Set in the Mexican state of Guerrero, Ixtapa was a coconut plantation until the 1970s when the government transformed this scenic slice of coastal land into a resort town. And why not? This picture-postcard landscape boasts incredible Pacific Ocean views. These days Ixtapa is known for its squeaky-clean streets, manicured beaches, luxury hotels, excellent golf courses and family-friendly chain restaurants.
Spend your sun-soaked holiday moving between the white sandy beach, cocktail bar and spa treatment room. Or, if you’re up for a bit of exploring, scoot a short way down the road to the atmospheric neighbouring beach town of Zihuatanejo for an excellent day trip.
Ixtapa is well equipped to cater for families and couples alike. For something a little romantic, peel yourself (and your someone special) off the banana lounge, head down to Playa Linda Pier and board a boat to beautiful Isla Ixtapa. This island oasis is less than 10 kilometres from central Ixtapa, but miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Swim in the turquoise waters, snorkel the coral reefs and fill up on fresh seafood at the restaurants sprinkled about the island.
Those travelling with little ones in tow will love the family-friendly entertainment options on offer in Ixtapa. First, enjoy a thrilling visit to Cocodrilario, a small crocodile reserve in Playa Linda. See big crocs in their natural habitat before taking a wander to spot the reserve’s resident birds and iguanas. Get there by car or take to the bike trail and enjoy a gentle cycle through lush rainforest.
To cool off, head to Magic World Aquatic Park. Set within walking distance of most hotels, this compact water park comes complete with a pirate adventure play area, wave pool, lazy river and waterslides to keep the kids entertained for a few hours
Eat and Drink
If you want to venture out of your resort, check out the eateries around downtown and at the marina for waterfront dining and drinking. Italian cuisine, American-style chargrilled burgers, Mexican favourites and Mediterranean fare are all up for grabs.
For a more local vibe, head to the neighbouring beach town of Zihuatanejo, where the central market serves up cheap and delicious street food. Make your way there for breakfast or lunch before the market winds down in the afternoon, then spend the rest of the day exploring the laid-back town and its beaches.
The Ixtapa nightlife really comes into its own during peak season (November to March), when clubs, bars and discos are raring to go. Most Ixtapa resorts host their own Mexican fiestas with live entertainment, dining and drinking for those who prefer to stay close to home.
Where to Stay
Ixtapa is a resort town through and through so there is no shortage of accommodation options to choose from, whether you’re looking for a family-friendly holiday or a romantic escape. The beachfront resorts along Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo offer a prime location and luxury amenities to make your stay as comfortable as possible. For complete pampering throughout your stay, look for resorts that offer all-inclusive deals so you won’t have to worry about meals, activities and other comforts.
Ixtapa happily caters for holidaymakers, with memento and souvenir shops aplenty. For local arts and crafts head to the market on Boulevard Ixtapa, where you’ll also find casual beachwear stores and fashion boutiques.
For something a little more unique, head to the neighbouring town of Zihuatanejo where you’ll find a daily artisan market on Calle Cinco de Mayo. The town’s shops also sell arts and crafts, jewellery and interesting seashells.
Ixtapa Like a Local
Set off for the wide-open sea on a deep-sea fishing charter and learn how to fish like a pro for marlin, sailfish, tuna, dorado or roosterfish. The locals know all the good locations for spotting marine life too, so you may just see dolphins, sea turtles and, if you’re lucky, even whales.