Quiet and affordable hotel with lagoon views adjacent to the Pok ta Pok Golf Course and a short bus ride (2 km) to the beach. Amenities include an outdoor pool, private marina, rooftop sundeck, restaurant, and free parking, and some suites have 2 bedrooms, kitchenettes or full kitchens, and balconies. Hotel phone: +52 998 883 1018 Hotel website • Check prices for Sina Suites
Family-friendly resort with direct beach access, 2 restaurants, an outdoor pool and kiddie pool, a gym, self-service laundry, and free parking. Standard rooms feature patios and coffee makers, suites feature full kitchens and up to 3 bedrooms, and the restaurants and nightlife of the Hotel Zone are just a kilometer away. Hotel phone: +52 998 891 5427 Hotel website • Check prices for Beachscape Kin Ha Villas & Suites
1 and 2-bedroom suites with full kitchens set just steps from the beach. Property amenities include 2 outdoor pools, a convenience store, and free on-site parking. The El Rey Archaeological Zone is just a kilometer away. Hotel phone: +52 998 229 2455 Hotel website • Check prices for Condominios Brisas / Suites Brisas
Located at the Cancun International Convention Center, this hip and good value hotel features an outdoor pool, fitness center, full-service spa, restaurant, bar, 24-hour sundry shop, and free parking just a short 200m from the beach. Each modern room has a minibar and coffee maker, and numerous restaurants and nightclubs are within a 5-minute walk. Hotel phone: +52 998 848 9900 Hotel website • Check prices for Aloft
Beachfront all-inclusive resort, about 20 minutes (21 km) by car from the airport, catering to families with a kids club, an outdoor pool with a waterslide, a playground, game rooms, a plethora of dining options, and complimentary non-motorized watersports. Rooms include up to 2 bedrooms, some with ocean views, and other on-site amenities include tennis courts, a spa, and a fitness center. Hotel phone: +52 800 016 2747 Hotel website • Check prices for Oasis Palm
Beachfront resort with 2 outdoor pools, playground, adults-only hot tub, gym, and several restaurants located a kilometer from the La Isla shopping center. Choose from room-only or all-inclusive plans, and some rooms feature sea views, bunk beds, whirlpool tubs, or private infinity pools. Hotel phone: +52 998 848 8870 Hotel website • Check prices for Flamingo Resort
All-inclusive resort, slightly upscale but good-value, located in the Hotel Zone on a private beach with 2 outdoor pools, a variety of restaurants and bars, and a fitness center and spa available for a fee. All rooms have sea or garden views and balconies, some with private pools, and all-day entertainment includes pool games and nightly live music. Hotel phone: +52 998 848 7800 Hotel website • Check prices for Grand Park Royal
Downtown Cancun hostel offering free breakfast, free dinner, free beverages, and free daily activities and beach excursions in addition to a shared kitchen, hammocks, and both private rooms and mixed dorm rooms. Located near restaurants, shops, and nightlife, the hostel is a kilometer from Mercado 28 and 9 km from Tortugas Beach. Hotel phone: +52 998 892 7902 Hotel website • Check prices Hostel Ka’Beh
Modern hotel with an outdoor pool, a cafe, and free parking, and located steps to restaurants and supermarkets, 1 km from Mercado 28, and an 8 km from Tortugas Beach. Rooms have microwaves, coffee makers, and refrigerators, and can sleep up to 4 guests. Hotel phone: +52 800 000 6229 Hotel website • Check prices for Grand City Hotel
Within walking distance to restaurants, casinos, and the shops and entertainment of the Plaza Las Americas mall (800m), this modern hotel has a breakfast buffet available for a fee, on-site parking, a restaurant, and a bar. Every room has a desk, some rooms feature lagoon views, and Tortugas Beach is 9 km from the hotel. Hotel phone: +52 998 272 8500 Hotel website • Check prices for Ibis Centro
Contemporary hotel with an outdoor pool and free parking, located 500m from the shops and entertainment at Plaza Las Americas and 8 km from Tortugas Beach. Every room has a desk, refrigerator, microwave, and modern bathroom; suites have full kitchens and a living and dining area, and hotel amenities include a gym and a restaurant. Hotel phone: +52 800 911 4020 Hotel website • Check prices for Ambiance Suites
Situated between numerous shops and city parks, this hotel is on the edge of Downtown Cancun and Puerto Cancun, a quick drive to the Puerto Cancun Golf Course (2 km) and Tortugas Beach (9 km). Hotel amenities include a free beach shuttle, outdoor pool, restaurant, fitness center, and free parking, and rooms feature desks and ironing facilities. Hotel phone: +52 998 881 6500 Hotel website • Check prices for Adhara Hacienda
