The Best Zihuatanejo Travel Guide

The Best Zihuatanejo Travel Guide – Zihuatanejo, or Zihua as it’s affectionately called, is a Pacific paradise of beautiful beaches, friendly people and an easygoing lifestyle. Until the 1970s it was a sleepy fishing village but with the construction of Ixtapa next door, Zihua’s tourism industry boomed practically overnight.

Parts of the city have become quite touristy, especially when cruise ships are in town, and luxury hotels are slowly replacing old family guesthouses. But for the most part, Zihua has retained its historic charm. The narrow cobblestone streets of downtown hide wonderful local restaurants, bars, boutiques and artisan studios. Fishers still meet every morning on the beach by Paseo del Pescador (Fishermen’s Passage) to sell their catch of the day. At night, young lovers and families stroll carefree along the romantic waterfront sidewalk. Zihua is the best of both worlds.  To learn more about all the beautiful beaches of the Mexican Riviera, visit here.  Now view our Zihuatanejo Vacations Travel Guide to help plan your next Mexican Riviera vacation!

Zihuatanejo Weather – When to Visit

Zihuatanejo has a tropical savannah climate, with dry summers and winters. The temperature over the course of the year varies from 67°F to 90°F. Rarely, the temperature goes below 62°F or over 92°F.  The warm season of Zihuatanejo is between June 30 and September 2, when the average daily high temperature is above 89°F.  Zihuatanejo can get crowded during the summer months since it is a popular destination among international and Mexican tourists. The weather can also get warm and humid in the summer. It is best to travel to the Guerrero coast between November and May to avoid crowds.

Best Zihuatanejo Beaches

Playa La Ropa, Zihuatanejo Vacations, Zihuatanejo beaches, Mexican Riviera, Mexican Riviera Beaches, best beaches in Mexico. Zihuatanejo tours & activities, best Zihuatanejo hotels, best Zihuatanejo restaurants, best Zihuatanejo bars, things to do in Zihuatanejo, The Best Zihuatanejo Travel GuidePlaya La Ropa

The gorgeous broad expanse of Playa La Ropa (Clothes Beach), named for a Spanish galleon that was wrecked and had its cargo of silks washed ashore. Bordered by palm trees and seafood restaurants, La Ropa is great for swimming, parasailing and waterskiing; you can also rent sailboards and sailboats. It’s a steep but enjoyable 1.5km walk from Playa Madera along Carretera Escénica, which follows the clifftops and offers fine views over the water.

Playa las Gatas, Zihuatanejo Vacations, Zihuatanejo beaches, Mexican Riviera, Mexican Riviera Beaches, best beaches in Mexico. Zihuatanejo tours & activities, best Zihuatanejo hotels, best Zihuatanejo restaurants, best Zihuatanejo bars, things to do in Zihuatanejo, The Best Zihuatanejo Travel GuidePlaya Las Gatas

If you like snorkeling then Playa Las Gatas is ideal whether you’re a beginner or an old-hand; it has a reef that forms a haven from the waves, although surfers can sometimes be seen catching waves as they curl around the entrance to the bay. Las Gatas has over a dozen restaurants specializing in seafood, so no need to pack a lunch.


Playa la Madera, Zihuatanejo Vacations, Zihuatanejo beaches, Mexican Riviera, Mexican Riviera Beaches, best beaches in Mexico. Zihuatanejo tours & activities, best Zihuatanejo hotels, best Zihuatanejo restaurants, best Zihuatanejo bars, things to do in Zihuatanejo, The Best Zihuatanejo Travel GuidePlaya La Madera

The waves are usually good for body surfing at Playa La Madera where you can wade out quite a distance before reaching the breaking waves. There is a waterfront walkway from the Playa Principal that passes several small picturesque coves, although you still may have to get your feet wet due to the surf splashing against the walkway.

Playa Municipal, Zihuatanejo Vacations, Zihuatanejo beaches, Mexican Riviera, Mexican Riviera Beaches, best beaches in Mexico. Zihuatanejo tours & activities, best Zihuatanejo hotels, best Zihuatanejo restaurants, best Zihuatanejo bars, things to do in Zihuatanejo, The Best Zihuatanejo Travel GuidePlaya Municipal

La Playa Municipal is the beach in front of downtown Zihuatanejo. At one end there is El Muelle Municipal (the Municipal Pier) where you can catch a water-taxi to Playa Las Gatas or charter a fishing boat, and at the other end is El Museo Arqueológico de la Costa Grande where you can learn about local pre-Columbian history.

