Aside from visiting my brother Don in San Miguel de Allende over New Years, I had two other “agenda items” on this trip to Mexico. One was to visit some place I had not yet been before, and the other was to go to the beach! I could kill both birds with one stone by visiting one of Don’s favorite spots along the Pacific coast, Zihuatanejo.
Located about a third of the way up between Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta, it might be more well known by its airport name of Ixtapa, just to the north where all the high rise hotels and golf courses are located. “Zihua” as it’s fondly known, is a lot more low key. No “Señor Frogs” here, just laid back beach resorts and sunset bars. In short, Zihau is the “Goldilocks” of beach resorts. I’m not a fan of big air conditioned hundred-room hotels along a “Hotel Zone.” Anytime I have to get in an elevator to get to the beach, I’m in the wrong place. But I have also written before about my need for “infrastructure.” I need a few conveniences available like local restaurants and a place to have a sunset margarita. Zihua is that kinda place.
I also like the “Goldilocks” of oceans as well. I enjoy riding the gentle waves, feeling the lift as the wave crests and sets my feet back down on the ocean floor. But if the waves are so rough that I risk getting knocked down, I’m no longer at ease. If those gentle waves are calm enough to allow me to do a bit of floating, then I am really happy. Zihua is that kinda place.
Sitting in a beach chair all day can get a little boring. My ideal beach destination offers some form of activity, either a wide stretch of beach for walking, or some form of exercise. Playa la Ropa, where we stayed for a week is about a 20 minute walk into town (downhill) and takes about twice the time to climb back up the hill from the beach. Taxis are cheap, but I prefer to walk it, because I like a place where I am forced into some form of exercise, otherwise I get lazy. Zihua is that kinda place.
Being at the beach can often times make me wish I was out on the water. Zihua has a plethora of opportunities for water sports, but those are often times not worth the cost, or a little too “spring-breakish” for my taste. Though I am intrigued by watching a person being flung through the air at the end of a spinnaker line, I can’t help but think of the ramifications, the equivalent no doubt to whiplash from being T-boned in a car accident. No, sometimes, I just want a nice boat ride across the bay. It’s possible to catch a boat shuttle over to Las Gatas beach, which runs across the bay for the full extent of Playa la Ropa, for 50 pesos round trip, or $2.50US. Sometimes, I just want a nice, serene boat ride to smell the ocean and feel the cooling breezes blowing through my hair. Zihua is that kinda place.
I like a variety of food options. It’s nice to have supermarkets within walking distance, or only a $2 US cab ride away, but I also enjoy eating out. And not just fish tacos on the beach, but some fine dining options as well. Five bucks will get you a huge plate of guacamole with pico de gallo, a margarita, and with that comes a chair and umbrella rental for the day. But one can only eat guacamole so many days in a row. But just down the hill parallel to the canal is Calle Adelitas in La Madera, Zihua’s restaurant row. Check the Top 10 Restaurants on Trip Advisor, and you will find half of them along this street. Fabulous fusion selections of seafood prepared Mexican style with an Asian twist, all for reasonable prices. If you like fresh seafood, family run establishments, and reasonable prices, Zihua is that kinda place.
I can usually tell within a couple of days whether I am going to feel at home in a place. Sometimes, it takes me a while to adapt. But when the time comes to leave, if I feel a lump in my throat and start to tear up, then I know, I’ve found that kinda place….my kinda place!