20 Things To Do In Ixtapa

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Ixtapa is a laid-back beach town in the Mexican state of Guerrero that used to be agricultural land until the 1970s. This area was adjacent to the fishing town of Zihuatanejo and the two separate towns eventually became one city, now referred to as Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo. You will find plenty of things to do in Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo to occupy a few days or even a week. 

Zihuatanejo earned some notoriety after it was featured in one of Stephen King’s novels, Shawshank Redemption. This beach resort is on the Pacific Coast of Mexico and is a popular place for visitors who love to surf and hang out in the sun.

Ixtapa, Mexico

3 Ixtapa Tours

20 Things To Do In Ixtapa

1- Explore Isla Ixtapa

best things to do in ixtapa mexico
Enjoying the beach is another of the top things to do in Ixtapa.

Isla Ixtapa is an island off the coast of Ixtapa-Zihuatenejo with four beaches: Coral, Varadero, Cuachalalate and Carey.

You can do a variety of watersports at each beach; swimming and snorkelling are the most popular activities.

Coral Beach is the best location for snorkelling as it has a reef area and you can rent snorkelling equipment on the beach.

The beach furthest from the point where water taxis drop you off has a small sea turtle nursery but as it can be difficult to find, it’s best to book a guided tour.

On the island, try a fresh seafood dish and a pineapple daiquiri.

To reach this island, take a water taxi or book this tour that includes a visit to the island.

2- Hit The Beach At Playa El Palmar

The main beach of the hotel zone of Ixtapa, Playa El Palmar is absolute perfection with its golden sands and crystal clear water.

It is well maintained and free of trash.

The waves on this beach can be rather large and perfect for surfing or boogie boarding. You can also hire jet skis or go parasailing.

Parasailing here provides an excellent opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of the beach and city.

Massage huts dot the beach and massage therapists offer their services to beachgoers. Vendors sell fresh seafood and fun summer beverages on this beach.

3- Cycle From Ixtapa To Zihuatenejo

things to do in ixtapa wildlife iguana
Cycling is one of the outdoorsy things to do in Ixtapa and you might even come face to face with wildlife like iguanas.

Ixtapa is home to a bike path that runs between Ixtapa and Zihuatenejo, winding past various sites along the way.

You can rent bikes from Ixtapa or Zihuatenejo for the day or overnight, and a well-maintained bike path run past the beaches from Playa Principal to Playa Linda.

The path meanders through the jungle and Parque Aztlan, where you can see animals such as parrots, coatis and caimans.

Where the bike path wanders around Playa Linda, crocodiles and iguanas can be spotted lying in the crocodile reserve, fenced off from the path.

Biking around the city makes discovering many interesting places and delicious restaurants easy.

The Ixtapa to Zihuatenejo starts at the Ixtapa Marina at Muelle I, Canal 14, local 3 Marina, 40880 Ixtapa Zihuatanejo.

4- See The Dophins At Delfiniti

The Delfiniti is a dolphinarium in Ixtapa next to Playa El Palmar, where dolphins work with trainers who train them for several different types of encounters.

At the Delfiniti, visitors can choose from one of seven encounters with the dolphins, such as swimming with dolphins, where visitors can perform four activities with a dolphin.

Other encounters are designed for babies, younger children, older children or families.

They even offer dolphin-assisted therapy sessions and dolphin-attended weddings.

You can purchase photos of the encounters from the dolphinarium.

Prices vary based on the encounter.

Delfiniti is at Boulevard Ixtapa SN Lote Anexo 6 B Zona Hotelera 1, 40880 Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, Guerrero

5- Explore The Xihuacan Archaeological Zone

The Xihuacan Archaeological Zone is a 3,000-year-old once-important city now in ruins.

It was a city for diverse tribes of indigenous peoples from around 800 B.C. and peaked around 650 to 900 A.D.

The main structure at this site is a 45-foot (13m) tall pyramid that archaeologists restored, along with a ball court has also been restored at this site.

Many relics and artifacts have been recovered from this site, including vases, axes, ceramics and figurines.

This site is open every day except Mondays.

Xihuacan Archaeological Zone is a 30-minute drive from Ixtapa at Soledad de Maciel, Guerrero, Mexico.

6- Watch The Baby Sea Turtles Being Released

fun things to do in ixtapa turtle hatchlings taking their first steps down the beach and into the ocean
Helping baby turtles back into the ocean is a lovely thing to do in Ixtapa.

Ecotourism has become popular all over Mexico in the last several years and Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is a beach town that has jumped on the ecotourism bandwagon.

One of the opportunities to be involved is at the Ixtapa Zihuatenejo Baby Turtle Release, where three species of sea turtles – Green, Olive-Ridley, and Leatherback sea turtles – nest on the beaches.

