Monday, May 6, 2013

Impossible to Spell, Fun to Visit


Our wonderful travel friends, Stacy and Keri, first introduced us to Zihua (Zee-wah), sister city to busy Ixtapa.  While Ixtapa's beach sports high rises and time-share salesman, Zihua manages to maintain some of it's small fishing village charm, even with an increasing number of tourists. Sitting on a bay surrounded by hills, Zihuatanejo is a scenic and friendly destination. During Christmas the town explodes with beach goers, but most of the visitors are Mexican tourists. You will still be able to practice Spanish and eat local food; you won't feel like you are on the beach in Florida.

Where we stay:
In the hills, for the stunning view of the bay and incredible sunrises. I can't tell you the name of our beautiful hotel because it has limited rooms and Stacy has sworn me to secrecy.

zihuatanejo bay view

Things to Enjoy:

  • Take a boat (from the town pier, around $3) to Las Gatas, where the beach looks more Caribbean than Pacific (calm turquoise water, white sand).  Avoid weekends, as it can get quite crowded.  The tiny beach is lined with restaurants whose lounge chairs you may use as long as you buy lunch or drinks.  TH and I usually walk back to Playa La Ropa from Las Gatas for the sunset, instead of taking the return boat.  This path through beach boulders is a little rough, but you can work up a happy hour appetite.

las gatas zihuatanejo

  • Paty's for 2 for 1 sunset margaritas (on Playa La Ropa).  Stacy and Keri brought us here on our first trip and we were hooked; many a memorable night has begun with Paty's happy hour. 

Paty's sunset happy hour Zihuatanejo

  • Refreshing street beverages.  (There is also a fun little "to-go" bar on Paseo de la Boquita.  It might not be environmentally friendly, but the gigantic styrofoam cups keep drinks cold for a long time.  We actually brought our cups back for reuse on our subsequent visits.)  Here are some non-adult drinks you can enjoy: 

zihuatanejo beverages

  • Fishing.  TH has caught sailfish, dorado and giant jacks.  He even brings his Alpacka (small inflatable raft) to paddle around the sheltered waters. The local fisherman LOVE this; especially when we both pile in for a trip across the bay for happy hour. 

Alpacka in Zihuatanejo

My Eating Advice
I have to admit that we have never eaten at any of the touristy restaurants along Playa Municipal.  Our happy hour habit demands that we seek out more economical options for dining.  A few of our favorites:
  • Papa Loca- a bit of a stomp from the main eating area, this taco/stuffed potato establishment is worth every extra step.  Located in what appears to be a parking lot and open only for dinner, you can expect exceptionally fresh tacos or gigantic stuffed potatoes, fast service, and inexpensive prices.  The plastic patio furniture is consistently full of local families and teenagers on dates; you might have to wait a bit for a table. (From the basketball court near Pozole Alley, follow Las Palapas until it ends.  Take a left on Colegio Militar and follow to the end.  Papa Loca will be across the street, next to a car wash.)

Papa Loca Zihuatanejo
  • Busy outdoor alleyways-  the best places to find the local specialty, pozole.  A soup made with hominy, and served with a variety of toppings, pozole is a filling and economical meal. 

Zihuatanejo pozole

  • Banana's- my favorite place for breakfast.  Inexpensive and delicious fruit juices, fruit plates, and egg dishes.  TH likes the chilaquiles. 
  • Salvador's- located in the beautiful Madera neighborhood (next to the canal), we happened into this restaurant by accident.  A little hole in the wall, beside a cobblestone street lined with flowers and draped with colorful banners, Salvador's became a favorite of ours.  Friendly service, delicious local food, and great prices kept us coming back to try breakfast, happy hour, and dinner. 
Question: While on vacation, on what do you splurge?  Room? Dining? Happy hour? Tours? None of the above? 

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