Three Lesser-Known Destinations on Mexico's Pacific Coast
There are lots of international tourists in Puerto Vallarta and lots of Mexican tourists in Acapulco but along the same coast somewhere in between lie the lesser-known towns of Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo, and Barra de Potosí.
Resort life: What to do in Ixtapa
Ixtapa is the place to be for an all-inclusive vacation. In fact, that's what it was built for when developers transformed a coconut plantation into a row of beachfront resorts encircled by a marina and two golf courses.
Resort life is the main reason to choose Ixtapa: eat, drink, swim, sleep, and repeat. As with any all-inclusives, Ixtapa's resorts are a great place to relax without any cares. Sunsets on the Pacific Ocean are complimentary every night and there are miles of sandy beaches to stroll either on foot or on horseback. Parasailing, jet skiing, or surfing add adventure to Ixtapa's coast but one of the best escapes is a snorkeling trip to Isla Ixtapa. Hotels can help arrange for any of these, just ask.
Ready to adventure beyond a resort? Four miles down the road is a much more authentic Mexican town to explore.
In search of authentic: What to do in Zihuatanejo
Zihuatanejo is the 'real' town behind Ixtapa; it's where the majority of those who work at Ixtapa's resorts live and play. This gives the town a much more authentic (though less luxurious) feel. See-wah-tah-neh-hoh, as it's pronounced, is built around a bay with beautiful beach coves, cobblestone streets, and colorful markets. The town is busy but laid back. Fishermen sell their catch of the day at Paseo del Pescador and locals and visitors alike enjoy fresh seafood at small beachfront restaurants.
Playa las Gatas, directly across the bay from City Hall, is one of the most beautiful beaches on clear sunny days when its white sand shines beneath its turquoise waters. Unlike beaches in Ixtapa, the beaches in Zihuatanejo are sheltered by the bay and perfect for floating atop gentle waves. There are lots of small boats available to taxi across the bay or hire a cab to drive you over (agree on a price first). The perk of driving is that the roads wind around the hillside and you can get a beautiful view of Zihuatanejo Bay.
With Ixtapa's modern spoils and Zihuatanejo's authenticity at your finger tips, all you need now is an escape with Mother Nature.
Nature and you: What to do in Barra de Potosí
Only 30 minutes south of Zihuatanejo is a hidden seaside fishing village called Barra de Potosí. Do not miss its star attraction, Laguna de Potosí, a bird and wildlife sanctuary lagoon. The four and a half mile Laguna de Potosí is a saltwater lagoon that connects with the ocean at high tide. It is rich with birds and local wild life, even crocodiles that you can try and spot among the mangroves from your small wooden boat. This is an amazing experience that makes you feel like you're on a National Geographic and professional photographers travel from around the world to capture this unique environment.
Besides the lagoon and amazing fresh-off-the-fishing-pole seafood, Barra de Potosí is described by miles of pristine, unspoiled beaches backed by lines of palm trees and conveniently dotted with small restaurants that are really more of a place to hang out for the day -literally since most have hammocks. Choose a spot, leave your sandals behind, enjoy the sand, the shore, the birds, the beer, and let the day pass by.
PS. These little towns are all located in the state of Guerrero, a state known for pozole. This traditional Mexican soup cooks corn kernels in meat broth (often pork) and adds tons of delicious spices and fresh vegetables with a side of tostadas (deep-fried tortillas). It's worth a try!