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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Zihuatanejo, Mexico
(Pronounced: See-hwa-ta-NAY-hoh, MAY-hee-coh)
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Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

 

After a few restorative days in Caleta de Campos, we packed up our gear and walked to the plaza for an early morning bus out of town to Las Penas, on our way to our next destination.

Zihuatanejo, located on the south west coast of Mexico, was made famous by the 1994 movie, Shawshank Redemption. Timothy Robbins' character, Andy Dufresne spent years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Through a series of orchestrated events, Andy was able to escape prison - but before he did so, he told Morgan Freeman ('Red') about a beach in Mexico where he wanted to forget about his past and live a simple life.

That beach town was Zihuatanejo.

 

 

This is our 'last' view of Caleta from the bus window, and the beautiful horseshoe beach which we enjoyed so much. Just right of center in the photo is a lighthouse, and this is the area where we stayed.

From sundown to dawn, this lighthouse provided constant rotating light to warn sailors and fishermen of the rocks and juts of land out to sea during star-filled nights. In the ebony darkness of the new mornings before sunrise, we could see the Southern Cross easily on the veranda right outside our bedroom. The Bufadero (the enormous blow hole) below the cliff where our hotel was located mesmerized us with the continuous crashing of waves against it, and the seawater blowing up through its holes.

During the day, the sea was lapis colored, and from our windows, we saw active marine life like migrating whales. For us, it was a simple perfection.

 

Caleta is now a just a memory as we continue our journey south east on Mexico's rugged coast.

This is a gentle river flowing peacefully, displaying a different style of wildlife.

 

From time to time out the bus window we see this remarkable undeveloped coastline.

 

It's an uncomplicated transport system here in Mexico. Buses stop along the way if they see an interested passenger.

Note the gorgeous ocean view in the center of the photo.

 

We disembarked from the bus at Las Penas but didn't find suitable lodging.  Mostly we found serious surfers, one store and a restaurant, not enough to keep our attention for long. Still, it's beautiful, isn't it?

 

 

This shot gives you another view of that same beach.

 

We decided to wait along the highway for the next bus to come by. Of course, life goes on all around us, and this man proudly displays a fish he just caught.

 

Finally the bus arrives.

I look like I'm hanging on for dear life as the bus takes the twists and turns of the coastal road neatly.

To be honest we were not really looking forward to returning to Zihuatanejo but needed a place to layover for a couple of days and catch up on email and supplies.

 

Then when a couple of cruise ships dropped thousands of tourists onto the main beach , we were sure we needed to get out of Gringolandia as soon a possible.  We never saw so many tourists in one place!

So what changed? After visiting a local waterhole on a couple of afternoons and chatting with Americans who live here, Billy was impressed by their answer to his question. “ What is the draw that keeps you here in Zihuatanejo?” These people had a very good command of the Spanish language and could live in any city in Mexico or, for that matter, anywhere in Latin America. So they chose Zihua for a reason.

 

All of their answers were the same: “The people here in Zihua make this laid-back town.”

We did notice the friendliness upon arriving, but we find that most Mexicans are friendly so didn’t put that much thought into it. But the more their answer sunk in and the more experiences we had dealing with the locals, we now understand their loyalty to this town.

 

If you get to Zihua, you must go to Panificadora El Buen Gusto and say hello to Silvia. This is a family-run bakery and has some of the most delicious pastries we have tried in Mexico.

The vanilla cake is remarkable and the cinnamon pudding bread is awesome too. Most pieces are 6 pesos each.

Panificadora El Buen Gusto can be found on Vincente Guerrero #11.
 

Another place we heartily recommend is Didi’s on Vincente Guerrero #12, in Centro Zihuatanejo. They have the biggest and best quesadillas you will ever eat. These come with a choice of 6 salsas as you see above. One is made with ground peanuts and roasted dried chilis, another with marinated onions and peppers in jalapeno juice, another is a typical green salsa, a roasted pepper salsa, a dark, dark, delicious salsa and an avocado sauce.

While the menu changes with each meal period, the Quesadillas are available from 5 to 11 pm.

If you plan to be on the road, order a quesadilla to go for the ride. It's convenient, tasty and affordable.

 

Having settled in somewhat, with a decent hotel, some good restaurants, a bakery and an afternoon watering hole, we decided to take a walk to see other places around the area. The above map gives you an idea of how the coast line looks.

Our destination for the day is Playa la Ropa. The story goes that since Zihuatanejo was a stopping point for the Spanish fleets on their way to and from the Philippines, cargo of clothing and textiles was washed ashore from a trading ship.

Playa la Ropa literally means 'Clothing Beach.'

This area was filled with pirates, privateers, and trading ships.

"Ahoy, Matee!"

 

These days it's a bit tamer, with houses up the hillsides, and pleasure boats dotting the harbor. There were many places along the way up the hill to stop and rest, enjoying the view the little harbor of Zihua.

 

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Here we stopped at Tentaciones Hotel, Restaurant and Lounge which had outdoor fountains everywhere, a restful atmosphere and overlooks the bay.

Tentaciones means temptation or enticement, so the name of the hotel is a bit playful since it's a Buddhist style spa, catering to the pleasures of life.

 

We arrive at Playa de Ropa at a mega Intrawest resort.

While the resort advertises that it is located in the traditional Mexican fishing village of Zihuatanejo, the sculpted hillside resort couldn't be more removed from the local way of life.

Still, it is stunning, offering water sports, a clean beach, restaurants, bars, tranquil hiding spots, and golf cart transport through its locked and gated designated area.

 

This  photo gives you a better view of the private membership resort. Truly lovely. And truly priced out of the reach of the local Mexican population!

 

Private though it may be, Billy's charm got us into the resort to take these photos and to enjoy a bit of swimming on this fine beach. The water was guaranteed to be clean, and the beaches, combed.

 

From Caleta de Campos, through Las Penas and Lazaro Cardenas, the bus fee totaled 109 Pesos per person.  We were able to negotiate a deal with our hotel stay, paying 250 Pesos per night instead of 350.

There are several decent hotels on Nicolas Bravo from which to choose. Have the cab take you there and begin searching for one that suits you. This street is centrally located for restaurants, the beach, and some small stores to purchase milk, fruit or snacks.

Next stop: a place you've never heard of...

For more information or to view different stories of places in Mexico click here

 

Traveling south down the Pacific coast of Mexico is a must adventure for any traveler. Our style is to go slow and if we like a place, we stay longer, ‘getting local’ as soon as possible. This means we scout out where the neighbors shop, the restaurants they frequent and we make friends along the way with store owners, the maids, and anyone who lives in town. These people know where the best prices and value can be found – it’s certainly not where the tourists shop.

The Adventurer's Guide to the Pacific Coast of Mexico details our route, the places we stayed, prices we paid along this adventure and history and culture of these locations. We also give you names of hotels in each area, the transportation available, useful information and the pros and cons of each place as we viewed it. To learn more, Click here

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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