Ixtapa Stories and Tips

There's more to Mexico than just Cancun... Ixtapa!

CROCODILE RESERVE Photo, Ixtapa, Mexico

The name of Zihuatanejo comes from the nahuatl word ‘Cihuatlan,’ which means "place of women," due to all the wives the king had. The king’s men constructed a great part of the rock reef in the area for the purpose of simulating a large pool so his many wives could get into the water without any worries. Part of this construction is still found at Las Gatas beach. The idea behind the building of Ixtapa was to develop a first-class complement to the popular Zihuatanejo and make a small world-class resort for the tourists who do not like big cities or big destinations. The first hotel was built in 1971. To keep the tradition of naming Mexico’s new tourist destinations in native tongues, in honor to our ancestors, they chose the nahuatl word Ixtapa, which means "the white place," in reference to the white sands in the area. During the development stages, the local people referred to it as "The New Zihuatanejo." Once it got on the map, it took about a year for the townspeople to decide how to call the double destination... Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo.

Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is like having your cake and eating it, too. Looking to while away your time at a friendly, picturesque fishing village? Or in the mood to unwind at an ultramodern resort? Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo has both. Few destinations offer visitors these two completely different options--each within minutes of the other, both with unique attractions. Ixtapa's coastline is filled with several world-class hotels, condominium developments, a marina and two golf courses. An impeccable, tree-lined boulevard divides the high-rise hotels on one side from a string of small-scale malls on the other. You can enjoy typical small-town life in neighboring Zihuatanejo, a once sleepy fishing village that began to attract visitors with its wonderful hilltop views and palm-strewn beaches, and now offers charming hotels, restaurants, and shops. Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo has become such a popular destination that on holidays or during the tourist season, it is hard to get hotel accommodations and airplane seats. U.S. and Canadian tourists who visit the dual resort are delighted by the fine climate, warm surf, and absolutely breathtaking sunsets. You can enjoy all types of activities, including snorkeling, water activities, and the wildlife, such as the crocodile and iguana reserve and swimming with dolphins. The average temperature is 82 degrees F, and it's almost always sunny, because even during the rainy season, showers are brief and usually in the late afternoon or evening.

Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is just a 3-hour drive from Acapulco, or about a 7-hour drive direct from Mexico City. By air, it is a scant 40-minute flight from the capital, and there are also direct flights from the U.S. If you enjoy travelling by land, you can grab a luxury bus from Mexico City or virtually any other city in Mexico to take you to Ixtapa. From Mexico City, it is only 9 hours by bus and extremely safe.

Because Ixtapa is not as popular a destination as Cancun, for example, it tends to get very pricy at times. You can easily get around in urban buses, and taxis can get very expensive. For 14 pesos (about 1 dollar), you can travel back and forth between Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo. Dining is excellent in the area, although again, a bit expensive. You would think that seafood prices would not be as high, but after a few days, it does hit your wallet. Check my dining recommendations in this journal, which is pretty much fit for all budgets.

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