Playa Contramar, Zihuatanejo Vacations, Zihuatanejo beaches, Mexican Riviera, Mexican Riviera Beaches, best beaches in Mexico. Zihuatanejo tours & activities, best Zihuatanejo hotels, best Zihuatanejo restaurants, best Zihuatanejo bars, things to do in Zihuatanejo, The Best Zihuatanejo Travel GuidePlaya Contramar

Playa Contramar is a beautiful place to snorkel but the beach is made up of surf-polished rocks and not sand. It’s recommended to go there by boat and take a lunch. There is no reliable restaurant there but the coral and rock formations underwater are well worth seeing.



Best Zihuatanejo Restaurants

Bistro del Mar  $11 – 30

With its landmark sail roof over candlelit tables and its fusion of Latin, European and Asian flavors, this beachside bistro is a romantic treat. Delicious fish flavors are the mainstay, with standout dorado sashimi and snapper or whatever is the fish of the day done in outstandingly inventive ways. The house wines are a cut above average too. Service is outstanding. Telephone:  755-554-2142  Web:  Bistro del Mar

Doña Licha  Under $10

This place near the mercado is renowned for its down-home Mexican cooking, casual atmosphere and excellent prices. There are always several comidas corridas to choose from, including a popular roast chicken plate; all come with rice, beans and handmade tortillas. Breakfasts are huge.  Telephone:  755-110-1608  Web:  Doña Licha

Marisqueria Yolanda  $11 – 30

Staff here open oysters with a hammer, and dice and drown ceviche on the street side, where drunk boleros belly up to the sidewalk bar with the boys and sing about their unbridled, unrequited romance to one too many beers. And when the choir is breathless, the jukebox picks up the slack. It’s known as the Catedral de Mariscos (cathedral of seafood) for a reason.  Telephone:  755-121-3306  Web:  Marisqueria Yolanda

II Mare  $11 – 30

A romantic Italian restaurant with a fabulous bird’s-eye perspective on the bay, Il Mare is well regarded for its Mediterranean pasta and seafood specialties, including a fresh insalata di mare (marinated seafood salad) with squid, octopus and shrimp marinated in olive oil and lime. Pair yours with wine from Spain, Italy, France or Argentina. On Wednesday, it gets some Greek dishes going. Telephone:  755-554-9067  Web:  II Mare

Paty’s  $11 – 30

On the sand at the main access to Playa La Ropa, this place serves everything from big juices to grilled octopus and snapper to shrimp sautéed in tequila to fish fajitas, along with an array of tasty soups, salads and omelettes. Enjoy the fare under thatched and linen umbrellas in the sand with rattan lanterns dangling from the palms. Service is neither swift nor effusive.  Telephone:  755-544-2213  Web:  Paty’s

Best Zihuatanejo Nightclubs

Bandidos De Zihua

There’s salsa, Cuban, or romantic music at Bandidos from Tuesday through .  It’s smack in the middle of downtown and almost as popular with locals as with travelers—both foreign and domestic. In the afternoon and early evening you can get drinks, snacks, and full meals at the bar and outdoor patio. The TV is usually tuned to sports, though the volume is turned way down. Telephone:  755-553-8072  Web:  Bandidos De Zihua

Caprichos Grill

Capricho’s Grill has live music Thursday, Friday, and Saturday—usually world, Latin, flamenco, or jazz—and occasionally hosts special events, such as concerts during March’s Guitarfest. You can dine in a lovely courtyard with palm trees and hanging lanterns, or enjoy snacks, cocktails, and wine, and a front seat for the performances from the lounge. Telephone:  755-554-3019.


The idea behind this hip, three-level “concept store” near Playa la Ropa is rather broad: it’s a coffee shop, bar, restaurant, art gallery, surf boutique, gourmet shop, furniture store, lounge, occasional nightclub, and condo-sales platform. Zihua’s young and beautiful congregate here to hear international DJs, sip cappuccinos, or just see and be seen on the rooftop terrace. Telephone:  755-544-6037  Web:  Loot

El Canto de las Sirenas

Though it’s hardly a secret—it’s one of the venues that hosts the Guitarfest in March— El Canto de la Sirena is something of a hidden gem, if only because of its unlikely location outside of town by the main bus station. This local favorite is owned by a local legend, guitarist José Luis Cobo López, who performs most evenings. There’s live music (and sometimes dancing) Tuesday through Saturday starting at 10 pm; jam sessions usually last until the wee hours.  Web:  El Canto de las Sirenas

