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Don't confuse Ixtapa with Isla Ixtapa; Ixtapa is on the mainland, while Isla Ixtapa is an island a short distance to the north of Ixtapa itself and  It's worth a visit.
Just four miles separate Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa, but the history and experiences of these two towns on Mexico's West Coast are far from alike. One is centuries old, while the other's entire history can be measured in decades. But both are sure to captivate your interest.
Zihuatanejo's name is derived from the indigenous Nahuatl language. It means "Place of Women," and references Calzonzin, the ancient Taraskan King who would bring his many wives here for some relaxation and recreation.
In the 17th Century, Chinese ships carrying Oriental treasures would stop here on their way to New Spain, only to find they were unwelcome visitors, as pirates robbed them of their riches. Of course, visitors now are more than welcome to explore Zihuatanejo's small village charm and rustic setting.
For those seeking an all-inclusive tourist experience, Ixtapa is the place for you. In the 1970s, Mexico's Federal Government sought a tourist-friendly site and found everything they needed just north of Zihuatanejo. White sand beaches and white rocky islands made for a pristine vista. They again chose a word from Nahauatl, naming their new nirvana Ixtapa, or "the white place."
Having two cities so close together geographically yet so different in character is advantageous for the traveler looking for a little of everything. Take a nature hike along Zihuatanejo's coastline and see parts of Mexico unchanged since pre-colonial times. Visit a mango or coconut plantation, or observe the tranquility of local fishing villages. Then, when you're tired of roughing it, allow yourself to be treated to every amenity you can fathom in Ixtapa. Play a round of golf at one of two world-class golf courses, and enjoy the breathtaking vistas afforded here.
The port of Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo has been a popular choice for ships making extended Mexican Riviera voyages. However, significant cutbacks on trips to peripheral Mexican Riviera ports have left this port with a much reduced schedule.
In 2015, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo is slated to host 13,700 passengers sailing on 12 cruise ships, up 585% and 1,100% from 2014.

Docking & Local Transportation
Cruise ships dock at the Port of Zihuatanejo, located just minutes from both downtown regions. Taxis and shuttle buses are available as you leave your cruise ship, ready to take you to your coastal destination.
You don't need transportation to take advantage of Zihuatanejo, as everything you need is within walking distance. If you want to explore Ixtapa, taxis are readily available and not very expensive (about $4 each way). Several shore excursions feature bus transportation to Ixtapa. Buses have the destination listed on the front so you can easily tell which one to board. There are water taxis to the little snorkeling beaches of Las Gatas and La Ropa.
However, if you make the trip between midnight and 5am, the cost increases, so be prepared to pay $5-$6. While crowded, the shuttle buses are a safe alternative to taxis. The buses run three or four times per hour. Buses can be picked up three blocks north of the market in Zihuatanejo, with many stops along Ixtapa's main road, Bulevar Ixtapa.
Things to See and Do
If you can tear yourself away from the beautiful beaches, take the opportunity to learn about Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa's history. A short stroll through the Museo Arqueológico de la Costa Grande (755/554-7552) will whisk you back to pre-colonial times, when the area was known as Cihuatalán. Stone artifacts and ancient pottery lend credence to the idea of an extensive trade network that once existed in this region. English language brochures are available. Open 10am to 6pm, Monday through Saturday.
For the avid fisherman, fishing trips are available through the Cooperativo de Pescadores Azueta (755/554-2056). This is an all day excursion, and the cost includes all the soft drinks and beer you can handle, along with gear and bait. You're going to have to catch your lunch though, as it is not provided. In Ixtapa, fishing expeditions run through the new Marina Ixtapa, north of the hotel zone. It's a little more expensive, as are most options in the more-commercialized Ixtapa.
To take in the countryside and get away from the more crowded towns, head south fourteen miles on a tour of the Barra de Potosí Lagoon. Tours are available through any local travel agency, and cost around $60. You'll see coconut and mango plantations and a sleepy fishing village. Plus, enjoy a little more serenity at the secluded beaches. Again, plan on making a day of this, as the tours generally last 5 - 6 hours.
El Faro
This lighthouse, located at the end of Las Gatas beach, is about a 15-minute walk down a flagstone path from the Las Gatas Beach Club. The view is spectacular and includes the small islands in front of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo Bay.
Mercado de los Artisan
 This open market in Zihuatanejo has hundreds of stalls with crafts people selling everything from blankets to ornate silver items. Unlike the shops in Ixtapa, real bargains can be found here.
Museo Arqueologico de la Costa Grande
 Located at the end of the malecon (beachfront street) in Zihuatanejo, the museum houses artifacts from as early as 3000 B.C. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday; admission is about $1.
Any avid fisherman will love the region's incredible boasting opportunities. Just a few minutes at the dock in mid-afternoon will show you what is available as the small guideboats return from their excursions with gigantic marlin and sailfish. In fact, there are two hanging hooks, one on either side of the dock, for photo ops with your catch.
Playa La Ropa
Gentle surf and a family atmosphere surround the main swimming beach of Zihuatanejo. If you have time after a shore excursion, or if you just want a kicked-back day, this beach is accessible via a footpath (about half an hour's walk from Zihua) or by taxi (about 5 minutes and $3).
Playa Las Gatas
Accessible by water taxi from the main dock (about $3 each way), this protected inlet is also a great snorkeling spot. Have lunch or a cold one at one of the many beachfront restaurants or enramadas.
Playa el Palmar
The main beach in Ixtapa, it's nicely groomed and usually crowded with hotel guests as it runs along the strip that houses the high-rise hotels.

