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Located in the State of Guerrero in southern Mexico, along the Pacific coast, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is part of the Triangulodelsol. Along with Acapulco and Taxco, this triangle of destinations is known for its sunny weather.

 Hotels along Zihuatanejo Bay
Hotels along Zihuatanejo Bay
Photo: Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo Tourist Board

How do you get there?

International and domestic airlines fly to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo International Airport (code: ZIH). If you want to travel by rental car, follow the Autopista Siglo XXI (21st-century Toll Highway) south from Morelia. Driving time? Three hours, 30 minutes.

How long does it take to drive northwest from Acapulco to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo along Federal Highway 200? About three hours. The distance is 247 kilometers (153 miles). You can also travel by bus to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo from Mexico City, Acapulco and other cities.

How do you pronounce it?

The correct way to say Ixtapa is 'eeks-TAH-pa' with the accent on the second syllable.

You pronounce Zihuatanejo with the accent on the fourth syllable: 'see-wah-tah-NEH-ho'.

What's the difference between them?

According to promotion manager, Ana Guillermina Camarena Sahagún, Zihuatanejo is a traditional Mexican fishing village. Ixtapa is located only 3.4 kilometers (four miles) northwest of Zihuatanejo. It is a planned tourist destination comprised of big hotels and golf courses.

Both destinations are on La Costa Grande. Ixtapa hotels are mostly located along the Playa El Palmar hotel zone and Playa Linda, another beach. Zihuatanejo hotels are in town, along La Ropa Beach and overlooking the bay. Cost of accommodation ranges from $20 to $500 a night.

Family walks along Ixtapa beach
Family walks along Ixtapa beach
Photo: Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo Tourist Board

Where are the beaches?

The main beach in Ixtapa is El Palmar, located in front of the hotel zone. If you drive 10 minutes northwest, you'll find Playa Quieta, which is good for kayaking and surfing, as well as swimming. Another 1.6 kilometers (one mile) farther is Playa Linda and Isla de Ixtapa, where you'll find four beaches and seafood restaurants.

Playa Principal, the main beach in Zihuatanejo, is where fishermen bring in their catches. Farther east is La Madera Beach, with its small restaurants and hotels. La Ropa Beach is a good place for windsurfing and other water sports.

You need a boat to get to Las Gatas Beach for snorkeling and kayaking. How long does it take to get there from the Municipal Pier? About 10 minutes.

What can families do?

Kids and adults can swim with the dolphins at the Delfiniti Dolphinarium. Also located in Ixtapa's hotel zone is Magic World, where children can enjoy water slides, a wave pool and a pirate village. Golfito has a mini-putt golf course.

Another popular children's attraction is the Crocodilarium, near Playa Linda, where families can safely view the reptiles. They can also see tarantulas and iguanas at Park Bio and pelicans, blue crabs and crocodiles on a boat ride through the mangroves at La Chanequera Eco Park.

Zip-lining at the Adventure Park
Zip-lining at the Adventure Park
Photo: Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo Tourist Board

Some Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo hotels offer a turtle release program between May and October. Children can place baby olive ridley, leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles on the sand and wave bye as the hatchlings waddle across the beach into the ocean.

Things to do

For teens and adults, activities range from adventurous to relaxing. On ATV trails, you can drive 4x4s from the beach to the mountains and jungle. At Parque Aventura, thrill-seekers ride zip-lines over the jungle.

On the Ciclopista (bike path) you can ride bicycles all the way down from Ixtapa to Zone 2. Cyclists pass the Atzlan Eco Park, home to birds and iguanas.

Ixtapa & Zihuatanejo host several annual fishing tournaments. The International Sailfish Tournament, the biggest fishing competition, is held in May. Sport fishing charters leave from the marina to catch Pacific sailfish, marlin, tuna and other trophy fish.

Local seafood dish-tiritos de pescado
Local seafood dish - tiritos de pescado
Photo: Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo Tourist Board

For relaxation, golfers head to the Palma Real Golf Course and Marina Ixtapa Golf Club. The 18-hole courses are located on each end of the Ixtapa hotel zone. To ease sore muscles, Ixtapa spas offer hot stone treatments, wine therapy, chocolate massages and thalasso (salt water) therapy in an open-air setting.

What to do at night

Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo have discos, bars and places where you can listen to music. Señor Frog's offers dancing with great views.

You won't find Starbucks, Tim Hortons or McDonald's in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo. All restaurants are 100% Mexican.

What to eat

Fresh seafood is featured at most restaurants. Don't miss the ceviche and the tiritos de pescado (thinly-sliced fish and onions, "cooked" in a marinade of lime juice, salt and Creole chiles).

A good place to see and shop for local foods and spices is at the Mercado Central in Zihuatanejo.



Mexico Tourism Board

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