The little Jalisco  country beach town of Barra de Navidad (pop. 5,000), whose name literally means Bar of Christmas, has unexpectedly few saloons. However, this bar has nothing to do with alcohol; it refers to the sandbar upon which the town is built. That lowly spit of sand forms the southern perimeter of the blue Bay of Navidad, which arcs to Barra de Navidad’s twin town of San Patricio Melaque (pop. 10,000), a few miles to the west.
Barra and San Patricio Melaque, locally known as Melaque (may-LAH-kay), may be twins, but they’re distinct. Barra has the cobbled, shady lanes and friendly country ambience; Melaque is the metropolis of the two, with most of the stores and services and also the best beach, long and lovely Playa Melaque.
By Air: Barra de Navidad is air-accessible either through Puerto Vallarta Airport or the Manzanillo Airport, only 19 miles (30 km) south of Barra-Melaque. While the Puerto Vallarta connection has the advantage of many more flights, transfers to the south coast are time-consuming.If you can afford it, the quickest option from Puerto Vallarta is to rent a car.
On the other hand, arrival via the Manzanillo airport, half an hour from Barra-Melaque, is much more direct, provided that good connections are obtainable through the relatively few carriers that serve the airport.
Don’t lose your tourist card; if somehow you do, arrive early enough to get a replacement (bring proof of arrival date, such as air ticket or copy of the lost document) at the Manzanillo airport migracion (tel. 315/335-3689 or 315/335-3690).
Three highway routes access Barra de Navidad: from the north via Puerto Vallarta , from the south via Manzanillo, and from the northeast via Guadalajara.
From Puerto Vallarta, Mexican National Highway 200 is all asphalt and in good condition (except for some potholes) along its 134-mile (216-km) stretch to Barra de Navidad. Traffic is generally light; it may slow a bit as the highway climbs the 2,400-foot Sierra Cuale summit near El Tuito south of Puerto Vallarta, but the light traffic and good road make passing safely possible. Allow about three hours for this very scenic trip, or more if you want a road trip  experience.
From Manzanillo, the 38-mile (61-km) stretch of Highway 200 is nearly all countryside and all level. It’s a snap in under an hour.
From Guadalajara, the quickest and easiest route, although longer, runs through Manzanillo along autopistas (superhighways) 54D, 110, and 200 D.
By Bus: Several regional bus lines cooperate in connecting Barra and Melaque north with Puerto Vallarta; south with Cihuatlán, Manzanillo, Colima, Playa Azul, Zihuatanejo, and Acapulco; and northeast with Guadalajara, via Highway 80, and Morelia and Mexico City, via the expressway. They arrive and leave so often (about every half-hour during the day) from the three little Barra de Navidad stations, clustered on Avenida Veracruz a block and a half north past the central plaza, that they’re practically indistinguishable.
Of the various companies, affiliated lines Transportes Cihuatlán and Autocamiones del Pacífico (tel. 315/355-5200) provide the most options.