Posted by Harry@29Palms,CA on May 30, 2000 at 23:55:28:
I don't have a great deal to post here that hasn't already been posted on previous messages and trip reports. For more info try using "trip report" with the search function on this message board and you will get about 45 hits. The Site Index is useful too. Thanks Webmaster.
We visited Zihuatanejo for a week in mid-May, the beginning of off-season. In fact, La Ropa was practically empty except when Mexican families converged on the weekend. My wife and three kids (2,5,&7) wanted immediate access to the beach. For the first 3 nights we stayed at the Gloria Maria Bungalows which provided exactly that. The 2 story building has four units, 2 up and 2 down, all facing the beach. Kitchen facilities included full size refer, sink, cabinets, cookware etc, and stove were located on the outside patio. Exclusive use palapas on La Ropa are a few steps away. The patio practically fronts the beach. Our room had 2 double beds, closet space, and a simple bath. Aircon too. We went throught the Webmasters Accomodations page to book our stay, but if you can deal directly with the owner you might shave a few bucks off the price. I think her name is Gloria Maria de Palacios, and I'm told she also owns the Vepao next door and Hotel Palacios at Playa Madera. If someone knows how to contact her direct please post the info. The agent I dealt with refused to grant us a weekly rate and as a result they lost our business for the rest of the week. Our room went vacant during that time.
Motel Vepao, immediatley next door and sharing a common "courtyard" is a 2 story building sitting perpendicular to the beach. It has about 20 rooms or so, none with aircon, and their kitchenettes are inside the units. Access to La Ropa is the same as GMB, thought the beach view is not as good except for the last few units on the beach side.
Immediately next to Vepao is motel Las Urracas. This place looks like a typical Mexican beach motel, with the units around a central square courtyard, and a few right on the beach. It appeared to be under renovation while we were there. Of course next to Las Urracas is La Perla restaurant.
The last 4 nights of our stay we went to the Sotavento/Catalina. Including us there were perhaps only about a dozen other rooms occupied in the entire complex. The manager gave us a break on the room price and the entire staff was helpful and friendly. The foof in the restaurant was actually pretty good. We stayed in room 25 on the Catalina side, which was 112 steps from the beach, 53 steps to the fabulous bar, and 119 steps to the lobby. The view from our verandah was of course very nice, and we didn't mind the steps at all. My wife enjoyed the massage on the beach below, the pool was nice and clean, and did I mention the staff was wonderfull? They are building a pool on the Catalina side, and if Mexican construction progress is the same here as in the rest of Mexico, it should be completed in about 17 years.
We dropped in on the Villa Mexicana to look at a couple rooms and inquire about the rates. The complex and rooms appeared very clean. Rooms had TV and phone, and nice big baths. For my family the quoted us $US199 per night, and I hope this included the 17% tax (kids were $US25 each per night). I suspect you can get a better rate than what we were quoted. We troubled the bartender for a liter bottle of water, which cost 25 pesos. Gimme a break. The have a restaurant and exclusive use beach front palapas.
By Mexican standards the food was a bit expensive. I had a wonderful sopa de cebollas (onion soup) at Rossy's, delicious fruit plate and sopa de mariscos at La Perla, and an excellent chile relleno at the Catalina. The Tamal Especial at Tamales y Atoles ANY was excellent and reasonably cheap. The Surf & Turf tacos at La Sirena Gorda were very, very good, JJ's has an excellent salad with chunks of tender and tasty London Broil. I checked out the menu at Casa Bahia and we decided to go the night before departing. It was a Monday, and guess what? They were closed. Major bummer. Based on what I read on their menu I suspect this place is worth a try. The ceviche was good just about everywhere, the fish tacos generally of poor quality and overpriced everywhere, and on several occasions in different, reportedly good places, our fish fillets were way overcooked. This seems to be the norm in other places I've visited in Mex, though I don't dine in the upscale restaurants. We really enjoyed the tacos de res at Los Braceros, and they have Negro Modelo on tap. Dinner for five including beers and sodas was about 120 pesos. We ate popsicles and ice cream from several places with no problem. Some of the fruit popsicles are just outstanding. None of us got sick the entire time.
