Why Visit Ixtapa?
Funny you should ask…
Ixtapa is one of those places that English speakers almost never get.
It’s one of those vacation spots that gets left off of English language maps, somehow.
Ixtapa is popular with the Mexican middle class. Sometimes it leans toward the ultra chic, with a world class marina and boating scene. But overall, it’s well planned, clean, safe, sensible and affordable.
Everybody wants to go.
Everybody gets upset when they can’t go.
Ixtapa is a feather in the Cap of the Satisfied Royal Holiday Member. That is to say… satisfied Royal Holiday members have fallen in love with Ixtapa. They jealously guard the secret of Ixtapa, it’s tiny rocky islands, the unspoiled, crazy landscape, and the shops out back.
One reason it’s so popular in such a quiet and endearing way is that Ixtapa offers a full 4 months of mild-demand low season. In part that’s because it’s still a locals only kind of place, and the locals simply don’t come year round.
May, June, September and October. Every year.
That’s a lotta low-season.
It’s actually a place we recommend that every new Royal Holiday member consider falling in love with.
Why visit Ixtapa then?
Ixtapa is a planned resort area. It’s not just a beach that happened to be but a lot of thought went into developing it reasonably well. About halfway between Acapulco and Puerta Vallarta, the airport isn’t busy but it’s big enough to handle bigger planes from Mexico City and United connects flights in from Houston.
There are high-rise hotels and resorts, among them the Park Royal Ixtapa and the Brisas Ixtapa. If you’re expecting a big overblown Florida city, or Cancun or Vallarta, Ixtapa is a whole different ballgame. While Huatulco is frequently too far off the path, and is truly environmentally sound, Ixtapa is, again, right in the middle.
The balance you get is comfortable. All the services are up to date, there are restaurants and shops but the crowds are different. It’s family, but it’s not a lot of crazy little kids. On the contrary, Ixtapa seems to be imminently well-behaved.
You can get a little crazy in the neighboring village of Zihuatanejo where the downtown section can sometimes look more like an all out tourist town. The rooms and the hotels are much smaller, and it’s a lot less planned. Zihuatanejo is directly south of Ixtapa, still on the coast and in some ways it’s just what you think of when you consider a “vacation in Mexico” for good and bad. A lot more bustling, the center of the town is crammed with shops, cafes and restaurants and some true bargains are definitely on offer.
Just a half-mile off the coast is the rocky little island of Ixtapa. You can get their from Playa Quieta, and once there, visit the island’s four pristine beaches. There are banana boat rides, some of the parasailing outfits who ply the beach out front of the hotel. But the snorkeling in the shallow coral reefs is some of the best on this side of Mexico. That’s only if you find yourself really missing the clearer waters around Cancun and Cozumel.
In short, Ixtapa has slightly deeper blue ocean than the Mexico Caribbean.
Ixtapa has more wide open spaces than Vallarta, but with the same modern hotels and infrastructure.
It’s slight more family oriented, but singles and couples find Ixtapa vibrant, exciting and relaxing without being over-the-top, crazy, much less Spring Break.