Most people arrive on the new, fast - and expensive - Autopista
del Sol from Mexico to Acapulco, but the coast road, whatever some old maps
may say, is perfectly feasible - if a little rough in the final stretches -
all the way from the United States border to Guatemala. Between Puerto Vallarta
and Acapulco, it's a good modern highway; unrelentingly spectacular as it forces
its way south, sometimes over the narrow coastal plain, more often clinging
precariously to the fringes of the Sierra where it falls away into the ocean.
Most buses heading down from Mazatlan turn inland to Guadalajara, but many also
continue to Puerto Vallarta, and from there on down Highway-200 towards Acapulco.
Guadalajara itself has very frequent bus connections with Puerto Vallarta, Barra
de Navidad and Manzanillo, while from central Michoacan you can head down to
the coast at Lazaro Cardenas. Zihuatanejo has direct bus services from Mexico.
Plentiful buses also run between these resorts, though you may have to change
if you're traveling long-distance. It's easy to get from Puerto Vallarta to
Barra de Navidad, and from there to Manzanillo and from Manzanillo to Lazaro
cardenas, but there are few direct services from Puerto Vallarta all the way
down. In the state of Guerrero there are occasional military checkpoints on
the roads, where all traffic is stopped and searched. Tourists usually assume
that this is for drugs, which may be at least partly true, though the check
rarely amounts to more than a peremptory prod at the outside of your case; more
importantly the hills remain wild and relatively undeveloped, retaining a reputation
for banditry and guerrilla activity. This is not something you need expect to
come across, but traveling these roads you should keep your passport and papers
handy and not carry anything you wouldn't want discovered in your possession.
Prices in the resorts, particularly for accommodation, are dictated largely by season which, in the bigger places, stretches from early or mid-December to after Easter or the end of April. In high season the swankier hotels on the Pacific coast charge about double the off-season rates and need to be booked in advance. Budget hotels vary their rates less but costs are still 20-30 percent down outside the peak season. Smaller beach towns catering exclusively to Mexicans have a shorter season, usually just December and Semana Santa, but the same rules apply.