Formerly a hideaway for Pacific pirates and hippies, the fishing village of Zihuatanejo became known as a resort destination after its sister city, Ixtapa, was built next door. Ixtapa was deliberately built to be a Mexican paradise while Zihua, as it is affectionately known, is the real thing. In spite of the growth of the town as a resort destination, Zihuatanejo still retains its traditional look and historic charm, which is the source of its appeal to visitors from around the world.
The best of Zihuatanejo: attractions, beaches and more
Nature in many forms is a major attraction to Zihuatanejo and the surrounding area. The flora, fauna and geology of the region, both on land and in the water, offer visitors ample opportunities for exploration and adventure.
Just offshore lies a large coral formation, the King’s Reef, which has been designated a natural reserve by the government. On its seaward side, the King’s Reef is filled with all manner of beautiful salt-water fish, and is a natural aquarium for SCUBA divers and snorkelers. Surfers will also enjoy time spent along the reef, with one of the best point breaks in the entire tropical Pacific crashing ashore here. The leeward side of the reef includes a peaceful swimming lagoon, the beautiful sand of Las Gatas Beach, and a host of restaurants and rustic bungalows for visitors to choose from.
In addition to Las Gatas Beach, a number of other beaches in Zihuatanejo are equally enjoyable and worth visiting, including Playa la Ropa. Soft ocean waves and warm sand make the long lines of Playa la Ropa Beach a great place for swimming and sunbathing. Playa la Ropa is not just about relaxation, as there is plenty to do here from parasailing and rented wave-runners to dinner at a beachside restaurant.
For many visitors, getting in touch with the native plants and animals is the vacation opportunity they are looking for. El Refugio de Potosi is an ecological park in Zihuatanejo offering just this opportunity. A wildlife rescue center, El Refugio de Potosi houses a wide variety of animals native to the region, including sea turtles; tree porcupines; coatis; a wide variety of birds and reptiles; and even some crocodiles. Visitors are welcome to visit the refuge, see and touch the animals, and learn about the natural balance of this part of Mexico.
If the history of the people and culture of the area are more to the visitor’s taste, the Museo Arqueologico de la Costa Grande offers a wealth of information about more than 50 archaeological sites surrounding Zihuatanejo, as well as artifacts, documents and maps from the many cultures that settled in this Pacific coastal area of Mexico.
Zihuatanejo has its own international airport, located just south of Zihuatanejo Bay, and cheap air flights to the area are easy to locate online or through a travel agent. The bay also periodically welcomes cruise ships.
Zihuatanejo is home to several luxury hotels, although city regulations keep the height of these boutique and budget hotels to a minimum. There are also several hostels located in and around the downtown areas and the waterfront.
Guest post by Dave from Publishers Network