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Ixtapa or Zihuatanejo.

In cooperation with: Visit Mexico
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Level Contributor
88 posts
1 review
Ixtapa or Zihuatanejo.

We are planning to visit this area sometime in January for six to eight nights. No kids :-) We're looking for beach time, stand-up paddle-boarding, snorkeling, strolling through town, non-fancy foods, and sunsets. We are hoping to be without a car - relying on bus/taxi if anything is too far to walk.

Which is a better base: Ixtapa or Zihu? From what I am seeing Ixtapa seems more like Waikiki or Miami Beach; Zihu seems somewhat quieter and more laid back. Any thoughts or factors?

We are not fancy resort people (nor do we have that budget). That said, we do want to be on, or a very short walk from, a decent beach. We prefer daily 'maid' service. Our budget is pretty flexible. Going over $200 night is possible if it gets us something particularly special; think private infinity pool :-)

Any suggestions on hotels in whichever of the locations you would be pointing us towards would be much appreciated. THANKS

Level Contributor
98 posts
3 reviews
1. Re: Ixtapa or Zihuatanejo.

Ixtapa and Zihua are very different from each other. Ixtapa is very touristy, but nothing like PV. The beach is beautiful, and most of the hotels are right on the beach. Zihua is not as touristy, but not as visually pretty either. La Ropa beach in Z is very nice with lots of restaurants to sit and have a drink right on the beach. La Ropa and Madera are where the hotels are in Z and they are right on the beach as well. I personally prefer Zihau, though we did stay the first 5 or 6 times down, in Ixtapa. You can walk to downtown Z from most of the hotels, or a short cab ride will do it too. The same with Ixtapa, depending on which hotel you choose. Plus Ixtapa has mostly AI's, where as Z has none. So it really boils down to whether you like the pretty and very clean look of Ixtapa or the more natural look of where the locals stay and how they live.

Level Contributor
5,318 posts
12 reviews
2. Re: Ixtapa or Zihuatanejo.

+1 with the above!!


Fort Myers, Florida
Level Contributor
1,151 posts
78 reviews
3. Re: Ixtapa or Zihuatanejo.

The Ribeye or the T-bone? The Lobster or the King Crab? We've done both and love them both. You'll be happy with either selection and it can be done within your budget.

Saskatoon, Canada
Destination Expert
for Riviera Maya
Level Contributor
11,696 posts
41 reviews
4. Re: Ixtapa or Zihuatanejo.

Agree with all of the above too.

We loved our two stays in Ixtapa....we just loved our three stays since in Zihua more. That is not at all to bash Ixtapa, most will have a preference one over the other, there is no 'right' answer.

For all the things you say you want, I would recommend Zihuatanejo over Ixtapa, though. Water is calmer for paddleboarding there, although I can't say as I have seen anyone doing it.....there are two nice swimming beaches in walking distance if you stay on La Ropa or Madera (Playa Madera is a third, but not as nice as La Ropa or las Gatas). There is snorkeling in Zihua bay and also at Isla Ixtapa- but not the main Ixtapa beach.

Great town to walk around and explore. There are more restaurants to choose from in Zihua, some very good ones, in all price ranges.....and more shopping than in Ixtapa.

There are several condos for rental above La Ropa beach on www.vrbo.com , or I would recommend you look at the Hotel Brisas del Mar on Playa Madera.


Edited: 1:28 pm, November 29, 2012
Level Contributor
5,318 posts
12 reviews
5. Re: Ixtapa or Zihuatanejo.

So pick your views!





6 buck cab ride apart!


Lewiston, California
Level Contributor
9,609 posts
73 reviews
6. Re: Ixtapa or Zihuatanejo.

I can stay for free in a lovely townhouse in Ixtapa with maid service, wifi & a pool. Something I have done for 9 years.

. I can pay 4,000 pesos for a small bungalow in a blue collar area of Zihuatanejo with WiFi , Cable & near El Centro but no pool.

As I have` a conflict at my friend's Ixtapa location I am staying the whole time in Zihua for me is better than switching back & forth during my visit.

Not as fancy but perfect for me.

PS As I come almost every day to Zihua I'll save 60 + pesos in transportation each day for a months total of 1,800 pesos so my bungalow in effect will only cost me 2,200 a month or about $170 US. Not a bad deal.

Level Contributor
1,462 posts
8 reviews
7. Re: Ixtapa or Zihuatanejo.

Best walking beach, best pools, best beach volleyball and best sunsets: Ixtapa. That's our preference. But we go to Zihua most nights for dinner. We love the combo plate!

Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
3,568 posts
50 reviews
8. Re: Ixtapa or Zihuatanejo.

After having been a couple times, my impression is that the locals who work in the AI's and Resorts of Ixtapa go home to Zihuatanejo for the night. And when THEY go to the beach, it's often La Madera, near the town center, or Las Gatas, across the bay. For the typical tourist, Zihuatanejo's got a lot more warts than Ixtapa. But it's got a lot more character too. We'll be there over New Year's Eve a month from now.

San Jose
Level Contributor
2,936 posts
38 reviews
9. Re: Ixtapa or Zihuatanejo.

Ixtapa is my preference. Don't think for a minute it is some crazy tourist town. By Mexica resort standards it is very tame. When we were there last it was mostly Mexican nationals on vacation. Again either way $6 bucks give or take gets you from one to the other. If money is not an issue consider an upgraded room at Las Brisas, but you will require cab rides to town, or a long but very pleasant walk with one large hill. Our last villa rental from VRBO.COM at Bay View Grand was a great fit for us.

Maui, Hawaii
Level Contributor
1,056 posts
7 reviews
10. Re: Ixtapa or Zihuatanejo.

What combo plates do you like in zihua? We are also going to stay in Ixtapa but like to eat in Z town.