Located about 16 miles north of Zihua, this rugged coastline is known as one of the best surfing spots in all of Mexico. It's also a site of sea turtle nests, virgin beaches and tidepools. Above the beaches are rugged mountains; a short hike up the mountainside takes you to La Majahua caverns and the zipline platforms, where you can soar above the jungle on rope harnesses.
Barra de Petosi
This seaside village is home to the region's most important ecological preserve, the wildlife sanctuary lagoon. Located approximately 15 miles south of Zihuatanejo, it also boasts the balmy beach of Playa Larga with over nine miles of unspoiled coastline, and family-run beachfront restaurants (enramadas) where you can enjoy fresh fish and a beer. Horseback riding in the surf is also available here.
So many beaches, so little time. Playa Municipal is Zihuatanejo's town beach. A great spot for people watching, it's easy to spend an entire day here. The biggest beach in Zihuatanejo is Playa La Ropa, a great beach for catching the sunset. If you're a swimmer, then Las Gatas is for you. A quieter beach than the others, it offers the clearest water you'll find. It's across the bay from Zihuatanejo, but well worth the short boat trip.
In Ixtapa, don't miss the rock formations that frame Playa Vista Hermosa. Although not the place for swimming, the scenery is simply stunning. Playa del Palmar is the main beach, with beautiful white sand as fine as silk. Petacalco Beach is famous for its perfect waves and delicious seafood restaurants directly adjacent to the beach.
Playa Larga - It is ideal for beachcombing and horseback riding. Various restaurants here offer exquisite seafood and drinks. Playa el Palmar - The waves are usually moderate but can become quite strong. The beach is in the Ixtapa hotel area and offers excellent facilities, including gear rental for all kinds of water sports, and fine eateries. 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. A broad stretch of pleasantly-soft sand, a walkable 2.37 kilometers (1.5 miles) long. It is known as the “Ixtapa Hotel Zone” because the majority of the hotels in Ixtapa are in this zone. The surf can be rough; use caution, and don't swim when a red flag is posted. The seascape here is punctuated by Ixtapa’s signature islets called Los Morros, just offshore. It is important to mention that beside from being one of the most beautiful beaches is the longest beach in Mexico and has been certified by the National Environment Commission as one of the cleanest beaches in the country.