In the afternoons during turtle nesting season, visitors to the camp get to help dig up the baby sea turtles as they are hatched and release them into the ocean.

This activity aims to protect the babies from predators that hunt them before they escape into the ocean.

Ixtapa Zihuatenejo Baby Turtle Release is at Plaza Ixtapa Local 21, Blvd. Paseo Ixtapa SN, 40880 Zihuatanejo, Guerrero.

7- Go On A Sportfishing Adventure

fun things to do in ixtapa mexico Fishing rod on a sailboat on the background of the open sea
Going fishing is one of the popular things to do in Ixtapa.

Ixtapa is an excellent place for sportfishing enthusiasts as the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ixtapa is filled with many large species of fish.

You can book a private fishing boat or go with a larger group on a party boat.

Some of the amazing fish species that you can expect to catch off this coast include roosterfish, sailfish, marlin, skipjack, grouper and Spanish mackerel.

Common charters in this area are deep-sea fishing for marlin, sailfish, and tuna. You’ll also find inshore fishing for bonita, needlefish, and grouper; fly fishing for marlin or sailfish; and rooster fishing, which involves trolling specifically for roosterfish.

Fishing in the Pacific waters is the adventure of a lifetime.

8- Play Golf At Marina Ixtapa Nautica Golf Club

things to do in ixtapa mexico boats moored at the marina
Visiting the marina and golf course is one of the things to do in Ixtapa.

The Marina Ixtapa Golf Club provides a beautiful location for golfers who can enjoy the experience of playing on a golf course with a Pacific Ocean view.

This course is open every day of the week, every day of the year.

Robert Von Hagge designed the links with narrow fairways, grassy dunes, and numerous traps protecting the greens.

This 18-hole course is challenging and provides golfers with a fun day in the sun.

A restaurant and bar offer refreshments to golfers at the end of their game.

Marina Ixtapa Nautica Golf Club is at Paseo de la Darsena Interior Casa Club, Blvd. Paseo Ixtapa, 40880 Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, Guerrero.

9- Walk The Paseo del Pescador (Fishermen’s Walk)

The Paseo del Pescador or Fishermen’s Walk is a scenic pedestrian street that winds through Ixtapa.

This paved path starts at the Playa Principal and winds around the coast towards Playa Madera.

This walk features beautiful views and if you get hungry or thirsty along the way, you’ll find local restaurants and craft shops lining this pathway.

The path runs right past the Zocalo through the exciting centre of town.

An interesting part of the walk takes you past the fishermen who bring in their catch and display it for sale.

This picturesque walk showcases a beautiful slice of Mexican culture and food.

10- See Wildlife On A Kayaking Tour

playa las gatas secluded bay
Taking a tour of Playa Las Gatas is one of the interesting things to do from Ixtapa.

One of the things to do in Ixtapa for wildlife lovers is to kayak (or take a speed boat) around Playa Las Gatas or at Isla Ixtapa.

You can book numerous wildlife-watching tours in Ixtapa to spot bird species, turtles and tropical fish.

Another good spot to go kayaking for wildlife is La Barra de Potosi, where it’s possible to see bird and reptile species in the estuary area.

11- Go SCUBA Diving

things to do in ixtapa mx Young man Scuba diving over a beautiful reef
Scuba diving is one of the things to do when visiting Ixtapa.

Scuba divers will love exploring the coral reefs off the coast and a popular place to dive out of Ixtapa is Los Morros de Potosi.

This cluster of rocky, barren islands requires approximately one hour to reach by boat from Zihuatenejo.

The shallow waters around these islands contain beautiful coral reefs teeming with tropical fish and sea turtles.

Several dive shops operate out of Ixtapa-Zihuatenejo and offer reasonably priced dive packages.

12- Watch The Sunset On A Cruise

Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo has some of the best sunsets along the Pacific Coast and one of the best ways to enjoy the view is by taking a sunset cruise.

Sunset cruises usually come with cocktails, snacks or light dinner as the captain and crew guide the catamaran into the sunset.

Look out for the magical green flash that accompanies a Pacific sunset.

Most cruises are suitable for couples and families.

13- Tour A Coconut Plantation

top 10 things to do in ixtapa mexico
A Mexican vacation spot with coconut trees and lots of sun, there are plenty of things to do in Ixtapa for everyone.

Before the 1970s, Ixtapa was one large coconut plantation and farmers cultivated the land to produce coconuts for export.

As time passed, it became clear that tourism would probably bring in more money to the community than farming, so they switched to developing a beautiful area that appeals to foreign and domestic tourists.

Visitors can book tours to check out a coconut plantation and learn about the area’s history. Coconut plantation tours are often booked as a combo package, and depending on the operator, can be combined with horseback riding.