Environmentally-friendly budget hotel featuring a garden, an outdoor pool, and a hot tub with restaurants, parks, and a supermarket on the surrounding blocks. In addition to free breakfast and free parking, all rooms have kitchenettes and courtyard views, and Tortugas Beach is 8 km away. Hotel phone: +52 998 884 2028 Hotel website • Check prices for Eco-hotel El Rey del Caribe
Awesome location right on the beach and close to many restaurants. Large kid-friendly pool. One and two-bedroom suites (with kitchen) comfortably sleep families of 4 to 6. Hotel phone: +52 669 916 6161 Hotel website • Check prices for Royal Villas Resort
A typical mid-range all-inclusive resort. Kids tend to love it and there’s always lots to do (games, water slides, jumping cliffs). The pools and location are great. The food is, uhm, eatable (but lots of restaurants within an easy walk). Hotel phone: (888) 217-1183 Hotel website • Check prices for El Cid El Moro Beach
All-suite, family hotel with amazing kid-friendly amenities, including a zip line, an infinity pool, and a pint-sized water park with another pool. The hotel’s suites sit on a little hill overlooking the ocean, most with private balconies or patios, some with Jacuzzis, and all with daily breakfast included. The water park offers a two-tiered pool with a swim-up bar, slides that end in the ocean, a rock-climbing wall, and a private pier. Kayaks, snorkel gear, and paddleboards are available. Hotel phone: +52 998 888 0370 Hotel website • Check prices for Casa de los Sueños
The 2-bedroom suites sleep families of 4, 5, or 6. Two nice pools (one hot, one cold) are right on the beach. Shops and restaurants are a 2 minute walk away. The beach in front of the hotel (Playa Norte) is calm and shallow and probably the most kid-friendly beach in Mexico. Hotel phone: +52 998 999 2010 Hotel website • Check prices for Ixchel Beach Hotel
The best neighborhoods in Sayulita for travelers are Downtown (main beach, restaurants, and nightlife), South End (in between two beaches, jungle locale), and North End (quiet, relaxing vibe in a residential neighborhood). Note: If you’re looking at Sayulita on a map, the “South End” is actually to the west on the far side of Calle Marlin, where Calle Caracol turns into Calle Pescadores. The “North End” is to the east, just after crossing the little Sayulita River.
Sayulita has been a popular destination since it was “discovered” by surfers after the highway came through. Affectionately known as the “hippie town,” its Bohemian vibe and great year-round surf attract laid-back travelers and an eclectic mix of expats and local surfheads. Travelers won’t find ultra-refined, luxury resorts here; in fact, all hotels here are boutique stays. Instead, this is the spot for fuss-free, casual travel.
Getting around: The preferred mode of travel in Downtown is on foot or by golf cart. All restaurants, hotels, and the beach are fewer than 10 minutes walking from Downtown. It is not necessary to rent a car, no matter where you stay in the village. Even walking to the farthest point in the North End all the way to the far South End only takes 20 minutes. However, some of the more secluded hotels, such as Siete Lunas, are up hills. Travelers staying in these hotels or travelers with mobility issues should consider renting a golf cart. Not only are they fun to ride, but they are easier than cars for navigating around pedestrian traffic and much easier to park on the busy downtown streets.
Renting a car is not necessary for getting around in Sayulita, but it makes it easier to explore neighboring towns and areas. Rules of the road here are similar to the U.S. Highways are well-maintained, and streets are all well-mapped (if not well-marked) and easy to follow via GPS. Two things that are different are topes and left turns. Topes (pronounced TOH-pays) are speed bumps, but there are no regulations on their heights, steepness, or visibility; some are nearly impossible to see until it’s too late! Drive slowly in downtown and keep an eye out for these. Standard left turns are usually OK in downtown but not on highways. To make a left, drivers will often need to use a retorno, which is a U-turn overpass. To use a retorno, drive past the road you want to make a left onto, get into the far right lane to take the retorno exit, make the left onto the overpass, and finally merge with traffic going the opposite direction. You can then make a right at the desired street or destination.
