The Best Things to do in Zihuatanejo, Mexico (2024)

The Best Things to do in Zihuatanejo, Mexico (1)

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Zihuatanejo is a charming coastal town located on the Pacific coast of Mexico, just 9 km south of Ixtapa. The community is probably more famous for what it isn’t, than what it is. In fact, it is almost the antithesis of Mexico’s planned tourist resort communities such as Cancun, Los Cabos and nearby Ixtapa.

Refreshingly free of all-inclusives, mega-resort complexes and splashy attractions, this quaint fishing village is perfect for the traveler looking for an authentic Mexico experience. Zihuatanjo is an ideal place to practice your Spanish (rusty or otherwise), try out the local culinary specialties and get to know the residents in the many locally-run establishments.

We have been visiting Zihuatanejo for almost 20 years, and my husband’s family, for almost 40! If you happen to be wondering what to do in Zihuatanejo, Mexico – we want to share with you some of our favourite places.

Please see the following list of Zihuatanejo things to do. Want a quick peek around first? Start with this 45 sec. video.



Zihuatanejo is one of those places where you can often learn more by chatting with people on the beach than by doing an online search. This is because many restaurants and activity providers do not keep up-to-date websites or social accounts (if they have any at all)!

There are, however, several Facebook groups, populated with locals and frequent visitors, that fill in this gap. These are: Zihuatanejo Let’s Chat and Fun Things to do in Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa.

As an example, baby turtle releases on Playa La Ropa are often announced the day of on the Fun things to do in Zihuatanejo page.


We hope you will fall in love with Zihuatanejo as we have! Take a look at some of the top Zihuatanejo activities on the following list.


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La Ropa Beach is a beautiful stretch of sand just south of the village of Zihuatanejo. With gentle surf, it is a great beach for swimming and water sports (jet skiing, parasailing etc.).

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Playa La Ropa is lined with numerous small restaurants, serving fish caught that very morning. Beach chairs and umbrellas can be rented from a number of establishments along the beach, including the lovely Sotavento at the north end and more casual La Perla near the middle.

Note: Some places will also let you enjoy their beach chairs for free as long as you are spending money on food and drinks.

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At the north end of Playa La Ropa (in front of the Hilton property) is an area of rocks that is quite good for snorkeling. We have seen some lovely fish, a spotted ray and even some turtles there. (Do be careful though as the waves can hit those rocks pretty hard on rough days.)


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Fancy a massage with an authentic ocean soundtrack? While walking along Playa La Ropa, you will find at least one beach tent set up offering very well-priced massages (typically 300-400 pesos/one hour).

Many hotels along the beach also have their own spas with more expanded services including manicures and pedicures. If you are looking for a very luxurious experience, check out the spa at the Thompson Hotel near the south end of Playa la Ropa.


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While El Manglar is technically a restaurant – we think of it as more of an attraction. This little establishment sits beside an estuary at the south end of Playa la Ropa. From your table, you can view crocodiles, iguanas and beautiful birds. We also think the ceviche and guacamole are quite decent!

Read reviews from recent visitors to El Manglar on Tripadvisor.


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There are a variety of boat trips you can take from Zihuatanejo including early morning fishing trips, diving and snorkeling adventures. These trips can sometimes include exploring the stunning coastline as well as visiting secluded coves, and hidden beaches.

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Another option is to take a catamaran or water taxi ride to Playa Las Gatas, a popular beach on the far side of Zihuatanejo Bay. This can make for a fun day trip, as there are numerous restaurants along the shoreline to choose from, as well as some nice areas in the rocks for snorkeling.

For those interested in scuba diving in Zihuatanejo, Dive Zihua receives consistently great reviews. Owners Maude and Simeon offer numerous dive options (including trips to Morros de Potosi), as well as PADI courses, snorkel tours, snorkel equipment rentals and whale watching tours.

Note: Dive Zihua is a PADI dive resort and the first dive shop in the state of Guerrero to have both PADI Eco Centre accreditation and hold a Green Fins membership.

See also: Zihuatanejo Snorkeling Trips on Viator!


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Since 2011, Damaris and Gene Smith have been running Campamento Tortuguero Ayotlcalli from their home on Playa Blanca – a popular turtle nesting beach just south of Zihuatanejo.

For a small donation (200 pesos for adults, 100 for children), they offer an excellent little presentation followed by the opportunity to release a baby turtle onto the beach at sunset – giving those little creatures some extra help on their journey to adulthood.

For dates and times, please see the Campamento Tortuguero Ayotlcalli Facebook page.

Note: As the turtle release only takes about one hour, and Playa Blanca is about 30 minutes from the town of Zihuatanejo, you may want to arrange a fixed price with a taxi service for your trip both there and back.

On some evenings (always close to sunset) there may also be a turtle release on Playa La Ropa. If you are at a nearby hotel, inquire with the front desk. Alternatively, the event is typically announced on the Fun Things to do in Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa Facebook Page.


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Discover the heart and soul of Zihuatanejo by starting at the town plaza right along the main waterfront boardwalk (a.k.a. Paseo de Pescador). If there is an organized event (basketball game, a festival, a dance competition), it will happening in this location. It also happens to be surrounded by the best gelato and frozen yogurt shops in the city. (Frangolino’s is our favourite!)

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Continue on to check out the fishing boats resting on the sand in front of the boardwalk. If it’s early enough, you may be able to admire that morning’s catch and watch the fisherman haggle with the local chefs.

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After walking the boardwalk, head deeper into town to enjoy the colourful streets, pop into the local boutiques and markets, and finish up with a meal at one of Zihua’s many wonderful restaurants.


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In addition to conventional storefronts, Zihuatanejo also has a traditional artisan market for souvenirs (Mercado de Artisanias) as well as the Mercado Municipal with its colorful stalls selling fresh produce and local delicacies.

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Relatively new to Zihuatanejo is Mercadito Zanka. This lively food market offers over 20 different food carts and frequently, live music. It is an absolute must-visit while exploring town. Learn more on Facebook or Instagram.


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Start you day at one of Zihuatanejo’s beautiful cafes. Try UMMA or LOOT behind Playa La Ropa. They are both lovely spots for a cappuccino, pastry, or breakfast. Also very good is Jaguar Negro in town.

Sample freshly caught fish such as snapper, dorado and tuna. Most restaurants do seafood to perfection, but Bandido’s and El Arrayan in town consistently get great reviews.

Some of the best house-made mole, tamales and tortillas can be found at Carmelita’s Cafe. This family-run establishment is often mentioned as one of the best restaurants for traditional cuisine in all of Mexico.

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This region in also known for their pozole – a traditional soup made with meat (typically chicken or pork) green chilies, cumin, garlic and lime. Both Restaurante Mexicanos Any and Casa Vieja make various versions of this delicious soup.

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For a special evening (including stunning sunset views), try Espuma, Mar y Cielo or Tenaciones.

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While the list above includes our favourite things to do in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, of course, there are other options! Check out even more popular organized tours and activities from


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The Best Things to do in Zihuatanejo, Mexico (2024)


Is Zihuatanejo worth visiting? ›

Yes, Zihuatanejo is absolutely worth visiting! Zihuatanejo is a fun Mexican beach town located on the Pacific Coast of Guerrero.

Why is Zihuatanejo famous? ›

Made famous by “The Shawshank Redemption,” where Tim Robbins' character Andy Dufresne escapes prison and heads straight to his dream paradise, Zihuatanejo (pronounced zeewha-tan-ay-hoe” and often shortened to “Zihua”)… forever putting this once sleepy fishing village on the tourist map.

What is the best time of year to go to Zihuatanejo? ›

The best time to go to Zihuatanejo

Travelers to Zihuantanejo will enjoy temperatures in the 80°F range year-round, which is why many US travelers visit during the winter, and why the region's high season is from October to June.

Is it safe to travel to Zihuatanejo right now? ›

Zihuatanejo is generally considered safe to travel for tourists. Like any travel destination, it's important to stay aware of your surroundings and take general travel precautions. Walking around late at night isn't recommended and it's best to be cautious when out after dark.

Is there danger in Zihuatanejo? ›

Guerrero - Avoid all travel

There is a threat of armed violence, banditry, and looting in cities and on roads. This advisory excludes the cities of Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, where you should exercise a high degree of caution.

Can you swim in the ocean in Zihuatanejo? ›

All beaches in Zihuatanejo are safe for swimming.

Are there cartels in Zihuatanejo? ›

A latest operation in the south of the country has revealed the cartels and police are also coming into close contact, so much so that federal police detained every officer of the Zihuatanejo municipal police force to find the false agents. The bust came through a tip from the town's own mayor Gustavo Garcia.

Is Zihuatanejo a party town? ›

Explore Zihuatanejo

Because the nightlife is mostly informal, Zihua is particularly appealing to couples and those seeking an escape from coastal party towns.

Can you drink the water in Zihuatanejo? ›

The water in the public registry can be potable, but the facilities of houses and buildings are not adequate to maintain their quality. Only tap water should be consumed in hotels that specify it, we recommend drink just bottled water. Public transport will always surprise you.

Are there sharks in Zihuatanejo? ›

A Belgian tourist was killed in an attack Thursday by either a shark or a crocodile at Mexico's Pacific coast resort of Zihuatanejo, officials said. The civil defense office in the southern state of Guerrero said a man and a woman were bitten in the legs by an unidentified animal.

What to wear in Zihuatanejo? ›

Throw out the jacket, heavy shoes, anything with sleeves on it. Wear the jeans, runners & a long sleeve top plus these are what you go home in. You won't do anything in ZIH with them but hang them in the closet.

Are there crocodiles in Zihuatanejo? ›

Crocodiles are known to roam the area of Zihuatanejo, and other popular beaches in Mexico. There are three types including the Morelet crocodile, the American crocodile, and the Spectacled Caiman crocodile.

Are there mosquitoes in Zihuatanejo? ›

The risk for mosquito activity is extremely high. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when spending time outdoors to prevent bites.

What is the crime rate in Zihuatanejo, Mexico? ›

Crime in Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Crime Index:28.92
Safety Index:71.08

How to avoid getting sick in Mexico? ›

Remind travelers that tap water in Mexico is not potable; that they should avoid consuming unpasteurized, often artisanal, dairy products, particularly soft or fresh cheeses; and that they should avoid eating raw or undercooked meat or fish, leafy greens, or raw vegetables.

Which is better Zihuatanejo or Puerto Escondido? ›

Puerto Escondido itself has all the trappings of a small town, some banks, is more spread out than Zihuatanejo, a few nice restaurants but many more casual "open air" bistros, good transportation in and around the subdivisions (and its airport is smaller than Zihuatanejo, if memory serves), is MUCH hotter than ...

Which is better, Ixtapa or Puerto Vallarta? ›

I've been to both and like both - yet we find ourselves returning to P.V. more often than Ixtapa & Zih. In our opinion, it's more charming, so much more beautiful, and love, love poking around the town finding new places. Beach walking is better in Ixtapa vs.

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