Playa Quieta - With calm waters is ideal for swimming and kayaking, and - further away from shore, for windsurfing and some other water sport. It is acoss Grande Island, also known as Ixtapa Island. Three major beachfront hotels are located here, making this area a “second hotel zone”.

Playa Linda - A 10-minute drive from the Ixtapa Hotel Zone. Set in the middle of a splendid landscape, this beach offers pleasant and tranquil surf. Located about 13km (8 miles) north of Ixtapa. There are inexpensive water taxis ferry passengers to Isla Ixtapa. Playa Linda is the primary out-of-town beach, with watersports equipment and horse rentals available. Beside the road is a beautiful mangrove and the famous Crocodile Farm, where you can see crocodiles swimming and resting in the sun.

Isla Grande o de Ixtapa - This is a small island with 4 beautiful beaches. On Coral Beach, in the northern part of the island, a place called “Morro Colorado” with crystal clear waters, is one of the best places for snorkeling. Sailing, windsurfing and waterskiing is excellent in front of “Varadero Beach” and “Cuachalalate Beach”. “Carey” is frequented for sunbathing. The ten-minute boat ride to Ixtapa Island leaves from Playa Quieta. There is also the option to take a boat from the municipal pier of Zihuatanejo, which will take about 30 minutes. Both routes offer frequent departures starting from 10:00, with the last return at 17:00hrs.
Water Sports
For magnificent snorkeling, a trip to Isla Ixtapa is a must. Boats leave from Playa Linda six times an hour between 11:30am and 5:00pm. Scuba diving can be arranged through the Zihuatanejo Scuba Center (755/554-2147). Sailboats and windsurfers are available for rent throughout the area.
Ecoturistic Park "The Chanequera" - Here you can take a tour aboard a trajinera” (small boats normally rowed or poled) through the estuary. The park is a reserve and spans about 50 hectares (123 acres) of mangrove, and is ideal for nature lovers. There is a wide variety of birds, and you will also see iguanas and crocodiles. The ride lasts approximately an hour and a half. El Refugio de Potosí – This is a center for wildlife conservation and environmental education located just one mile from Playa Blanca and 15 miles from Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo. The park's vegetation mostly consists of tropical forest with a high number of endemic species of plants, reptiles, mammals and invertebrates. The ecological park features: An Observation Tower 15 meters high with a panoramic view; a Tropical Trail, where you can see native plants; a butterfly farm with ponds, streams and waterfalls; an iguana sanctuary, with green and black iguanas; a Macaw Sanctuary wtih a wildlife pond; and Hummingbirds Sanctuary, with abundant plants. Schedule: Daily 9:00 to 17:00 hrs
The 18-hole Palma Real Golf Course was design by Robert Trent Jones Jr.This par 72- 6,898 yards golf course is in perfect harmony with the environment, a former coconut plantation with natural lakes, lagoons and lush tropical vegetation along the Pacific coastline . Rolling expanses of fairways and greens are rimmed by tall coconut palms and dotted with water holes and three blue lakes. It is also a wild reserve with a variety of birds and some alligators in the lakes. Golfers see and hear a variety of exotic birds such as parrots, macaws, cardinals, and a rare and peculiar species of eagle called pescador (“fisherman”) because it feeds exclusivelyon fish from the lakes. Seen but not heard are rabbits and “giant" iguanas. Do not attempt to retrieve balls from the water hazards because crocodiles live in some of them! They usually repose submerged and out of sight, however they do stroll around at dawn. The golf course at Marina Ixtapa is an 18-hole course designed by Robert Von Hagge. It has been rated as one of Mexico's top courses by Golf Digest. The course is par 72, 6793-yard course with meandering canals, 12bridges, and a dunes-style topography. Known for meandering canals and rolling dunes-style topography, it features more than a mile of canals that provide fun, recreation and transportation routes between Marina Ixtapa’s private village, the clubhouse, and other facilities. Rolling terrain covers 136 acres, with expansive sand traps and water hazards guarding 14 of the 18 holes.

