Zihuatanejo is a city of 130,000 people (2020) on the Pacific Coast of Mexico in the state of Guerrero. It is a fishing village that has developed into one of the most-visited areas in Mexico. It is popular with sports fishermen.
- 1 Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo International Airport (ZIH IATA), Carretera Zihuatanejo-Acapulco s/n, Col Aeropuerto (12.5 km (7.8 mi) southeast of town via Carretera Zihuatanejo-Acapulco Hwy 200 past the turn-off towards Playa Larga in Col Aeropuerto). Non-stop air service is available from Mexico City, Puebla and Tijuana; and seasonally from Monterrey in Mexico. From Los Angeles and Houston in the United States. International flights from Canada and from additional cities in the United States are offered on a seasonal basis from November through March. Check with the airline you're flying with to determine seasonal flight schedules.
All domestic and international airlines share the same boarding gates (Puertas 1-4) which are assigned only minutes prior to arrival. Arriving passengers are directed to passport control & customs (international) or direct to luggage reclaim (domestic) and then come out into the public arrivals zone (llegadas), where there are desks for car rental and ETASA Taxis (see below) for transport into town. The following airlines offer regular service to Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo:
- Domestic Airlines/Aerolineas Nacionales Aeromexico Connect, Magnicharters, VivaAerobus and Volaris.
- International Airlines/Aerolineas Internacionales Alaska Airlines and United Express offer regular year round service to Zihuatanejo from the U.S. The following carriers offer seasonal flights from the U.S. and Canada (Nov-Mar): Air Canada, American Airlines, Air Transat, Sunwing, Sun Country, Swift Air and Westjet. The carriers that offer regular year round service offer seasonal flights from additional cities in the U.S. or Mexico.
From the airport Elances Terrestre Aeroportaurio SA de CV (ETASA) provides the shared shuttle and airport taxis into town. The shared ride shuttles cost M$160 to most parts of town and M$180 to Club Med, Melia and Playa Linda. Private taxis (in small cars for 1-3) cost M$550 to Zona Centro or M$600-650 to Ixtapa and other surrounding areas; and M$1100 for a SUV or van (for 1-6 people) to Zona Centro and M$1200-1300 to Ixtapa and other surrounding areas. Taxis and ride share cars (such as Uber) coming in from town can only drop off and cannot pick up passengers at the airport. Going to the airport, the aeropuerto, playa larga colectivos pick up along Juarez near Gonzales and drop off outside the airport gate or a taxi from the city for M$250.
Fed Hwy 200 bypasses Ixtapa and Zihuatenjeo along the north/west side of town as Careterra Zihuatanejo-Manzanillo and from the south/east side of town as Careterra Zihuatanejo-Acapulco. Avenida Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon goes into town from Hwy 200. Zihuatanejo is 253 km (157 mi) (4½ hr) north/west from Acapulco and 98 km (61 mi) south/east from Lazaro Cardenas and 438 km (272 mi) from Manzanillo.
Coming from Toluca (west of Mexico City) take Fed Hwy 134 towards "Valle de Bravo, Temascaltepe" from Paseo Cristobal Colon and Del Pacifico south of town. The Junction at Hwy 200 is 404 km/8 hr 46 min in the village of Pantla from Toluca and another 12 km north of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo.
Alternatively one can also go north on Hwy 55D towards 15D north of Atlacomuco and then go 146 km west on Hwy 15D towards the Hwy 14D turn off at Aramburao which goes through or around Patzcuaro. Take Hwy 37/37d just west of Uruapan towards Hwy 200 (202 km/2 hr SW of Uruapan) which is 56km north/northwest of Zihuatanejeo via Hwy 200. Going through Atlacomuco, Patzcuaro and Uruapan is longer, distances wise (200 km longer than Hwy 134) but quicker time-wise (6 hr). Because Michoacan and Guerrero states are in bad areas seek local advice regarding safety before setting out and preferably travel during the daytime, before dark, especially if traveling on Hwy 134 which is a libre road.
Bus service in Mexico is quite reliable and comfortable. Before the start-up of several low cost air carriers, bus was the main mean of transport across Mexico.
