The Big Picture
Xtapa, the Mexican Pacific Coast's answer to Cancun. Xtapa was conceived in the 1970s, and built from the ground up out of a coconut plantation. It is full of modern, all-inclusive hotels and is, like Cancun, a "tourist bubble", somewhat sealed off from the real Mexico that we were seeking. By contrast, Zihuatanejo is small-scale, colorful, quirky, filled with ordinary Mexican people who actually live there, has a history going back to pre-hispanic times, and is close to my definition of what a Mexican beach resort should be.
Playa las Gatas is the beach you can see in the center left of the photo. The point of land at the top of the photo is the northern tip of the land surrounding the bay and, along with the southern point, forms its entrance. Playa las Gatas reputedly has an offshore reef built by one of the ancient Tarascan kings. The beach is named for the whiskered sharks that once--but apparently no longer--gathered there. There are regular boats to the beach departing 8 AM - 5 PM from the pier at Playa Municipal shown earlier. Playa las Gatas is reputed to be the best snorkling location in the bay because of its clear water. Snorkling gear can be rented from the beachside restaurants. However, swimmers must beware of sea urchins which can deliver a painful sting. Carole and I never actually put our feet on the sand of this beach because we got lost in the maze of roads winding around the peninsula above it. We never found time to visit by boat, but perhaps next time.
Playa la Ropa
Playa la Ropa ("Clothes Beach) got its name when a colonial-era merchant ship sank just off shore and its cargo of fine Bombay silks drifted in to the beach, no doubt delighting the local women. The gentle waves of this beach make it one of the best for swimming. Carole is not a fan of cold water, so she kept her distance at first. Testing it myself, I found it to be just a mite cooler than lukewarm and persuaded her to get her feet wet as we strolled the beach. She loved it!
Hotel Irma is different, in a class by itself, and our experience there came close to making it the star of the whole show. The pool deck, seen above, is the level where you can see the horizontal blue line in the upper center. The water of the pool is level with the top of that line, allowing swimmers to gather in the water along the edge to enjoy the view.
This completes Part 1 of my Zihuatanejo series. I know many of my friends up north are currently enjoying frosty weather and snowdrifts (or rain squalls in Oregon). I hope they will be happy to see that somewhere out there is a world of sunshine, warmth, and long, slow walks along quiet beaches. I always encourage feedback, so if you would like to make a comment or correction, or yell at me for enjoying myself too much, please do so in the Comments section below or email me directly.
If you leave a question in the Comments section, PLEASE leave your email address so I can respond.
Hasta luego, Jim