Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo for One Week!

Mrs. ItchyFeet at Ixtapa Marina

When a friend (who I met in Costa Rica!) invited me and another friend to stay at her apartment in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, I was so excited and did all the researches! The area looked super fun and gorgeous, with so many things to do. They have crocodiles! Like not in a zoo but for real in the wild! Yes, please!


The Ixtapa area houses the hotel zone. It’s the resort area and really looks a lot like Miami. The landscaping is so similar. Ixtapa is expensive with lovely walking paths and a massive beach with fancy restaurants. Zihua is a bit more rustic, but has all the grocery stores, trinket shops, and fish markets. Zihua is where you could live for cheap while Ixtapa is more a week getaway kind of place.

Tiny frog in Mrs. ItchyFeet's hand
Had to rescue this little guy from our kitchen! Not a house frog.

We stayed in Ixtapa in a wonderful apartment near the hotel Ixtapa Palace. The pool was so nice! I really love an excellent pool. It’s the best place to meet people and chat, read books, and cool off after a morning walk. However, the pool itself had very little shade and wasn’t deep, so it would get really warm by the afternoon. Like swimming in a hot tub, warm! There was a lovely shady gazebo, though. Great for reading books and playing card games.

The area also had a ton of critters. Birds, butterflies, bats, frogs, lizards, bees, dragonflies, geckos! In addition to cockroaches, ants, and mosquitos (tropics!). On the first morning, I spotted a weird stone in the corner of the kitchen. Then, while getting coffee, I noticed the stone had moved. Upon closer inspection, I realized the stone was a tiny frog! Stop everything! It’s Operation Rescue the Frog, so it didn’t get stepped on by accident! Finally, got that little guy outside. My kind of paradise!

West coast, best coast?

I was so excited to be on the Pacific Ocean. I’ve been staying in Playa del Carmen on the Caribbean side where sargassum has been choking the beaches, making it gross to swim. After eating dinner the first night, I practically ran to the beach. You could hear the waves crashing from down the block. My excitement waned as I realized those were ten-foot waves accompanied by black flags warning tourists not to even try swimming in that craziness. Sigh.

Mrs. ItchyFeet in front of really big ocean wave
Do you see the size of that wave behind me!?! No swimming. Sigh.

Luckily, the marina was really close to the apartment and it was open to the public. My friend and I walked down there where we could see schools of nondescript fish swirling about, crabs hiding in the rocks, and a pufferfish or two. There was brackish water by the golf course on the other side of the marina, which I’m positive held some crocodiles, but we didn’t see any.

Back at the apartment, we needed water and food. Lucky for us, there was a water processing store right next to us. They took giant 20L plastic jugs, filled them with filtered tap-water and UV sterilized them. Noms! We could exchange the jugs for 13 pesos. So cheap! As for groceries, the supermarkets were in Zihua, which required a ride on the colectivo van for less than 20 pesos. Easy peasy.

Crocodiles at Playa Linda!

My primary goal when going to Ixtapa was to see crocodiles! All the crocs! So first opportunity I got, I made my friends pile into a colectivo van heading to Playa Linda. It was a really short ride through a gorgeous, lush forest. Once out of the van, you head over to the crocodile observation deck. There were so many crocodiles!!! Just hanging out in the brackish water or lounging in the sand. They were massive. So cool!

There were also river turtles swimming about and crawling over the crocs as if they were logs. And so many iguanas! In so many colors! After watching the crocodiles for a bit and yelling at some kid for throwing a rock at one (don’t have kids), we made our way to the beach. Playa Linda is a lovely beach with soft waves and many restaurants. Loads of people stopped us to ask if we wanted to eat, drink, buy trinkets, or do any water activities. No, gracias.

There was another beach on the other side of the boat dock that needed some investigation. We walked through the parking lot and right there on the other side was this tiny fence with three giant crocodiles immediately on the other side. Right there!!! Like we could practically touch them! OMG! So excited, but slightly worried about our safety. You could see a similar fence that the crocs had punched holes right through just a little way back. Huh.

Crocodile at Playa Linda
We were way too close to this massive critter. Just a tiny fence between us!

We continued on our way without getting mauled by any wild critters. The beach lead to a resort/restaurant next to an elevated wooden walkway on this cliff-face surrounding the bay. Turns out the walkway was public, so you could go check out the waves crashing into the rocks below. We had to check that out!

By the time we finished exploring, we were all tired and hot, so skipped going over to Isla Ixtapa. You can take a water taxi (for not too much) over to this tiny island that is Isla Ixtapa. It’s a cute island that has beaches on both sides, with restaurants in between. I hear the food is good but expensive and we are on a budget. No worries.

Playa las Gatas
This gorgeous beach is only accessible by boat or a narrow rocky path. You’re going to get wet!

