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In this post we share the history of Zihuatanejo, Mexico and photos from “El Centro”, Zihua’s downtown area.
While travelers may know of Acapulco, Guerrero state’s glitzier resort hub, few know of Zihuatanejo, a bucolic Mexican fishing village that offers fine-grain white sand beaches with the Sierra Madre mountainous terrain as backdrop.
Zihuatanejo is still unspoiled by tourism and offers the comforts of nicer home stays and well-integrated hotels. Pair your trip with a day in nearby Ixtapa for a true escape.
- Zihuatanejo is part of the Mexican Pacific Coast known as the Costa Grande and is in the Northwest part of Guerrero state
- The town is mentioned in The Shawshank Redemption
A brief history of Zihuatanejo
Zihuatanejo has existed as a fishing village for at least 400 years, with the Olmec, Toltec and Tarascan Indians having settled and occupied the area.
The name Zihuatanejo derives from the Náhuatl word “Zihuatlan” that means ‘land of women’. “The Spanish changed the name of Cihuatlan to Ciguatan, and then to Ciguatanejo. The current name Zihuatanejo has been in use for only the past two centuries” (Cruiseportinsider.com, 2022).
In the 16th century under Spanish rule, Zihuatanejo’s bay became “a stopping point and safe haven for Spanish galleons, pirates and privateers” (Cruiseportinsider.com, 2022). In the mid 1500s, Acapulco was named Spain’s sole port of entry into the Pacific, and Zihuatanejo returned to a fishing village.
Post World War II, tourism flourished and a small regional airport was built. A highway was built to connect Acapulco and Zihuatanejo in the 1960s only served to increase the allure of the town. In 1973, the Mexican government established FONATUR, Mexico’s National Fund for Tourist Development. The purpose was to promote the development of new large tourist resorts throughout the country and raise capital. Zihuatanejo’s more bustling sister city, Ixtapa, received funds for development. Ixtapa serves as more of a resort town where as Zihuatanejo once again returned to its roots as a bucolic traditional fishing village.
- Zihuatanejo is a 45-minute flight from Mexico City’s Lázaro Cárdenas Airport and a 15-minute drive from Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo International Airport (ZIH).
- 20 minute drive to busier Ixtapa
- To get to cliffside resorts and hotels into downtown, expect to take a five minute taxi
Map of Zihuatanejo, Mexico (in the Guerrero region)
Connect this itinerary
- Mexico Travel: A Walk along Playa la Ropa in Zihuatanejo, Mexico
- Mexico Travel: Zihuatanejo, Mexico – A Stay at the Thompson Hotel Ixtapa Zihuatanejo
Downtown Zihuatanejo, Mexico
- Thompson Hotel
- Municipal Market(Benito Juarez Street)
- Walk through El Paseo Pescador along Playa Principal (Main Beach) for shops and watching fisherman bring in the day’s catch
- Beach day at Playa la Ropa
- Paddle boarding
- Archaeological Museum of the Costa Grande
Tours (in Zihuatanejo & beyond)
- Tour: Sea Turtle Release
- Augustina Mezcal & Cocina
- La Sirena Gorda
- Bandito’s Restaurant Bar
- Coconuts Restaurant & Bar
- Restaurantes Mexicanos Any
Walk through El Paseo del Pescador (Fisherman’s Path)
Casa de la Cultura & Zócalo basketball court
A basketball court and venue to host music, concerts, cultural presentations, and art shows.
Walk through Calle Cuauhtémoc
Drinks at Bandito’s
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Pingback: Mexico Travel: Zihuatanejo, Mexico – A Stay at the Thompson Hotel Ixtapa Zihuatanejo – Engaged Abroad on April 27, 2022