Trip Report


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Posted by cara on December 16, 2000 at 16:08:51:

Well, I arrived home Nov. 29 after six wonderful days in Zihua -- my first trip. I can't believe I'm sitting here in a wool sweater, without a margarita or taco de pescado in sight - how will I survive?
Since this was my first trip, I thought my info might be helpful to someone out there. My fiance and I flew on Alaska from Seattle to Zihua, with one stop in LA both ways. FYI, if you book online on the Alaska site, you'll get a 5% discount. We stayed at Sotavento-Catalina, after reading so many positive postings on the board. I made reservations a few months ago, but could not get a Catalina bungalow (which we wanted). However, I called their toll-free number two days before we left for Zihua, and a bungalow had opened up. I also asked for (and received) the 10% discount that I had read about on this wonderful bulletin board. Every little bit counts -- especially since the hotel tax is added on top of your room charge. We loved our Catalina bungalow (#42) -- huge deck with two hammocks, a small refrigerator, a wonderful maid (Modesto) who left flowers on our bed every afternoon . . . the rooms are not fancy, but it's a very special place. We met so many fellow guests who had been staying at Sotavento-Catalina for 6 years, or 11 years, or 13 years . . . I can see why. The winding staircases, the long stretch of beach, the friendly staff, the sunset bar -- the list goes on. Good practical info on the hotel: guests get free beach towels at a hut on the beach (between the Sotavento pool and the bar). You just have to return them at the end of each day, or be charged. The Catalina pool is NOT open at the moment; it has been built, but the deck is not finished and the pool has not been filled. It may be ready later in December, for high season. There are paperback books in the lobby -- free to guests, just return when done. Not a big selection but it was a lifesaver since I only had one book with me. When we arrived at the airport, we were ready to get a taxi, but there was a van from Sotavento-Catalina waiting for us -- it took us (and four other guests) to the hotel for no charge. The driver had our names on a clipboard, so he knew we were coming, but we didn't know he would be there! It was great -- be sure to look for someone holding a "Sotavento-Catalina" sign when you come out of customs.
As for restaurants -- we kept busy eating out! Had breakfast at Bananas our first morning, and it was good, but not quite as good as I had expected. The fruit plate is BIG, so share one. Stopped by to meet Rob on our second day (what a pleasure!) and asked where to find a good, strong cup of coffee. Rob recommended Cafe Ixtapa (about a block away from Hotel Miriam), and although it took awhile to find it, it was worth the trouble. Fresh beans were ground and brewed while we waited, and the coffee tasted fantastic! We drank our coffee with a wonderful Mexican man named Pablo, who spent 40 years as a journalist, and who now teaches English in Zihua. We ate several breakfasts at Villa del Sol; the buffet is very good (cold foods only) and I had wonderful eggs and bacon on our last day. Good strong coffee. Also did breakfast at Catalina, which was fine; we usually ate light in the morning so I can't be much help with breakfast reviews. Lunch -- ate fish and/or shrimp tacos at Catalina, Elvira, La Perla, and La Gaviota -- all quite different. Some places fry the tacos, others don't, and the type of fish used and cooking method varies as well. La Gaviota (at the end of La Ropa) was the only restaurant we tried which used corn tortillas instead of flour. Their shrimp tacos were very different from all the others, and very good. Dinner -- this is where we spent our food money. We ate at El Faro (Ixtapa), Kau Kan, Casa Que Canta, and Villa del Sol. Kau Kan and Casa Que Canta were the winners. Kau Kan just has a wonderful feel to it -- lovely food but not stuffy. Ricardo, the owner/chef, is a lovely man and makes you feel at home. Casa Que Canta is simply an amazing place architecturally, and the food is very good. Definitely the best caesar salad I had, and I ordered it at Casa, Kau Kan, and El Faro. At Villa del Sol we ate dinner at La Cantina, and while the presentation was lovely, the food was a bit bland. The only real hit was the dessert -- frozen cappucino. Tastes a bit like Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream, and it was our favorite dessert of the trip. El Faro was nice, but had a resort/corporate feeling to it; and the pianist played music which seemed suited to an older and/or stuffier crowd. I'm not asking for hard rock, but some jazz or blues would have been nice, not the theme from Titanic. :) By the way, all the restaurants above had good, strong coffee, and good, strong drinks.
Other tidbits: we walked into town almost every other day, then took a taxi or bus back to the hotel. We would just wave the bus down as we walked along the side of the road -- didn't see any bus stops. If you need water (and you WILL), you can buy bottled water at the Sotavento lobby, or at the "minisuper" on the beach next to Elvira restaurant. That's also a great place to buy soda, beer, chips for your room. The ocean is gorgeous, and warm . . . there are quite a few rocks in the water on the Sotavento end of the beach, so I found the swimming better at the Catalina end. All in all, Zihua was fantastic! The biggest decisions of the day were "ocean or pool" and "dacquiri or margarita." I've been to Puerta Vallarta, Mazatlan, and San Jose del Cabo, and I believe that Zihua has won me over. The beach is just lovely and the people are wonderful. I also loved the fact that everywhere we went, people would speak Spanish to us FIRST, and assume that we'd try to speak Spanish in reply (which we did, haltingly) -- then, if we couldn't understand, they would use English to help us along. This allowed us to use the little Spanish we do know, and learn SO much more in the process . . . we can't wait to practice before we go back to Zihua.
Sorry to go on so long . . . this is keeping Zihua fresh in my mind and that feels great. Can't wait to go back and jump into the ocean, sit under a palapa with a good book and a cold drink, see the smiles of fellow tourists and locals, and truly relax and enjoy the beauty of Zihua. If you're on your way to Zihua -- have a wonderful time and have a drink at the Sunset Bar for me!



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