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Well Traveled: An Enchanting Escape to Zihuatanejo, Mexico

The quaint fishing village is a relaxing retreat for Colby Walton of Cooksey Communications.
By | |Photography courtesy of Ixtapa Zihuatanejo Convention & Visitors Bureau and Thompson Zihuatanejo
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Scenic Swim: Cool off with a relaxing dip in Thompson Zihuatanejo’s resort-style infinity pool.

Well Traveled: An Enchanting Escape to Zihuatanejo, Mexico

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I’m almost embarrassed to confess that I’ve never seen The Shawshank Redemption. So, I didn’t understand the reference to Andy and Red’s embrace at the end of the movie when someone commented about it on my Instagram post during my recent trip to Zihuatanejo. Thanks to Google, I learned that the final scene was not filmed in Mexico but featured a different tropical locale: St. Croix. But that doesn’t stop curious visitors from seeking out this sleepy resort town on Mexico’s Pacific Coast.

My knowledge of Zihua (as the locals and regulars call it) is that of a funky beach escape for those-in-the-know since the 1970s. Back in the day, Studio 54 regulars Elizabeth Taylor, Betsey Johnson, and Andy Warhol flocked to the area’s beachfront villas for some R&R. Indeed, some much-need Vitamin Sea (and a margarita or two!) beckons me to Zihua, which sits about 5 miles southeast of neighboring resort town Ixtapa. And the Thompson Zihuatanejo resort, situated along the pristine white sands of the famous Playa La Ropa, makes for a getaway fit for any Hollywood A-lister. 

I stay in one of the property’s 11 swanky swim-up suites, with its private pool and the soothing sounds of crashing waves just outside its sliding-glass doors. After checking in, I make a beeline for the beach and a shady palapa for an afternoon siesta. I can almost feel my worries and stresses slipping away with each sip from an ice-cold Mezcalita. (Seriously, what is it about tropical fruit and alcohol that always taste better while on vacation?)

Early the following day, I take a peaceful stroll along Playa La Ropa, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Bordered by palm trees and picturesque cliffs that rival the Italian coast, La Ropa is excellent for swimming, parasailing, waterskiing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and surfing. Try a morning yoga class on the beach or an oceanside massage for more tranquility. I opt for a cozy barstool at one of the many hip beach bars and sip a Corona while watching a game of beach volleyball.

For world-class cuisine, I don’t have to stray far from the resort: standouts include the Seafood Chilaquiles from on-site al fresco restaurant Hao for breakfast; the banana-leaf wrapped sea bass I learn to make during an interactive cooking class with Chef Javier Garcia Cerillo for lunch; and all of the dinner dishes prepared at Humo, a family-style beach barbeque where a variety of slow-roasted meats and vegetables will leave you in a food coma. Be sure to leave room for a carajillo, a popular coffee-based cocktail as a nightcap.

On my final day in Zihua, I take some time to wander cobblestone streets downtown to peruse a few of the enchanting shops. Parts of the city have become a bit touristy, but for the most part, Zihua has retained its charm, full of beautiful beaches, friendly people, and an easygoing lifestyle. I pause in appreciation of this seaside treasure, one of Mexico’s few remaining beach towns with intact local culture, and I think again of Shawshank and its famous line: “Tell you where I’d go. Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Little place right on the Pacific. You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific? They say it has no memory. That’s where I’d like to finish out my life.” 


Brandon J. Call

Brandon J. Call

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Brandon J. Call is the former executive editor for D CEO magazine. An award-winning business and data journalist, Call previously…

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