All About Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo - IZ Insider Program Introduction

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All About Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo - IZ Insider Program Introduction
All About
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo
Instructions
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Where Coast Meets Culture
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Linda
Playa
Isla
Ixtapa
IXTAPA
Playa
Quieta
K I L O M E T E R S
Isla
de la Pie
0
Marina Ixtapa
Golf Course
Marina
Ixtapa
Punta Ixtapa
Playa
Cuata
3
SHOPPING
Playa
Palmar
Bahía
del Palmar
Playa Vista
Hermosa
Palma Real
Golf Course
200
To
Airport
ZIHUATANEJO
P A C I
F I
C
PUERTO MARIS
MARINA
O
C
Bahía
Zihuatanejo
E
A
N
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Playa
0
Linda
Isla
Ixtapa
K I L O M E T E R S
Playa
Quieta
Punta
Ixtapa
2.5
5
Club de Golf
Marina
Ixtapa
Marina
Ixtapa
To
Airport
KILOMETERS
0
SHOPPING
.5
1
Playa
Cuatas
Playa
El Palmar
Bahía
del Palmar
FI
JO
NE
O
TA
UA 7 KM
C
PUERTO
MARIS
MARINA
Playa
era
ZIH
C
Playa
Principal
d
La Ma
PA C I
Campo de Golf
Ixtapa
E
N
7K
M
Bahía de
Zihuatanejo
Playa
La Ropa
A
IXT
APA
Playa
Las Gatas
Ixtapa
Zihuatanejo
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History &
Overview
Today’s “culture and comfort” vacationers are looking
for unique destinations. For those in search of a singular beach experience that offers high-rise luxury along
with authentic Mexican seaside charm, the dual destination of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo (eeks-TAH-pa /see-wahtah-NEH-ho) delivers the best of both worlds. Or as we
like to say, “where coast meets culture.”
Set against the Sierra Madre del Sur, the IxtapaZihuatanejo area runs along 26 kilometers (16 miles)
of rolling tropical coastline with dozens of sandy
beaches, scalloped coves, and massive granite rocks
jutting up from the blue waters of the Pacific. Unlike
Caribbean Mexico, the geography here is hilly and dramatic highlighted with rock peaks, cliffs, bluffs, islands,
and plunging lush ravines running to the sea.
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo’s beach town simplicity has a style
all its own. Clean, well-maintained, and tropically picturesque, modern Ixtapa and traditional Zihuatanejo
are an ideal vacation choice for Mexico lovers seeking authenticity, activities and accommodations away
from the crowds.
These two delightfully different cities are friendly
neighbors, just seven kilometers (4.3 miles) apart. With
a combined population of nearly 120,000 residents,
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is located in the State of Guerrero
and is 240 kms (149 miles) from the well known beach
city of Acapulco. The stretch between these two destinations is known as La Costa Grande and has virtually
no tourism development.
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo enjoys an average temperature of
79 degrees with brief afternoon showers during the
rainy season (from June through September). The sun
shines an average of 330 days a year and sea breezes
keep the climate agreeable year-round.
Ixtapa, conceived and developed by the Mexican
government’s FONATUR (Nation Fund for Tourism
Development), is arguably the most modern resort
on Mexico’s west coast. Born in the 1970’s, Ixtapa has
an ecology-minded master-plan that requires half the
land in the development be kept as ecological reserve.
The area emerged from a sparsely inhabited coastal
coconut palm plantation. By the 1980’s everything
came together as one of Mexico’s newest made-fromscratch international resorts.
Ixtapa is aging nicely with its mature landscaping and
neatly maintained streets and sidewalks. Everything is
set amidst a spectacular tropical canopy of hardwoods
and blooming bougainvillea, hibiscus, ornamental
cactus, and fragrant plumeria. An attractive complex of handicraft stalls, boutiques, designer stores,
bars, coffee shops and restaurants runs parallel to the
hotel zone. Taxis are rarely needed to access these
attractions.
