Download: Ixtapa City Guide
There’s something for everyone here. Pearl-white beaches, combined with the allure of a quaint fishing town, offer an intoxicating blend of relaxation, beauty and culture.
Relax, swim, snorkel, dive, surf, fish, explore caves or go skydiving. Water sports abound in Ixtapa. In addition to superb deep-sea fishing, you’ll find an abundance of jet-skiing, parasailing and boating opportunities.
Take a bike tour or try golfing at a course on a nature reserve — with alligators! Children and adults alike can swim with dolphins. The staff at Tesoro’s activity desk can help you arrange a variety of excursions. If you’re looking for something less ambitious, enjoy a massage on the beach for around $20 per hour.
Just four miles and a 10-minute cab ride away, rustic Zihuatanejo boasts a beautiful view of the Sierra foothills encircling the bay. Feel your cares slip away as you stroll along the waterfront Paseo del Pescador, or “Fisherman’s Walk,” which serves as Zihuatanejo’s city center. Shops selling handmade crafts and serving traditional Mexican cuisine line the cobblestone streets and are well worth a visit.
Ixtapa is famous for its beautiful beaches and warm, shallow waters. The area is home to 10 pristine beaches along a 12-mile Pacific Coast stretch and offers a variety of water activities. Zihuatanejo Bay has four protected and tranquil beaches, with excellent places to sunbathe or water ski.
Popular beach destinations include:
This beautiful, rarely crowded beach is located between Zihuatanejo and the airport. The 15-mile beach features several small palapa restaurants, hammocks and wading pools for children. Don’t be surprised if you catch a glimpse of flamingos, endangered white pelicans and blue heron.
Playa Las Gatas
The family-friendly beach known as “Cats Beach” offers calm waters idea for snorkeling. Local vendors sell homemade ice cream, refreshments, snacks and crafts to enhance your visit to the beach, which is accessible by water taxi from Zihuatanejo.
Ixtapa’s main beach, Playa Palmar is a lovely white-sand arc on the edge of the hotel zone, with dramatic rock formations silhouetted in the sea. The surf here can be rougher, so use caution and don’t swim when a red flag is posted.
A popular destination for snorkelers, scuba divers and swimmers, Ixtapa Island is made up of a collection of beaches. Accessible by water taxi from Playa Linda, the island is home to many species of tropical fish and birds. Snorkel around coral reefs and discover a whole new world.
Playa La Ropa
This large, breathtaking beach is located in the center of Zihuatanejo Bay and is known for clear, calm waters, delicious restaurants and palm trees. Plenty of water sports are here for the asking, including parasailing, waterskiing and jet-skiing.
About a half-mile long, this beach is located in front of the downtown center. It’s a great spot for people-watching and seeing the fishermen return from their day at sea. There are several fresh seafood restaurants set up right on the sidewalk and sand, where you’ll also find palapas and lounge chairs.
A lovely alternative to more popular areas, this is a little-known, small beach in a tiny cove at the northern end of Zihuatanejo Bay. When you visit, sample some deliciously fresh seafood.
Swim with the Dolphins
Transport yourself to an extraordinary place where dolphins and people connect in a way that will last a lifetime. The dream of swimming and playing with these loveable sea wonders becomes a reality through the interactive program at Delfiniti Ixtapa, located within walking distance from Tesoro Ixtapa. Enjoy in a safe environment the amazing experience so many have already lived.
Ixtapa is home to two world-class golf courses, making it a paradise for golfers of all levels of expertise:
Marina Ixtapa Golf Course: This championship 18-hole course sports water inlets on 13 of its holes.
Campo de Golf Palma Real: Ranked as one of Mexico’s finest, this 18-hole course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and carved through dense jungle palms.
Decades ago Ernest Hemingway came to Zihuatanejo in search of sailfish. It’s no wonder; the area has been praised by anglers as one of the best big-game fishing destinations in the world. In addition to sailfish, big-game fish such as dorado, marlin, roosterfish, and yellow-fin tuna abound, as well as smaller fare including Spanish mackerel, bonito, yellowtail jacks and barracuda. Charter a boat and sail with an expert fisherman for an expedition you’ll not soon forget.
What better way to explore this tropical paradise than on two wheels? Rent a bicycle or motorcycle from Iguana’s Wild Tours and take a cruise through Ixtapa. Wonderful bike paths go for miles, allowing you to explore crocodile habitat or tour around town. www.zihuatenejomexico.net/iguanaswildtours/
In Ixtapa, you’ll find exclusive designer boutiques and renowned decorators, as well as beachwear stores and the famous arts-and-crafts market, all conveniently located along Boulevard Ixtapa.
Zihuatanejo is lined with shops, particularly in the downtown area. Stroll along Fishermen’s Walkway and take in the sights and sounds. Explore the Mercado de Artesanio Turistico, a craft market with fine goods from all over Mexico. Look for pottery, wood carvings and colorful, locally crafted Guerrero masks, which were used in traditional ceremonies and dances. Keep your eye out for fine Taxco silver.
Take some time to visit the old church or visit the art galleries on Juan N. Alvarez Street, where you’ll find the works of great artists as well as the flavor, color and warmth of Zihuatanejo. For a true slice of the local cultural, don’t miss a morning walk through the Municipal Market on the east side of the town square. In this covered bazaar, you’ll find a plethora of vendors selling fresh produce, seafood, spices, cheese and tamales.
As you shop, be aware that haggling is a very old and honored Mexican tradition. Don’t be afraid to offer less than the vendor is asking for a certain item. You may come away with a great deal.
Dining and Nightlife
The Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo area has more than 150 restaurants featuring a wide variety of local and international cuisine. Some eateries are located along the beach, allowing you to dine while enjoying a breathtaking Pacific sunset. Casual dress is preferred. Local specialties include fish and shrimp tacos, ceviche cocktail, tiritas de pescado (thin strips of marinated fish with onions), red clams, locally-caught red snapper, and lobster (in season).
A night out is the perfect cap to an idyllic Ixtapa day. Zihuatanejo has plenty of downtown bars where you can listen to the sounds of trova, salsa and boleros on the many cool terraces. Popular discotheques offer a chance to boogie the night away. Don’t miss a trip to the fun-loving Señor Frog’s. You can catch a live music performance in one of the many of the hotel lounges.
History and Culture
Inject some education into your family vacation. Learn about the history and culture of this Mexican region at the archaeological museum, Museo de Arqueología de la Costa Grande. Permanent exhibits include pre-Hispanic murals, maps, and archaeological finds. The museum has a collection of pottery and stone relics from long ago.
If you want to learn more about Mexico’s rich art history, check out Zih Galeria in Zihuatenejo. Here you can explore superb collections of contemporary art and sculpture produced by well-known Mexican artists.
How Soon Can I Go?
Just about any time of year is great for visiting Mexico and the Ixtapa area, but it can get hot and humid during the “monsoon” or “chubasco” season, from about June to September, when the rain really does pour down. Fortunately, you can usually get great sunshine in the morning, as clouds tend to build during the day.
High and low temperatures don’t vary much, but the ideal weather is between November to April, with slightly cooler, crisp, dry mornings and warm afternoons. You can find a good weather chart for temp and rain statistics as well as the current weather at the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo International Airport here.