Agent Name: Christine
Date: November 2010
Trip Location: Ixtapa – Zihuatanejo
Overall Impression: The Ixtapa-Zihuatenejo area spans along 26 kilometers of tropical coastline with several coves and beaches scattered throughout. Located in the State of Guerrero, Mexico on the Pacific Coast in the area known as the ‘Mexican Riviera’, only 200km north of Acapulco. The climate, year round, is warm and humid with an average temperature of approx 78.8 degrees. What’s even better?….. the sun shines approximately 340 days of the year! Because Zihuatenejo is only a 5 minute drive from Ixtapa and is the location of the International Airport, the two towns are almost always linked together when talking about the destination. In a way, they blend together, and they do it well.
I visited both Zihuatenejo and Ixtapa however I spent most of my expolring in the Resort area of Ixtapa. Ixtapa has been slowly climbing in popularity as one of the many beach destinations to visit in Mexico. Incomparable to the most popular, or shall I say, most ‘visited’ Mexican destinations such as Cancun, the Mayan Riviera, Puerto Vallarta, etc, where ‘mega resorts’ have become the norm, Ixtapa still remains a small town with a friendly, small town, almost ‘village’ like feel.
Before Ixtapa-Zihuatenejo was transformed into a resort area it was, literally, a coconut plantation and mangrove estuary. Fitting that our first stop was to a coconut plantation where we were educated in the process of growing, harvesting and the many uses and benefits of coconut. We were given the opportunity to drink fresh coconut milk, sample the tender meat of a ripe coconut and of course, purchase some of the most delectable coconut cookies I have ever tasted. From here we visited Barra de Potosi, a small beachside village located along Playa Larga (Long Beach) which offers 9 1/2 miles of palm trees, wildlife and unspoiled beach. The Barra de Potosi village area is also the home of a bird and wildlife sanctuary located on a 4 1/2 mile saltwater lagoon boasting a large variety of plants and wildlife. Small boats are available for a fee for sightseeing and photography. Horseback riding along the beach is also available and a nice way to explore the area. Before leaving Barra de Potosí it is highly recommended to visit one of the many Seafood Restaurants scattered along the beach. Whether you are wanting to enjoy a nice lunch, dinner or simply a small snack and a cool drink, you will find some of the freshest seafood available. Caught daily, the fish couldn’t get any fresher or, taste any better.
I also visited Ixtapa Island. Accessible by small boats that ferry passengers from the pier at Playa Quieta in Ixtapa, it is a ‘retreat’ of sorts for locals and tourists alike. I must say, I pictured a quiet little island where you can stroll the area enjoying the wildlife, snorkeling, sunbathing and enjoying a nice relaxing lunch. While it is a little Island, and it does offer snorkeling and various water sports available – it wasn’t quite what I had expected and…..it is all for a fee. The set-up is something to be prepared for. The main beach area where you are brought to by boat, is side-by-side outdoor restaurants. The beach area’s located directly in front of these restaurants with lounge chairs that belong to the restaurants. It is required that you ‘pay’ to use the chairs by agreeing to ‘set up’ for the day and rent their water sports equipment and/or eat at their restaurant. It does get busy therefore I would highly recommend to stroll to one of the three other less densely populated beaches (all just a short trail hike) and while you may still have to pay for the use of ‘beach space’ by guaranteeing your lunch, purchasing drinks or renting water sports equipment) it is a more relaxing alternative to the main beach area and in most cases, the snorkeling tends to be better in these smaller beach area’s as well.
If you are a frequent traveler to Mexico you may likely be aware of their Sea Turtles and the effort put forth to protect them. Each hotel along the main hotel zone’s El Palmar Beach in Ixtapa take part in an admirable conservation effort to save these wonderful creatures. Trained volunteers and hotel staff look for sea turtle eggs that have been laid on the beach. Exposed to the elements hotel staff carefully ‘rescue’ these eggs and bury them in the sand in fenced off corrals to keep predators away. They then place a marker indicating the day they have buried the eggs and monitor them. Once they hatch, then the hatchlings are placed in a holding tank to give them time to gain strength before being released to face survival against predators. Many hotels along the main beach area in Ixtapa offer guests the opportunity to see hatchlings being set free to scamper to the sea. It is a memorable experience if you are fortunate enough to see this during your visit.
Many of the main stream hotels in Ixtapa were built 25-30 years ago and are in the process of renovations or will be shortly. From Luxury 5 Star private villas to all-inclusive air and hotel packages, the option is yours. Ixtapa-Zihuatenejo is definitely growing in popularity as a destination. With the temperate, sunny and very warm climate, it is a good choice when wanting to take a break from a long winter with almost an assured guarantee that good weather will prevail. This winter, direct flights from Vancouver are offered by Air Canada on Saturday’s. Alternately, Westjet is offering flights via Calgary and Alaskan Airlines via Los Angeles. Zihuatenejo is also a very common port of call for many cruise lines offering passengers the day to shop the popular market located pier side or to schedule day trips to explore culture and beauty of the area.
Ixtapa-Zihuatenejo, while a smaller, down-scaled version of Mexico’s most visited mega-resort locations, has no shortage of things to do or see, from countryside ATV tours, Sunset Cruises, golfing, Zipline adventures, deep sea fishing, snorkeling, biking (bike and walking trails are abundant with new trails still being constructed) or…..simply relaxing on the beach or at your hotel pool, it is a destination to be experienced.