If one were to make a resort community the way one makes a mixed drink – three shots of Americana with a Mexican lime spritzer and serve it over a rather fantastic stretch of Pacific Coast, you would have Ixtapa. Mountains, white sandy beaches, and palm trees – sort of what one would expect from a resort – meandering along the Guerrero cost, which is some of the most beautiful terrain to be found anywhere on earth.
While Cancun and Los Cabos generally win the chatter award for the most “Americanized” bits of Mexico, perhaps the prize should really go to Ixtapa with its expanse of picture-prefect landscaping, pristine cleanliness and miles and miles of well-groomed bike paths. One could easily forget that they were even in Mexico while in Ixtapa save the great weather in January and the occasional Spanish one hears.
I personally find the area more pleasant and interesting than either of the two aforementioned U.S. tourist favorites. Ixtapa is not, however, a place to get wild and misbehave like Cancun, Acapulco, or Mazatlan. No wet t-shirt contests here, rather it leaves the impression that it’s rather satisfied catering to couples, families and a more mature crowd. Retirees seem to really enjoy the serenity and orderliness of Ixtapa. The place is tropical, clean, developed and very low-key.
That’s not to say that there are no places to cut loose. A fair number of nightclubs dot the landscape. You’ll discern which ones are hot and which ones are not by the lines of Mexican teenagers dressed-up and looking cool (or at least trying their best) that begin forming at about 11:30 pm or so.
Ixtapa is usually spoken in conjunction with Zihuatanejo because the two cities are only about 4 miles apart. Zihuatanejo is an area targeted by the Mexican government for tourist development, but as there was undeveloped beach a few miles away, Ixtapa was born.
When choosing a hotel, you should remember that Ixtapa is the manufactured tourism area with large, chain hotels, while Zihuatanejo retains its Mexican fishing village flavor and is the place to be for a more rustic experience.
From the Airport:
The Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo airport is located 7 miles south of Zihuatanejo and a taxi (without air) will run you around $180 Mexican pesos ($15 to $20 USD), depending on your destination. You will also find a ticket counter near the baggage claim area which sell seats on minivans (colectivos) that will transport people to their hotels in Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo for around $4 to $7 USD.
There is a bus station in Zihuatanejo across from the IMSS hospital on Paseo Zihuatanejo. Tickets are cheap and the busses are far better than anything you will find in the US (speaking of the first class busses). From Mexico City the trip is 9 hours, from Puerto Vallarta 12 to 13 hours, and around 4.5 from Acapulco.