14- Go Surfing

things to do in ixtapa zihuatanejo
Learning to surf is one of the fun things to do in Ixtapa.

The beaches along the open Pacific Coast enjoy large waves that are perfect for surfing and keen surfers travel to Ixtapa-Zihuatenejo specifically for the epic waves that allow surfers to hang ten.

If you’re not into surfing, you can also enjoy the beaches of Ixtapa or learn to surf.

Many places offer surf lessons to those who are brand new to the sport and those wanting to improve their surfing skills.

Surf shops along the shoreline offer surf lessons and surfboard rentals.

The most popular surfing beaches are La Escollera, Playa Linda, and Las Gatas.

15- Visit Costa Grande Archaeological Museum

In the centre of Zihuatanejo on the Paseo del Pescador or Fishermen’s Walk, lies the Costa Grande Archaeological Museum.

This museum contains several exhibition halls with many artifacts and art from the Olmeca, Teotihuacan, Mexica and Tarasca cultures on display.

These artifacts include objects such as ceramics, clay figurines, and obsidian weapons that are representative of the Costa Grande cultures that once populated this region.

Like most other museums in Mexico, this museum is open every day except Mondays.

Costa Grande Archaeological Museum is at P.º del Pescador s/n, Centro, 40890 Zihuatanejo, Guerrero.

16- Go Whale Watching

Whale-watching ecotourism has become popular in Ixtapa since 2019, when the number of whales that passed through this area started to increase.

Humpback whale watching season in Ixtapa is from December through March.

While it is possible to see whales that breach from the shoreline occasionally, it is far better to book a boat tour with a certified tour operator.

At times, it can be challenging to find whales, so tour operators work together to track the movements of the whales in the area.

17- Feel The Sand Between Your Toes At Playa Las Gatas

things to do in ixtapa beach secluded
Spending time at the beach is one of the fabulous things to do in Ixtapa.

One of the most famous beaches in Ixtapa is Playa La Ropa for its powder-like sand, swimming, parasailing and stand-up paddleboarding.

This famous beach can get quite crowded so look for the rocky path that leads to Playa Las Gatas.

Playa Las Gatas is a secluded place that does not attract as many people because it can only be reached by walking from Playa La Ropa or by boat.

This beach is an excellent place to go snorkelling and you can rent snorkel equipment on the beach or take a look at this five-hour tour.

A few restaurants serving fresh seafood dot the shoreline, making this a little piece of paradise for anyone willing to make the effort to find it.

18- Go On A Seafood Tour

things to do in ixtapa mexico seafood feast
One of the things to do in Ixtapa is to eat seafood. Pictured here is fried grouper.

An important part of Mexican culture revolves around food.

In fact, you cannot truly understand Mexican culture without being familiar with the regional foods and dishes.

Traditional Costa Grande region dishes typically include pork, fish, some chicken, beef, corn, chiles, and cheese.

Corn tortillas are the main staple of most meals.

Several hosted food tours visiting various restaurants in the city introduce visitors to the unique and amazing regional flavours of Costa Grande.

19- Wander Around Ixtapa’s Zocalo

Zocalo is the heart of every downtown city in Mexico, but every Zocalo is different.

When architects Enrique and Agustin Landa Verdugo planned and created the Zocalo of Ixtapa, they wanted to create a downtown area thriving with life and reflecting the fresh beauty of this beach destination.

Streets are organised and lined with shops and restaurants designed to appeal to travellers.

The downtown area is so lovely it is a popular backdrop for movies.

Finding the Zocalo is easy as the Paseo del Pescador winds past it and the bike path leads through this area. If you’d like to learn more from a local guide, this Ixtapa city and countryside tour is a good way to go.

20- Explore La Barra de Potosi

things to do in ixtapa zihuatanejo Rear-view of two women on horseback - riding trail.
Horseback riding is one of the fun things to do in Ixtapa.

Adventurous travellers will not want to miss a trip to La Barra de Potosi, which is a 30-minute drive south of Zihuatenejo to a tiny town called Los Achotes.

From there, follow the signs to Laguna de Potosi then turn left at the shoreline.

The road eventually leads to a dead-end at La Barra de Potosi, which has a small beach and estuarine area.

Restaurants serve fresh seafood, and the surf at this beach is less rough than in other areas.

Visitors can book a boat tour on the estuary and see crocodiles and birds such as roseate spoonbills and white pelicans. 

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AngieGrierphoto
Angie Grier is a spicy señora living in central Mexico with a penchant for freelance writing. Having spent most of her adult life writing first as a scientist and then as a teacher, she now contributes articles on a wide variety of topics for a number of print and online media sources. When she’s not shopping in Tonalá or eating chilaquiles, she writes a travel blog detailing her life and adventures in Mexico at www.onaroadleadingsomewhere.com.