Posted March 11, 2009 by Kate Hamman
It may be hard to pronounce—you can call it Zihua (zee-wah) for short—but its exotic name just makes Zihuatanejo feel more like a secret hideaway. Even at the end of the popular film, The Shawshank Redemption, the two characters escape to the safety of its shores. You can also run away to paradise and hide on your own private terrace, but when you feel it's safe to leave, there's a local market to explore and fine cuisine to remind you how good freedom feels.
Hotel Brisas del Mar: Sitting high above Zihuatanejo Bay, Hotel Brisas del Mar offers private terraces with commanding views of the ocean, where you can swing in a hammock and watch the day drift by. The real draw of this family-owned hotel, besides the terrace bar, restaurant, and pool, is the price. Rooms start at $107 for a junior suite, and you'll be staying right on Madera Beach, which is only a ten-minute walk from all of the excitement downtown.
Zihuatanejo artisan's mercado: The Mercado is much more than just three blocks of individual stalls selling handcrafted goods, it's an experience. Not only can you buy original pieces of art, but you can watch sellers working on them as you shop. Most of the crafts are created in a small village outside the city, but completed here for the full effect. You'll find an array of woodcarvings, pottery, jewelry, and clothing spilling forth from each stall. Bargaining is an art form in itself and is expected, so never pay the first-asking price. Start low, and be prepared to meet somewhere in the middle.
Coconuts Bar Restaurant: For 30 years, Coconuts has been the "it" spot for fine dining, romantic atmosphere, and friendly service in Zihuatanejo. The restaurant occupies the oldest building in the city, built in 1865, and its lantern-lit courtyard ensconced by coconut-palm trees makes for a magical experience. The menu is fresh, fresh, fresh, and includes a range of flavorful seafood and meat dishes. Don't miss a house specialty, Chile del Valle, which consists of a sweet chili pepper wrapped in prosciutto and stuffed with panela cheese, sage, and garlic.
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(Photo: iStockphoto/Dana Baldwin)
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