Before you go to Ixtapa, do some things from home rather than wait until you get there:
1) Rent a car online. If you wait until you get down there, the cost is 300% more. No kidding.
2) If you don’t care how you get around, as long as it has four wheels, DO NOT rent a VW bug. They may be cute, but they have no air conditioning, and you will die. Case closed. We switched over to an Atos for only $29 more, and it’s worth every penny.
3) If you pick up your car at the airport, rather than at some downtown point in Zihua, there is an additional airport charge. This may be a little vague, because most of the cars are stored at the airport. When we visited Hertz downtown, they had no vehicles.
4) If you are flying from the West Coast, you might want to forget the usual carriers, unless you want to spend the whole day traveling. We took Mexicana, and had quite the tour. San Jose > Guadalajara > Mexico City > Zihuatanejo > Acapulco > Zihuatanejo. And that was just getting down there. The extra stop in Acapulco was due to inclement weather in Zihuatanejo. Alaska Airlines flies directly there from the Bay Area.
5) Try to learn some basic Spanish phrases; even in the best of circumstances, most people don’t speak English. An effort on your part will elicit pleased responses and more assistance.
6) If you want a wild and crazy vacation, this is not the place.
7) Be prepared to attend at least one, if not more, timeshare presentations. Most of the hotels have their own, and if not that, other hotels will recruit you with rewards too good to pass up.
8) If you have trouble with currency, an easy way to translate pesos into dollars is to move the decimal point over one place (to the left). Try not to exchange dollars for pesos there; the buying rate is more favorable here. Otherwise, get your pesos through an ATM, which will give you great rates.
9) Don’t drink the water. Bottled water is plentiful and cheap, except in the hotels. They have a mini-market in Ixtapa where the bottles are three for $1.00 instead of $2.50 each in the hotels.
10) We had no trouble with foods, fruits, etc. Avoid trouble by not shopping in places with no refrigeration, as in the Mercado Central in Zihua. If you stick to fish which is broiled, you can’t go wrong. And the fruit is outstanding. Green oranges are wonderful, even though they look sickly, and mangoes are completely yellow, but quite sweet.
11) If you want to try out an expensive restaurant, call ahead just to find out what the deal is, to avoid disappointment. We had such an instance with "Bogart’s," which was next door and had all the looks of a Moroccan place. They also describe it themselves as recreating the exotic charm of the movie Casablanca. Cuisine combined with the Arabian nights, etc. The food is totally Continental; it’s just the ambience which is Oriental. Now isn’t that silly?
12) This is a great place to buy leather, silver, and local crafts. You can get amazing pieces with real stones at up to 30% off. I was also able to have one of the sellers make a custom piece for me right on the spot. Where else does this happen?
13) Many Americans and Canadians have apparently decided to retire here. If the thought crosses your mind, make sure you have mucho bucks. Some of the properties in Ixtapa especially are breathtaking, and their prices match.
14) Take side trips if you have time. We went to Petatlan, and loved the experience. The new highway route 200 goes all the way to Acapulco (it takes about 3.5 hours to get there, heading south of Ixtapa). You can also head north to Morelia in another 3 hours or so.
15) The Barcelo Beach Resort hosts theme nights that include music, dancing, and food relative to the culture being presented. Among them is Argentine night, Mexican Fiesta, Tropical Night, and International Night. Tickets run about $35-$40 a person. You can call ahead for tickets to Jose Alfredo at 044-755-1010-527. This is his cellphone.
16) Make sure your passport is current.