Six Things To Do in Zihuatanejo
A mere 15 minute drive from Ixtapa airport in the Mexican state of Guerrero, Zihuatanejo is a great place for a few calm days at the beach. The town is a nice mix of Mexican locals and ex-pats (mostly American and Canadian snow-birds), making it a comfortable destination for visitors without being overrun with tourists and tourist traps.
The town has a few things going for it:
- Zihuatanejo is nestled in a gorgeous bay surrounded by scenic mountain ranges;
- The Pacific Ocean waters are warm, letting you spend hours in the water;
- The food is delicious, if you know where to go.
We spent 3 weeks in Zihuatanejo, which gave us a lot of time to explore. If you don't want to just kick back on a beach chair your whole trip, here are a few things you can do in Zihuatanejo to make the trip more interesting:
See the underwater Jesus at Playa Las Gatas
Across from Playa la Ropa, Las Gatas is a great place to check out for a day. Once there, you can pick from the multiple restaurants (make sure to try huachinango, or red snapper, with garlic), or for the more budget-conscious, settle at the far end of the beach with your own supplies.
There is some great snorkelling off Las Gatas, largely to the right end of the beach (near the pier where you arrive). About 50 meters off the pier and slightly to the left is a large underwater Jesus statue that is worth checking out - if you can find it. The reef that provides for great snorkelling also makes for very calm waters. So calm, in fact, that you can enjoy a drink sitting on a Muskoka chair in the water on the beach.
Visit Barra de Potosi and tour the mangroves
Barra de Potosi is a tiny beach town about a 40-minute drive from Zihuatanejo, so it's ideal to get here with a rental car if you have one (taxis from Zihua cost approximately 600 pesos each way). The town is at the intersection where a long strip of beautiful under-developed beach meets a lagoon. Contact Cheli, and arrange to visit the local mangroves by boat. There you will see dozens of different local bird species, local fishermen in their boats, and even glimpse the massive alligators that live deep in the lagoon.
After the tour, you can explore the kilometers of gorgeous and untouched beach that stretch to the north of the town. You can also relax at one of the many restaurants that serve local fish. Our favorite was the one farthest from the lagoon.
Grab a coffee and/or drink at Loot
Central Mexico isn’t exactly a coffee lover’s paradise, so when we found Loot we were hooked. In addition to its coffee, though, Loot displays some great rotating art exhibits and has a great surf shop. Hang on the roof where they have live music on weekends.
Get “Patty-whacked” with the (largely 50+) ex-pats at Happy Hour
If you’re interested in a more traditional boozy beach experience, join the snow birds at Paty’s Restaurant for Happy Hour. From 5-7 the restaurant offers 2-for-1 drinks that are generously poured. The restaurant also has some solid food so it's a great place to spend the day in a beach chair on Playa la Ropa.
Eat a dinner at Casa Bahia
While Casa Bahia is on the other side of the bay, and a necessary cab ride from pretty much anywhere, it's worth the drive. Run by a husband and wife team, the views are unbeatable and the food is incredible.
Go for a walk with a dog at the local animal shelter
We stumbled upon the SPAZ animal shelter after having some coffee around the corner. This humble shelter has many loving animals in need of some attention. We spent our mornings walking a few of the dogs and it was the highlight of our trip. Set aside about 40 minutes to an hour to give the dogs some good exercise. There are a lot of cute puppies and slightly older ones that don't get to go out often (the shelter only has three full time employees that have their hands full). Go earlier in the day (9am – 11am), or later on (4pm – 7pm) Monday to Saturday to walk the dogs, as their paws will burn from the cement during the hottest parts of the day. For more info, visit their Facebook page.