Ixtapa-Zihuatenejo, Guerrero

Poplulation: 75,000

Time Zone: Central Standard Time

Airport: Ixtapa-Zihuatenejo International Airport (ZIH)

Elevation: Sea level

The two separate towns of Ixtapa and Zihuatenejo are the yin and yang of Mexico. Ixtapa, created in 1972 by the Mexican government on what was once a coconut plantation, is modern and planned. Five miles down the coast lies Zihua, once a very sleepy fishing village where few tourists went; now a sleepy fishing village where many tourists go. The contrast has created a destination that has tremendous appeal to a variety of tastes and desires.

Ixtapa has a two-mile-long beach lined with several full-service resorts, a number of restaurants, support services, a boat marina, and two championship golf courses. It is a town of 7,000 people, but doesn’t really have a town. Travelers are attracted by the remote, tropical beauty, the empty beaches, nearly-perfect weather (barring the summer’s rainy season), and great sports-fishing and golf.

Zihuatenejo is the flip-side to an interesting coin, an old town awash in traditional Mexican culture with small inns and chic boutique hotels. Prior to the 1960’s, when the coastal highway was built, virtually no tourists visited. But now, with the road, an airport, and the fact that it’s become a cruise-ship stop, Zihuatenejo is well-known amongst Mexicophiles seeking a beach town with a slower pulse than the more-traveled resorts.