Ixtapa stretches along Playa El Palmar, a 3 kilometer
(1.8 mile) stretch of soft golden sand and Pacific surf.
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A second (and smaller) hotel zone lies just up the coast at
Playa Quieta. The two are connected via a pleasant bike
and jogging path.
Ixtapa the Number One destination for families in the world! We are also in the Top Ten for
romance (Zihuatanejo)!
Also on Playa Palmar is Marina Ixtapa, a 450-acre multiuse facility. This upscale complex (and its booming condominium and full-ownership real estate opportunities) is
comprised of nautical facilities with 621 yacht slips, private
villas, restaurants and shops.
Water sports are also a draw with notable snorkeling and diving locations. The restaurant, shopping
and nightlife scenes are a bit subdued compared
to other Pacific resorts, yet there’s still enough
diversity for enjoyable outings. And the charms of
Zihuatanejo are just 10 minutes away!
Ixtapa boasts two golf courses: The Marina Ixtapa course
- a challenging18-hole golf course designed by Robert
Von Hagge and the Campo de Golf - Palma Real course is a
Robert Trent Jones II masterpiece.
Ixtapa’s offering of hotels includes one of Mexico’s most
consistently fine collections of five-star properties, each
one distinct in architecture and setting. A mixture of
chains (including Barceló, Emporio, Las Brisas, Park Royal,
Krystal, and others) and independent properties stretch
for over two miles along the Pacific shoreline. There are
both AAA Four Diamond and value choices within this
string of attractive properties.
Ixtapa keeps active guests and families on the go with
its world-class golf, outstanding deep-sea fishing, and
some exceptional eco-adventure day trips to surrounding
mountains and coast. In fact, in 2010 Trip Advisor named
While Ixtapa sprang to life in the 1970’s,
Zihuatanejo dates back hundreds of years. Prior
to the Spaniards’ first encounter with the village
in 1527, Zihuatanejo had been occupied since the
dawn of Mexican civilization. Known as Cihuatlán
(meaning “place of women”), the village is believed
to have been connected with Mexico’s Olmec civilizations and may have been a matriarchal society.
Zihuatanejo is a unique Mexican town, having
evolved over centuries from a quiet fishing village to an enchanting vacation destination. Don’t
expect Puerto Vallarta-like colonial-style buildings lining a broad waterfront. Rather, Zihuatanejo
Bay is made up of three side-by-side coves, linked
by way of a road that rises over hills and cliffs that
tumble to the Pacific.
Strolling along the stone-paved streets of
Zihuatanejo’s Paseo del Pescador takes visitors
past the panga fishing fleet, public art displays and
small boutiques. Stop at cafés and bars while enjoying rhythms of local musicians.
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History & Overview continues
Zihuatanejo hosts a diversity of hotels, from the most
exclusive and highly recognized worldwide Small
Luxury Hotels and AAA Four Diamond winners, to the
charming, family-run bungalows where the warmth
and excellent service are never absent. In fact, our
Hoteles con Encanto is a grouping of some 30
Zihuatanejo inns – affordable and easily booked for
your clients.
Visitors often split their leisure time between Ixtapa
and Zihuatanejo. A typical day might begin with
breakfast and a market stroll in Zihuatanejo, followed
by lunch, pool lounging and a round of golf in Ixtapa.
A leisurely dinner back in Zihuatanejo caps off a perfect day in this “twice as pleasing” destination.
For more active travelers, the safe, winding, and
delightful “ciclopista” (bike path) links the region’s
three developed areas (Playa Linda, Ixtapa, and
Zihuatanejo). You can cycle your way just about everywhere amidst jungle, wildlife, and serenity.
Day trips include two fun beach outings (both via
short boat rides) and a multitude of excursions to
nearby villages, lagoons, and fruit plantations. The
Zihuatanejo mountains offer diverse activities and
ecotourism is making its mark. Try rappelling, zip-line
rides, rafting and hiking at exciting adventure parks.
