You'll get a double shot of Mexico when you visit the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo area in the south of Mexico. Here, resort living is paired with an authentic Mexican urban experience and a small-town feel in the state of Guerrero.

Taken as one urban area, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo forms one of the largest cities in the state. But it is really a twin destination providing you with the best of both worlds and they are separated only by a 15-minute taxi ride.

For the one-stop conveniences of resort living and beautiful beaches, set your sights on Ixtapa. To immerse yourself in local culture and the ambience of a fishing village with developing urban flavours, try Zihuatanejo. Or, for an all-round holiday offering plenty of water and land activities, along with a glimpse into the region's culture and past, visit both.

Ixtapa is an oceanfront stretch of paradise with year-round warm waters and a wide variety of resorts, including all-inclusive accommodations. There is a marina and yacht club with a promenade. Many tourists come here to enjoy the long stretches of beaches in front of the hotels. There is also a popular cycling path.

Zihuatanejo has grown from a humble fishing village of a few hundred residents to a thriving town with restaurants, art, entertainment and a beautiful protected bay. During the day, you'll see fishermen spread out their fresh-caught fish to sell at the waterfront. At night on the weekends, entertainment lights up the downtown plaza and basketball court area, where many cultural activities are held.

Thanks to a downtown beautification program in Zihuatanejo, you'll find plenty of pedestrian walkways winding past adobe storefronts and clay-tiled roofs. You can wander safely in town day or night amidst the friendly locals.

Ixtapa is a fantastic destination for:

  • beach
  • outdoor adventure
  • snorkeling and diving

Airport served by: ZIH

Destination basics

Ixtapa is blessed with a semi-tropical climate, with average highs in the low-30s year-round. Sunshine is the norm, not the exception, with an average of 300 sunny days each year.

Be sure to pack your sun essentials like a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with a sun-protection factor of at least 30. Make sure the kids wear sandals of some sort, as the sand can become quite hot, especially for little feet.

The rainy season generally occurs from May to October, with short late-afternoon and evening showers and more humid conditions, providing a break from the normal sunny routine.

Ixtapa has its geography to thank for its attractive climate. The Sierra Madre del Sur mountains and the Zihuatanejo Bay provide natural shelters from the Pacific Ocean and its storms, resulting in calmer waters and a reduced risk of hurricanes.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Ixtapa

The Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo area provides the perfect recipe for travellers who want to experience local culture in a safe and welcoming environment.

Culture con't

You can mix Zihuatanejo's laid-back fishing-village attitude with Ixtapa's more tourist-influenced beach culture. And you can also get a feel for the nearby ranches and farmlands, where fare such as coconuts and bananas are grown and available at the local downtown markets.

In Zihuatanejo, you can browse the market stalls, purchase your own fish for dinner, or go sport fishing in the Pacific with local captains who’ll help you land sailfish, marlin, dorado and tuna.

You'll also find high-end restaurants like Zi at Club Intrawest, and nightlife that includes discos, clubs and live music. Local galleries and shops showcase Mexican artwork, including colourful wooden boxes and lacquer work from Olinala artisans.

Enjoy Zihuatanejo's proud Mexican sense of community and family, celebrated on festive Sunday nights at the downtown oceanfront plaza and basketball court. Buy a Michamoy (beer and spices with a tamarind lollipop) at Carlo's bar, overlooking the plaza and watch the parade of people below.

The flea market at the Zihuatanejo waterfront is open at night. Food stands offer hamburgers – Mexican-style – complete with chilies. Sample a local favourite like pozole (a seafood soup with hominy), or try the tiritas (thin strips of raw fish marinated with onions and green chilies). Live salsa music from Bandidos, just across from the flea market, pours out onto the street.

In Ixtapa, check out Fiesta Night at several of the major hotels where, over the course of several hours, you enjoy local foods, folk dancing performances, and shop for local jewelry amid the stalls. Enjoy the comedians who urge audience members to practice Mexican sayings.

Drop in for a beer at one of the many clubs and restaurants along Boulevard Ixtapa. On this boulevard, you'll find plenty of nightlife options, and shops galore for local knick-knacks and everything you'll need for the beach.

The Mexican peso is the official currency in Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo. Canadian currency and travellers cheques are not widely accepted, and most stores in Mexico do not accept debit cards, so using pesos for purchases is usually simplest.

Currency con't

To exchange your Canadian cash or travellers cheques, stop by one of the many banks, exchange kiosks or your hotel front desk. Just don't forget your passport – it's required to cash your travellers cheques. You can also withdraw cash from ATMs found in banks, grocery stores and hotels.