Several companies serve Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo. Buses have air conditioning (except some "economy" ones), and often show movies and have refreshments. You can take a taxi (~M$100) or local bus (La Correa for M$8) in the city to the 2 bus station (Central de Autobuses) to catch an intercity bus to Acapulco (4½ hr); Lázaro_Cárdenas (2 hr); Morelia (5 hr); Pátzcuaro (4 hr); Uruapan (3½ hr); Celaya (9-10 hr); Mexico City (9-10 hr); Puerto Vallarta (14-14½ hr overnight) and to other locations. The main bus station is at Carretera Zihuatanejo-Acapulco (Hwy 200) and De la Parota a block east of Av Jose Morelos y Pavon intersection with Hwy 200. It is located 10 km west of the airport terminal and 2 km NE of the downtown core (el centro) in Colonia El Huja. From the bus station, buses going into Zihua or Ixtapa stop at the opposite side of the road under the pedestrian bridge. The following bus lines offer services into and out of the Central Bus Terminal:
- Autovias, toll-free: 0800 622-22-22.
- Costa Lines; Turistar, toll-free: 0800 0037-635, 0800 2490-460.
- Grupo Estrella Blanca, ☏ , toll-free: 800-507-5500. They also operate the Elite, Futura and the Pacifico brands. Connects Zihuatanejo to other cities and towns in Guerrero, Michoacan, Jalisco, Mexico state and Mexico City.
- Omnibus de Mexico, ☏ , toll-free: 01 800-765-66-36. Goes up to Saltillo and Monterrey through Queretaro and Celaya.
- Parhíkuni, ☏ , toll-free: 01 800 3 103 103. Connections to surrounding towns in Michoacan and Guerrero states.
- Primera Plus, ☏ , toll-free: 800 375-75-87. Connections up towards Aguascaliente, Celaya, Leon and Queretaro through Morelia. They also have an additional local stop on Paseo de las Gaviotas in Ixtapa.
The following has a separate bus station:
- 3 Estrella de Oro (Subsidiary of Grupo ADO), Av. Paseo Zihuatanejo, Mz. 10, Lt. 34 (next to the main bus station), ☏ . The major bus line serving the state of Guerrero.
Most of the transportation is done on foot. There are plenty of taxis to take you out to the airport or the bus station. At the muelle, dockside, there are lanchas, open boats, to various points along the coast, most notably the Playa Las Gatas across the bay. Getting to the flashy sister resort of Ixtapa can be done easily by bus.
Zihuatanejo is a self-grown little resort on the Bahía Zihuatanejo. The feel of the place is very relaxed and Mexican, and it is very unlike its sister resort of Ixtapa, a planned resort to attract the gringo dollar. Expect to find backpackers and other individual travelers along with Mexican holidaymakers. The latter are also among the more relaxed, as the Mexico City jet-set fresas of course intermingle with the estadounidenses in Ixtapa.
The main attraction of Zihuatanejo is the sheltered Bahía Zihuatanejo with safe swimming. Several lovely beaches surround the bay, including the Playa La Ropa ("Beach of the clothes") and the Playa Las Gatas ("Beach of the she-cats"), the first named after a shipwreck including Chinese silk, the latter named after little, harmless sharks called "she-cats" because of their whiskers.
Playa Las Gatas, across the bay from town, is reached by lanchas, open boats. You buy the tickets at the ticket counter, and queue up at the pier. This is usually a quick affair. The beach itself has white sands and plenty of palapas (thatched umbrellas). You sit down under one for free, as long as you order your drinks and your lunch from the owner of the palapa. Snorkeling is recommended from the snorkel shop located just off of the boat dock. A very nice artificial reef was created in precolumbian times.
The small community amphitheater and basketball courts provide great evening weekend events. Located along the pier near the fish market local families will attend Friday night basketball games (summer timeframe) and Sunday celebrations to watch folkloric dancing on the stage.
A true Mexican tourist resort (i.e. a lot of vacationers from Mexico City), there are loads of things to buy in Zihuatanejo. In addition to swimwear and other beach accessories, you can buy a lot of Mexican handicraft. There is of course anything from cheap junk to high-quality artworks.
Visit the shops and market close to the Playa Municipal, fanning outward from the pier. There is an excellent textile shop right along the water.