A ride through the orchards, mountains or beaches
on a four-wheeler is also an option. For an “add on”
trip, the magical colonial cities of Uruapan, Pátzcuaro
and Morelia (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) are
just a few hours away in the extraordinary State of
Michoacán.
comers like Capella and The Tides have boosted the
destination’s lodging credentials, and millions in resort
renovation have helped keep Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo
atop Mexico’s preferred
destination roster. With a
total of only 7,286 hotel
rooms, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo
remains a comfortably intimate, easy-to-navigate
destination.
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo’s development as a major Pacific
Coast resort has been somewhat stymied by a lack of
year-round scheduled air service. Yet, during the last
few years, the air service has improved. And, a new
autopista highway linking to Mexico’s interior has
opened IxtapaZihuatanejo to
Mexican tourists
like never before.
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is
“where coast meets
culture,” where there is
always something new to
be discovered.
Resort and residential development
have quickly followed. Luxury new-
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Arriving and
Departing
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is located in the northwestern
region of the State of Guerrero. (Acapulco and colonial
Taxco are also in Guerrero.)
The coastline runs diagonally, rather than northsouth. Acapulco is 225 kilometers (149 miles) “down
the coast” (to the southeast); Puerto Vallarta 663 kilometers (412 miles) up the coast (northwest), and the
coastal Federal Highway 200 connects them all. This
expanse of tropical Pacific coastline is referred to as
the “Mexican Riviera”.
The segment of coastline between Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo
and Acapulco is known as “La Costa Grande.” Note:
The road promises to be improved in 2010-2011 and
will cut driving time down to under three hours.
UNITED STATES
Pa
c
ifi
cO
cea n
IXTAPA &
ZIHUATANEJO
Location:
21 km (13 miles) southeast of Ixtapa; 14 km from (8.6
miles) Zihuatanejo.
Facilities:
The recently expanded and modernized IxtapaZihuatanejo International Airport has extensive facilities including as car rental desks of major international
and domestic companies, a restaurant, food bars,
shops and duty-free stores for departing international
travelers. Baggage on inbound international connecting flights is routinely checked straight through for
convenient customs clearance at ZIH.
FR O M M E X I CO
AIRLINE
ORIGIN
Aeroméxico Connect
Mexico City
Click Mexicana
Mexico City
Interjet
Toluca, Mexico
Magnicharter
Mexico City
FR O M USA
Gulf of Mexico
MEXICO
Airport Name: Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo International Airport; Code ZIH
AIRLINE
ORIGIN
Alaska Airlines
Los Angeles
Continental
Houston
US Airways
Phoenix
Frontier
Denver
FR O M C ANADA
AIRLINE
ORIGIN
Air Canada
Vancouver,
Montreal
West Jet
Calgary
CHAR T E R FLI G H T S: FR O M USA
Charters
Origin
Apple Vacations
Minneapolis,
Milwaukee; Chicago
MLT (Worry-Free
Vacations)
Minneapolis (with
Delta)
Mark Travel (Funjet)
Minneapolis St. Paul.
GoGo
(Liberty Travel)
Use different airlines
in all United States
CHAR T E R FLI G H T S: FR O M C ANADA
Charters
Origin
Thomas Cook
(Bel Air)
Calgary, Vancouver
Vacances Air Transat
(Nolitours, Sunquest)
Toronto, Calgary,
Montreal
Arriving & Departing
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Transportation &
Getting Around
Regulated airport transportation services
provide chauffeured transfers in air-conditioned private sedans or using group vans.
Tour operators, local travel agencies, certain airline packages, and individual hotels
can provide airport transfers for their
customers.
C A R R E N TA L
CO M PA N I E S
T E L E PH O N E
D riving
to
I xtapa -Z ihuatanejo
Accessibility by highway has increased significantly, especially
with the new toll-highway called Autopista Siglo XXI (“21st-Century Highway”) linking Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo with Morelia, the colonial capital of Michoacán State and a UNESCO World Heritage
Site, just a three-hour scenic drive north (365 km/227 mi).