Sport Fishing
Ixtapa- Zihuatanejo was named the second-most popular fishing destination by the Saltwater Sportfishing Magazine. The waters around the resort are rich in game fish, sailfish, black and blue marlin are the primary lure for fishermen most of the year. Five to ten miles offshore, there are also large schools of yellowfin tuna and dorado. Closer to the shore, there is an abundance of high-flying roosterfish, hard-fighting grouper, Spanish mackerel, wahoo, bonito and barracuda. The best fishing season goes from December through March. Light tackle angling and fly-fishing are also available. The offer ranges from a fleet of Mexican-designed 25-foot super pangas to 28- to 40-foot handcrafted, well-maintained custom cruisers, and modern luxury yachts. These coastal waters quickly reach a depth of over1,000 fathoms, therefore exciting action can occur anytime after leaving port. The destination has gained renown through its world-class sport fishing tournaments, like “The International Sailfish Tournament” in May. Primary venues are Zihuatanejo Bay and Marina Ixtapa which has over 600 slips and full facilities for pleasure cruisers and sportfishers.
Eating Out
There are many, many lunching spots in both Zihua and Ixtapa, depending on the food and atmosphere you desire. Take your pick of an upscale restaurant in a five-star resort in Ixtapa, or a little "enramada" hut along the beach at Playa Larga or a small botega open to the Playa Principal in Zihuatanejo. Some picks:
La Rana Rene, Sirena Gorda or El Mediterraneo (Paseo del Pescador): Located facing the Playa Principal and Zihuatanejo Bay, these three restaurants are open to the sea breezes, a great view of the fishing boats coming in, and your ship at anchor. It's a perfect spot for fish tacos, fresh guacamole and a couple of Dos XX or Coronas.
El Pueblito (Ave. Morelos #249, Zihuatanejo): This local Zihua eatery featuring regional specialties -- pozole on Thursdays and barbacoa on Sundays -- gives you the taste of real Mexico. Try their marrow soup or Lengua con Mole.
The Inn at Manzanillo Bay (Troncones Beach): If you're going to Troncones for the day, have lunch here on a breezy porch overlooking the ocean. True gourmet fare is served, via a classically trained chef, who incorporates local produce, seafood and recipes into his creations.
El Galeon (Plaza Marina Ixtapa): In Ixtapa's small boat harbor, housed in a replica of an ancient sailing galleon, this restaurant and bar is very popular. The food is eclectic with some regional specialties.
Casa Morelos: Located in La Puerta shopping center in Ixtapa, this restaurant serves fine regional specialties.
La Perla: On Las Ropas beach, this restaurant serves only fresh oysters, tuna, dorado, octopus and other daily catches plus fresh meat and poultry. Palapas and umbrellas line the beach, too. But this place really comes alive on weekends because of its satellite television sports bar, where locals and gringos meet to cheer their favorite teams.
Pricey but priceless, Villa de la Selva (755/553-0362) on Paseo de la Roca in Ixtapa overlooks the sea and offers a spectacular view of the sunset. The food serves to complement the atmosphere, with seafood the recommended dish. Reservations are recommended. In Zihuatanejo, Coconut's (755/554-2518) at Augustín Ramírez 1 will satisfy your cultural (and gastronomical) hunger. Set in the city's oldest building, the restaurants dinner menu is more than adequate, while the bananas flambé will set your palate on fire!
Zihuatanejo's nightlife is fairly nonexistent, so late night revelers shift their attention to Ixtapa. You're sure to find a good time at Señor Frog's (755/553-0272). For a more upscale club environment, check out Christine (755/553-0333) inside the Hotel Krystal. No tennis shoes or sandals allowed, and don't expect to get in if you're wearing shorts.
Both towns have their share of the now ubiquitous T-shirt and souvenir shops. Zihuatanejo does have quite a few smaller shops with folk jewelry and crafts. Calle Cinco de Mayo is where you will find the artisan's market, a good place to start. If you forgot your bathing suit, check out the large selection at Viva Zapatos, at Vicente Guerrero 33. For those with eclectic tastes, a visit to Hacienda Luna Azul will more than satisfy your quirkiness.


