Zihuatanejo is the Mexican Pacific’s Best-Kept Secret, Until Now

Zihuatanejo is the Mexican Pacific’s Best-Kept Secret, Until Now

By

Aug. 6 2020, Published 2:04 p.m. ET

Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Most people’s reference to this fishing village is that quiet paradise Andy Dufresne dreams of in The Shawshank Redemption. That turquoise pacific ocean, the winding road through cliffside vistas.. There is something about the name, the scene, Andy’s imagining of the perfect retirement in paradise after going through the misery that sticks with people. It doesn’t matter when they’ve seen the film, even decades later, they remember the name: Zihuatanejo. It’s as though this waterfront village’s name was synonymous with salvation. 

Article continues below advertisement

As the travel industry has been brought to a standstill, many of our readers that are frequent leisure travelers might be eyeing their next getaway with a little trepidation. Zihuatanejo, with its quiet off-the-radar feel, its bountiful natural resources from the Pacific Ocean, and the surrounding foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains seems like the perfect place for a little retrospective self-isolation. 

You’ve heard of, may have even been to some of Zihuatanejo’s neighbors — big resort destinations like Puerto Vallarta to the North and Acapulco to the South are oft-considered on the Mexican vacation circuit. Even Zihuatanejo’s closest neighbor, the resort town of Ixtapa casts a shadow (albeit a sunny one) being a well-known riviera destination of mega-resorts and high-rise condominiums, all just a short flight from Mexico City. Zihua residents are quick to remind you that Zihua is not about hard-partying like its neighbors, though it was indeed a hot spot in the 70s beloved by celebrities like Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol.

Article continues below advertisement

While gentrification is something we mostly think of when it comes to cities, overpopulation and mega-tourism can have detrimental effects on small seaside towns erasing original culture and lifeblood and replacing it with an understandably financially attractive, white-washed destination. The designation “Pueblo Mágico” by the Mexican tourism authority can be a gift and a curse to smaller, seaside villages like Zihuatanejo. With an influx of tourism, especially day-trippers, comes a surge of waste and many of these towns have struggled with the proper resources of an effective waste management system. We’ve seen it happen to our favorite Mexican destinations along the Caribbean and Pacific, like Tulum and Sayulita. Cautionary tales hopefully give travel writers a cause to share their stories responsibly. 

Article continues below advertisement

“I don’t see that happening to Zihua,” many locals said, citing the fish market in their reasoning. Zihua is an authentic Mexican fishing village and it plans to remain that way for years to come. An early AM visit to the fish market on Playa Principal will give you an insight into the essence of the town. Restaurant and hotel chefs haggling, locals buying their daily groceries from a favorite fishmonger; friends, relatives, neighbors. The fish market is the lifeblood of Zihuatanejo. So yes, it’s an early town, maybe not the place you’d go to for nightlife.

Article continues below advertisement

From farm, or sea, to table, Zihuatanejo is a clean-eating foodie’s dream. After the fish market, head into town toward the food and produce market for breakfast. Sip on delicious atole, a milk corn-based drink sweetened with condensed milk, vanilla, and cinnamon, as you browse the stalls. The limes are juicer, bursting with juice you can almost feel it through the skin. The strawberries are smaller and sweeter, the flavors come alive. Delicious local sea salt is the perfect addition to mouth-watering recipes — try it on a fresh mango from a roadside market. You are in a fishing village after all and thus, seafood reigns supreme. Make sure to have the local specialty tiritas de pescado, raw skipjack tuna or mahi-mahi fillets cut into strips and mixed with lemon and lime juice, onions, and chilies. If you happen to be visiting on a Thursday, partake in the local tradition and slurp on some pozole verde, a hominy corn-based pork stew. Authentic and homey is the Zihua way.

Article continues below advertisement

This town has a natural feel. While as a vacation destination it can accommodate a range of price points, it’s down-home vibe mixed with it’s charm leads to a barefoot luxury experience. Think Mexican surf culture, beach yoga, and full moon parties. Leading the charge for a great deal is the new Thompson Hotel in Zihua nestled on the white sands of Playa La Ropa that opened in January of 2019. Chef Miguel Baltazar’s fire roasting cage on the beach will give you a whole different perspective on your typical barbecue. The restaurants on property, Ceniza, and Hao boasting ancient Mexican cooking techniques and fresh ingredients attract locals and tourists alike. Could you imagine a fine-dining establishment that has a “Challenge the Chef” interactive competition? That’s the vibe you get here at the Thompson Zihuatanejo, a truly unique luxury experience. 

Article continues below advertisement

Zihuatanejo is nestled around the pristine Pacific bay with waters that provide sanctuaries for delicate marine life like sea turtles. As you drive through the beautiful green jungle you suddenly see Playa La Ropa beneath you. It’s almost as though the surrounding Sierra Madres is hugging Zihua, keeping this town a secret just a little bit longer. Watching awe-inspiring Zihuatanejo sunset, while sipping on a locally grown mezcal, you immediately know that you’ve found Andy’s utopia.

Article continues below advertisement

WHERE TO STAY

Article continues below advertisement

Thompson Zihuatanejo 

wp content/uploads///Thompson Hotel Celeste Byers Mural Adults only Pool at Thompson Zihuatanejo

Carretera Escenica S/N, Playa la Ropa, Zihuatanejo, Gro., 40895 Mexico

Article continues below advertisement

+52 755 555 5500; website

Article continues below advertisement

Pacífica Grand Zihuatanejo

wp content/uploads///Pacifica Grand Courtesy of PG

image courtesy of Pacífica Grand

Camino Escenico a Playa Las Gatas, Playa las Gatas, 40880 Zihuatanejo, Gro., Mexico

Article continues below advertisement
Article continues below advertisement

Embarc Zihuatanejo 

wp content/uploads///download
Source: embarcresorts.com

Escénica La Ropa S/N, Playa la Ropa, 40895 Zihuatanejo, Gro., Mexico

Article continues below advertisement

+52 755-555-0350; website

Article continues below advertisement

WHERE TO EAT

Article continues below advertisement

Ceniza

wp content/uploads///CENIZA red snapper by Nneya Richards

Carretera Escenica S/N, Playa la Ropa, Zihuatanejo, Gro., 40895 Mexico 

Article continues below advertisement

+52 755 555 5500; website

Article continues below advertisement

Angustina Mezcal & Cocina

wp content/uploads///Octopus dish courtesy of Angustina Mezcal Cocina

image courtesy of Anguistina Mezcal & Cocina

Paseo del Pescador No 70, Zihuatanejo, Guerrero 40896

Article continues below advertisement

+52 755 544 8566

Article continues below advertisement

LOOT Surf & Lifestyle Store

wp content/uploads///Photos courtesy of Loot

image courtesy of LOOT

La Ropa 55, Playa la Ropa, 40895 Zihuatanejo, Gro., Mexico

Article continues below advertisement

+52 755 544 6038

Article continues below advertisement

Mercado Zihuatanejo (Farmer’s Market)

wp content/uploads///Farmers Market Zihua by Nneya Richards Relleno

Av licenciado Benito Juárez, Zihuatanejo, Guerrero 40890

Article continues below advertisement

WHAT TO DO

Article continues below advertisement

Playa Las Ropas & Catamaran Sunset Cruise of the Bay

wp content/uploads///Playa la Ropa by Nneya Richards Sunset

Rent a car and drive south, about 30 minutes outside of town you’ll find beautiful lagoons with tropical birds and mangroves and miles of beach, some of which are only accessible by horseback or foot!

Article continues below advertisement

Cooking Classes & Guided Tequila & Mezcal Tastings at Hao

wp content/uploads///Cooking Classes at Hao by Nneya Richards

Carretera Escenica S/N, Playa la Ropa, Zihuatanejo, Gro., 40895 Mexico 

Article continues below advertisement

+52 755 555 5500; website

Article continues below advertisement

Medicinal Hot Springs

wp content/uploads///Medicinal Hot Springs
Source: discover troncones

North of Zihuatanejo at the entrance of Lagunillas

Article continues below advertisement

Originally published in Bleu Magazine Issue 67. 

Advertisement

Latest Issue 67 News and Updates

    © Copyright 2022 Bleu Mag. Bleu Mag is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.