We are on our last day of a wonderful 10 day trip to zihuatenejo. We are a family group of 14 with one grandma, 5 adults, 6 20 yr olds and 2 14 year old girls. We rented casa del arbol for our family group (our 5th visit to this wonderful home) and spent both christmas and (tonight) new years here. We have been coming to zihuat for years and used to stay at the nice hotel brisas del mar on the playa madera beach. Since discovering casa del arbol though we have payed the higher price for the luxury of being totally spoiled. The home comes with full staff (2 cooks, bartender, gardener, maid and guard and is completely contsined and safe. All meals and beverages are included. ) the home itself has a beautiful website but it does not do it justice. It is so open, so perfectly planned for a large family group to spend time together or to have privacy...an infinity pool over the ocean and hot tub, ac and 6 comfortable beautifully decorated rooms. Ahhh paradise. You get to choose your own menu prior to arrival, and the staff stays out of your way in the kitchen, but are always available to fulfill your every wish. I cannot say enough about this home...if you can, spend a vacation here.
The three men and 3 20 yr old "boys" on the trip had very fruitful fishing excursions, catching a very large roosterfish, a 20 pound dorado "mahi mahi", many jacks and bonito, a big grouper and a whole mess of sierra. My husband highly recommends fishing with cheeva on dos hermanos (a panga, 220 dollars for up to three people from 6am to 2 pm). We also took a larger group out on the bigger cruiser "bloody hook" for 450 dollars 8 people and had fun, but could not get as close to cast live bait on the fish. Caught the rooster and dorado on the cruiser though so very fun.
We ate most meals at our house, but did find a couple outstanding places I would recommend that usually are not mentioned on trip advisor. The first is a fried chicken stand. To find it, follow the boardwalk along madera beach heading into town. When you reach the bridge that crosses over the canal cross the bridge to the town side, then walk up that road away from the water. You will cross the main road after a bit, keep going folowing the canal. When you get close you will smell the Wonderful fried chicken, it is tucked inside a darkish little restaurant, the town side of the courtyard has a bunch of toddler toys and play gyms in the yard then the restaurant is enclosed. 16 pieces of chicken 200 pesos, safe and delicious. We have been enjoying this place for years and we are usually the only american there.
Another wonderful clean safe crepe place is a little place across from the "trinket and artist" market downtown. If you stand in front of the church and look at the artisian market, the first restaurant on the corner on the water side of the market serves delicous sweet and savory crepes. My kids love the chocolate oreo crepe, iced "frapaccino" style coffee and I love the chicken, bacon, mushroom with cheese crepe.
For a totally delicious fun authentically mexican experience of pozole (get it!) And tamales and great margaritas in a place where you will not get sick belly, go to "atoles y any" give the name to any cab driver and they can take you there. It is several blocks back from the water in middle of town zihuatenejo. Absolutely delicious and very inexpensive casual place. A not to miss experience.
For a very fun experience, walk through the central market where they sell EVERYTHING edible. This funky beautiful warren of food stalls sells every type of fruit, vegetable, chicken and meat, bean, herb, cheese, honey, coffee, bread, etc you could imagine. Huge variety of fresh fish and prawns which are sold fresh and packed on ice. The chicken and meat.... well not so much, refrigeration that is. This open market is a facinating cultural experience, but if your tender self cannot handle seeing a pigs head sitting on a table next to that same pigs intestines...better sit this excursion out. I love it and always go...totally facinating and colorful experience and great prices on everything you could imagine.
It is very fun to walk the boardwalk all along madera beach towards the pier past all the fishing pangas on the beach. The shops between the basketball court and the pier are owned by one mexican family who also run the zihuatenejo animal shelter. They have the highest quality crafts and clothing and art in these shops and upstairs on the roof they take in very malnourished and sad looking cats and dogs, sterilize them, provide vet care and find them homes. We have adopted both a kitten and a puppy from them over the years. If you are interested in taking a pet home, it is very simple. You take the animal to the local vet (the zihuat animal humane society at these shops will tell you where to go) and for about 40 dollars get shots and health papers. You then need a carrier which you can also buy at the vet for 10 to 20 dollars that fits under your airplane seat. Going through customs on the america side you go through the "agricultural" line. They take a glimpse at your new (lucky) american pet and both times customs agents asked if I had a health certificate from vet (which I did) but they did not ask to see it. You could probably bring an animal in without the health certificate, but you never know when they might ask for it. They seem pretty relaxed about it overall. Mexican cats and dogs are not treated the same, so any animal that gets a chance at life in usa is lucky.
A couple other activities we enjoyed..... catamaran sailing on picaynte. Sunset cruise was 56 dollars per person, we trolled our own fishing poles off the back of the boat in their pole holders using a rapala and caught a nice sierra. Dolphins came towards our boad and jumped alongside and at the bow and we even saw tiny newborn dolphins. The drinks were strong and plentiful and a light meal/heavy appetizers were served. Many in the group thought this the highlight of the trip. We also went to the "refugio de barre de petossi". This is a wild animal rehabilitation refuge near the beach in barre de petossi, a great day excursion. They are currently open on sunday monday and thursday. Catcha taxi from zihuat and have them drive you to "el refugio de barre de petossi", the cab ride is 250 pesos for 4 people. Once there, ask the cab to wait for you. The refuge admission is only 60 pedos and well worth it. Afterwards have cab take you to the beach if you want to eat or walk the beach, then they will take you back (another 250 pesos but worth it for this fun drive and glimpse at real mexico.
Fabulous trip. Again. Wonderful town. We have been to cabo, puerto vallarta, sayulita, akumal and cancun.... zihuatenejo remains our favorite.