Zihuatanejo has its quota of T-shirt and souvenir shops, but it has also become a better place to buy crafts, folk art, and jewelry. Shops are generally open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 2pm and 4 to 8pm. Many better shops close Sunday, but some smaller souvenir stands stay open, and hours vary.

The artisans' market on Calle Cinco de Mayo is a good place to start shopping before moving on to specialty shops. It's open daily from 8am to 9pm. The municipal market on Avenida Benito Juárez sprawls over several blocks (about 5 blocks inland from the waterfront), but most vendors hawk the same things -- huaraches, hammocks, and baskets. On the sand next to the pier is a daily fish market, and just behind it on Paseo del Pescador there's a small seashell market. Spreading inland from the waterfront some 3 or 4 blocks are numerous small shops well worth exploring.

Besides the places listed below, check out Alberto's, Cuauhtémoc 12 and 15 (no phone), for jewelry. Also on Cuauhtémoc, 2 blocks down from the Nueva Zelanda Coffee Shop, is a small shop that looks like a market stand and sells beautiful tablecloths, napkins, and other linens; all are handmade in Aguascalientes.


Shopping in Ixtapa is not especially memorable, with T-shirts and Mexican crafts the usual wares. Several shops on Bulevar Ixtapa, across from the beachside hotels, sell designer sportswear and most are open daily from 9am to 2pm and 4 to 9pm.

Abel & Julia - Fine sterling silver from Taxco. They have a very extensive selection of some of the most beautiful designs. They will also custom design jewelry to your specifications. Find their large store on Calle Nicolás Bravo #9 in Zihuatanejo. They also have a store located across from the Cinema Paraíso movie theater on Calle Cuauhtémoc.
Alberto's - A fine jewelry shop specializing in .925 silver and 14k gold. They also do custom design work. With two stores on Calle Cuauhtémoc at #12 & #15 in the second block from the town plaza. Tel. 554-2161.
Arte Mexicano Nopal - Located at Avenida Cinco de Mayo #56 a half block inland past the church across from the Artisans Market in Zihuatanejo. Specializing in handcrafted Mexican furniture and artistic decorations for the home as well as interesting gifts. Very exotic and unique selection of fine Mexican artisanry! Tel. 554-7530.
Bodega del Tequila - Find a variety of fine authentic artesanal tequilas from Jalisco as well as fine mezcals from Guerrero at this store on Calle Vicente Guerrero #18 in downtown Zihuatanejo. Try a free sample as well as enjoy a refreshing special jarrito, a cold tequila drink served in a ceramic jar. Tel 557-0174
Café Caracol - Delicious fresh-roasted whole bean and ground coffee from Atoyac, Guerrero. They also sell whole vanilla beans and extract, fresh honey (including agave honey), scented beeswax candles, plain and decorated Mexican shopping bags, and coffee liqueurs. Located in the first block of downtown
Zihuatanejo on the corner of Juan N. Álvarez and Vicente Guerrero streets.
Café Lanat - High quality organically cultivated coffee from the sierra of Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa. Ground and whole bean. Located on Calle Antonio Nava #20 local 1, Zihuatanejo Centro. Cel. 755-120-0525
Café Zihuatanejo - (formerly Ixtapa Coffee) Exportation quality organically-grown coffee cultivated locally in the Sierra Madre del Sur not far from Ixtapa by Juanita Sánchez and Darío Galeana on their plantation. Be sure to get a kilo or two to take home with you. Find them at Calle Cuauhtémoc #170-B in downtown Zihuatanejo between Calle Ejido and Calle Nava,. E-Mail: ; Tel/Fax: 554-3890; Tel. 554-7277.
Calli Design - Architecture and interior designs by one of the best architects in the region. Find their home decorations store in Zihuatanejo next to the Instituto Tecnológico de la Costa Grande on the western part of the Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa highway.
Casa Lobato Pineda - Fishing gear, tackle and boating supplies. "Everything for the Fisherman and his Boat." Find them on Calle Juan N. Alvarez #169-B (upstairs) across the street from the Zócalo (main plaza) near the waterfront in Zihuatanejo. Tel. & FAX 554-3576, cel. 755-556-5860.
Diseños y Acabados - Extensive assortment of lighting fixtures, lamps, and fans for the home or business. Located next to Calli Design on the northwestern part of the Zihuatanejo-to-Ixtapa highway. Tel. 554-8220, FAX 554-5177.
Fruity Keiko - A gift shop and gallery in downtown Zihuatanejo and in Troncones featuring unique Mexican handcrafts including Talavera ceramics, niche boxes, hand-woven pillows from Chiapas, wrought iron candle holders, hand-dipped candles, designer jewelry, and many one-of-a-kind items.
La Casa de Tierra - Fine handmade Mexican furniture and crafts for the home. Located in Zihuatanejo on Avenida Heróico Colegio Militar #120. Tel. 554-6090.
La Casa Marina - A collection of fine family-run shops under one roof. El Embarcadero specializes in hand-woven indigenous & casual cotton clothing. At La Zapoteca you'll find beautiful handmade rugs and hammocks. Manos has handmade tablecloths, pottery, and ponchos as well as fine silver. Costa Libre offers beautiful sarongs (pareos) and beachwear. El Jumíl has a great collection of handcarved masks and other handcrafts made here in our state of Guerrero. At Cafe Marina you'll find great pizza as well as other delicious dishes, ice-cold beer, and Zihuatanejo's biggest collection of used books in English to buy or trade. At El Cafecito you'll find delicious pastries, juices and coffees. All located on the waterfront in town next to the main plaza beside the basketball court in front of the fishermen's area. This family, carrying on a tradition begun by their mother here, also forms our local version of a humane society with their Sociedad Protectora de Animales de Zihuatanejo, A.C. Please help them to continue providing this essential, often thankless, service by buying their T-shirts and other articles with the Society's emblem!!! Tel. 554-2373.
La Cava - Liquors, wines, beer and ice at affordable prices. Located at Calle Nicolás Bravo #34 on the corner of Calle Vicente Guerrero in downtown Zihuatanejo.