Federal Highway 200 connects Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and
Acapulco, where the modern toll superhighway called Autopista
del Sol (“Highway of the Sun”) intersects to link Acapulco with
Mexico City (total distance 637 km/396 mi). An alternative and
somewhat faster highway route between Mexico City and IxtapaZihuatanejo is via Morelia (691 km/420 mi).
Budget
755-553-0397
Dollar Rent-a-Car
755-553-7050
Hertz
755-112-1683
Europcar, Ixtapa
755 544-8256
Europcar, Zihuatanejo
755 553-1758
DRIVING TIMES
Thrifty Car Rental,
Ixtapa
755 553-3019
Approximate driving times to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo via Siglo XXI Highway
or Autopista del Sol Highway.
Thrifty Car Rental,
Zihuatanejo
755 553-7020
Arrendamientos
Nacionales, Ixtapa
755 553-0517
AIRPORT TRANSFER RATES
To Zihuatanejo, Downtown
Taxi- $30/4 people
Van- $60/8 people
To Zihuatanejo, Playa La Ropa Zone
Taxi $35/4 people
Van $65/8 personas
To Ixtapa:
Taxi- approximately $35/4 people
Van- $65/8 people
To Ixtapa: Hotel Zone
Taxi $40/4 people
Van $65/8 people
There is convenient first-class and deluxe bus service between
these cities and throughout Mexico.
TIME
KM
TOLL COST
IN PESOS
Acapulco
3:00 hours
247 km
22
Guadalajara
5:51 hours
567 km
340
León
5:53 hours
591 km
343
México D.F. by Acapulco
7:03 hours
627 km
526
México D.F. by Morelia
6:54 hours
691 km
479
Morelia
3:46 hours
387 km
205
Pátzcuaro
3:15 hours
333 km
205
Puebla by Mexico
7:19 hours
666 km
536
L E AV I N G FR O M :
Puebla by Morelia
8:10 hours
818 km
594
Querétaro
5:30 hours
574 km
411
San Miguel de Allende
5:46 hours
276 km
354
Toluca
6:53 hours
617 km
392
Uruapan
2:48 hours
286 km
161
Quick Facts
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo Info
Web: www.visitiz.com
State Tourism Office
Tel/Fax. 52-755-544 -8361
Municipal Tourism Office
Tel/Fax. 52-755-554-2068 ext. 219
Convention & Visitors Bureau
Tel. 52-755-553-1270 | Fax. 52-755-553-0819
Area Code: 755
GROUND TRANSPORTATION TO THE DESTINATION
A PPR OX .
T R AV E L
TIME
FR O M
B US L I N E S
Acapulco, Gro.
Estrella de Oro,
Estrella Blanca
4 hrs.
Cuernavaca, Mor.
Estrella de Oro
8 hrs.
Guadalajara, Jal.
Estrella de Oro,
Estrella Blanca,
TAP, La Linea Plus ,
Autovias
7 hrs.
Mexico, D.F.
Estrella de Oro,
Estrella Blanca
9 hrs.
Morelia, Mich.
Estrella de Oro,
Estrella Blanca,
Parhikuni
4 hrs.
Arriving & Departing
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8
ture
Where Coast Meets Cul
L ocal T ransportation
In Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo, almost everything
is a short walk or bike ride away. You will
only need a taxi or public transportation to go
between the cities or to visit outlying areas.
There are car rental agencies at the Airport
and some have offices at the hotels. You can
also reach them directly; see chart on the revious page.
Taxi Service
Taxis are in good working order, recent models
vehicles, safe, generally very clean and many of
the drivers have taken quality service courses.
