Where I Went: Ixtapa, Mexico
When I Went: April 2013
For How Long: One Week
Where I Stayed: Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa
Who I Traveled With: My boyfriend Sean
In April of 2013, Sean and I took a major step as a couple and went on our first international trip together. It was a combination of a one-year-anniversary celebration, a graduation celebration upon my completion of hair school, and a Christmas gift to each other. Sean had never been to Mexico at all, and I had only ever traveled to Mazatlan in 2008, so we decided on Ixtapa for a few reasons; it was relatively inexpensive, it had great reviews, and it was a little bit more off the beaten path and authentic than a place like The Mayan or Puerto Vallarta.
We booked our trip to Ixtapa through Westjet Vacations, and as it was an all-inclusive package deal, we didn’t have much to plan until we actually arrived.
We spent a fair amount of our week lounging by the pool. Unfortunately, the ocean is extremely rough off the beaches where the main resorts in Ixtapa are situated, so we never swam in the ocean while we were at our resort. A few brave souls were bobbing around out there, but it certainly wasn’t something we were jumping at the bit to do.
The restaurants at the resort were adequate, there was a decent variety and everything was pretty good. It wasn’t absolutely phenomenal all the time, but we were especially impressed by the fish tacos at Oceana restaurant.
We left the resort almost every day. There were tons of cute little shops and craft markets within walking distance, and we always felt safe. The activities coordinators at the resort have lots of excursions to offer, but we decided to venture out on our own to see if we could save some money.
One of the excursions that interested us was a day trip to nearby Ixtapa Island. However, the hotel wanted to charge $60/person for transportation to and from the island (including bus and ferry), lunch on the island, and a guided snorkelling tour. We decided to try it on our own.
We took a local bus from our hotel to Playa Linda. The bus costs about 7 Pesos (0.70 cents CAD) per person. I’m not going to lie and say that it was a comfortable ride…it was hot, sweaty, and a little sketchy being surrounded by a bunch of local Mexicans staring at us and speaking in a language that we didn’t understand. But we made it to Playa Linda in one piece, and purchased a round-trip Water Taxi ticket to Ixtapa Island for 40 Pesos ($4.00CAD) each. It was about a 20 minute ride to the island.
Upon arriving on Ixtapa Island, we already knew we were in heaven. The water was much calmer, and as we arrived before the tour groups, there was hardly anyone there. We met a guy at the water taxi terminal as soon as we got onto the island who basically told us to come with him and he would take care of us…it may have been a little naive of us, but we followed him. He turned out to be totally cool, and led us to this quaint little beachfront restaurant. For about 300 pesos ($30.00CAD), he set us up with a private palapa, 2 beach chairs, fresh fish tacos, a bucket of Corona beers, 2 snorkel sets and a guided snorkel tour. We had struck gold.
When we’d had enough of paradise, we headed back towards the water taxi terminal and hopped back over to Playa Linda. It was easy to find the bus that took us back to our resort, and all in all, our day trip to Ixtapa Island rang in at just under 400 Pesos ($40.00CAD) for both of us, instead of the $120.00CAD we would have spent had we booked through the resort. Sometimes going it on your own has its advantages.
Another independent adventure we embarked on while in Ixtapa was a day trip to the nearest major city, Zihuatanejo. Zihuatanejo is about 20 minutes outside of the resort area of Ixtapa, and we paid 140 pesos ($14.00CAD) for a private air-con Taxi there and back.
Zihuatanejo (or “Zihua” as the locals call it) is a much larger town than Ixtapa. We got dropped off at what we thought looked like a major shopping area, and meandered through endless markets and shops for a few hours. It was a lot of the same stuff you would find at the markets in Ixtapa, but because Zihua isn’t quite as touristy, we actually found that we could buy certain things much cheaper in Zihua.
The rest of our trip was spent enjoying beautiful sunsets, delicious food, and time together. On our second last night in Ixtapa, we were blessed with the most stunning sunset of the entire trip, and we took advantage of it by taking tons of gorgeous photos.
Ixtapa was everything we hoped for and more. Beautiful, tranquil, romantic, and relaxing with just a touch of adventure. Not even the 5.9 magnitude Earthquake that we experienced on our second last night there could shake us (pardon the pun).