Can’t decide what side of Mexico you want to see, the tourist version or the local version? Well, you are in luck because Ixtapa and its surrounding region is the Mexican version of the ‘Tale of Two Cities’. Ixtapa is the tourist side, a city set up and run by the tourism industry. Nearby is Zihuatanejo, a taste of authentic Mexico with a growing local culture. With only a short distance separating these two unique destinations, you do not need to choose – you can experience local charm within the comfort of a tourist destination!
Ixtapa is located in the southeastern part of Mexico along the Pacific Ocean. Close to Acapulco, you can expect similar beauty and landscapes as the famous glamorous city but on a smaller scale. Plan your travels in the winter months, which is the dry season for this region, as the summer is very wet and humid. With seasonal direct flights from different Canadian and American cities, Ixtapa is easily accessible and open to people visiting from around the world.
The first city in our tale is Ixtapa. This was developed as a tourist city around the same time as Cancun and is similarly planned as an exclusive destination for visitors. Here you can expect all of the conveniences and amenities of a resort city built specifically for the tourism industry. Filled with hotels and resorts, Ixtapa is the best place to stay while you are in the region. From here you are able to discover everything the surrounding area has to offer.
Ixtapa is known for its long stretches of beaches and promenades that line the row of oceanfront resorts. Here you can find your own little piece of paradise and white sandy relaxation under the Mexican sun. If you are feeling itchy for activity, rent a bike and cycle along the popular bike path that weaves through the resort. Or, head over to one of the marinas and engage in some water sports and boating excursions. The tale of this city is one of endless white sandy beaches and excellent accommodations.
The second ‘city’, Zihuatanejo, is the perfect contrast in our tale of two cities, and lucky for you, they are both closely accessible. A 15 minute taxi ride or resort shuttle can quickly transfer you from the tourist paradise of Ixtapa to the authentic Mexican fishing town of Zihuatanejo. This area has experienced a renaissance since the development of tourism in the region, but still retains much of the charm that is now absent from so many resort cities. This ‘city’ is where you can find a truly Mexican spirit that still shines through all of its development.
Zihuatanejo still has a thriving fishing industry, so be sure to head over to a local seafood restaurant and try some local fare. Nothing compares to the freshly prepare fish hauled in local fishermen’s nets only days before. When your stomach is full, you will be ready to explore this charming and thriving town. Pedestrian walkways, including the Paseo del Pescador, will weave you through the streets and past authentic Mexican dwellings and artisan markets, such as the Mercado de Artensanias. Here, you can have a taste of real Mexico and how the people of this diverse country live out their daily lives.
As a thriving tourist town, Zihuatanejo is always hopping and bustling with festivals and cultural events. These are usually located in the central basketball courts along the beachfront, which acts as the town’s central square. If you travel in February, you might catch the Annual Zihua Sail Fest, an international charity event that attracts boats from up and down the Pacific. In March, the International Guitar Festival attracts famous guitarists from around the world. During other times of the year, Zihuatanejo’s nightlife and concert venues are constantly humming with music and dance. The tale of this city is definitely one of authentic Mexico.
When you choose Ixtapa you do not need to pick between the convenience of a resort city and the authenticity of a real fishing town – you get to experience both! While Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo are contrasting cities, they are both set out with the tourist in mind. This Mexican ‘Tale of Two Cities’ is your chance to experience the beauty and convenience of two amazing destinations that offer their very own unique experiences.