Here, a planned tourist resort zone along seemingly endless white sandy beaches on the Pacific Ocean is married to a fishing village on a protected bay. The best part is Ixtapa (pronounced eeks-TA-pa) and Zihuatanejo (see-wha-tah-NEH-ho) are so close in proximity, separated only by a quick taxi ride. You can almost have one foot in each area.
What makes it different con't
Though these locations have distinct identities, you get a kind of two-for-the-price-of-one experience wherever you stay. Whether you decide on Ixtapa, the modern resort area, or on Zihuatanejo, the old-Mexican fishing village-turned-charming seaside town, the locals say your holiday will be twice as nice.
In the mid-1970s, the Mexican government stepped up efforts to promote and encourage tourism in the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo area. One of the first pieces of major infrastructure built to this end was an international airport. Even with these efforts, the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo region remains a relatively small and comfortable destination with more than 6,000 hotel rooms.
Pirates once roamed this part of the coast, using Zihuatanejo Bay as a refuge. In 1572, a commercial galleon coming from the Philippines shipwrecked here and its fine oriental silks were washed ashore. This incident inspired the name for one of the area's most popular beaches, Playa La Ropa (Clothes Beach).
Both Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo have excellent beaches that are the top draw for many visitors. Most of the resorts are on the beachfront. You can walk out of your hotel and onto the beach, stroll for kilometres along a shoreline of uninterrupted white-sand beaches, enjoying waters that are warm year-round.
Ixtapa's main beach is El Palmar Beach, a soft and sandy stretch about 2.4 km long where most of the resorts are located. Facing a semi-open bay, this beach alone is the reason many resort goers stay here. El Palmar Beach is the largest recreational beach certified as a clean beach by Mexico's National Ministry of the Environment.
Another popular Ixtapa beach is Playa Quieta, home to three major beachfront hotels and an excellent place to swim, kayak and windsurf.
Zihuatanejo's beaches on Zihuatanejo Bay include the soft and sandy one km-long La Ropa along the bay's east side. You can find beachfront hotels here, as well as seafood restaurants. It is a favourite among visitors and locals for a leisurely stroll.
Las Gatas Beach is on a cove on the bay's south side and is great for both swimming and snorkelling.