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Things To Do in Zihuatanejo & Ixtapa Airport Layover Ideas
Things to do in Zihuatanejo if you have a Ixtapa Airport Layover or Extended Ixtapa Airport Stopover
If you have an extended layover at the Ixtapa Airport or staying in town, why not consider getting out with some fun activities? We list a few here and there are many more on Zihuatanejo.LayoverIdeas.com
If you are staying in Ixtapa, be sure to visit Zihuatanejo and spend an afternoon exploring this charming Mexican town. The Paseo del Pescador, or Fisherman’s Path, is a tree-lined pedestrian walkway (malecón) along the municipal beach between the fishing pier and the archeological museum. It is lined with shops selling souveniers, local arts and crafts, rugs and more. The shell market is worth a visit. Some of the best - and best-known - restaurants are situated on the pathway, so prepare to indulge. The entire area is popular for evening strolls.
Playa Las Gatas (Cat's Beach)
One of the top beaches, Playa Las Gatas (or the "Cat's Beach"), is just across the bay from Zihuatanejo town and is reached by 'lanchas' (open boats). Buy your tickets at the counter, then queue up at the pier. The wait isn't usually very long and the boatride takes about 10-15 minutes. The Cat's Beach has plenty of palapas (thatched umbrellas): just pick one. You can stay as long as you want, for free, provided you buy your lunch and drinks from the palapa's owner. 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 whole affair is family friendly, and the waters here are known to be calm easy to swim. There are quite a few secluded areas for snorkeling and scuba diving, and there is a rather nice old artificial reef.
Go Horseback Riding on a Beach
There are some wonderful beaches south of Zihuatanejo Bay, towards the airport. Playa Larga (Long Beach), Playa Blanca (White Beach) and Las Pozas (The Wells) are actually all parts of one very the long 15 kilometre (9 mile) stretch of white sand. While swimming is NOT recommended at any of these beaches (they have heavy currents, undertows and riptides), they are still spectacularly beautiful. All along this stretch of beach are relaxed open-air restaurants with thatched roofs, many with soccer posts and volleyball nets out front. There is good whale watching here (December - February), and dolphin spotting anytime, all visible from the beach. There is good horseback riding here, both on the beaches and in the nearby hills.
Visit the Archeological Museum
Zihuatanejo has a good archeological museum. The Museo Arqueológico de la Costa Grande, or Archeological Museum of the Costa Grande, has 6 rooms that document the history, archeology and culture of this part of the Guerrero coast (interestingly, there are artifacts from as far away as the Olmec and Toltec civilizations, as both explored here):
- Room 1: artifacts from settlements on the coasts of Jalisco, Nayarit, Colima and Guerrero
- Room 2: ceramics and carvings from the Cerro de la Madera area, among others
- Room 3: the Tierras Prietas site, cultivation of food plants, use of natural resources (the bajareque technique of walls made of interwoven branches and clay)
- Room 4: village life and cultural exchange (200 to 750 A.C.), ball games, new pottery techniques
- Room 5: the Aztec period (1487 to the 1520s), shells, basketry, textiles
- Room 6: colonial period and search for a maritime route to the west (16th and 17th centuries), Zihuatanejo and Acapulco ports were important reference points for the Spanish and other navigators at this time
Learn About the Turtles
The beaches of Zihuatanejo are well known for the incubation of sea turtle eggs. Efforts toward the collection and protection of eggs extend from June to December. If you happen to be here on New Year's Eve, the night is celebrated all along 32 kilometres (19 miles) of the coastline with a massive baby turtle release. A collection of 21 incubation corrals protect the dozens of turtle eggs collected daily. After birth, the baby turtles stay here until they are big enough to survive most natural predators. Some hotels play an active with the turtles, with sponsorship and their own fenced-off areas in which turtle eggs found are gathered and protected. These hotels invite their guesst to help with the release.
Isla Ixtapa (Ixtapa Island)
Isla Ixtapa is a small island near Zihuatanejo known for scuba diving and water sports. Away from the heavily touristed areas, a trip to the island is a nice break. Some of the restaurants are combined with snorkeling rental businesses. Not only is the snorkelling good, but the seafood, which is served to you on the beach, is about as fresh as you can get. Take a panga (water taxi) from Playa Linda for about MXN 40.
As always, make sure you leave plenty of time to get back to the Ixtapa Airport in time for your connection and enjoy your layover city rather than whiling away the time leaning up against your luggage in the departures lounge.
World class sport fishing is a major draw to Zihuatanejo, although some is catch and release. Most of the sport fishing occurs about 5 miles offshore. offshore, about five miles out. Sport fishing operations use super pangas (water taxis) and luxury cruisers. Sailfish, billfish, skipjack tuna, yellowfin tuna and marlin (blue and black) are all sought and caught here. A few huge fish have been caught here, including a 500 kilogram (1,100-pound) black marlin caught just offshore. Closer to shore, fish that can be caught include roosterfish, jacks, snook, grouper and small tuna.
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Last Updated: 18 Jan 2023