Bicycle Path / Ciclopista
The first section of the 8-kilometer (5-mile) Ciclopista starts
at Marina Ixtapa and heads west to circle the perimeter of the
Marina Ixtapa Golf Course, for a distance of 4.3 kilometers (2.7
miles). The route then continues up the coast (and over a hill),
passing alongside the Parque Atzlán an ecological reserve with
crocodiles, iguana, heron and other exotic birds, until it reaches
Playa Linda, an additional 3.8-kilometers (2.4 miles).
eagle, white heron, hawk, as well as other exotics, and, during
winter, spoonbill and stork. Other wildlife here includes crocodile,
lake turtle, armadillo, green iguana, badger, squirrel, raccoon,
and tlacuache (Nahuatl word for a species of opossum). The path
continues southeast, flanking the highway between Ixtapa and
Zihuatanejo, and ending at the Instituto Tecnologico de la Costa
Grande located just before the entrance to Zihuatanejo.
In the opposite direction, a separate Ciclopista, covering 3.8
kilometers (2.4 miles), runs between Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo. In
Ixtapa, it begins at Paseo de los Viveros (located behind the Palma
Real Golf Course and residential area). The route goes through
tropical rain forest with majestic trees such as ceiba, huje, and
exotic parota, some over 115 feet tall. Birders will spot myriad
species: woodpecker, calandria, magpie, chachalaca, parrot,
With an average width of approximately three meters (9.8 feet),
the Ciclopista is marked to indicate usage for bicycling, jogging
and roller-skating, and is especially paved and designed with
safety in mind. For those who wish to use both Ciclopista routes,
Ixtapa’s Avenida Paseo de los Pelicanos, a wide paved street, can
be taken to the beginning of either route.
Local Bus Service
The microbuses (as they are known in
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo) have different routes
that take you between Ixtapa’s beachfront
resorts to Zihuatanejo’s main pier; service is
from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
T I P S:
There are stops at several strategic
UU
places in downtown Zihuatanejo, the
most popular of these being those on
Benito Juárez Ave. and Morelos Ave.
In Ixtapa the stops are located on
UU
Paseo Ixtapa. The stops are covered all
along the avenue so that you can wait
comfortably.
It is important for you to look at the
UU
sign that indicates where the microbus
is going, if it is not clear to you, ask the
driver.
Arriving & Departing
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IxtapaZihuatanejo
Sightseeing
This is the best of Mexico’s famed Pacific Coast, offering scenic vistas, engaging excursions, and plenty of
authentic Mexican style. Compact, prosperous and
ever evolving, the area has benefited greatly from an
important highway link connecting the once isolated
coast with neighboring Michoacán State. As yearround tourism becomes the norm (as opposed to the
previous high-season/low-season dips and valleys) the
destination now offers even more to see and do.
When presenting the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo option to clients, we suggest you consider these key sales points:
UUAccommodations: High rise
modern comforts, seaside bungalows, and Mexico’s most revered
luxury boutique hotels all coexist here. Familiar brands
like Inter-Continental, Barceló Premium, Capella, Sol
Meliá, Club Med, join Mexican chains Emporio, Las
Brisas, Tesoro, Park Royal, Dorado Pacifico, and others
in Ixtapa. Zihuatanejo boasts an array of proprietormanaged inns, plus some of renowned luxury players like The Tides and La Casa Que Canta (both AAA
Four Diamond properties). Our unique “Hoteles con
Encanto” unites over 30 Zihuatanejo-area properties. Many are family-run and offer affordability and
individuality. Also note that prestigious chains like
One&Only and Rosewood are conducting feasibility
studies for future resorts here.
UUActivities: Active vacationers can stay busy
exploring water sports, golf, outstanding deep sea
fishing and family-fun boat excursions. But it doesn’t’
stop there…Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo now touts some
exceptional eco-adventure experiences and educational tours to surrounding coastal and mountain
environments. And remember, Ixtapa was voted in
2010 as the top ten for families in the world.
UUAuthenticity: While Ixtapa was created in the
1970’s, the region has nearby pre-Hispanic and Spanish
Colonial attractions. Zihuatanejo is a classic Mexican
town by the sea, with traditions, festivals, native crafts
and Amerindian culture. Although Zihuatanejo doesn’t
feature Colonial Architecture (like Mazatlán, Puerto
Vallarta or Acapulco) there are nearby historic towns.
