“I’ll tell you where I’d go. Zihuatanejo. It’s in Mexico. A little place on the Pacific Ocean…..It’s where I want to live the rest of my life.” So said Tim Robbins’ character “Alex” to Morgan Freeman’s “Ellis Boyd” in the 1994 screen classic, The Shawshank Redemption.
SPOILER ALERT: Eventually, Alex and Ellis are reunited in Mexico following a lengthy incarceration (watch the movie for more detail) and the fishing village is as beautiful as described by Alex.
After spending a week in Zihuatanejo and sister city Ixtapa I believe Alex was on to something. I could spend the rest of my life in this town and be a happily retired guy.
Present day Zihuatanejo (referred to as “Zihua” by locals) is no longer a “sleepy” fishing village but is, in fact, the 3rd leading tourist destination in Mexico behind Cancun and Puerto Vallarta.
Although cruise ships now dock here on a regular basis, Zihua retains a high level of Mexico charm with cultural attractions and several drop-dead gorgeous beaches.
There is a daily thriving market, enough seafood restaurants to last a lifetime and a “Malecon” with strolling mariachis at night.
Mornings are particularly memorable in El Centro as the fishing boats return early in the morning loaded with the fresh catch of the day which ranges from tuna to red snapper to clams and oysters.
Get there early (before 8 am) for the best selection of fresh fish.
Whereas, Zihuatanejo is old Mexico charming and a delightful place to walk around and spend the day, Ixtapa, 20 minutes down the road, has a “luxury resort” relaxing feel.
Our THIRDHOME for the week was Casa Cuatro located in Punta Ixtapa, a gated community that we never wanted to leave.
The home, as I’ve come to expect from staying in THIRDHOME properties, was spacious, beautifully decorated, and had a terrace you could hang out in all day and night.
The Punta Ixtapa community features 6 stunning private beaches, 3 beach clubhouses with restaurants, several pools that stayed empty during most of our stay, a fitness center and tennis courts. Since Casa Cuatro was located right on Don Rodrigo Beach shoes were an optional accessory much of the week.
There were many highlights of our week in Paraiso (Spanish for Paradise) but here are my personal favorites:
Martina, our cocinera (chef), preparing authentic Mexican breakfast specialties and great seafood dinners each evening.
The “Pelican and Sunrise” movie we got to watch every morning as literally hundreds of pelicans danced and dove for breakfast in the ocean directly in front of us while the sun rose over the mountains.
Hanging out at the Don Rodrigo Club restaurant drinking margaritas while watching the NFL playoffs and explaining American football to David and Jose, our waiters.
Watching the 4 Mexican Pole Flyers (Voldadores) climb and descend from a 100-foot pole upside down hanging from ropes while the 5th “Flyer plays Mayan tunes with a flute standing at the top of the pole. Wow!!!
Renting a bicycle and pedaling the Ixtapa Cicloplista, 7.5 miles of bike path winding through Ixtapa’s lush forest. Somewhat hilly but a beautiful ride.
Experiencing releasing baby sea turtles to the ocean at sunset from the beach in Zihuatanejo.
Despite the tremendous experiences I have when traveling around this beautiful country I read the travel advisories and I know there is trepidation about visiting any number of places in Mexico at this time. According to a recent survey conducted by the Mexican Tourism Board, 94% of visitors indicated that their vacation “exceeded their expectations” and 86% said they plan on returning in the following 6 months. I am happy to report that this THIRDHOME trip exceeded my expectations and I look forward to returning to Mexico.
More photos from Larry’s trip: