Top kid-friendly things to do in Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Last December, we spent a week in Zihuatanejo, Mexico – a tropical paradise that caters to families seeking sun, sea, and unforgettable experiences. In this post, we’ll guide you through the top kid-friendly activities that will make your family vacation in Zihuatanejo truly memorable. From sandy beaches to exciting water adventures, there’s something for every member of the family.

1. Go to the beach

Zihuatanejo is known for its beautiful swimmable beaches. The water was pleasantly warm at the end of December, ranging from 84F-86F, with no seaweed and strong waves. Here are some of the notable beaches in the area:

Playa La Ropa

Playa la Ropa is one of the most popular beaches in Zihuatanejo, known for its long stretch of golden sand and calm waters. We could not be happier to be staying at the hotel that is located right on this beach.

Playa La Ropa, Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Playa La Ropa, Zihuatanejo, Mexico

It’s a great beach for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding. The beach is lined with restaurants and cafes where you can savor local cuisine.

💡 Good to know

Although the small Mexican town of Zihuatanejo was mentioned in the famous movie “The Shawshank Redemption,” the movie’s final scene was actually filmed at Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge in the U.S. Virgin Islands. So, if you were wondering which beach was featured in the film, it was not one of the beaches in Zihuatanejo.

Playa La Madera

Nestled between Playa Principal and Playa La Ropa, Playa La Madera is a smaller, tranquil beach with easy access from the town center.

Playa La Madera, Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Playa La Madera, Zihuatanejo, Mexico

It is known for its gentle waves, and it’s perfect for swimming. The beach is dotted with restaurants and shops, offering a relaxed atmosphere and stunning views of Zihuatanejo Bay.

Playa Las Gatas

Playa Las Gatas, Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Playa Las Gatas, Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Accessible by a water taxi or a short hike (there is a rocky path from Playa La Ropa), Playa Las Gatas is a tranquil and beautiful beach known for its clear waters, coral reefs, and excellent snorkeling opportunities.

Playa Las Gatas is beloved by locals and tourists beach, and it can certainly get crowded, especially during the high season like during Christmas time.

We stopped at Playa Las Gatas during our boat tour, and El Coco Loco, one of the local restaurants, prepared our catch of the day, which was the highlight of our day!

2. Take a boat tour

Take your family on a boat excursion for a day of cruising, soaking up the sun, and enjoying the breathtaking coastal views!

We decided to explore the waters and take a boat ride with one of the local fishermen. We had a wonderful day sailing, snorkeling, and fishing while enjoying the stunning coastal views. 

The highlight of the trip was our catch of the day cooked for us at one of the local restaurants on our stop at Playa Las Gatas!

We started our boat tour at Muelle Zihuatanejo and spent 5 hours cruising around while trolling (fishing while moving), snorkeling at Playa Manzanillo (gear was included), and having lunch at Playa Las Gatas, where the local restaurant prepared our catch.

3. Release baby turtles into the ocean

Baby turtle release at Juluchuca Beach, Mexico
Baby turtle release at Juluchuca Beach, Mexico

Engage in a heartwarming experience by participating in a baby turtle release program. Watch as these adorable creatures make their journey into the ocean, leaving lasting memories for your little ones.

There are several local programs in Zihuatanejo that offer hands-on experiences for families to help release baby turtles into the ocean. Many turtles come to the Zihuatanejo beaches to lay eggs, and to protect these eggs from predators, a qualified team takes them and places them in a turtle sanctuary.

Baby turtle release, Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Baby turtle release, Zihuatanejo, Mexico

We took a private Turtle Tour to Juluchuca Beach, which is about an hour south of Zihuatanejo. During the tour, we learned about the four different turtle species that visit Mexico and the steps taken to preserve their population.

Afterward, we were given freshly hatched Golfina (Olive Ridley Sea Turtle) baby turtles to release on the beach. It was an unforgettable experience to watch these tiny hatchlings make their journey into the ocean!

4. Go snorkeling

Zihuatanejo offers excellent snorkeling opportunities with its clear waters and diverse marine life. Some of the best snorkeling spots in the area include:

Playa Las Gatas

This beach is renowned for its coral reefs and clear waters, making it a prime location for snorkeling. You can take a water taxi from Zihuatanejo Pier to Playa Las Gatas and explore the vibrant underwater world along the rocky edges.

Playa Manzanillo

Snorkeling at Playa Manzanillo, Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Snorkeling at Playa Manzanillo, Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Playa Manzanillo is known for its calm waters and beautiful coral formations. We stopped here on our boat tour and spent quite some time in the water, encountering a diverse range of marine life with colorful fish!

Isla Ixtapa (Ixtapa Island)

A short boat ride from Zihuatanejo, Ixtapa Island is a popular destination for snorkelers. The crystal-clear waters surrounding the island boast colorful coral formations and various marine species.

The island has multiple beaches, and each offers unique snorkeling experiences. Unfortunately, we did not have an opportunity to explore Ixtapa Island this time, but the locals highly recommended it.

5. Explore El Centro

Take a leisurely stroll through Zihuatanejo’s vibrant El Centro, the town’s downtown area. Staying at Playa La Ropa, we had a great opportunity to be within walking distance of the heart of Zihuatanejo, El Centro.

Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Here, you’ll find a mix of traditional Mexican culture and modern conveniences; the cobblestone streets are lined with colorful buildings, bustling markets, local shops, and restaurants.

Things not to miss at El Centro:

  1. The waterfront walkway Paseo del Pescador (Fisherman’s Path), along the municipal beach between the Archeological Museum and the fishing pier. 
  2. Museo Arqueológico de la Costa Grande (unfortunately, it was closed for renovations at this time).
  3. The local culinary scene with numerous cafes and restaurants (try Bandido’s and La Casa del Pozole Guerrerense).
  4. Church of Santa María de la Asunción.
  5. Local markets, where vendors showcase handmade crafts, textiles, and souvenirs.
  6. The basketball court in front of the beach instead of a traditional plaza.

6. Indulge in Mexican cuisine

Embrace the local culinary scene, and let your kids savor authentic Mexican flavors! Mexican cuisine offers a variety of dishes that are generally well-received by kids. Tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, and guacamole are often our kids favorites.

La Perla restaurant, Zihuatanejo
La Perla restaurant, Zihuatanejo

Moreover, Zihuatanejo is a coastal town, and its seafood is a must-try. Introduce your kids to fresh fish tacos, shrimp dishes, or ceviche. Let me tell you, those little girls definitely enjoyed a fair amount of lobsters and grilled octopuses.

Here are a few restaurants in Zihuatanejo our family enjoyed: La Gaviota, La Perla, El Coco Loco, and Bandido’s.

7. Spot the crocodiles at El Manglar restaurant

When you discover that there are wild crocodiles at one of the restaurants by the river, your kids will make sure not to skip this place.

El Manglar restaurant, Zihuatanejo, Mexico
El Manglar restaurant, Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Head to El Manglar Restaurant on Playa La Ropa for a late afternoon meal and observe resident crocodiles and iguanas from a safe distance! It’s a thrilling yet secure encounter with these impressive reptiles.

8. Go fishing

Although Zihuatanejo has become a popular tourist destination in the last few decades, it still kept its original traditional fishing village charm.

These days, Zihuatanejo is still a popular destination for fishing, attracting enthusiasts from around the world. The waters off the Pacific coast are abundant with a variety of fish species, including sailfish, marlin, dorado (mahi-mahi), and tuna. So it only made perfect sense to go fishing while visiting Zihuatanejo!

Fishing in Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Fishing in Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Since we were already searching for a day boat ride with the kids, we made sure that it would include fishing as one of the activities.

We only got lucky to catch one fish that day, Bonito, and later, on our stop at Playa Las Gatas, it was cooked at one of the local restaurants. Here, in the picture below, is the ceviche Mexican style, when you cook the fish in boiling water for a few minutes, chop it, and marinate. It was delicious, and even the girls enjoyed it!

9. Go parasailing in Playa La Ropa

You can go parasailing from Playa La Ropa and enjoy panoramic views of the coastline. There are several spots along the beach with the representatives offering this experience. After a brief safety orientation, you’ll be lifted into the air attached to a speedboat. The 10 to 15-minute adventure offers a unique perspective of Zihuatanejo Bay and the surrounding area.

Parasailing on Playa La Ropa, Zihuatanejo

While we did not risk participating in this activity this time, it was very popular among many families, and yes, you can go parasailing together with your kid too! If this is the kind of adventure you love, you are in luck!

10. Check out the murals around the city

Zihuatanejo is known for its vibrant street art scene, featuring colorful murals that reflect the local culture, history, and artistic expression.

Street art in Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Street art in Zihuatanejo, Mexico

The murals can be found in both tourist areas and local neighborhoods, providing a dynamic and ever-changing artistic landscape.

Street art in Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Street art in Zihuatanejo, Mexico

While the specific murals may change over time, here are some of the local murals that our family loved:

  1. There is a street full of beautiful murals behind the El Pirata Restaurant on Playa La Ropa.
  2. La Casa Viejo Zihuatanejo, in El Centro has a huge whale mural.
  3. The end of Calle Adelita by Bungalows La Comarca Zihuatanejo is decorated with colorful murals.

11. Stroll down the Paseo del Pescador

“Paseo del Pescador” in Zihuatanejo is a charming seaside promenade or boardwalk along the waterfront. This scenic walkway is situated in the heart of Zihuatanejo’s fishing village, adjacent to Playa Principal.

It offers a glimpse into the local fishing culture, featuring fishermen at work and traditional boat activities. The boardwalk is dotted with seafood restaurants, cafes, and stalls selling local crafts.

You can enjoy waterfront dining, shop for unique souvenirs, and embark on boat tours or water activities. In the evenings, Paseo del Pescador becomes a perfect spot for stunning sunset views over Zihuatanejo Bay.

Paseo del Pescador, Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Paseo del Pescador, Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Bottom line

In conclusion, Zihuatanejo is an ideal destination for families seeking a memorable vacation experience. This Mexican gem offers a perfect blend of sun, sea, and adventure for all ages. With plenty of family-friendly activities available, everyone can create unforgettable memories they will cherish forever.

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