576km (357 miles) SW of Mexico City; 565km (350 miles) SE of Manzanillo; 253km (157 miles) NW of Acapulco
Side-by-side beach resorts, Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo share geography, but they couldn't be more different in character. Ixtapa is a preplanned resort development with modern infrastructure, high-rise hotels, and tourist services, while Zihuatanejo -- "Zihua" to the locals -- is a charming Mexican beach village that has changed slowly with time. For travelers, this offers the intriguing possibility of visiting two distinct destinations in one vacation. Those looking for a package vacation or all-inclusive resort should opt for Ixtapa (eex-tah-pah). You can easily make the quick 6.5km (4-mile) trip into Zihuatanejo for a sampling of the simple life in a pueblo by the sea. Those who prefer a more low-key retreat with Mexican personality should settle in Zihuatanejo (see-wah-tah-neh-hoh). It's home to some simple beach-close inns as well as ultraluxury boutique hotels.
The area, with the backdrop of the Sierra Madre and foreground of the Pacific Ocean, provides a broad range of outdoor activities and sun-drenched diversions. Scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, bay cruises to remote beaches, and golf are among the favorites. Nightlife in both towns borders on the subdued, although Ixtapa is livelier during holiday periods.
This dual destination is the choice for the traveler looking for a little of everything, from resort-style indulgence to unpretentious simplicity. These two resorts are more welcoming to couples and adults than families, with a number of places that are off-limits to children younger than 16 -- something of a rarity in Mexico.