Pay in pesos whenever possible. Many hotels, restaurants, and tour operators accept payment in U.S. dollars. However, travelers will almost always overpay if using dollars, as the exchange rate for tourists favors the peso.
This upscale boutique hotel is the closest you’ll find to a luxury resort in Sayulita. Each suite was built to accommodate the natural surroundings, so all are a little different. Its most popular is their Villa Arboles, a three-bedroom, private pool suite, built around two large trees, growing up out of the floor and through the palapa roof. Most suites are one- to three-bedrooms (the largest villa has seven) with full kitchens or kitchenettes. The hotel is built into the side of a hill in the South End, overlooking the cove and main beach with a pool and restaurant shared with its sister property Villa Amor. Many of the suites are on higher floors with stunning views but no elevator. Request a ground room floor, if mobility is limited. Hotel phone: +52 329 291 3000 Hotel website • Check prices for Amor Boutique Hotel
An amazing family getaway! Villas Sayulita offers unique amenities kids will love, including a swimming pool, tree house, swing set, lots of animals to visit with (dogs, ducks, and chickens), and a BMX bike park with complimentary bikes and helmets. A wellness-focused hotel, they offer daily yoga, plus temazcal rituals, guided meditations, and lessons in permaculture. Each villa is different, but all have at least two beds, a full kitchen or kitchenette, and a private terrace. Their Smoothie Bar serves garden-fresh breakfast and brunch daily, with much of the produce grown onsite. Located on a quiet street in the North End, walking distance to Downtown and only 150 meters to the beach. Hotel phone: +52 329 291 3063 Hotel website • Check prices for Hotel Villas
Ideal for romantic getaways, Siete Lunas’ rooms are perched on a lush, jungle hill overlooking Sayulita Beach, offering sweeping views of the ocean and village below. This secluded boutique stay offers seven rooms, all of which feature a floor-to-ceiling wall of windows that opens up fully to a private balcony. The intimate property boasts a sea-facing pool, cocktail bar, and breakfast included in the room rate. Located on a winding back road west of Los Muertos and Sayulita Beaches, about a fifteen-minute walk into downtown. A golf cart is highly recommended for guests staying here! Hotel phone: +52 322 294 5111 Hotel website • Check prices for Siete Lunas
This boutique resort houses eclectic villas in a range of sizes from cozy studios to palatial five-bedroom units. All rooms boast a kitchenette and an outdoor shower, many with private plunge pools; personal chefs can be arranged. Décor is eclectic, featuring vintage Indian and Moroccan furnishings alongside modern Mexican comforts. Villa Amor shares its pool and restaurant with its sister property Amor Boutique Hotel. Overlooking Sayulita Beach, this stunning hotel is less than ten minutes on foot to downtown. Request a ground floor room for travelers with limited mobility, as the hotel has no elevator. Hotel phone: +52 329 291 3010 Hotel website • Check prices for Villa Amor
Casablanca is the only beachfront hotel in Sayulita. This sunny boutique hotel has a heated, free-form pool, plus a palapa roof terrace just the right size for a small party, with its own Jacuzzi and barbeque. All suites include a full kitchen and private balcony; 2 bedroom suites have bunk beds in the guest room. The spacious Main House sleeps up to 10 and includes its own oceanfront private pool. This amazing little property is right next door to the Sayulita Turtle Camp, where newly hatched sea turtles are released at sunset year round. Located in the North End, Casablanca is only five minutes away from several restaurants and bars. Hotel phone: +52 329 298 8565 Hotel website • Check prices for Casablanca
Boutique hotel with a courtyard pool, spacious rooms, and central location. Selena offers a wide variety of rooms and suites, with the largest being a three-bedroom apartment that sleeps up to seven and includes a full kitchen. This is the only downtown hotel with a pool; it’s very deep as it used to be used for scuba lessons. Hot coffee and a small breakfast buffet are served poolside every day. Located only one block from the beach (free boogieboards and beach gear rental onsite), two blocks from the town square and church, near all of Sayulita’s restaurants, nightlife, and street vendors. Hotel phone: +52 329 291 3218 Hotel website • Check prices for Selina
Staying in Downtown/Main Beach Sayulita
Sayulita used to be a sleepy little surf village, but its popularity has grown in recent years. Now Downtown thrives with a range of excellent restaurants, bars with live music, and throngs of street vendors selling bright Huichol crafts all day and savory tacos as late as 3am. The Main Beach, Playa Sayulita, is equally busy, especially between 10am and sunset, when surfers and sunbathers flock to the oceanfront to catch Riviera Nayarit’s best waves and rays. Most people drive golf carts rather than cars here, as it’s easier to park smaller carts on the narrow streets. Stay in the Downtown/Main Beach area to be close to the action, the first to hit the waves and the last to leave the bars.
