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Not surprisingly, most of the best things to do in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo involve the water (and one involves the jungle). There’s no reason not to take advantage of the beautiful seascape and amazing fishing opportunities while you’re here — and Forbes Travel Guide’s editors have searched out the five top things to make your stay a memorable (and pleasurable) one:
1. Sail-fishing at Zihuatanejo. Sport Fishing Magazine ranked Zihuatanejo second among the world's sail-fishing destinations in 2001, a title that has since baited sea-hunter hobbyists from near and far hook, line and sinker. The winter months are a fisherman's paradise, when private boats belonging to snowbirds who come to hunt barracuda, mahi mahi, marlin, wahoo and yellowfin tuna fill the bay and international fishing tournaments fill the calendar. No need to feel left out if you're not a member of the yacht club; affordable charters on small panga boats allow enthusiasts on a budget to have a go at bringing home the catch of the day.
2. Sunning at Playa La Ropa. Playa la Ropa, or Clothing Beach, apparently earned its nickname hundreds of years ago when the cargo of an Indian textile ship somehow accidentally wound up going overboard and later washed ashore. A mile-long stretch of sand located southeast of town, La Ropa's timid waves make it the principal beach for swimming and sunning in Zihua.
3. The Zihua Sail Fest. This event happens annually in February, but vessels start showing up as early as November for the five-day fundraiser to benefit local kids in need. The white-canvased watercraft travel from as far as Alaska and the Caribbean for chili cookoffs, concerts, auctions, exhibition races and a boat parade.
4. Zip-line in an adventure park. Take in a spider monkey's eye-view of the jungle while soaring through the treetops and teetering your way across hanging bridges at any of the several adventure parks between Ixtapa and Zihua. Zip-line tours, preferably done early in the day before the heat kicks in, average two to three hours and run $50 to $70.
5. Go whale-watching. Every winter the entire length of the North American Pacific shorefront becomes a front-row seat for spotting humpback and gray whales en route from Alaska to give birth in the warmer waters off the coast of southern Mexico. The experience is trumped only when the docile giants begin their return migration in March, now with their newborns in tow. The cliffs overlooking the beaches of Ixtapa and Zihua make for prime lookout points, but if you really want to get up-close and personal with the mammoth mammals, hop onboard a whale-watching day trip.