Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo: Paradise Between the Sierra Madres and the Pacific
Nestled between Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountains and the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by lush, tropical forests, Capella Ixtapa offers its guests a hideaway setting that belies the wealth of attractions just minutes away. The Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo region abounds with sites of great natural beauty, rich in ecological wonders and local culture, and brimming with opportunities for world-class recreation. Ixtapa, with its hotel-lined beach and 600-slip marina, is the more modern of the two towns that give the region its name, while Zihuatanejo, located on a sleepy bay, offers the Old World charm of a traditional Mexican fishing village.
Among the region’s many lovely beaches are Playa la Ropa, Playa Linda and Playa Quieta, whose fine sands and gentle surf make them ideal for sunbathing, swimming and windsurfing. Horseback riding is a favorite activity along Playa Linda and on nearby Isla Ixtapa, just a 10-minute boat ride from Playa Linda, whose own beaches border calm waters great for kayaking, aqua-tricycling, jet-skiing and banana-boat riding. Playa Coral, on the island’s north shore, boasts crystal-clear water for snorkeling.
Surfers and boogie boarders flock to Playa Escolleras, at the east end of Ixtapa’s main beach, Playa el Palmar. Other top surf spots include the rocky point off Las Gatas beach, Playa Madera (within Zihuatanejo Bay), Troncones – a three-mile beach one half-hour north, and La Saladita for longboard surfing.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
The confluence of two currents – the Humboldt and the Equatorial Counter Current – create a thriving underwater environment off the coast of Ixtapa. With visibility reaching up to 100 feet and water temperatures of 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit, these waters are a diver’s delight, where they’ll discover seahorses and angelfish, electric stingrays and humpback whales. There are coral reefs, 100-foot-deep underwater canyons and shipwrecks to explore. Manzanillo Beach is a popular spot for snorkeling, while divers are drawn to the underwater caverns and coral patches below Morros de Potosi, an impressive collection of granite rock islets.
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo’s waters teem with Pacific sailfish, black and blue marlin, yellow fin tuna and dorado. Closer to shore are roosterfish, grouper, Spanish mackerel, wahoo and barracuda. Boats leave from Zihuatanejo Bay and from Marina Ixtapa, whose 600+ slips cater to both pleasure cruisers and sportfishers. And, with coastal waters quickly giving way to seas 1,000 fathoms deep, anglers can start the hunt within minutes of leaving port.
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is home to a great diversity of wildlife, including sea turtles, armadillos, deer, iguana and dozens of species of native birds that are protected within designated nature reserves throughout the region. Aztlan Park is one such wildlife refuge, as is Adventure Park, where zip lines take adults above the jungle canopy and carry children a few feet above the ground. At Selva de Troncones, visitors can hike up to the Cueva de la Majahua, where they can explore the cave’s geological formations, then rappel down. Two extensive nature trails allow visitors to bird watch, bicycle, jog, or rollerblade through protected lands.
An enclosed natural mangrove lagoon at Playa Linda is known as “El Cocodrilario” for the opportunities it affords visitors to observe crocodiles as they swim and bask in the sun. Swimming with the dolphins at the Dophinarium is a popular activity for all ages, and on certain evenings from May to October, visitors can enjoy a rare treat as they help sea turtle hatchlings, who have been carefully nurtured in special holding tanks, reach the sea.
Ixtapa boasts two 18-hole championship golf courses that combine world-class play with spectacular natural scenery. The Palma Real Golf Course is a Robert Trent Jones, Jr. design built on a former coconut plantation, and its ecologically sensitive greens are home to exotic birds (including a rare type of eagle), as well as rabbits and iguanas. The Marina Ixtapa Golf Club, designed by Robert von Haggee, is ranked among Mexico’s finest courses by Golf Digest. The two courses are located at opposite ends of Ixtapa’s main hotel strip.
Ixtapa is filled with upscale boutiques in the village-like plazas across from the Hotel Zone, and fine restaurants. Its sophisticated resort ambience is balanced by the rustic appeal of Zihuatanejo, where visitors can stroll along the charming Paseo del Pescador promenade, lined with colorful shops, stands purveying local crafts, and restaurants. At one end of the paseo is the Municipal Pier; at the other, the Archeological Museum of La Costa Grande. The museum traces human evolution from prehistoric to the pre-Hispanic eras through its fascinating collection of artifacts and artworks.
Both towns abound in traditional handicrafts – at the Mercado de Artesanias in Ixtapa and Mercado Central in Zihuatanejo. As shoppers watch, artisans hand-paint Guerrero ceramics, while other stalls carry hammocks, embroidered and woven textiles, local foods and more. Galleries in both towns showcase art from the region and throughout Mexico, and silver crafts from the mining town of Taxco are also prevalent.
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is located 140 miles northwest of Acapulco, and is served by Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo’s international airport. The region is blessed by an average of 300 days of sunshine and temperatures in the 80s and 90s.
Capella Hotels and Resorts serves today’s top-tier travelers and residential property owners and is setting a new standard in the hospitality industry. Capella promises the unique benefits of the finest boutique hotels, including superb architecture and interior design, privacy, individualized service and attention to detail – combined with the amenities and activities of the world’s great luxury hotels and resorts. Capella, led by founder Horst Schulze, is a brand focused on customer choice, and offers choices that no other hotel company in the world can match. Capella is opening world-class properties in gateway cities and high-profile resort destinations around the world, including: Breidenbacher Hof, a Capella Hotel (Düsseldorf, Germany); Capella Bahia Maroma (Riviera Maya, Mexico); Capella Castlemartyr (Cork, Ireland); Capella Dunboy Castle (Castletownbere, Ireland); Capella Ixtapa (Ixtapa, Mexico); Capella Niseko (Niseko, Japan); Capella Pedregal (Cabo San Lucas, Mexico); Capella Singapore (Sentosa Island, Singapore); and Schloss Velden, a Capella Hotel (Velden, Austria). Learn more at www.capellahotels.com.