Los Corazones • $$-$$$ • Fantastic restaurant for fresh Mexican seafood; upscale but unpretentious.
El Itacate • $ • An itacate is a burrito wrapped in fried cheese instead of a tortilla. Heaven sent!
Restaurant Yeikame • $ • Fantastic spot offering specializing in pre-Hispanic dishes alongside Mexican classics. Popular for their chile relleno and margaritas.
Staying in South Sayulita
The South End of Sayulita is in the western part of town near two beaches, the Main Beach and Los Muertos Beach. Los Muertos Beach is named for the elaborate cemetery just inland from it, a peaceful, colorful spot well worth a trip on its own. A small road runs from downtown along the edge of the beach and above cove, narrowing into a little path as it stretches further from town. This is a popular spot for walking or cycling. The hotels and residences in the area sit just above this trail, built on the jungle hillside overlooking the main beach and town and offering sweeping sea views. The South End is only a ten-minute walk to the heart of downtown, but because it is hilly, a golf cart is recommended for travelers staying here.
Bichos • $ • Casual spot in a garden setting, known for their fish tacos.
Staying in North Sayulita
The North End sits just east of the little Sayulita River, which is more like a creek and dry in some seasons. This is a quiet, residential neighborhood just a short walk to the Main Beach and restaurants but without all the nighttime party noise. It’s more easily walkable than the South End, though its lack of hills means the views are less dramatic. This is a popular with families and for travelers visiting for yoga and meditation retreats. Because of its relaxed vibe, the Sayulita Turtle Camp has set up shop here. Open to the public, this sanctuary hatches and releases baby sea turtles at sunset all year round. Several restaurants and cafes are scattered throughout the area, but not as many bars as Downtown.
Great location in the heart of the Golden Zone (bars, restaurants, and shopping). Beach area is fantastic – clean and good swimming. Several pools and a superb infinity hot tub. This area is definitely too loud and busy for some (fun and energetic for others). Hotel phone: +52 800 716 9567 Hotel website • Check prices for Hotel Playa Mazatlán
Charming boutique hotel in Mazatlán’s Old Town. Only 8 rooms. Top floor infinity pool is small but has great views of the ocean and sunset. Located an easy walk from the trendy boutique shops, galleries, bars, and restaurants of the Historic Center. Hotel phone: +52 669 982 1100 Hotel website • Check prices for Casa Lucila Boutique Hotel
Seven rooms each with their own theme and furnishings. Close to the Malecon (the pedestrian boardwalk along the beach) and plenty of bars, restaurants, shops, and galleries. Staff is excellent and very helpful. Hotel phone: +52 669 136 0646 Hotel website • Check prices for Las 7 Maravillas
Good value bed & breakfast in the Mazatlán Old Town. There’s a small pool and charming courtyard (where breakfast is served). Great location in the Historic District and close to the water. Hotel phone: +52 669 981 6180 Hotel website • Check prices for Casa de Leyendas
Separated by a mere five miles of highway along a prime stretch of Mexico’s Pacific Coast, Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo are as different as can be. Ixtapa is a sedate, purpose-built beach resort community dating back to the 1970s, whereas Zihuatanejo – immortalized in the Shawshank Redemption – is a former fishing village turned busy little town, with a local feel to it and a picturesque setting on the Bahía de Zihuatanejo, framed by two hilly headlands. Ixtapa is centered on a stunning white-sand beach, whereas Zihua has appealing beaches of its own that stretch around the Bahía de Zihuatanejo, and numerous good restaurants and bars to boot. Unless you’re aiming for an all-inclusive vacation in Ixtapa, you’ll want your own wheels, since some of the outlying beaches and attractions both in Zihua and Ixtapa are fairly spread-out.
