Zihuatanejo Mexico is not quite different from its sister town of Ixtapa. If the latter is a logically calm Mexican-style destination, the former is the genuine package to feel the life of Mexico. Also known as Zihua, Zihuatanejo is a beautiful barn of the beaches, easy lifestyle, and welcoming people. With the major parts of the city transformed into the tourist sights, the downtown is not an exception in the sense that its narrow cobblestone streets have engulfed some of the perfect restaurants as well as boutique shops. Zihuatanejo Mexico is a little resort grown by its own and that the ambiance is very locally relaxed as compared to the planned resort of Ixtapa. Among the local holidaymakers, you will find a lot of lone travelers as well as backpackers.
Among all the top attractions, the shady Bahía Zihuatanejo is a must to visit if you wish to experience safe swimming. Flanking this bay are the plethora of beautiful beaches such as the Playa Las Gatas (The she-cats’ beach”) and Playa La Ropa (The cloth beach). Here, the former is named so because of the she-cats, the small, harmless sharks that once used to live here, while the latter is called so after a shipwreck that carried Chinese silk.
The beach of Playa Las Gatas is accessible by the open boats called the lanchas across the bay. Just take your tickets at the ticket counter after which you will have to wait in a queue at the pier, but fortunately, not too long. On the beach, you just can relax on the white sands or under any of the palapas for free that refer to the thatched umbrellas provided you order lunch from the palapa’s owner. If you are adventurous and are ready to get wet, snorkeling is your option that is recommended from the dedicated shop off the dock. I had experienced this trip via the Zihua Dive Center that also offers the sport at Playa Manzanillo. This operator offers PADI courses and certification as well as scuba and kayak tours with the guide who knows English, Spanish, and French. Most of the times, it suggests the dry season as the best time for the water sports as the visibility is best during these days.
Besides sports and relaxation at the Playa Las Gatas, you can also explore the small amphitheater as well as the basketball courts where weekend evening events are the major highlights. These are along the pier when on Friday night basketball games are held and on Sunday, folkloric dancing is enjoyed. Although the beach is a protected one, beware of sea urchins.
On the other hand, Playa La Ropa is totally for the sailing experience. Stroll along the steep Carretera Escénica over the hill for some 20 minutes from Playa Madera to reach here. This walk itself is enjoyable with the path ascending towards and over the cliffs offering a good vista over the water. Flanked by the palm trees as well as restaurants, this one is the one of the most wonderful beaches where renting sailboards and sailboats is seen commonly.
At 10 km from Zihuatanejo Mexico, Playa Larga with its big waves, horseback riding, and beachfront restaurants is famous among the families, while the close by Playa Manzanillo is bets for snorkeling along secluded white dunes. Catch a ‘Coacoyul’ combi for $6 from Juárez and in 10 minutes get off at the turnoff to the Playa Larga beach from where one more combi will transfer you to the beach.
However, to view the real Mexico, drive for 25 minutes to Playa Troncones featuring golden sand and immaculate beaches. Walk along the clean virgin coast, soak yourself barefoot in the waves wherein the pelicans glide, and spot a few endangered sea turtles.
Eating is just awesome at Casa Elvira offering the tasty salad, soup, and spaghettis. Just do not forget to savor its delicious coconut custard. At Bistro del Mar that is a beachside dining zone, you can enjoy its modern Mexican cuisine influenced by the Asian, Latin, and European flavors. Among the cafes, Café Marina on the west of the plaza, although small, is great in serving pizzas, sandwiches, and spaghettis. For the budget travelers, I would recommend the following stay options: Hotel Zihua Caracol from $46, Casa Azul Zihuatanejo Apartments from $61, Hotel Real de la Palma from $72, and Sotavento Beach Resort Hotel from $80.