And don’t forget the allure of neighboring Michoacán
State. This is one of Mexico’s most scenic and culturally
rich regions. In three to four hours, you can be exploring some of Mexico’s most enthralling archaeological
and Spanish Colonial treasures.
We’ll cover each of these points in detail throughout
this Study Guide.
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Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo
Sightseeing
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Ixtapa
LOCAL EXCURSION OPERATORS
American Express..........................Tel. 755-544-6242
Amstar............................................... Tel. 755-553-2405
Zihutanejo Mio...............................Tel. 755-553-0509
Contact Tours...................................Tel. 755-553-2232
Ixzitours..............................................Tel. 755-553-5751
Sunny Side........................................ Tel. 755-553-3790
TIP (Turismo Incentivos
Planificado).......................................Tel. 755-554-7510
Turismo Internacional...................Tel. 755-554-7510
Viajes America................................ Tel. 755-554-3590
VIPSA...................................................Tel. 755-557-0150
Zihua Reservaciones......................Tel. 755-553-2358
Basically all of Ixtapa’s attractions are walking
distance (or a bike ride) from your hotel along
Playa El Palmar. The only exceptions would be
the properties at Playa Quieta - up the coast a
short 5 kms (3.1 miles) - and the Las Brisas Ixtapa
– on its own cove adjacent to Ixtapa’s hotel
zone. For these properties a cab or bike are convenient ways to get around.
Ixtapa’s commercial attractions (boutiques, a
colorful arts and crafts market and most restaurants) are located to one side of Paseo Ixtapa,
the main avenue paralleling Playa Palmar.
Since Ixtapa is essentially a string of beachfront
hotels backed by several attractive village-like
shopping centers and restaurants, there’s not
a lot of cultural sightseeing within the resort
zone. Visitors often enjoy “hotel hopping” along
Ixtapa’s beachfront. All properties have distinct, exotic settings, and a diverse assortment
of bars, outdoor restaurants, shops, and splashy
free-form pools. Note: Some all-inclusive
resorts may restrict access to facilities.
There’s also the modern Marina Ixtapa complex just up the beach from the hotel zone. This
collection of canals, islands, shops, villas, boat
slips, and restaurants is one of Mexico’s premier
Marina developments. Sports enthusiasts enjoy the Marina’s
tennis facilities and the fine 18-hole golf course.
A second course (a Robert Trent Jones Jr. masterwork) is just
down the Paseo Ixtapa Boulevard and both courses are walking
distance or a short cab ride from Ixtapa hotels. (See Sports in this
chapter for details.)
Further up the coast lie Playa Quieta, Playa Linda and Ixtapa
Island. Playa Quieta is the public beach domain of Club Med,
the Meliá Azul Ixtapa and the Qualton Ixtapa. Next door is the
Ixtapa Family Fun
Delfinario Delfiniti
Located at the northeast end of Playa El Palmar near the Hotel Zone, this
important attraction is centered around a huge outdoor pool and its lively
inhabitants: bottlenose dolphins.
There is an average of seven bottlenose “residents” here, all friendly,
gregarious, playful, and gentle with delightful personalities. This dolphin experience is unique and memorable—swimming, interacting, even
bonding and hugging. There are specific programs designed for adults, for
seniors, and wonderful encounters especially for kids (3 to 7 years) and for
babies (up to 3 years). All activities are carefully designed and conducted
by marine biologists land trained staff. Staff members photograph you in
action with the dolphins (video, DVD and digital photographs) that you can
view, select and purchase afterward.
Depending on the season, there are up to two shows in the morning
and two in the afternoon. Open daily from 10 am to 4 pm. (Group programs
available for up to 18 people.
Details: www.delfiniti.com/en/index.html
Tel. 755-553-2707
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Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo
Sightseeing
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PL AYA L I N DA
History
I X TAPA
Ixtapa is a word of Nahuatl origin that comes from the Iztal roots meaning “salt (sal)” or
“white (blanco)” and “pa” that means “in”. This way you can translate it as the place that “has
white in”.