Ixtapa has the lion’s share of all-inclusive, 4 and 5-star beach resorts, whereas if you’re looking for a place on a budget, then central Zihuatanejo, Lazaro Cardenas, and Playa La Madera are your best bets. Zihua’s boutique, upscale hotels dot the hillsides above Playa La Ropa and Playa Las Gatas, south of central Zihua.
Flat and relatively compact, the purpose-built resort community of Ixtapa is centered on a long, white-sand beach and bookmarked at either end by a golf course. There are several quality guesthouses here, but the bulk of accommodations consists of upmarket, all-inclusive hotels that line the beach. There are a couple of natural attractions further west, and Ixtapa is connected to Zihuatanejo by frequent and cheap public buses.
Five miles south of Ixtapa by motorway, and flanked by the Lazaro Cardenas and Playa La Madera neighborhoods, Centro is the busy heart of Zihuatanejo, consisting of a compact grid of narrow streets. This is where you’ll find the municipal beach and seafront promenade, the food and craft markets, the most authentic local restaurants, banks, and Zihua’s sole cultural attraction: its waterfront museum.
Lazaro Cardenas is a quiet, hilly, and mostly residential neighborhood, just to the north of Centro and connected to it via a pedestrian bridge from the waterfront, right by the main pier. Several casual eateries and a smattering of midrange and budget hotels aside, the main attraction here is the quiet location that’s just a short walk from Zihua’s bustling center.
Linked to Centro by bridges over the narrow Rio Lerma, Playa La Madera is a mostly residential neighborhood that looks out onto a shallow, swimmable beach. It’s a quiet neighborhood dotted with inexpensive hotels and numerous good restaurants. Centro is a short and easy walk away, along the waterfront, while Playa La Ropa is a 20-minute, hilly walk south along the coastal road.
From Playa La Madera, the Escénica La Ropa road climbs uphill and then skirts the bay above Playa La Ropa, a wide sweep of white sand, connected to the coastal road by a couple of streets. It’s a rather spread-out, leafy neighborhood, and accommodations here run the gamut from friendly cheapies and midrange family hotels to exclusive, adults-only boutique places high up on the hillside, while restaurants range from cheap and cheerful beach shacks to sophisticated fusion places with cliff views and a smart-casual dress code. This is Zihuatanejo’s most popular base for gringos, and having your own wheels helps, since it’s a longish walk into town.
Adjoining the Playa La Ropa neighborhood, and located at the south end of the scenic road that loops its way south around Zihuatanejo Bay, sleepy Playa Las Gatas is a collection of tranquil, hilly streets, with boutique guesthouses and hotels looking out to sea from their lofty locations amidst a riot of lush vegetation. There are a couple of high-end restaurants here and the neighborhood is named after the sheltered beach below, reachable only by boat.
Halfway between Zihuatanejo Airport and Zihuatanejo proper, Playa Larga is a seaside community consisting of a couple of streets that look out onto the long sweep of eponymous white sand. Several inexpensive hotels and a handful of seafood eateries aside, its other attraction are some decent Pacific swells that draw surfers.
Flanked by mangrove wetlands and located at the south end of Playa Blanca, the tiny community of Barro de Potosí is just south of Zihuatanejo Airport and some 15 miles south of Zihuatanejo proper. Inexpensive beach restaurants and a few budget and midrange range hotels are found here.
Best Neighborhood in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo for Sightseeing & Shopping: Centro
Ixtapa and Zihua are rather short on sights. Pretty much the only cultural attraction is the Museo Arqueológico de la Costa Grande by the municipal beach in Centro. The museum gives you a decent overview of the Olmec, Tarascan, Mexica and Teotihuacan cultures of the Guerrero coast, though most displays are in Spanish only. Centro is also the best for shopping, whether you’re looking for touristy, mass-produced souvenirs (Mercado de Artesanías Zihuatanejo), locally grown coffee (Café Caracol, Café Zihuatanejo), fine textiles (La Zapoteca), or traditional and contemporary masks made by artisans from all over the Guerrero state, sold at El Jumil, by the waterfront.
