The once-sleepy town of Zihuatanejo, 149 mi/240 km northwest of Acapulco, has been steadily increasing in popularity each year, and the formerly empty hillsides are now dotted with hotels and homes. The growth went into overdrive once cruise ships started arriving; the city is transformed when a ship is anchored in the harbor. Plans to build a pier and huge terminal have continually been knocked down as residents and business owners worry about the already polluted bay suffering even more. Passengers are tendered to the small dock, where they can walk to shops, bars and restaurants.
Despite the influx these ships bring, Zihuatanejo retains a strong Mexican character, and most of the year it is more popular with domestic tourists than foreign ones. (Most of the foreigners head for the purpose-built resort area of Ixtapa instead.) The shores are still alive with fisherman and though there are some 250 trinket and handicrafts shops, the quality is generally higher than what you find in most port cities.
Three beaches are lined with small hotels, the best being Playa La Ropa. Two of Mexico's best luxury resorts are located there, but it's also a great stretch of sand for strolling, watersports and happy hours. It's easy to arrange trips to nearby snorkeling spots, and one—Las Gatas—can be reached via a public ferry from Zihuatanejo's center.
Apart from Playa la Ropa, Zihuatanejo is easily navigated by foot and there are dozens of restaurants within a few blocks of the harbor. Most hotels in the area have less than 100 rooms. Some are quite reasonably priced for a beach resort area, especially considering the panoramic view from their balconies.
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