I am VERY fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Zihuatanejo every year. My dad created something amazing there during his time as President of Club Intrawest and our family has been going every year for the last 14+ years. I feel that the resort he has built there is part of his legacy and it has a very special place in my heart. While I get to experience Zihua each year, it has been a LONG time since I last wrote about it, so I’m taking the time to write my updated version of Zihuatanejo: where to stay, eat and play for anyone who has plans on getting there anytime soon. PS. You’ll LOVE it there!
In case you are skimming through quickly to see my favourite places to stay, eat and play, I will dive right into that. For those looking for a little more info on Zihuatanejo, I will include some extra notes at the end of this post.
Zihuatanejo: Where to Stay
While Ixtapa is much more developed, (you’ll find Club Med there and Señor Frogs, etc.) Zihuatanejo is a tranquil fishing village with boutique hotels on the beaches and independent restaurants lining the very few streets in the ‘downtown’ core. Most everything is in walking distance or a $5 taxi ride. It feels like an authentic Mexican experience which is partly why I love it so much. While Ixtapa has its own benefits, Zihuatanejo has so much more charm. IMO, anyway.
I have not stayed anywhere but Embarc (formerly Club Intrawest) in the many years that I have been visiting Zihuatanejo. I had so many people reach out on my latest trip asking where we were staying and that’s where we stay. It’s on Playa La Ropa (La Ropa Beach) and it’s an AMAZING place to stay as a family or to stay as a couple, as we most recently did.
The adult infinity pool at Embarc, Zihuatanejo.
While this is our preference of places to stay- as we are members of Club Embarc– we have some other favourite hotels along the beach. Most notably, Villa Del Sol and Tentaciones. If you’re looking for an Instagram-worthy boutique hotel for your next romantic getaway, these are your best options. Both beautiful in their own ways. Villa Del Sol is right on the beach and Tentaciones is a little more private on a cliff right above the beach.
Even if you’re not a guest at Villa Del Sol, it’s a great place to eat and drink (day and night). They even have live music some evenings right on the beach. Oh- and if you followed my Instagram Stories while we were away, you’ll have likely caught the fact that I was taking some tennis lessons while in Zihua. Villa Del Sol has tennis courts and an amazing pro named Raul who pushed me hard to up my game. It’s a fun experience and I highly recommend it!
Zihuatanejo: Where to Eat
The restaurant scene in Zihua has evolved SO much since we first started visiting this magical place. Whereas we used to have a handful of places we liked eating at, we now have to short-list our favourites and miss out on some others we love- because there are just so many now!
We typically go straight to the big grocery store, called MEGA, when we arrive in Zihua and get some breakfast foods and essentials (Coronas and Strongbows are essentials, right?). Then we eat lunches on the beach- at either our resort or little restaurants along La Ropa- and dinners out.
Our favourite restaurants for dinner- in no particular order – are:
Coconuts– a chance to dress up a little and enjoy a fantastic meal.
Tentaciones– book a table for right before sunset (most incredible view!) and then feast on their 5 course tasting menu.
La Casa Que Canta– our favourite tortilla soup and guanabana margaritas.
Tamales Y Atoles Any– for authentic molé chicken and pozole soup.
Los Braseros– tacos and other Mexican ‘staples’.
Bandido’s– try a Molcajete bowl and order the salsa that gets prepared fresh right at your table. There’s also live music many evenings.
Mediterraneo– delicious tuna dishes and spinach salad (of all things!).
Jungle Pizza– literally in a jungle, so if you don’t love wild animals, it’s worth ordering in one night to your hotel. If you do go- use lots of mosquitto repellent!
Villa Del Sol– chilli lime margaritas and the pomegranate guacamole are to die for.
Kau Kan– stunning view and really great meals.
La Vita e Bella– a selection of pastas made fresh in-house that are so so so delicious. James lives for their chocolate mousse, too!
Mito– so many fresh fish dishes and a great wine list.
LOOT– you must go here for breakfast, AT LEAST once. It’s the coolest place in Zihua, hands down 😉
I’m probably forgetting something and may have to come back and edit, but that list should be a great start!
Two of the 5 courses on the menu at Tentaciones.
Tortilla soup at La Casa Que Canta.
Zihuatanejo: Where to Play
There’s so much to do in Zihuatanejo. I mean, if you’re looking to relax in the sunshine or read a book in the shade, you’re in the right place. You’re also in the right place if you want to parasail, seadoo, go tuna fishing, swim for hours, snorkel, etc. All of that is accessible right off La Ropa beach. The very same guys running all these activities along the beach have been there for years and they are legit.
Some of our favourite things to do in Zihua:
- Take a boat from Playa La Ropa across to Las Gatas (the tiny little beach across from La Ropa) and have an AMAZING lobster feast at a restaurant called Arnaldo’s. Say hi to Chai for us. He’s been serving us lobster and sauvignon blanc there for almost 15 years and he’s wonderful. On the other side of Las Gatas is also some AMAZING snorkeling, so it’s definitely a day or half-day trip and something fun to do.
- Walk the beach back and forth, a few times, each day. Whether you’re with kids or not, there’s so much going on to take in… plus you’re getting some exercise while on holidays.
- Find out from your hotel whether they run yoga classes (many of them do- and if they don’t, they’ll tell you of a beach yoga place nearby).
- Go to the basketball courts downtown on Sunday evening. It’s Family Day (Domingo Cultural) on Sundays and there is a mini fair with live entertainment and street food (if you’re feeling adventuresome!).
- Take a taxi into Ixtapa (about 15-20 minutes) to Playa Linda where there is a Crocodile Sanctuary. If you have the stomach for it, the crocodiles get fed chickens at 4pm. *Maybe check with you hotel about the feeding time as it has been a few years since I have been and I don’t want to send you there if the times have changed!
- Stroll through the evening markets downtown Zihua. It’s mostly little trinkets, but there are some gems hidden there and it’s an experience regardless.
- Go for beach massages. They may try and quote you more, but it should be 200-250 pesos (not even $20 CAD!!!) for a one-hour massage. It’s very peaceful listening to the waves while enjoying a relaxation massage.
- Release baby turtles. Ask your hotel if they will be doing any turtle releases while you are there. If they aren’t, wander along the beach asking other hotels. It’s worth it.
- Build epic sandcastles. The sand on La Ropa is PERFECT consistency for sand castle building. You can grab some sand toys at MEGA while you’re grabbing your breakfast and beer 😉
Again, I feel like I’m forgetting things but I’ll update as it all comes rushing back to me. If you can’t tell, we love Zihua so much and really hope you enjoy your holiday there. Please come back here and tell me if you checked out anything on these lists or if you have anything to add!
In the meantime…and as promised earlier, some other notes on Zihua…
To get to Zihua, you fly into Ixtapa, in the state of Guerrero. While certain parts of Mexico have been struggling, Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa are EXTREMELY safe and not directly implicated in the issues other areas are dealing with.
Just as you’d do in any foreign place you travel to, please use your common sense and don’t wander streets ANYWHERE in the world drunk at 2am, but Zihua is super safe. If you talk to the locals, they will tell you everything I just did. I feel perfectly comfortable there even with my kids. It’s truly a lovely place!