Although American money is widely accepted, regulations are now in place to limit the amount of U.S. cash both residents and visitors can exchange in Mexico.

By regulation, the maximum visitors can exchange per month is US$1,500. Many financial institutions have imposed additional rules, limiting this amount further to US$300 per transaction.

As for using American money for purchases, local businesses will only accept a maximum of US$100 per transaction; however, there is no limit on the maximum number of transactions per customer. You should also keep in mind that many businesses in Mexico have chosen to forgo accepting U.S. money altogether. The best way to pay is therefore with Mexican pesos or credit card.

Many who visit Ixtapa seek the all-inclusive experience while others simply come to enjoy the surf and sand. No matter where you stay in Ixtapa, you'll be close enough to the beach to fall in love with this Pacific coast gem.

Hotel Zone
Ixtapa is largely characterized by the high-rise resorts that line its long shores. The most recognizable area in the city is known as the Hotel Zone, appropriately named for the development it has seen. Most of the activity in Ixtapa occurs in the Hotel Zone, which comprises a handful of beaches. Playa el Palmar is the most popular among them given its central location. While the Hotel Zone is also the best place for amenities, there are eateries nearby most of the beaches in Ixtapa, even those outside this major tourist hub.

Isla Ixtapa
Isla Ixtapa is a short and inexpensive water-taxi trip from the city. The island is best known as a water sports haven, particularly renowned for its snorkeling and scuba diving. Sheltered coves also mean some of the calmest waters in the area, making Isla Ixtapa a great day trip spot for the whole family.

A tourist retreat above all, Ixtapa offers entertainment tailored to vacationers and beachgoers.

Nature & Wildlife
There is no shortage of outdoor fun to be had in this sunny city. Water sports like scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, surfing, and fishing are wonderful ways to get to know the Ixtapa coast. For the best surf spots, check out Playa Escolleras on the eastern side of the main beach and Playa Las Gatas at the mouth of Zihuatanejo Bay.

Wildlife lovers will also enjoy Ixtapa for its dolphinarium, crocodilarium, seasonal sea turtle nesting sites, and birdwatching opportunities.

Approximately 45 minutes south of Ixtapa is the Xihuacan Museum and Archeological Site. These ruins celebrate local history and culture, displaying interesting and well-preserved artifacts. Guided tours are available with a knowledgeable staff, making the Xihuacan Museum and Archeological Site a top cultural excursion.

Golf Courses
Ixtapa is a big destination for golfers, boasting several courses up and down the coast. Check out the scenic greens of the Marina Ixtapa Nautica Golf Course, Ixtapa Golf Course, and Pacifica Golf Course.

There’s nothing better than dining with a view, and Ixtapa delivers just that. Fine food is the perfect way to complement stunning scenery on your Mexican getaway.

Hotel Zone
The central Hotel Zone is filled with restaurants that cater to different tastes and price ranges. For upscale dining near Playa el Mar, Bogart’s offers international cuisine and a Casablanca-inspired ambiance complete with live piano. A few minutes south by car is El Faro, which specializes in upscale seafood and exquisite views. Casual dining in the area includes Emilio’s Pizza and Sr Taco Grill, which makes to-die-for tacos and unbeatable margaritas. Walk around the Hotel Zone and you’ll find countless places to stop for a tasty bite or refreshing drink.

Isla Ixtapa
Isla Ixtapa eateries offer delicious dining experiences right on the beach. At Lili Cipriani, you’ll find fantastic service, fresh food, and specialty cocktails. For an authentic Mexican meal, eat fresh seafood and sit back with a cold cerveza at Restaurante Tres Sirenas.

State: Guerrero

Country: Mexico

Ixtapa by the Numbers
Population: 8,992
Elevation: 13 meters / 43 feet
Average Annual Precipitation: 104 centimeters / 41 inches
Average January Temperature: 25°C / 77°F
Average July Temperature: 28°C / 83°F

Quick Facts
Electricity: 110 volts, 60 cycles, AC

Time Zone: UTC-6; Central Standard Time (CST)

Country Dialing Code: 52

Area Code: 755

Did You Know?
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is a popular destination for sport-fishermen, playing host to an international sailfish competition in Zihuatanejo Bay every May.

Ixtapa is located on the west coast of Mexico, nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madres. It is approximately 5 kilometers (3 miles) northwest of Zihuatanejo and 245 kilometers (152 miles) northwest of Acapulco.

With the Pacific Ocean on one side, and the spectacular Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range on the other, the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo area offers some of the most luxurious beaches, turquoise waters and scenic vistas in Mexico. The area is located in the northwestern area of the state of Guerrero, some 225 km north of the city of Acapulco.

