About two miles (3 kn) north of Bucerías , a rough side road to the left leads to beautiful Playa Manzanillo and the Hotel Piedra Blanca. The beach itself, a carpet of fine golden-white coral sand, stretches along a little cove sheltered by a limestone headland— thus Piedra Blanca (White Stone).
This place was made for peaceful vacationing: snorkeling at nearby Playa Piedra Blanca on the opposite side of the headland; fishing from the beach, rocks, or by boat launched on the beach or hired in the Cruz de Huanacaxtle harbor.
The Hotel Piedra Blanca (Alcatraz 36, Cruz de Huanacaxtle, tel. 329/295-5489 or 329/295-5493, reserva_hotelpblanca [at] hotmail [dot] com) is an unpretentious family-managed resort. The best of the big, plain but comfortable suites offer upstairs ocean views. All the ingredients—a tennis court, a shelf of used paperback novels, and a rustic palapa restaurant beside an inviting beach-view pool and patio—are perfect for a season of tranquil relaxation. The 41 suites ($56 d year-round, $37 d for stays of more than two weeks) have kitchenettes, air-conditioning, and cable TV; credit cards are not accepted.
Past Piedra Blanca, the highway winds for 12 miles (19 km) to Punta Mita  through the bushy summer–fall green-jungle country at the foot of the Sierra Vallejo. Although pristine only a few years ago, this stretch is now pocked with condo and villa developments that unfortunately restrict access to the emerald-forested and coral-studded shoreline. Let’s hope aroused local citizens will coax authorities to establish public access.
Rock coral, the limestone skeleton of living coral, becomes gradually more common as you move west along the Punta Mita coast, thus tinting the water aqua and the sand white. As the highway approaches Punta Mita, the living reef offshore becomes intact and continuous.