by Larry Berle
On the Pacific coast- of Mexico- somewhere between Aculpuco and Puerta Vallarta, lie the two towns of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo, so closely associated you might call them twin cities.
Zihuatanejo was a sleepy picturesque fishing village with a few hundred inhabitants until 1972 when the Mexican Govt undertook an initiative to build tourism in Mexico. Several resort towns were born from this initiative, including Ixtapa, which now has approx 15 hotel/ resorts along the coast in what they call “The hotel zone”. Ixtapa is nestled between the lush green Sierra Madre Mountains and the deep blue Pacific Ocean.
If you love life in the sunshine, this is the place for you, with over 330 sunny days a year, thats almost every day. If you are an avid bird watcher or love snorkeling this is the place for you. It is an ecological wonderland and there are just too many things to do to name here.
I took the combo tour of the area and we went to a Coconut farm, the gold and silver markets in Petatlan, and its historic church. Then we visited a clay quarry where they make bricks and roof tiles by hand. This was followed by lunch on the beach on the Lagoon, which floods it way to the ocean during the rainy season.
If you saw the film Shawshank Redemption, then you remember the character Andy Dufrense, played by Tim Robbins. He escapes from prison and goes to Zihuatanejo to live out his life and leaves a note for his prison buddy, Red, played by Morgan Freeman, to join him there when he gets out, which he does. It turns out that this part of the story is based on truth and that character lived in Zihuatanejo for the rest of his life and even built a hotel here. I am at a different hotel, however!!
I am staying at the Sunscape Dorado Pacifico hotel and I can not only see the ocean from my balcony but I am lulled to sleep each night by the surf pounding on the beach.
This hotel has 285 rooms and approx 3/4 of the guests that visit here are families. This is an all inclusive resort and by all inclusive I mean almost everything. The exceptions are: spa services, in room movies and telephone calls. Everything else in included. All meals, in 7 different restaurants including 24 hour room service, four bars, Wi-Fi, etc. its a long list.
There is plenty to do right here in the resort: Karoke, movies, Sunscape Idol (their version of American Idol) climbing wall, swimming pools, craft area yoga, bike rides an elegant spa etc etc.
There is an Explorers Club open 12 hours a day for 3-12 year olds with a wonderful supervisor and plenty of activities for the toddlers. They give Mom and Dad a beeper in case they need the parents to return to the Explorers club.
They are open late and you can drop them off for dinner so Mom and Dad can have a romantic dinner alone.
They even have a place where turtles can come and safely lay eggs and when the baby turtles are born they have a “baby turtle release” on the beach for guests to experience. It seems that most turtle eggs, if unprotected, never see the light of day due to many predators that will eat them.
There is also The Core Zone for Teens (13-17) with fussball, pingpong air hockey, x-box and numerous other table games, movies and other activities
Swim with the Dolphins
Just a coupe blocks from the hotel there is the Delfiniti, where the kids, and adults alike can swim with the dolphins. It is a truly fun experience and the trainers have quite a skill at communicating with these dolphins. Wave hello, Oscar the trainer, , says and I turn around and the dolphin is on his side waving his flipper at me. Then Oscar said, “Larry turn around and look over your shoulder.” Suddenly this dolphin from the bottom of this18 foot deep pool leaps 16 feet into the air. “Do you want to see a forward sumersault, Larry? and he is out of the water doing a summersault. A double back flip was next. I don’t know how these dolphins get trained to do these tricks, but its quite impressive. They live 40-50 years in captivity and the rapport they have with the trainers is a wonder. Bring the family, everyone will love it.
for complete packages
MARINA IXTAPA GOLF
Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo certainly would not qualify as a destination, but if you want to have a resort trip include golf, this should be on your list. There are two golf courses here and today I played Marina Ixtapa, located right by, you guessed it, the Marina. It was designed by Robert Von Hagge in 1993. There is water in play on over half of the holes. but these are streams and lagoons, not the ocean. Large burms protect you from the constant wind of the ocean, but the light breezes I encountered were pleasant. Many of the holes are framed by water on one side and mounds and burms on the other-- so its easy to see how the hole lays out in front of you.
The fairways and rough are all bermuda grass-- so your ball sits up and creates very nice lies. The greens are smooth and undulating and quite fast. They were much better to putt on than I had anticipated. There are four sets of tees from 6774 yards down to 5228 so all levels can enjoy it.
I played today with Tim Sullivan, the General Manager of the club and we had a wonderful time
Be careful if your ball goes in or near the water.. There are crocodiles that make Marina Ixtapa their home, but we only saw one today and he was swimming along and minding his own business.
If you go:
with a cart $97
They have caddies for $25-$30
Larry Berle is a travel writer who writes on many travel topics but specializes in golf travel. He is author of A GOLFERS DREAM: HOW A REGULAR GUY CONQUERED THE GOLF DIGEST LIST OF AMERICAS TOP 100 GOLF COURSES. Learn more about his book at www.GolfersDreamBook.com and from there you can also access his travel blog.