San Patricio - Melaque in the Mexican state of Jalisco is a busy community located 4+ kilometers northwest of Barra de Navidad on Bahia de Navidad. It was named for a unit of 175 mainly Irish immigrants, Saint Patrick's Battalion, that fought with the Mexican Army against the US during the Mexican-American War (1846-48). The area comprises four beachfront villages: San Patricio, Villa Obregon, Melaque all generally referred to as "Melaque and Barra de Navidad to the southwest." The small village of Melaque has been a vacation retreat for Mexicans for generations. San Patricio is a kilometer strip in the middle of the three villages that contains a colorful town square and retail shops. Villa Obregon, to the east, is much more residential. The four "municipios" form the largest community along the coast between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo. Playa Melaque is the main beach in the area to the northwest. The west end of Melaque beach is protected from the large swells found elsewhere on the beach, allowing for swimming for children and the less adventurous.
Barra de Navidad to the southweston the same beach is a laid-back coastal town 135 miles south of famous Puerto Vallarta, and only 25 short minutes away from the Manzanillo, Colima airport. It has an important historic past in that the first Spanish explorers visited this area early in 1523, over 480 years ago. It served as an anchorage when Hernan Cortes continued his exploration of the Southern Sea
A viceroy named it Puerto de Navidad (Port of Christmas), because the Spanish explorers landed on Christmas Day. Since the town he built was on a sandbar, the name was later changed to Bar of Christmas.
Barra de Navidad became a town of shipbuilders and buccaneers, its beaches being used to build vessels that would sail as far as the newly-discovered Philippines, in search of gold.
Today, Mexico and the Philippines share the same currency: the peso, with different monitary values. In 1559, a decree from King Phillip II of Spain arrived in Mexico, ordering another fleet to sail west to the Philippines. All western Mexico was mobilized in support of this fleet. Roads were built to ferry supplies to the area where the ships were to be built. To this day, the main Guadalajara-Melaque / Barra de Navidad road (Hwy. 80 through Autlan, a 5- hour drive) is known to some as the Philippine Way. Food, planks, sails and rigging all had to be acquired and transported to the port.
The expedition finally set sail on the 21st of November 1564, under the command of Lopez de Legazpi. To prevent any mutiny, Legazpi kept his crew in the dark about their true destination until the boats were already well on their way. Lopez de Legazpi remained in the Philippines and placed his 17-year-old grandson in charge of finding a way back to Mexico, a feat never previously accomplished. The attempt was successful, but when the expedition reached Acapulco, the crew was so exhausted; no one had the strength to drop the anchor. A small monument of Legaspi in Barra de Navidad's plaza commemorates these explorations.
Barra de Navidad is approximately 135 miles south of Puerto Vallarta in the central western part of Mexico on the Pacific Coast. It is in the state of Jalisco, about 10 miles north of the state line of Colima, the dividing line being the Cihuatlan-Marabasco River. The Manzanillo airport (ZLO) is only 25 minutes or 14 miles from Melaque and Barra de Navidad.
The Pacific Ocean greets Barra de Navidad on one side of the sand bar, and on the other is a natural lagoon, Laguna de Navidad and to the northwest Melaque. Altitude ranges from sea level along the coast to more than 14,000 feet in Jalisco's Sierra Madres. (The peaks of the volcanoes at 14,200 and 13,000 feet are actually in the state of Jalisco; only the base of the Volcan de Colima is in the state of Colima.) These mountains have erupted wiinin the last couple of years.
During the winter months, the climate in Melaque ranges from 75-82 degrees F during the day, while nights see about a (cooler) ten-degree temperature difference. In summer, temperatures are slightly warmer (by 5-10 degrees), but when it rains (every 4-5 days), it cools everything off and leaves the lush tropical foliage green and clean.
Tourists to the area enjoy the finest fresh seafood in the world, including red snapper, dorado, marlin, sailfish, tuna, mahi mahi and an array of shell fish. You'll see the fishermen every morrning coming in with their catch of the day. Cultured oysters and clams are harvested daily from the lagoon in front of the small village of Colimilla, just a 5 minute trip by water taxi, from the town center.
The bays and lagoosn are a source for shrimp, clams and oysters, while the ocean is known for its fresh seafood, including fish, octopus and lobster. The surrounding mountains are great for hiking, bicycling and camping, while the Marabasco River to the south is perfect for swimming or trapping langostina (fresh water lobster).
Fruits and vegetables grown in the area include chile peppers, squash, mangoes, papayas, tomatoes, bananas, limes and coconuts. One of the largest coconut and banana plantations in the world is located just outside of Melaque and Barra de Navidad.
The fruits and vegetables that are available in the markets in the area are all grown naturally and locally and are very inexpensive. Many times trucks will come to town with fruits from other regions, and you will be able to sample watermelon of 5 varieties, cantelopes, pineapples, and strawberries.
Thousands of tourists flock to the area each year to spend the winter. A 4-mile-long, curving beach extends all the way from Melaque to Barra de Navidad. Along the way there are many quaint thatched-roof restaurants, bars and shops.
To the south, Playa de Navidad ends at the jetty to the harbor, where there's a picturesque overlook and a statue of Neptune. Because the corner of the bay is protected, it is often possible to swim and snorkel near the jetty.
On the lagoon side there are numerous pangas (small open-bowed fiberglass fishing boats) for rent. Guests from the local hotels can take a tour of the lagoon or a tour of the bay. If you take the water taxi across the lagoon to Isla Navidad or the friendly little village of Colimilla, the charge is 10 pesos each way. You will enjoy the unusual experience of getting around by water taxi. Most people come to Melaque and Barra de Navidad because of their laid-back ambience, and its "authentic Mexican village" feel. The friendly people there cherish the mix of foreigners and Mexican nationals, and though still a small town, there is lots of potential for growth.
No need for cabs here, visitors can walk everywhere ot take a 5 peso local bus, and Melaque and Barra have designed several blocks of pedestrian walkways and seawalls where no auto traffic is allowed. Enjoy the new updated beach restore to a pristine beauty following the damage from 2012 hurricane. Melaque and Barra de Navidad have there doors open and beckoning the tourists to come. Come, see and experience all that this beautiful beach community has to offer. "hang out" at the beaches and experience Melaque and Barra de Navidad for yourself and find out why it is becoming world travelers destination of choice !