When you visit Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo, you're traveling to two places with two very different personalities. Ixtapa boasts high-rise hotels, all-inclusive resorts, fine dining and upscale shopping. Zihuatanejo on the other hand, features folk art shops, small boutique hotels and street-style seafood restaurants serving the fresh catch of the day. While the two towns are only 4 miles apart, both offer luxurious resort accommodations and the laid-back, small town feel of Old Mexico. You can venture out to the beach for water sports such as parasailing and jet skiing, or head underwater for great diving and snorkeling. But you don’t have to be an adventurer to enjoy these towns. The resort areas here offer great restaurants, golf courses, shopping and spas. Whether you want to connect with nature outside or enjoy a luxury vacation indoors, you can do it all in Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo.
Other Destinations in Mexico
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Mapping Out Mexico
Why is Mexico everything to everyone? A quick visit to the east coast sums it up. Cancun’s got nightlife and a party scene while Cozumel offers outdoor adventure like diving and snorkeling. The west coast has even more to boast: Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta offer beaches, world-class hotels and great golf courses, making both locations perfect family vacation spots. However, adventure-minded travelers will want to head to either Mazatlan to explore historic ruins or Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, which has a similar vibe, but with the feel of an upscale city. For the escapist, Huatulco and Manzanillo boast virtually untouched natural beauty. While each destination is uniquely different, they all have their own special way of showing you the magic of Mexico.
Jump in for Great Diving and Snorkeling
Ask anyone in Ixtapa or Zihuatanejo where to go for the best snorkeling and the consensus will be clear: Playa Las Gatas.
Legend has it that a pre-Hispanic king built a reef in the water so his daughters could swim safely. Today, that reef is filled with colorful marine life that makes any snorkeling adventure a sight to be seen.
In order to get here, you'll have to take a short boat ride across the bay, but it's worth the trip. Although it's not completely secluded, this popular beach is filled with restaurants, bars and other vendors who will happily treat you like royalty.
Magic World Aquatic Park
If you have little ones, a trip to Magic World Aquatic Park in Ixtapa is an absolute must! This cozy water park caters specifically to smaller children and features a number of waterslides, shallow water pools and even a wave pool to splash around in throughout the day.
With plenty of restaurant vendors, you and the kids can enjoy a tasty lunch of hamburgers, chicken fingers and other kid favorites. With an admission price that won't break the bank, there's no reason to miss out on Magic World Aquatic Park!
Flora, Fauna, Birds and Iguanas, Oh My!
In a destination rich with natural beauty, it’s easy to find and appreciate Mother Nature’s special treasures in Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo.
If you want to see alligators, there’s a mangrove lagoon at Playa Linda that features free shows. For sightings a lot smaller and a lot cuter, look for the baby sea turtles! Many of the beaches in the area help them safely find their way to shore after hatching. If you’re looking to earn your wings, venture out to La Barra de Potosí, where you can bird watch on a boat tour of the estuary. However, if you’d rather stay close to shore, you can snorkel at Playa Las Gatas to admire the fish or check out the coral reefs at Playa Coral.
Authentic Mexican Food
Looking to start your day off right? Head over to Carmelita's in Zihuantanejo or El Arrayan in Ixtapa for a hearty, Mexican breakfast.
Carmelita’s is famous for their homemade tortillas, delicious desserts and gracious service. The restaurant has received a lot of praise from Chef Rick Bayless of the PBS show, "Mexico: One Plate at a Time."
El Arrayan in Ixtapa offers fresh fruit, vegetable juices and guacamole that is to die for! With comfy amenities such as free Wi-Fi and convenient access to Madera Beach, El Arrayan is quite popular with beach tourists looking to enjoy some tasty Mexican cuisine.
Mix Up Your Shopping at El Mercado
When you imagine yourself going to the market, you'll never think to see the exciting collage of colors that you'll see at El Mercado. Sure, you'll find fresh produce here, but the real draw to El Mercado is the crafts market. With a number of hand-made goods, you'll appreciate the craftsmanship of the local residents.
There's nothing quite like taking home an authentic piece of the local culture, and there's no better way to do that than finding the unique goods that local people craft. Not only are you going to find awesome gifts and keepsakes, but you’ll help contribute to the local economy and well-being of the people of Zihuatanejo. Now, go get your shop on!
Ixtapa/Zihuantanejo Quick Facts
The main language is Spanish, but many in the tourism industry speak English.
The official currency is the peso, but USD is also accepted.
The standard electricity supply is 110 volts with two-prong outlets
All U.S. citizens must have a valid passport when traveling to and from Ixtapa/Zihuantanejo.
Drink and brush your teeth with bottled water only.
Central Standard Time (UTC/GMT -5 hours)
The peak travel season for Ixtapa/Zihuantanejo runs from December to April.