No dying near Playa las Gatas

My secondary goal for that region of México was to go see the beaches of Playa las Gatas and Playa la Ropa. The Vloggers ‘Country Collectors’ had done a YouTube about it and they intrigued me. What they failed to mention (or I failed to comprehend) was that you should go at low tide. Or at least not really high-high-tide. Missed opportunity!

We woke up early in Ixtapa and took a short colectivo van to Zihua. From there, we walked down to the beach (where they sell fresh-caught fish right there!) and then over to the boat dock. We had to do some haggling with the ticket seller as they only sold round-trip tickets. This definitely gave me warning vibes, but we only wanted half price one-way tickets. I heard you could walk back. Adventure time!

Mrs. ItchyFeet in front of Playa la Ropa sign
It was quite the adventure getting to Playa la Ropa, but well worth it!

The boat ride cost 40 pesos per person and took about 10 minutes. It was a lovely ride. Once we got off the boat at Playa las Gatas, we realized high tide might be a problem. The beach was pretty much underwater. It was just gorgeous crystal blue water, a tiny sliver of white sand, and restaurant beach loungers (more often than not, more in the water than on the sand). To walk the beach, you were going to get wet! Off with the shoes and away we went.

Adventure time!

From the boat dock at Playa las Gatas, you can walk along this very rocky path to get to Playa la Ropa. Unfortunately, during high tide, part of that path is underwater. And the waves aren’t breaking all gentle, like at the beach. I thought we might have to swim for it! Which would have been doable without a couple of non-waterproof phones. It helped to wait and watch the locals to see how they navigated the sketchy trail. We slowly made our way. Nobody got hurt, and we only got a little wet. No dying!

Playa la Ropa was absolutely gorgeous! So named because a ship carrying clothes crashed nearby and the beach ended up littered with ‘ropa’. Cute. After excitedly watching a young teenager take off into the air from the beach strapped to one of those parasails that is powered by boat, we headed to a Thai restaurant for lunch. It was just off the beach and was great. Love me some Thai!

After much discussion on how best to get back to Zihuatanejo (with some input from the server), we decided to walk the back way. We were told you could walk on the beach, but my friend was deeply suspicious. I’ve been on that adventure before! There was a big hill between Playa la Ropa and Zihua and it was hot, hot, hot and oh so humid. Just about at the top, we spotted the street we would have had to take if we had gone the beach route. The path had a gate that was locked up tight. We would have had to walk all the way back down. Go us!

Ocean overlook on walk to Zihua
Check out this gorgeous overlook on the walk to Zihua!

The walk was really, really pretty, with lots of ocean overlooks. There wasn’t much shade, but it had a pleasant breeze. Plus lots of art as you come into Zihua. I’m glad we made the effort. Once back in Zihua, we headed up toward the top of town to catch a colectivo van back to Ixtapa. Fun day!

It’s my Birthday!

I spent my 44th Birthday in Ixtapa with two really wonderful people. My friend took me out for ice cream! Which is so nice but I realize my old body really can’t handle dairy very well. I got the poops. It might have been all the dairy, or I got into some gluten at a restaurant, or I got a stomach bug. Either way, no fun. I need to go for the vegan ice cream next time. Noms!

Art in Zihua
The art in Zihua was something else! So fun!

Time to head home

After saying farewell to our gracious host, my friend and I caught a colectivo van over to Zihua’s bus station and then another to the airport. Some peeps in military gear waved us off the road with some serious guns, which was unnerving. They didn’t care about the two of us with USA passports, just checked everyone else’s ID and ran them through a computer. No idea what was going on, but we made it to the airport unmolested.

Our flight was late and the connecting flight in México City was also late, so we didn’t get to Cancun until 11pm. Luckily, we had a nice lounge in México City that fed us some superb food (plus free wine and Piña Coladas!) so we were tired but not hangry. And in a stroke of luck, our bus was also delayed, which meant we could jump on as it was literally pulling away and didn’t have to wait for the next one.

Sunset in Ixtapa
The Pacific always has the best sunsets. We climbed up to the roof of the apartment and watched tons of bats flying inland for the night.

We made it to Playa del Carmen’s tourist bus terminal at midnight. So tired. We walked 5th Ave as it was the most public and probably the safest route home. It was a hoot! Loads of drunk tourists in fancy clothes, loud music, festive police officers willing to let the tourists take selfies with them. Very entertaining! Home at last.

Now I know that the key question you have been asking of me this entire story is, “What about your house gecko!?! Is she okay?” I left really early in the morning for my trip, thus trapping her outside of the apartment. There was a small pile of gecko poop on the balcony right outside my sliding glass door. I was worried she might have gotten eaten, but she turned up again last night, to my utter delight. I squealed. My friend named her Gobby, even though our Australian friends might find it inappropriate. Go Gobby!

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  1. Sounds like a wonderful time on the west coast. Belated happy birthday! Yes your Australian friends are chuckling about your house geckos name ?

  2. I love reading about your adventures. You’re going to find Europe boring after all of that exotic fun having.

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