The development of Ixtapa began with the financing obtained from the World Bank
in 1972. Urban planning and site excavation started in 1974. In 1976, the international airport was built and Ixtapa’s magnificent 18-hole Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed Palma Real
golf course took shape from a grove of coconut palms and thick tropical forest. By the 1980s,
Ixtapa was on its way to resort stardom.
Mexican development agency FONATUR has actively modernized and expanded Ixtapa’s
infrastructure. New residential areas stretch inland behind the two golf courses, and a new
road now extends up the coast to the Playa Quieta/Playa Linda resort zone. In 2004 the
“Autopista Siglo 21” opened, connecting Ixtapa with Michoacán and Guanajuato States. The
stunning colonial gem of Morelia (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is now a mere 3.5 hours
away!
Z IHUATANE J O
Zihuatanejo traces its past back to Pre-Columbian times. It was a sacred sanctuary for
Mexican nobility. Artifacts, ceramics, and stone carvings are still being found in the area
(including four small temples discovered near the airport in 1997), indicating the settlement
dates back to the Olmec civilization and the dawn of sedentary civilization in Mesoamerica.
The area may once have been home to a matriarchal society. The name Zihuatanejo
comes from the Náhuatl word “Zihuatlan” which means “land of women”. The Spaniards
modified it by “Cihuatan” and added “ejo”. The region formed part of the ancient province
of Cuitlatecapan. The Cuitlatecans (or Cuitlatecos) extended all the way along what is today
Guerrero State. The Cuitlatecans flourished between the XIV and the XV century and stood
out for producing cotton, cocoa and corn. The Aztecs traded frequently with the Cuitlatecan
culture.
Zihuatanejo was a relatively important port during the first years of the Colonial era. In
1572 a fleet commanded by Álvaro de Saavedra y Cerón departed from Zihuatanejo Bay. This
was but the second trans-Pacific crossing from the Mexican mainland that went all the way to
the Philippines. The journey helped establish a vital commercial link connecting Europe and
Asia. For some 250 years Spanish ships departed Acapulco and carried Mexican silver to the
Philippines. The return trip traversed the coast of North America then descended along the
Mexican coast, laden with Asian silk, ceramics, and spices.
During the 17-19th centuries, the Zihuatanejo Bay was practically deserted, but for
some pirates roaming the coast on the lookout of the Manila Galleons. Two of Zihuatanejo’s
beaches (Playa Madera (“wood”) and Playa La Ropa (“clothes”) are named respectively for
the hardwoods extracted for export and silk clothing that washed ashore from ship wrecked
Spanish Galleons.
I S L A I X TA PA
PL AYA Q U I E TA
take visitors to Isla Ixtapa (Ixtapa Island).
The five-minute boat ride costs 30 pesos/
person, round trip. This wooded island is
home to diverse wildlife: raccoons, armadillos, deer, iguanas, and dozens of species
of native birds. The island’s four beaches
each have their own character. The best
swimming and sunning beaches face
westward. Playa Coral is the best for snorkeling. Lunch can be enjoyed at several
open-air seafood restaurants.
lovely and completely rustic Playa
Linda. Playa Linda has a fenced
Crocodile zoo with observation platform, a handicraft market and affordable seaside restaurants. The
beach stretches up the coast
for miles, with no development of any kind.
From the pier at Playa Linda,
frequent skiff departures
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Zihuatanejo
When the mood strikes to see Mexico in a far different
light, the nearby town of Zihuatanejo will satisfy your
urge for a more authentic Mexican setting. In fact, few
places in Mexico can match this tropical charmer for
simple seaside pleasures, easy going pace and warm,
friendly locals.
Today, the city serves as a commercial center for the
region’s substantial agricultural and ranching wealth.
