Some 115km south along Hwy-200 from Lázaro Cárdenas, the towns of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo, while only 7km apart, could hardly be more different. Ixtapa, a purpose-built, computer-planned “paradise” resort, is, quite simply, one of the most soulless towns imaginable, as well as one of the most expensive. Even now, thirty-plus years down the line, it hasn’t yet begun to mellow or wear itself in, and its single coastal drive (Paseo Ixtapa) still runs past a series of concrete boxes of varying heights. These almost completely cordon off Ixtapa’s admittedly lovely stretch of beach from the road, forcing those who can’t afford the hotels’ inflated prices to squeeze through a couple of access points or use the hotels’ facilities. You might want to visit one of the clubs in the evening, but you will definitely not want to stay.Read More
The long 2.5km sweep of Ixtapa’s main, hotel-backed Playa de Palmar is fine for volleyball or long walks, but often too rough for easy swimming, and plagued by jet skis. Powered watersports are also in evidence at the inappropriately named Playa Quieta, some 5km north of Ixtapa, which is dominated by Club Med and seemingly perpetual clans of inebriated Spring-Breakers. The water here is wonderfully clear and the surrounding vegetation magnificent, but with the exception of Restaurant Neptuno, which predictably specializes in fresh seafood, you won’t get anything to eat or drink unless you pay handsomely to enter the confines of the three luxury resorts that dominate the beach.
The next beach along, Playa Linda is a huge sweep of greyish sand, with a cluster of enramadas at the pier end where the bus (M$7) drops you off. As well as the usual trinket vendors, you can hire horses or rent jet skis and surfboards at the shacks along the beach. To find all the space you need, keep walking away from the crowded pier end: the restaurants are supplanted by coconut groves, which in turn give way to small cliffs and an estuary with birdlife and reptiles.