5 reasons to discover Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo

Visitors to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo often feel like they have experienced two very different destinations when they return from their vacation. Situated on Mexico’s Pacific coast, these two beach towns may be separated by just four miles yet there is a world of difference between them. Ixtapa is renowned for its luxurious resorts and stylish beach clubs, while Zihuatanejo offers a more artsy, laid-back atmosphere where you can experience the real Mexico. This destination truly has something for everyone with great excursions and attractions at every turn. Here are five things you can do on your trip to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo.

Quiet stretch of beach on Ixtapa Island
Soak up the sun on the secluded shores of Ixtapa Island

It may be a short ferry ride away yet Ixtapa Island has a real ‘desert island’ vibe where travellers instantly unwind. It’s easy to join a day excursion to explore. Along with the pristine beaches, there’s plenty to discover too for those who don’t just want to doze under a swaying palm tree. Playa Coral, the aptly named Coral Beach, offers excellent snorkelling opportunities. There’s also a small nature preserve that’s home to crocodiles, iguanas and tropical birds. The beachfront here is lined with some excellent local restaurants for lunch too. It’s also a great place to enjoy a coastal hike or stroll and is popular with water sports enthusiasts.

Where to stay: When you’re not exploring the pristine shores of Ixtapa Island, you can enjoy some rest and relaxation by one of three pools at Barceló Ixtapa. Kick back on a sun lounger with a margarita from the poolside bar and soak in beautiful views of Ixtapa’s coast.

Aerial view of archeological site at Xihuacan
Play Indiana Jones for the day at Xihuacan

Play Indiana Jones for a day with a visit to Xihuacan, an ancient archaeological dig site that’s only recently been uncovered. On this tour, you’ll spend an afternoon learning about how ancient populations lived at this fascinating site. The indigenous populations of Xihuacan were known for their knowledge of pottery and the Xihuacan Site Museum has many artifacts on display. Tour the ball court, which is surprisingly well preserved and learn about the significance of ball games to the ancient civilizations that one lived here. Finally, pay a visit to the pyramid. Its structure — a brick interior and modelling clay exterior — is still in the process of being uncovered, making this a great opportunity to witness an archaeological dig still in progress. The small town of Petatlán is located nearby, where you’ll have the opportunity to visit a local church, shop at an open-air gold market and enjoy a local meal.

Where to stay: After a day spent exploring Xihuacan, you can head back to the newly-renovated Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa. Grab a bite to eat at one of the resort restaurants then watch a movie on the beach under the stars.

Two boats sailing on Zihuatanejo Bay
Sail into the Pacific Sunset

There’s no doubt that you’ll capture your fair share of stunning sunsets on a trip to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, but you can make that experience all the more memorable by setting sail and watching the sunset on a catamaran cruise. Depart from Puerto Mio and head across Zihuatanejo Bay through the calm, peaceful waters of the Pacific. Spot mountain caves from the shore, witness Great Bufadora rock formations and pass by the picturesque Majahua Beach.

Where to stay: Stay on the beautiful shores of Zihuatanejo Bay at Hotel Villa Mexicana. This comfortable beachside retreat offers a relaxing infinity pool where you can soak up the sun the morning after your catamaran cruise, and an authentic Mexican restaurant serving up beautiful ocean views.

Golf course surrounded by lush vegetation
Tee off on beautiful courses

With its mild, sunny climate all year round, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is especially popular with golfers during the winter months. Plus, you can bring your clubs for free when you fly with Sunwing. There are two exciting, 18-hole courses located in Ixtapa. The par 72 Palma Real Golf Course is located on a former coconut plantation and the grounds retain many of the natural lakes, lagoons; and tropical vegetation like mango, lime and guava trees for a truly unique sporting experience. Golfers may even spot exotic birds such as cardinals, parrots and macaws here. Just five minutes away, at the other end of Ixtapa’s main hotel strip, is the Marina Ixtapa Golf Club. Dunes and rolling terrain dominate the grounds here with sand traps and water hazards making for a unique challenge. Later on, relax with a beverage or a delicious meal at the airy clubhouse restaurant and lounge overlooking the yacht marina and golf course.

Where to stay: Stay just a short taxi ride from both these championship courses at Azul Ixtapa Resort. Practice your putting skills at the resort’s mini-golf course or cool off at the sprawling pool area with water slides.

Charming street in Patzcuaro
Step back in time in Patzcuaro

Step back to a simpler time with a day trip to Patzcuaro. Designated as one of Mexico’s “Pueblos Magicos” (Magical Towns), Patzcuaro boasts charming cobblestone streets and red-and-white adobe-walled homes topped with terracotta roofs. As you pass by these buildings, look for eye-catching signs drawn on the walls that describe the businesses inside. Walk around the scenic Vasco de Quiroga square, stopping for a coffee among the locals, before visiting the Nuestra Señora de la Salud Church. Your tour will then take you to Santa Clara del Cobre, another one of the “Pueblo Magicos”, where you’ll discover the town’s long history and tradition of working with copper crafts at the Copper Museum.

Where to stay: Keep the cultural tour going when you stay at Krystal Ixtapa, located in the heart of downtown Ixtapa. Stroll into town to explore the local restaurants, bars and attractions of downtown Ixtapa.

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