The 17-km Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo coastline is part of the area commonly referred to as the Mexican Riviera. The section of the coastline stretching down to Acapulco is called La Costa Grande – the Big Coast.

Zihuatanejo's location at the tip of Zihuatanejo Bay makes it more protected than much of the coastline, resulting in calmer waters that are safer for swimming.

Separated by less than six km, the vastly different, yet equally appealing Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo grace the southwestern coast of Mexico. Despite their close proximity, the two locations are worlds apart in style and experience.

The modern Ixtapa was developed specifically to serve as a full-featured tourist resort, while Zihuatanejo, a former fishing village, offers a chance to experience authentic Mexican culture.

What the two locations share includes access to white sandy beaches, a full range of water sports, breathtaking views and tropical adventures.

The Mexican Government established Ixtapa in the early-1970s to attract tourists to north Zihuatanejo. Before it was a resort city, the area held just a coconut plantation and mangrove estuary, leaving it ripe for development. Ixtapa as we know it today was inspired by Cancun, which was successfully transformed from a quiet fishing village into a popular vacation hub.

Planning for Ixtapa began in 1972 after the Mexican government secured a loan from the World Bank. Sibling architects Enrique and Agustin Landa Verdugo designed the new city, and construction began in 1974. Quickly building towards becoming a tourist destination, the Ixtapa International Airport was built shortly after in 1976.

Since its founding, Ixtapa has been frequented by both domestic and international visitors. Its name, which derives from the Nahuatl for "white place," perfectly describes its powdery shores and tropical appeal. Sister city to Zihuatanejo, Ixtapa has fulfilled its intention of serving tourists time and again, landing it among the most popular destinations in the Guerrero state and Mexico at large.

The easiest way to get around within Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo is via taxi. Taxis are easy to find outside of the resorts and hotels, as well as downtown. Taxis are affordable – unless you are looking to take a longer trip, for instance, from Ixtapa to Zihuatanejo. For such longer trips, buses are typically a more affordable option.

In larger tourist destinations such as downtown Ixtapa, Ixtapa Island and Playa Linda, getting around is easy. Walk the boardwalks or stroll the streets and browse the shops, restaurants and bars.

If you're heading to Zihuatanejo for a night out on the town, minibuses are an inexpensive option. At only 50 cents or so a person, these budget-friendly vans run every 10-15 minutes until 10 p.m. between Ixtapa resorts and downtown Zihuatanejo. For the return trip home, unmetered cabs are readily available and cost around $5 to get you back to Ixtapa.

During your flight into Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo Airport, you'll receive two forms to fill out. One is your Customs Declaration Form. The other is your Multiple Migratory Form for Foreigners or FMM for short. One Customs Declaration Form needs to be filled out per family, while each guest must complete an FMM.

Travel requirements con't

In Mexico, there is a tourism tax of US$20 per person. For your convenience, when you fly WestJet, this tax is included in the price of your airfare

Upon arrival in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, a Mexican immigration officer will ask you for your passport and photo ID and for your FMM. The immigration officer may ask you a few questions as to the purpose of your trip, how long you will be staying and if this is your first time in Mexico. The officer will then stamp the card and return a portion of it to you.

Keep your FMM in a safe place – you will be asked for this document when you depart Mexico.

After passing through immigration, you will collect your bags and proceed to customs. A customs agent will ask you for your Customs Declaration Form and ask you to press a button on a device that looks like a traffic light. A green light means "pass through without inspection" and a red light means "your baggage will be inspected." If you get the red light, you will have to open your bags for a quick inspection.

Once you depart customs, you'll see representatives from various travel companies. Look for a representative from Turismo Intl Pacifico Airport Transfers holding a WestJet Vacations sign. Identify yourself as a WestJet Vacations guest and you'll be on your way.


When departing Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, you'll need to provide officials with your signed FMM card. Lost FMMs can be replaced at the airport or at the immigration office before you check in for your return flight. However, there is a fee to obtain a replacement card.


Be sure your routine vaccinations are up to date. Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Malaria, typhoid and tetanus are commonly recommended. The Public Health Agency of Canada also recommends that all travellers to Mexico get vaccinated for the H1N1 flu virus before leaving Canada.

Mexico uses the North American standard plug, however some properties have only two-pronged receptacles in the room rather than three-pronged receptacles.

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.

Departing from:

ˆTotal price one-way per guest. See terms and conditions. *Prices are per guest, based on double occupancy and are limited; may not reflect real-time pricing or availability. See terms and conditions.

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