The town spreads inland from the horseshoe-shaped
Bahía Zihuatanejo (Zihuatanejo Bay). Jungle-clad
hills enclose the harbor and there are half a dozen
splendid beaches lining the bay. These include
(moving clockwise) the Playa Municipal, Playa la Madera,
Playa La Ropa, and Playa Las Gatas. A municipal pier juts
from the Playa Municipal, where boat rentals and fishing
charters can be arranged.
with shops, restaurants and cafes. The city’s panga
fishing boat fleet sits in front of the Paseo, and
fishermen offer the previous night’s catch each
morning.
The city’s seaside Paseo
del Pescador
stretches
along the Playa
Municipal, as
a pedestrian
boardwalk lined
Zihuatanejo has no historic buildings of notoriety,
as the city was only officially founded in the 1950’s.
Thanks to recent urban renewal projects, the town
is looking its best. New streets, clean building
facades, underground cables, and Mexican architectural accents have given the town a new life and
vitality. You won’t find neon or fast-food but will
discover a new coffee shop, a favorite art gallery
and or a local restaurant serving typical Mexican
fare. There are also a few sophisticated eateries in
town and high on the cliffs above the bay.
Many hillside villas, hotels and guesthouses
are built in the distinct “Estilo Zihuatanejo”
(Zihuatanejo style). This windowless, palaparoofed, open-air style uses local materials (often
excavated on the building site) with earth tone
stucco, sustainably harvested coconut palm wood,
infinity pools, and multi-level living. This Pacific
Mexico architectural design is warm and inviting,
and has become an emblem of Zihuatanejo.
The city’s main (and only) historic attraction is the
Archeological Museum of La Costa Grande (Museo
Arqueológico de la Costa Grande). The Museum
is located in Zihuatanejo at the east end of the
Paseo del Pescador and facing the town beach.
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PL AYA L A S G ATA S
Surrounding a central patio, six exhibit rooms illustrate
human evolution from prehistoric to pre-Hispanic
eras, according to findings from 54 archeological sites
and settlements discovered nearby, and elsewhere
along the Costa Grande. Remarkable arrays of artifacts, utensils, stone carvings, jewelry, and figurines of
ceramic, clay, seashells and obsidian, as well as illustrative murals and maps, attest to Olmec, Teotihuacan,
Tarascan and Mexica (Aztec) presence and their influences in this coastal region. Admission is $10 pesos;
open 10 am to 6 pm daily except Mondays.
Take time to visit Playa La Madera, now linked
with the Playa Municipal via a walkway that runs
over a promitory of boulders that separates the two
beaches. Playa La Madera’s steep hillside has many of
Zihuatanejo’s smaller and more traditional hotels and
guesthouses. The beach is small but offers calm water,
easy swimming and plenty of solitude.
Playa La Ropa is Zihuatanejo’s longest and most picturesque beach. Stretching some two kms (1.2 miles)
and backed by private hillside homes and lavish
resorts, La Ropa is considered one of the finest swimming beaches in Mexico. The shore is bustling with
water sports rentals, Mexican-style beach cafes, beach
massage stands, and families playing in the gentle
surf.
Finally is Playa Las Gatas. From the Municipal Pier
in Zihuatanejo, take a skiff across to the outermost
southern tip of Zihuatanejo Bay. (Cost is $30 pesos/
person, round trip; keep ticket stub for return trip.
Operates daily until 5pm.) You’ll find one of Mexico’s
most delightful coves. A rock breakwater of mysterious origin provides safe haven for divers and snorkelers. The breakwater may have been built by a
Purépecha king to create a safe swimming cove for his
daughter. Another explanation is the rocks were ballast from a Spanish galleon.
This beach is of white coral sand, with a shallow
shoreline and gentle surf. Las Gatas offers excellent sunbathing, swimming, and some of the finest
snorkeling on Mexico’s Pacific. When the urge to
eat strikes - as it always does in Mexico - Las Gatas is
lined with simple open-air eateries serving wonderful fresh seafood and offering lounge chairs for sunning. Note: Beach is very crowded on weekends
and during holidays.
PL AYA M A D E R A
PL AYA PR I N CI PA L
PL AYA L A R O PA
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