Best Neighborhoods in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo for Nightlife: Centro, Ixtapa
Visitors generally don’t come to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo to party hard. Nightlife in Ixtapa consists of hotel bars, plus several sports bars and clubs that cater almost exclusively to tourists that are clustered in central Ixtapa, among the shopping malls, banks and restaurants found between the beachside Boulevard Paseo Ixtapa, and the Paseo de Las Gaviotas. If you’re looking for a less generic scene and want to mingle with locals, head for central Zihuatanejo. There are several excellent bars along the waterfront and in the tiny streets branching off from the beachside paseo. Standouts include the Angustina Mezcal bar, Tasting Room Por Capricho del Rey (for craft beer), and Malagua.
Best Neighborhoods in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo for Food and Restaurants: Centro, Playa la Madera, Playa de La Ropa, Playa Las Gatas
Centro boasts more traditional and inexpensive restaurants and eateries where you can try local specialties, such as pozole (meat-and-hominy stew) and tiritas (local take on ceviche); standouts include Restaurantes Mexicanos Any, Fonda Doña Licha and Carmelitas. It’s hard to get more local than the taco stands such as La Papa Loca and the 24-hour La Flechita Roja. Playa La Madera features a good mix of local and upscale offerings, such as Patio Mexica and El Arrayan, while Playa de La Ropa and Playa Los Gatos are known for their upscale, fusion restaurants with a view, such as Espuma, La Escollera and El Suspiro.
Best Neighborhoods in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo for Families: Ixtapa, Playa de La Ropa
Ixtapa is perfect for a family vacation with younger kids, particularly if you’re looking for the convenience of an all-inclusive resort. Family-friendly attractions in Ixtapa include Parque Aventura Ixtapa, with its zip lines, rope ladders and Himalayan bridges, plus the small Mundo Mágico waterpark with slides and pools. There’s also a small crocodile reserve off Playa Linda, just north of central Ixtapa, where kids can spot crocs and iguanas. If you’re looking for a more adventurous yet comfortable stay, and a good base for exploring Zihuatanejo, there are several family-friendly hotels in the Playa de la Ropa neighborhood. The beach is great for families, with its calm, shallow waters and water sports opportunities for older kids.
Best Neighborhoods in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo to Stay for First Timer: Centro, Playa La Madera, Playa La Ropa
It depends if you’re looking for a slice of local life, great dining or beaches. If you’re keen on proximity to all three, it’s hard to go wrong with basing yourself either in Centro, with its terrific restaurants and the beaches only a short drive away; Playa La Ropa, with its creative, upscale restaurants and great beach, or Playa La Madera – a halfway house between the two; its own beach is not amazing, but it’s closer to the La Ropa beach than Centro, and quieter than Centro, while being only a short stroll away from its restaurants and bars.
Most Romantic Neighborhoods in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo: Playa Las Gatas, Playa La Ropa, Lazaro Cardenas
It’s hard to beat the sea and sunset views from the intimate, high-end, boutique, adults-only luxury hotels high above Playa Las Gatas and Playa La Ropa; some come with private terraces and plunge pools. Or you can opt for romance on a budget and get similar sea-and-sunset vistas from midrange digs on the hillsides of Lazaro Cardenas.
Best Neighborhood in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo for a Local Vibe: Centro
For a local vibe, you can’t beat central Zihua, with its tight grid of bustling streets, busy local markets (check out the Mercado Municipal off Avenida Benito Juárez and the smaller produce markets found off Calle Mangos that branches off Avenida Benito Juárez), and excellent local eateries and taco stands. Wandering the streets and taking in local life is a joy and it’s hard to get more local than late-night bites at Zihua’ legendary taco stands.
Best Neighborhoods in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo for Water Sports: Ixtapa, Centro Playa La Ropa, Playa Las Gatas, Lazaro Cardenas
The majority of Ixtapa’s beachside hotels offer a plethora of water sports, such as parasailing, and rent out sea kayaks and Hobie cats. Snorkelling gear is rented out off Isla Ixtapa’s beaches, though the visibility isn’t amazing. Parasailing can also be done off Playa La Ropa, which also has outfits that rent out sea kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. If you’re looking for sports fishing, look no further than Zihuatanjeo Sports Fishing Charters in Ixtapa. A more wallet-friendly option is the Sociedad de Servicios Turísticos Triángulo del Sol fishing cooperative by the boat ramp in Centro that arranges fishing trips, with the price depending on your bargaining skills. There are two good scuba diving outfits along the waterfront in Lazaro Cardenas, and another one that’s based on the Playa Las Gatas, where the water is calm and great for snorkeling. Surfers should head for Playa Larga, 8 miles south of Centro.