*I think everyone should parasail at least once in their lives. If you survive, great. You've had your experiance and you should feel lucky. While sitting under the palapa at GMB, I saw a girl floating over my head frantically yanking on the line to make her drop to the beach. The ended up hanging from a coconut palm in the grove next to La Perla. She was OK but for a couple scrapes and bruises (my wife, who is a nurse, was eating there and saw it happen too). The boat driver, Jethro, probably screwed up. I've done it once but not again since.
*La Ropa is an excellent beach. The waves are small enough to be safe for kids, but big enough for body whomping and boogie boarding. In fact, just below La Casa que Canta is a rock outcropping which occasionally creates a nice break on the left hand side as you face the water. You could surf it on a short board if you are experianced (are you experianced? have you ever been experianced?)
*Don't confuse the Artisans Market with the Central Market. The AM is where you buy handicrafts, clothing, and jewelry. The CM is where meats, produce, et al are sold and bought by the locals. Best time to visit is in the early morning when it is still cool and the place is jumping. As has been posted many times here before the CM is a must see place here, or really any town in Mexico. You can buy fruit, meat, vegetables and seafood at rock bottom prices.
*If you are travelling with small children pick up a couple of those puppets on strings (I forget what they are called) for about 25 pesos each at the AM. Since we chose rooms w/o TV, we had a great time entertaining the kids with puppet shows (or was it the kids entertaining us?).
*Not money, silly, but ideas to help you out. If you are looking for something/someplace, flag down a taxi driver and ask if he can take you there. I needed a case of Dos Equis from a deposito. The driver I hailed took me to the deposito and on to my hotel. He would have translated too but I didn't need that. In fact, while talking I discovered he had lived less than a mile from my house in San Diego. Small world.
*If you fly Alaska Air, leave yourselves a couple of extra days at the end of your trip. When we checked in for our return flight home, the flight was overbooked (common occurance according to the Alaska rep). We were offered overnight lodging, meal tickets, transportion, and FIVE free r/t tickets anywhere Alaska flies, in addition to a flight home the next day or so. If we didn't absolutely have to be back home that night we would have jumped on it.
*Rent your boogie boards at the south end of La Ropa for about 50 pesos each per day. You can probably bargain down for less than that but with my boys glaring at me I didn't dare try.
*We departed the states from LAX. If you use the parking lots B or C and use the free shuttle, make sure you get all your bags off before the shuttle leaves for the next Terminal. We forgot one, and I had to chase that damn shuttle from Terminal 3 all the way to Terminal 6 before I finally caught it. As a result we were close to missing our flight and my calves hurt for 3 days.
*There is an ATM in the Zihua airport arrival lounge that worked fine for me (2500 pesos). I made two other similar withdrawals from the Bancomer ATM with no problem. I didn't need my travellers checks or US$, and the Sotavento takes credit cards. If I find I got screwed with my ATM or AMEX I'll post it later.
*Drinking water. The GMB provided a five gallon jug of water and dipenser for 15 pesos. Good water and ice readily available behind the restaurant at the Catalina. Cold bottled water available everywhere, but price varied. More expensive in restaurants (~8 pesos for 1/2 liter) than at the tienda (~6 pesos for a liter). Restaurants generally provided water in bottles only.
*Don't buy souvenir stuff at the airport. It is astronomically priced compared to town.
*If you are bringing anything of value you are planning to give away or sell (like a TV set or bicycle) bring a printed bogus bill of sale drastically undervaluing the item. If you get the red light at Customs you may have to pay duty. Your bill of sale might save you from getting hosed by Customs. Those people don't smile.
*Despacio, por favor! This is what you tell your taxi driver, who is trying to break the sound barrier, if you want him to slow down.
*Finally, if you are uncertain whether to bring your young children let me tell you a little story. My wife and 2 year old daughter were on the beach in front of the Sotavento. My wife was under the palapa while my daughter was playing in the sand near the water. My wife looked away just as a wave hit my daughter and knocked her down in about a foot of water. At the same time a Mexican couple happened to walk by. The man dashed over and grabbed my daughter out of the water. He handed her off to my wife who made it there seconds later. Smiles and thank you's all around. Also, I would often observe Mexican women touching my son's blond hair as we passed walking down the sidewalk (I'll let someone else explain what this is all about). Again, smiles and giggles. The bottom line is children are loved in Mexico. Don't hesitate to bring yours.