La Europea - World class selection of fine wines, spirits, cocktail mixes, and beers as well as gourmet condiments and foods, accessories, and gift baskets. Located at Veleros Lote 5 Local 4 in Marina Ixtapa next to the boat ramp. Tel. 553-2717, 553-1757 and 553-1895.
Lupita's Boutique - Located 2 blocks from the town plaza at Calle Juan N. Alvarez #5 on the corner with Calle Vicente Guerrero (on the first block from the waterfront) in Zihuatanejo; unique boutique specializing in hand-made and hand-embroidered clothing from Guerrero, Chiapas and Oaxaca.
Mario's Leather - Fine leather articles, from clothing to boots to saddles to backgammon boards and anything else you could ever want made from quality leather. You'll also find silver accessories for your boots, collar tabs, belts, and more! Located in downtown Zihuatanejo on Calle Vicente Guerrero #12. Tel. 554-3684
Mexhapati Mexican Ceramics - Handmade ceramic decorations including tiling, sinks, and talavera pottery. Made to order. Locations in Troncones and Dolores Hidalgo.
Siboney - Boutique in Ixtapa selling high quality beachwear and beach accessories for women and men. Specializing in bathing suits, sarongs, shirts, t-shirts, hats, shorts, sunglasses, and sandals.
Tequila Por Favor - Zihuatanejo's oldest liquor store, open since 1961, offering an amazing variety of tequila as well as other fine spirits, and also featuring Zihuatanejo's finest selection of Cuban and Mexican cigars available in their walk-in humidor. Located on Calle Cuauhtémoc #14 one block from the waterfront in downtown Zihuatanejo as well as in Ixtapa at Centro Comercial "La Puerta".

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