Angustina Mezcal & Cantina

The vibe at this hip, open-air mezcal bar right on the Paseo del Pescador is pure kitsch, complete with colorful vinyl-cord chairs and tables covered with lotería cards. It serves dozens of varieties of mezcal from five different Mexican states, along with inventive cocktails and tasty dishes ranging from burgers and tacos to duck carnitas. You’ll find occasional live music on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. It’s generally open from 4 pm to 2 am but closes early in the low season.  Telephone:  755-544-8566  Web:  Angustina Mezcal & Cantina

The Best Zihuatanejo Hotels


  1. Joseph

    WOW! Such beautiful pictures. There is so much great information, makes me want to travel there. I love the yearly temperatures. I like that it does not get too hot. I am looking at going to Mexico this next year, and have been all set on Cabo. This might change my mind for sure. Sounds like an amazing place. I actually had not heard of Zihuatanejo before. I see that it is close to Ixtapa. Can I get to Ixtapa easily? I am going to read some more of your reviews, so I can decide exactly where in Mexico we want to go.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Joseph,
      Yes, the climate is definitely nice, not too hot, yet not too cold. Perfect for a beach getaway for sure. You can easily get between Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo. There are shuttle buses thru the hotels, and well as city buses. Ixtapa is only a 15 minute drive. So really close. Thanks for visiting Zihuatanejo Vacations!

  2. Dalton

    Excellent review of Zihua! Once again I loved the video you put up, it really shows off the beauty of the whole area.

    Mexico has always been a favorite of mine to vacation. When I was younger it seemed like every vacation our family went on was to Mexico and I had the time of my life every time.

    Thank you for the very detailed review. I already have your website bookmarked, because it has been very helpful to me. I am very much looking forward to any recommendations you have in the future!


    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you so much Dalton! I am glad you enjoyed my review of Zihua! Yes, I grew up going to Mexico a lot as well, and it has always been a favorite of mine. Keep visiting and look for some great reviews coming. Thanks for visiting Zihuatanejo Vacations.

  3. Rob

    Zihua sounds amazing. Definitely adding this one to my list. It’s been a while since I visited Mexico and I must go again. Love your recommendations. I personally would take part in the dolphin activity and the biking trail. I haven’t biked yet in a tropical destination, let alone even left my resort. Need to do this!!

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Rob, Thank you for reading all about Zihuatanejo. You would have a great time here. Hope you get to do this soon! Thanks for visiting.

  4. Saiprasad

    The place looks so beautiful. Makes me want to go there!!
    Scenic and lot of activities to do. Carlo scuba caught my eye. I’ll add it to my travel bucket list.

    Is language a big barrier as most smaller cities or towns don’t speak in English and I can’t speak even one word of Spanish or mexican

    Thank you

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Well then you have to plan a trip to Zihuatanejo! You will absolutely fall in love with the area. Yes, Carlo Scuba has many activities they can help you with, and they are a top rated company by TripAdvisor as well. You do not need to worry about speaking Spanish. This is a tourist area, and most of the people speak English and will be able to converse with you. So there will really be no language barrier for you 🙂 Please let me know if you need any additional information. Thank you for taking the time to leave me comments.

  5. Bob

    Your site is so hot. No pun intended.
    I have never heard of this place. My wife and I were looking at the information you have on your site and traveling to somewhere new that we have not been to before, would be a lot of fun. We live in the U.S. and were wondering what airport we would possible fly thru on the way to Zihuatanejo, and how long the flights might be. Zihuatanejo sounds amazing, a place that we are definitely interested in vacationing too. Thanks for the recommendation.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Bob,

      You and your wife will love Zihuatanejo! There is so much beauty, wonderful beaches, and tons of things to do. I can’t really say what airport you would fly thru, since I don’t know what part of the U.S. you are in. Most fly thru California though, since Mexico is right there, but that is not necessarily where you would fly into or out of. I guess that is the same for the flight lengths, really depends on where you are flying out of. I am going to send you a message, and then once I hear back, I can answer these questions more effectively. Thanks for visiting

  6. Yvonne

    Zihuatanejo looks like a beautiful place to visit. There’re so many activities to try out. The horseback riding on the beach sounds like fun. How far away is Ixtapa? I have been planning a trip and will definitely want to stay in both places now after reading your post. Is there transportation that can take me from Zihuatanejo to Ixtapa? Thanks!