If you've never tried pozole, you've never been to Zihua! Pozole is a regional favorite, and in Zihua you'll find it being served up anytime, anywhere, but especially on Thursdays, everywhere. There's usually 3 kinds of pozole available:
- blanco - white pozole is the tradition classic. It's simply pozole served in a clear chicken broth. Simple and wholesome.
- verde - green pozole is flavored with a rich mole sauce made from ground pumpkin seeds with a simmering heat of pipian chiles.
- rojo - red pozole is what you'd typically find in most of Mexico, or at Mexican restaurants outside Mexico. It's got a little bite to it from ancho and guajillo chiles (which is the foundation of menudo spice mix, which some cooks use as a shortcut)
Regardless which color of pozole you choose, top it off with shredded cabbage (never lettuce---Guacala!), cilantro, onions, radishes, and a crushed tostada.
Many street vendors pop up around Zihua every Thursday. Fans of street food will find them on Avenida Benito Juarez, between Calles Nicolas Bravo and Juan Alvarez.
- 1 Fonda Doña Licha, Calle Cocos #8 (southeast of the Mercado Municipal). 08:00-18:00. The best restaurant in Zihua, according to one who lived there for a year and tried just about everything. Homestyle regional dishes, including the traditional pozole on Thursdays and rica pancita" (tripe) on Sundays. Serves breakfast and lunch only. Good-sized portions. M$40-120.
- 1 Angustina Mezal y Cocina, Paseo Del Pescador, 70, Centro. Tu-Sa 16:00-02:00; Tu-Sa 16:00-00:00.
- 1 La Casa Cuitlateca, Av. Camino Escénico, Playa la Madera S/N, Playa la Madera, ☏ , toll-free: , email@example.com. Reservations: Beautiful five-bedroom boutique hotel overlooking Zihuatanejo Bay, infinity swimming pool and deck with restaurant and bar. Very friendly staff and excellent service.
- 2 Casa Que Canta, Camino Escénico a, Playa La Ropa S/N, Playa La Ropa, ☏ , toll-free: . Camino Escenica a Playa Ropa. Boutique hotel on Playa Ropa, consistently rated by travel magazines as one of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Infiniti pool, full spa services, and gourmet dining.
- 3 Thompson Zihuatanejo (formerly Tides Zihuatanejo), Carretera Escenica S/N, Playa la Ropa (on Playa La Ropa beach), ☏ . Small beach resort, tastefully decorated with Mexican art and crafts. Its cheerful rooms reflect the colors of the tropics. It offers 35 suites in villas among tropical gardens. A tiny blue stream runs by your side wherever you walk, filling ponds, splashing into fountains or spilling over an aqueduct right into one of the swimming pools.
- 4 Hotel Irma, Calle Adelita S/N, Playa la Madera, ☏ , . Most rooms with air conditioning and balcony that overlooks Playa la Madera. Poolside food and bar service. A staircase off the patio takes you down to the beach. Friendly staff.
- 5 Solimar Inn Suites, Higos 4, Centro (Corner of Higo & Los Guayabos), ☏ . 12 fully equipped and nicely decorated suites for a very comfortable vacation for families and couples. Located in charming Zihuatanejo. A family owned & operated property. English spoken.
- 6 Hotel Zihuatanejo Centro, Agustín Ramírez 2, Centro (Agustín Ramírez & Vicente Guererro), ☏ .
- Ixtapa Ten minutes by taxi, 20 minutes by bus, location of the tourist resorts and other upscale hotels, restaurants and bars.
- Playa Troncones 25 minutes north of the twin resorts of Zihuatanejo & Ixtapa and the Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa International Airport. It looks like Ixtapa but without the crowds. Troncones offers many miles of beautiful, unspoiled, golden sand beaches. Stroll, the virgin clean beaches and go barefoot in the surf where flocks of pelicans skim the crests of the waves and endangered sea turtles lay their eggs in the warm sand. Troncones is "the real Mexico".
- Isla Ixtapa - Catch a boat to the island (which is totally separate from the Ixtapa tourist trap), which has just a few combo restaurant/snorkeling rental businesses. The snorkeling is good and the seafood (served to you on the beach) has probably only been out of the water for a couple hours by the time you eat it. Very beautiful scenery all around.
|Routes through Zihuatanejo|
|Manzanillo ← Lazaro Cardenas ← Ixtapa ←||N S||→ Petatlán → Acapulco|