Ixtapa, on the central west coast of Mexico, is a popular beach destination that’s been welcoming tourists for years. Though it may not be as well-known as other beach towns in the country, this little paradise on the west coast is worth a visit. But, before you go, first learn some things.

Getting to Ixtapa

To get to Ixtapa, you can fly into Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo Airport, though it’s not always easy to find direct flights from the United States. However, several airlines make direct flights, including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines. Otherwise, you can fly directly into Mexico City and then take another flight on a domestic airline such as Volaris. Or, after flying into Mexico City, you can rent a car and drive to Ixtapa. The journey takes about 8 hours from Mexico City.

Safety in Ixtapa

Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is an area frequented by tourists, and therefore, it’s relatively safe. But it’s in the Mexican state of Guerrero, which has a reputation for having more crime and violence than other states. According to the U.S. State Department, United States government employees are prohibited from traveling to the state of Guerrero, including Acapulco. But ordinary tourists can still come to Ixtapa and stay in the touristy area.

The biggest concerns travelers have to face in Ixtapa are potentially being a target of a robbery, which is, unfortunately, common in many tourist destinations around the world. To maintain your safety, don’t wear expensive jewelry or other valuable items that may draw attention to you.

What to Pack

The weather in Ixtapa is hot year-round, with temperatures averaging between 75 to 82 degrees F annually. Because of its location on the Pacific, Ixtapa is also out of the path of hurricanes, which means the weather is rather pleasant, even during the rainy season. The rainy season falls between mid-May and September, but it’s usually just a brief shower, and then the sun comes out again.

When packing your suitcase for a trip to Ixtapa, bring clothing that you would normally wear in warm weather or at the beach. This includes shorts, tank tops, T-shirts, a hat, sunglasses and a swimsuit. There is a risk of Zika virus in Mexico, and while the situation is starting to improve, travelers should bring insect repellent and long-sleeved shirts and long pants if they plan to venture away from the beach.

Things to Do

In Ixtapa, you’ll find resorts where you can opt for an all-inclusive getaway, or you can plan your own activities with your family. Ixtapa is in a fishing village, so the atmosphere is relaxing compared to most beachy tourist destinations in Mexico. Of course, there’s delicious seafood, too.

If you’re into sports and ecotourism, you can go surfing and golfing, ATVing, biking and bird-watching. In addition to numerous beaches, Ixtapa is home to a highly rated American Pacific coral reef, and divers and snorkelers can explore it from more than 30 designated spots for diving and snorkeling in the area.

Ixtapa is home to internationally renowned fish strips, which are known here as “tiritas de pescado.” In addition to this dish, you can find restaurants, bars and shopping options in these two connected coastal towns, Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo.