Alyson, a HomeAway staffer, shows us around the atmospheric town of Zihuatanejo
Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa From Above
City and Mountain View from Our Hotel
Most probably only know Zihuatanejo for being Andy’s destination once he escapes prison in “Shawshank Redemption” but few have ever been. Zihuatanejo is a small but steadily growing fishing village on the Pacific coast of Mexico. While on our honeymoon in Ixtapa, Mexico we decided to spend some time in Zihuatanejo and found that the little town had a lot to offer.
Local Shop Downtown
Downtown Zihuatanejo had so much to offer in the way of shopping. The streets are lined with storefronts selling pottery, jewelry, clothing and almost anything else you could want. You can’t be afraid to say no when walking the sidewalks as you are always being asked to purchase one thing or another. Fortunately the locals are very friendly and if you do decide on a purchase they are always willing to go down on their already low prices if you aren’t afraid to barter.
Mexico has miles of mango orchards, papaya orchards and of course coconut plantations. We were able to visit a coconut plantation and the mill where the coconuts are removed from their outer shell and husked. The average worker can husk 2,000 of these a day! In Zihuatanejo they don’t waste anything. The leaves of the coconut trees are used to make the leaf roofs on palapas, the wood of old coconut trees is used for flooring and the shells and husks of the coconuts are used for fire.
Another product Mexico is known for are their clay creations. While visiting a local mason in Zihuatanejo we got see first hand how he made clay roof shingles. This mason can create up to 300 shingles a day. The clay is excavated from his property, formed into shingles by hand, laid to dry in the sun and then fired in their oven. These shingles once on a roof can last 50 years or more and only cost about $0.50 each while a single leaf for a palapa roof can cost twice as much and only lasts 10 years.
Fisherman’s Bay of Zihuatanejo
Volcanic Rock Formation
On the 2nd day of our trip we arrived at the bay of Zihuatanejo for a boat ride along the coast. The bay is filled with hundreds of fisherman’s boats and is beautiful at night when all the lights on the coast reflect of the bay. The boat sailed along the coast of Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa where we saw dolphins, volcanic rock formations and small islands. While on the boat we noticed a completely white island in the distance which is known as The White Island. I was disappointed that we couldn’t get close enough for a picture until our guide explained that the island actually gets its color from large amounts of guano. Needless to say I no longer cared about the picture.
Ocean View on Boat Ride out of the bay of Zihuatanejo
Beach and Hotels
The beaches of Zihuatanejo are beautiful, clean and great for swimming. The views are amazing every way you look with the sea in one direction and the mountains in the other. Everyone we met was friendly and working hard. You won’t find a Walmart here and almost all of the food sold and prepared comes from the farmers and fishermen in the area. It was a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Austin and I would recommend Zihuatanejo to anyone looking for a fun and relaxing place to visit with a lot of history to explore.