Exploring the Pacific Paradise of Zihuatanejo

“We have your fresh snapper ready for your dinner tonight. Your coronas are cold, what time can we book your table?”

Every morning we get the same banter from the beach restaurants that line Playa Madera in Zihuatanejo–affectionately known as “Zihua”. We share the love between the restaurants! We laugh, “It was your turn last night, the beers will need to wait for another night”. Our morning and late afternoon stroll along Playa Madera took us past these three beach restaurants, it was easy to become friends with the staff. After a few visits to their restaurants we were like family.

Zihua was once a sleepy fishing village along the Pacific Coast of Mexico back in the 70s, a surfing haven that is until the government decided that the Pacific Coast needed a “Cancun”. The next village along the coast, Ixtapa, became a high-rise jungle overnight. We did not venture there, we had everything we needed in Zihua, so much so that one-week turned into three…

Life as a roving retiree has its advantages. If we enjoy a place we can stay as long as we like, if we don’t we move on. Zihua, with its cobblestoned streets, its golden sand beaches and tranquil bay, reminding us of European beach locations, won us over. Where else could you wander down from your beach side hotel, still in your swimmers and shoeless, to watch the sunset, have a few cold beers and enjoy the fresh fish of the day, grilled to perfection with a chilli sauce and a side of the best guacamole you have ever tasted…all for $10.

A simple life is for us these days, you could not get simpler than that.

Our morning walk takes us along Playa Madera and then onto the boardwalk that hugs the cliff before we stroll along the malecon (esplanade). The hardest decision of the day was which coffee shop to choose for our daily coffee fix.

The overnight catch had arrived, the fishermen in their colourful boats were pulling into port and the locals were eagerly waiting to see what the night’s work had brought in. There was a lot of hustling going on as the restaurant owners vied with the locals for the best.

Zihua is not short of good restaurants and bars. A few streets back from the malecon you have a wide range of restaurants offering Mexican cuisine as well as international fare. Our favourite was Bandidos where the guacamole was prepared to our liking right in front of us. We even got to choose the strength of the chilli that was added. Not only was Bandidos our favourite for their guacamole but also for their range of tequila-based cocktails. Make a reservation for an early sitting or you may find yourself waiting until 10 p.m. to eat.

The local market on Boulevard Benito Juarez is a sensory experience, you can smell the freshness of the fruit and vegetables as you wander through. The sweet smell of the local peaches grabs your attention and entices you to purchase. If you think you have seen every chilli that has been grown wait till you see what is on offer there…

Zihua has a perfect climate year-round with minimum temperatures hovering between 20 C and 25 C and maximum daytime temperatures around 30 C. The wet season is between July and September.

No wonder it’s fast becoming a popular expat haven…

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