Safest Areas of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo: Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo have a low crime rate, compared to other parts of the Pacific Coast. The main beach in Ixtapa, plus Playa La Ropa and Playa Las Gatas neighborhoods are safest, and Centro is generally safe to walk around, even late in the evening. Standard precautions apply: don’t flash lots of cash, expensive jewelry or electronic gear, and avoid deserted, poorly-lit streets at night.
Unsafe Areas of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo: While not specifically off-limits, the mostly residential neighborhoods of Zihuatanejo east of the main Avenida José Maria Morelos y Pavón see practically no visitors and you may feel rather conspicuous there. Some of the streets in Lazaro Cardenas are poorly lit at night.
Best Neighborhoods in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo for Tourists
A state-tourism-planned resort to match Cancún, Ixtapa was built in the 1970s along a long, white-sand beach, Playa de Palmar. Unlike Cancún, Ixtapa didn’t take off in a huge way, but while there isn’t much here in the way of a local community, it’s an excellent place to stay for families with kids that are looking for creature comforts and hassle-free, all-inclusive vacations by the beach. 4- and 5-star hotels line the prime two-mile stretch of Playa de Palmar, with easy access to water sports, such as parasailing. Nearby attractions include a small water park, two excellent golf courses, a yachting marina, small crocodile sanctuary, and boat trips to Isla Ixtapa from Playa Linda, a short drive from central Ixtapa. Plus, Zihuatanejo and its beaches and restaurants are a short drive away and make for an easy day trip.
The heart of Zihuatanjeo is where all the action is. Downtown Zihua consists of a grid of narrow, busy streets, and this is where you’ll find all the essentials: banks, large produce market, lots of inexpensive, authentic Mexican eateries, 24-hour taco stands, as well as cheap hotels, tacky t-shirt stores, and pretty much the only cultural sight in town: the archaeological museum dedicated to regional history. The municipal beach is not particularly clean; this is where fishermen clean their catch, and the pier is where you catch boats to Playa Las Gatas. But the waterfront is great for a stroll, and tacky souvenir sellers aside, there are several excellent stores near the waterfront that specialise in quality keepsakes: regionally-made masks, locally grown coffee, and hand-woven textiles. Come evening, the bars along the waterfront and in the tiny streets nearby get pretty lively.
Flanking the Zihuatanejo Bay to the west, and a short walk from central Zihuatanejo, Lazaro Cardenas is a quiet, hilly neighborhood with winding streets, great sea views from its smattering of midrange and budget hotels and guesthouses, and a hanful of places to eat. Two diving centres are found along the coastal Calle de la Noria, and Picante catamaran cruises depart from the headland. Some of the streets are poorly lit at night.
Reachable from the east end of the Paseo El Pescadór – the waterfront promenade in central Zihua – Playa La Madera is a compact, leafy neighborhood overlooking a clean stretch of sand and calm waters. On the hill above the beach there are some pricey condos, as well as some decent midrange hotels. There are several inexpensive seafood restaurants along the beach, and more sophisticated offerings along the canal-facing Calle Adelita. And if you’re looking to learn to cook the Mexican way, the owner of Patio Mexica café runs excellent cooking classes.
A mile so over the headland from Playa La Madera, and reachable via the scenic, winding Escénica La Ropa road, Playa La Ropa is Zihua’s best road-accessible beach – a mile-long stretch of white sand, with calm waters and casual waterfront restaurants serving a mix of local seafood and international dishes. This neighborhood is quite spread-out, with a handful of streets connecting the scenic coastal road to the beach. Near the south end of the beach, accommodations are a mix of budget and midrange hotels, with the upscale and exclusive boutique options found high above the bay, near the headland viewpoint. Along the coastal road you’ll also find LOOT – a hipster café and art showroom, with a rooftop bar and occasional live concerts.
Named after the sheltered, popular beach cove below its cliffs, this quiet, affluent neighborhood is located at the south end of the Escénica La Ropa road that connects it to central Zihua via Playa La Ropa and Playa La Madera. There’s a scattering of well-to-do houses along the hilly street here, along with a handful of Zihua’s best boutique hotels, most boasting lofty sea views. The beach itself is great for snorkelling and has crystal-clear, calm waters for swimming and a restaurant. To reach the beach, you have to head all the way to Centro, to Zihuatanejo’s main pier, to catch a boat out there.
A surfer magnet when the conditions are right, this tiny seaside settlement just north of Zihuatanejo Airport is a good choice if you’re looking to hit the waves or ride horse on the beach. Or just come for a wallet-friendly seafood lunch on the wide, white-sand Playa Larga.
Technically not part of Zihuatanejo proper, this tiny, laidback community is just south of Zihuatanejo Airport, and worth a stay if you’re looking for tranquility, great seafood at a beachfront enramada (eatery), and some serious beach time along the long sweep of Playa Blanca. Even if you don’t stay here, it’s a worthwhile 30-minute drive from Zihua, and there are boat trips into the surrounding mangroves for keen bird watchers.
Mexico City is a world class destination, a vibrant metropolis teaming with humanity. There is a rich and varied cultural scene, with 185 museums, 9 archaeological sites and 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites, plus fabulous food from fine dining restaurants to abundant street food. There is something for absolutely every kind of traveler.
Guadalajara is Mexico’s second biggest city, and the capital of the state of Jalisco. A less frenetic metropolis than Mexico City, it’s full of tree-lined boulevards, and home to both the Mexican institutions of mariachi music and tequilla.
Located in Mexico’s central highlands, San Miguel de Allende is known for its thriving arts scene and cultural festivals, gastronomy, and baroque architecture. Once known for catering mostly to backpackers and budget travelers, the city now features many luxury and boutique hotels and high-end shopping, with a plethora of quaint bougainvillea filled alleyways to explore.
Situated at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, Los Cabos is the coastal area encompassing the two popular resort destinations of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. The beautiful waters and beaches offer a variety of water sport adventures and marine life, and the surrounding dessert more natural wonders to explore. There’s a pervasive party atmosphere spread out across endless bars and night clubs. Despite its natural beauty, the area is built up with look-alike resorts and all-inclusive hotels, large chain stores and restaurants.
Surrounded by lush mountains and stretching around the beautiful Bahía de Banderas, Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s most popular coastal destinations. The malecón promenade runs along the beach downtown, with loads of waterfront restaurants and bars, and a collection of iconic sculptures. Puerto Vallarta is also popular with families and LGBTQ travelers. There are a number of smaller resort towns both north (Punta de Mita, Sayulita, San Francisco) and south (Mismaloya, Boca de Tomatlan, Yelapa) of PV.
Zihuatanejo is a small resort area on the coast of the state of Guerrero, north of Acapulco. The city is slow and quiet but becomes quite touristy when cruise ships are in town. There are narrow cobblestone streets with small restaurants, boutiques and artisan studios, and a romantic waterfront sidewalk. Nearby Ixtapa is also attractive but has larger resorts and less of a local vibe.
Oaxaca City is the gastronomic capitol of Mexico, also known for it’s architecture and natural beauty. The city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Handicrafts, ceramics, and rugs are popular with visitors.
Merida is the quiet capital of the state of Yucatan, with a large Mayan population and robust cultural scene. There’s lots to see in the city and plenty of pleasant day trips to ancient ruins and natural beauty in the surrounding area.
Tulum is a small city on Yucatan’s Caribbean coast, known for its amazing beaches and well preserved Mayan ruins on a cliffside above the beach. A hip scene full of boutique shopping, small luxury hotels, and fusion cuisine blending modern techniques with traditional Mexican ingredients. Yoga, bike riding, and visits to cenotes in the surrounding jungle are popular activities, as are large electronic dance music festivals.
10. Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is a small Mexican island in the Caribbean Sea off the Yucatan Coast near Cancun. It’s known for beaches, resort hotels, snorkeling, and scuba diving on the surrounding coral reefs. Golf carts are the main form of transportation around the island – which gives a pretty good approximation of the relaxed vibe on the island.
Cancun is known for its gorgeous powdery white sand beaches, large luxury resorts, and nightlife. A major tourist destination for decades, the city is divided into the Zona Hoteleria along the beach and Cancun Centro (the city) inland that has more local flavor and flare. Golf, shopping, and day trips to surrounding cenotes, water parks, and cultural sites are easily accomplished.