Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo are two sides of the same beautiful Mexican coastal coin. Ixtapa is a planned resort town built in the 1970s by the Mexican government. Zihuatanejo, or Zihua, is an historic fishing village that's been a popular surf spot for decades. This is one of the areas of Mexico that offers a relaxing blend of warm sands and blue waters.

Play on the local playas, or beaches - they are plentiful. Soak up the sun and meet fellow travelers at the busy Playa la Ropa. Travel by boat to Playa las Gatas and snorkel the afternoon away. Follow the adventure up with a margarita and fresh grilled fish at Otilla's. Explore the region's native jungle, spy a military macaw, and even hold a tree porcupine at El Refugio de Potosi wildlife conservation and education center. Take in a gorgeous sunset as you walk along the Paseo del Pescador.

Master the art of mole poblano and tiritas - a local version of ceviche with Monica's cooking class at Patio Mexica. Ask nicely and she will even teach you how to make a michelada. Watch as your tortillas are handmade and your dorado grilled to order at Carmelita's Cafe. See if you can handle the heat of the shrimp dish, agua chile, at La Malaguena.

Next Stop: Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo

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