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Ixtapa's perch along the Pacific Ocean makes it a favorite travel destination for those interested in a relaxing Mexican getaway, minus the rowdier crowds of Cancun and Acapulco. There are a handful of beaches from which to choose, including the nearby Isle Ixtapa, which is accessible via a 10-minute boat ride.
Playa El Palmar serves as Ixtapa's Hotel Zone, with several resorts spread spaciously along the crescent-shaped beach and outfitted with lounge chairs, umbrellas and on-site waiters. The 1.5-mile stretch appeals to surfers, while the waters are calmer at the southern end thanks to a high bluff and rocks that buffer the surf.
Visitors to Ixtapa can also take a short cab ride to the nearby beaches of Zihuatanejo, expanding their waterfront options by double.
Playa El Palmar
Location: 1,476.77 miles, Ixtapa, Mexico
Amenities: Water sports, umbrella covered lounges, food and beverage service
This is the main beach of Ixtapa, also known as the beachfront of the area's hotel zone. Lined by the city's major resorts, Playa El Palmar stays busy with sunbathers and surfers. Swimming is possible, but people should be cautious of the waves and currents produced by the open sea. Lifeguards are stationed along the beach to watch for and help out with emergencies.
Location: 541.37 miles, Ixtapa, Mexico
Amenities: Pier with boats traveling to Ixtapa Island, horseback riding
Located just north of Playa Quieta, this beach is a visitor's paradise with its fine sands, beautiful scenery and nearby activities, including horseback riding and El Cocodrilario. Here tourists can learn about crocodiles and watch them in their native habitat.
Location: 359.88 miles, Ixtapa, Mexico
Amenities: Kayaking, windsurfing
Ixtapa's Quiet Beach is casually known as the city's second hotel zone with three beachfront resorts situated on its third-of-a-mile coastline just north of Playa El Palmar. Swimmers, windsurfers and kayakers take a short drive to the beach to take advantage of the area's calm waters.
Playa La Ropa
Location: 606.19 miles, Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Amenities: Restaurants, beach palapas
In nearby Zihuatanejo, swimmers flock to this mile-long stretch of beach to enjoy the minimal waves. Bodysurfing is another possibility here, since it only requires one to three foot waves. A handful of vacation rentals and hotels are close by, but the area is mostly populated with restaurants and snack shacks.
La Playa Principal
Location: 225.72 miles, Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Amenities: Fishing boat charters, walkway along beach, seafood restaurants
This downtown Zihuatanejo beach, also known as La Playa Municipal and La Playa del Puerto, holds the Municipal Pier, where tourists can catch a water taxi to Playa Las Gatas. At the other end of the beach sits El Museo Arquelogico de la Costa Grande, an archeological museum that chronicles the history of the region. Many fishing boats pass through the water, so swimming is not a priority. El Andador del Pescador, or fisherman's walk, is a great place to enjoy a waterfront meal along the beach.
Playa Las Gatas
Location: 242.51 miles, Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Amenities: Snorkeling, pier, restaurants
Snorkelers and explorers should plan a day trip to Playa Las Gatas, a beach on the opposite side of the bay from Zihuatanejo, which is accessible only by water taxi and a rocky footpath beginning at Playa La Ropa. The beach's tip of the bay location leaves it partially open to the Pacific, resulting in stronger waves and cool ocean breezes. Don't let the waves deter you, however, from exploring the coral reef and man-made stone barrier for a fun snorkeling excursion. The lighthouse at the far end of the beach is worth the hike for the panoramic views of Zihuatanejo Bay.