant on the beach. We did not have wifi for almost ten days, not one person spoke English and we spent New Years alone on a beach.
Below are the beaches we visited on the Michoacan coast:
This is a surf beach with a few established palapa campgrounds filled with mostly Mexican surfers. It was still very overcast while we were there, but I am sure the beach is even more stunning in the sun. Very small town square with a few taco stands. We camped here and it was a nice vibe.
Faro de Bucerias-
This is a stunning beach. The sand is golden and the water pale aqua blue. It is a small cove that is safe for swimming and it is a beach I would go back to in a second. We stayed next to a house owned by one of the local Nahua women (the Nahua own most of the beach front area). It was super safe and really peaceful. Here we also met an awesome family from Guadalajara who we spent the afternoon with drinking tequila and trying to communicate in our first grade Spanish. Their generosity to strangers was humbling and made we wish desperately that I spoke better Spanish. They have been coming to this beach for 20 years and I absolutely know why, it was a hidden gem.
Just a side note:
We did have two minor road blocks, the first one scaring us a little even though I am sure it was harmless. Both of them were not by drug cartels, but by some of the indigenous tribes trying to get extra money. The first one there was a rope across the road held by about 10 people wearing witches masks (the looked like the tribal masks we saw in the markets). Sam and I had a WTF moment between us (the masks were a little intimidating to say the least…) but we felt ok about the situation overall. We decided we were not going to stop and waited up the highway until a large truck came from the opposite direction, crossing quickly as they dropped the rope. The other road block was large rocks across the road in one of the towns. I did not like this one because it felt a little more “permanent” and the people around it looked really grumpy. We avoided that one by driving through a dirt side road and exited the small town another way. It was good practice for Chiapas where we heard rope road blocks are common.
Part two of the lost coast next. More beaches and a very mellow New Years.