Hotels and condos completely cordon off Ixtapa’s lovely 2.5km stretch of beach – Playa de Palmar – 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 for day rates of around M$100. The beach 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 a solitary seafood restaurant 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.
Playa Linda is a huge sweep of greyish sand, with a cluster of enramadas at the pier end where the local bus from the centre of town 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.