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Yvonne,

      Yes there is a lot to do in Zihuatanejo, besides just going to the beach. There are plenty of shuttles between Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa, which is just a 15 minute drive. So you will easily be able to go from one to other. Please let me know if you need anything else. Thanks!

  7. greg

    very good information and Mexico looks so beautiful. I have a quick question though. My sister and her two friends are looking to travel to Mexico next year, but I am a little worried about their safety what with them being a group of 3 girls on their own in their 20s. Would you recommend Zihua as a good safe destination for them but still be fun and interesting with lots do do.



    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Greg,

      Your sister and her friends are going to be perfectly safe in Zihua. It is a good safe destination for them. And yes, as you can see by my list, there is LOTS to there. If they are looking for more than just hanging at the beach, they can do that here. They will not get bored. Thanks for reading Zihuatanejo Vacations!

  8. Stefan

    Hi there, I love Mexico.
    It is wonderful to hear about places I haven’t visited so far.
    Your review is very interesting and full of great information.
    I think I start packing tomorrow and hit off to Mexico:)

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I am glad you enjoyed reading my post about Zihuatanejo Vacations 🙂 The whole Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo area is a great beach destination. You would enjoy Stefan! Thanks for visiting!

  9. Jeremy

    Wow what a beautiful place! I really like how it’s still warm during winter, this is my kind of holiday haha.

    So many activities to do there as well, like the bike riding, beach walks and snorkelling in clear blue waters! Everything seems really reasonably priced as well, awesome article!

    Thanks Leahrae

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thanks Jeremy! I am glad you found my Zihuatanejo Vacations article interesting 🙂 There is lots to do here for sure. You would not get bored. Thanks for taking the time to leave me comments.

  10. Shannon

    Thank you for all the great info,I have wanted to visit this location in Mexico since it was featured in Shawshank Redemption! I have been to Mexico multiple times but this would be a 1st for me.

    Love the added video

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great Shannon, and I loved the movie Shawshank Redemption. I have seen it many times, yet I did not know that Zihuatanejo was featured in the movie! I learn something new everyday. If you have been to Mexico many times, then you need to give Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa a visit. I have been to Mexico many times too, and this area is a little unique. Thanks for visiting Zihuatanejo Vacations.

  11. joel Charles

    Zihua looks fantastic, I have to plan a vacation there. I have to get my spanish on though, I hate being the ugly american who expect people to speak English even though I am in their country.
    Do you know if I can go there with just a passport card? I can drive to Canada with it, but when I fly I have to have the passport book. Thank you for the great information

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Joel, yes Zihua is fantastic. I will say that you do need a passport when visiting anywhere in Mexico. They will need a page to put their stamps on as well. I am glad you enjoyed reading, and come back again!

  12. Arlet

    Hello, I read your post and I must say you have covered it very well. You give really good details for people that are looking for vacation spots. I’m actually a local, I grew up very close to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and It was my family’s favorite vacation place. It has a lot to do that a week can go by so fast 🙂 I’m glad you are sharing what one can do!
    You made me reminisce in how awesome that place is, If ever go again I will make sure to check more of the activities you mentioned.
    And please keep sharing info from those not very known places XD

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      HI Arlet,

      Thank you for reading about Zihuatanejo Vacations. Wow, to grow up in such a beautiful area as the Mexican Riviera! Yes, most do not go to the Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa area. I feel it is a little unique, and worth vacationing to for some authentic Mexican culture. Glad you enjoyed!

  13. Rico Hanes

    Who would have guessed that the spot that Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) lauded to Morgan Freeman as a “quiet paradise” in the movie “The Shawshank Redemption”, is now one of the most sought after tourist destinations in all of Mexico ? A booming Resort town visited by thousand of curious travelers every year. What a gorgeous spot ! Thank you for breaking down the places to visit there for us. 🙂

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, Rico I know. Funny thing is I love that movie. I have seen it several times, and never realized (maybe I wasn’t paying attention) that it was in Zihuatanejo! Thanks for reading!

  14. olina

    What a great information! I was doing research on the possible vacation to Mexico and your site was serving exact this purpose! One problem is that I don’t speak any Spanish. How easy will it be to get around without knowing the language?

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Olina,

      I have been to Mexico at least 15 times, and I do not know Spanish. Oh I know maybe a handful of phrases, and that is it. The Mexicans are very accommodating and most speak English. You do not need to worry about learning Spanish before visiting Mexico. They will understand you, as English is spoken in all of the tourist areas. Thanks for taking time to leave me comments .


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