Ixtapa Mexico – From Plantation to Resort

The bay at Zihuatanejo.

Ixtapa, Guerrero, Mexico

Travel southeast from Puerto Vallarta on Mexico Highway 200 for about 11 hours or northwest from Acapulco for a little over four hours and you will find the resort town of Ixtapa. Until the 1970s, the resort was non-existent. The Mexican bureau of tourist development, Fonatur, looking to develop a new tourist area between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco chose the village of Zihuatanejo (pronounced siwata’neho’.)

Today, Zihuatanejo; (referred to as “Zi-wah” by the gringo tourists); is the fourth largest city in the Mexican state of Guerrero. Though the tourist agency planned to build the resort in the sleepy town, residents resisted and Fonatur instead chose the site of a coconut plantation about four miles (six km) north of the town. The resort area was given a much more easily pronounceable name for the tourists. Ixtapa grew from a few hotels to a large resort area with condos, time shares and other properties catering to the tourist trade.

In 2009, my wife, Lynn, and I travelled to the resort community where our daughter and her boyfriend chose as a destination wedding location. Though we were pretty busy that week with wedding arrangements, we took some time to do a little travelling around the area. I submit for your consideration a small gallery of photos taken that document our travels.

A walk along the shore at Zi-wah reveals that fishing is still a strong part of the local economy. Tourism, however, adds to the town’s domestic product. Many hotels in Ixtapa follow the Cancun model of all-inclusive packages. We stayed at the Dorado Pacifico but opted to skip the all-inclusive portion, opting instead to eat local fare in the resort community conveniently located across the street from the hotel.

Unlike Mazatlan, the beach area contained few vendors hawking their wares. Ixtapa is a little more “laid-back” than Mazatlan. There are some archeological treasures south in an area known as Petatlan. We didn’t get to visit there, but we did take a bus tour of the countryside and we also went on a dinner cruise one evening.

During our bus tour, the tour guide told us that Andy Dufresne, the escaped convict in the movie “Shawshank Redemption” still lived as an elderly recluse high on the hills above Zihuatanejo. At that time, having not seen the movie or read Steven King’s short story, I believed the tour guide. It made for a good story anyway.

To view enlarged photos and scroll through the gallery, click on any of the small images below.


John Steiner


  1. Every time I hear Zihuatanejo, I think of Shawshank Redemption. That’s where they ended up at the end of the movie. Lovely photos, John.

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