When Nature Vies With Commercialism – The Two Sides to Isla Ixtapa

While doing research on the Ixtapa area, I became quite excited to read about Isla Ixtapa. It was right near our resort. It only cost 40 pesos (about $3.50) return to ferry over there. There was snorkelling and hiking trails. Sounded perfect and I immediately put it on our must-do list.
379 Isla Ixtapa
We could easily see the pier from our balcony, and I watched it frequently, looking for the ferry to the island. I saw lots of traffic back and forth between the pier and the island, small boats all of them.
125a View of Playa Linda & pier from our room
167a Pier from Playa Quieta
It brought to mind the “glass-bottom” water taxis in Cabo. I soon figured out the “ferry” was actually several small boats, taking load after load of people over to the island and back.
124a View of Isla Ixtapa from our room
244 Ferry leaving Playa Varadero, Isla Ixtapa
We met with Sis and BIL at the pier around 10:00 and hopped on a boat for the quick trip over. The boat docks at Playa Cuachalate, which is to the far right of the island, a beach we couldn’t see from our resort. We were directed through a path over to Playa Coral, where the snorkelling is, which was what my BIL was after.
I don’t know why, but I had envisioned a long sandy beach, where we could spread out our towels, relax in the sun and go into the water to cool off whenever we wanted. What we found was a busy, short strip of rough sand, with aggressive vendors all vying for their share of the tourist dollar. They cajoled to the best of their abilities to convince us to sit in their comfy loungers or at their umbrella tables, to buy a cool drink or have something to eat.
216 Playa Coral, Isla Ixtapa
Not what we wanted, at all, and Hubby and I quickly left the area to explore the natural beauty further down the beach.
218 Playa Coral, Isla Ixtapa
220 Playa Coral, Isla Ixtapa
227 Playa Coral, Isla Ixtapa
We did a little beachcombing and soon had a lovely collection of treasures.
434 Shells from Isla Ixtapa
Hubby thinks this is a shell of a small turtle, I’m not as sure, but it’s gorgeous and very unique.
437 Shells from Isla Ixtapa
222 Playa Coral, Isla Ixtapa
After we’d worked our way as far as we could, we turned around and headed back to explore the other side of Playa Coral, seen in this picture.
215 Playa Coral, Isla Ixtapa
We hiked up a path, following in the general direction of where we thought we wanted to end up. In fact, I had no idea where we were, at all, and had to trust in Hubby’s instincts. And we ended up exactly where we intended. He says you can’t get lost on an island, I say, oh yes we can, and it was probably just blind luck that we didn’t.

One big cactus.
231 Isla Ixtapa
This is where we’d been previously.
233 Playa Coral, Isla Ixtapa
Playa Coral from the other side.
234 Playa Coral, Isla Ixtapa
There were lovely hammocks if a person wanted to relax and enjoy the views, but they were all deserted that day.
239 Isla Ixtapa
Again following Hubby’s directions, we carried on and came down onto Playa Varadero. This is the beach we could see from our resort. The sand was softer, the wave action stronger than at Playa Coral. Very pretty, but also full of vendors eagerly vying for our business. We didn’t enjoy the attention and had no interest in sitting around drinking, so we quickly left the area.
242 Playa Varadero, Isla Ixtapa
243 Playa Varadero, Isla Ixtapa
To the far left of Isla Ixtapa is Playa Carey, a small undeveloped beach, with no easy access to it. The only thing separating us from our goal was a large stretch of rocks.
377 Isla Ixtapa
378 Isla Ixtapa
I was a little apprehensive for Hubby because he wasn’t wearing his braces. Although his knees weren’t giving him too much trouble on this trip, I didn’t want him to have a setback. He’d wisely worn a good pair of walking shoes, unlike the flimsy flipflops on my tender tootsies, and he slowly and methodically worked his way across the very interesting rock formations. Having seen the lava fields in Hawaii, we thought they were of a similar colour and composition, but we don’t know if these were actually lava rocks or not.
264 Isla Ixtapa
Hubby stayed above the waterline to keep his feet dry, but I thought the going was a little easier for me down at the water. What I didn’t take into consideration was the “life” around the water. Crabs scurried everywhere and at one point there were so many snails on the rocks, I didn’t know how to get across without stepping on them. I think I managed without any loss of life (or me taking any unplanned dips into the water), but it was touch and go.
252 Isla Ixtapa
Playa Carey is designated a conservation area for endangered species, specifically turtles. We didn’t see any turtles, unfortunately, only a small bird rookery just offshore. This photo offers a nice view of our resort, The Azul Ixtapa, in the background.
253 Azul from Isla Ixtapa
The sand was very coarse, mostly crushed coral. Interesting, but not comfortable for walking or sitting on.
255 Playa Carey, Isla Ixtapa
261 Playa Carey, Isla Ixtapa
The only way back was through the rocks again and it seemed easier the second time around. Once across, I put my faith back into Hubby’s directional skills and followed him up along a hiking path. I doubt even he knew where he was going, but that’s all part of exploring.
267 Hiking trail, Isla Ixtapa
We emerged at Playa Cuachalate (which happened to be our intended destination), the same beach we’d arrived at. I believe this is called the swimming beach. The sand is soft and smooth and the surf is light. It was truly gorgeous there.
268 Playa Cuachalate, Isla Ixtapa
275 Playa Cuachalate, Isla Ixtapa
Or it would’ve been gorgeous, if not for the—you guessed it—bothersome vendors. We didn’t stay long, soon taking the path back to Playa Coral. It was time to sit and have a drink, and we chose the fellow who amazingly remembered Hubby’s name from hours earlier. He quickly lost interest in us, though, when we said we only wanted a cerveza. I went into the water to see the large schools of fish while Hubby rested his knees and enjoyed his beer. The fish were amazing and plentiful, and I wished I could snorkel out at the coral reef. But I know myself and my various phobias, so I had to be content with wading in chest deep and watching the fish flit and frolic from above water.
285 Playa Coral, Isla Ixtapa
288 Playa Coral, Isla Ixtapa
We’d lost Sis and BIL, and without sufficient money to buy lunch, hunger eventually sent us back to the resort around 2:00. I left the island with mixed feelings. A part of me loved it. It was beautiful and rugged, with nature’s treasures wherever we looked. The other part of me was disappointed that such a natural jewel was being exploited to the point where we felt uncomfortable being there. I know these people have to make a living and that tourism is way down, especially in that area, but instead of attracting us to their place of business, their overwhelming enthusiasm chased us off.
Back in our hotel room, we were once again treated to lovely flower details on our towels.
As we did most afternoons, after lunch we put on our suits and spent a few hours at the quiet pool.  Nothing quite like having a cool drink in the warm water.
297 Quiet pool
Another breathtaking sunset.
That evening, Sis and BIL joined us at the Costa Azul Restaurant for dinner. I don’t remember what I ate. Chicken, I’m sure. And it was good, so was the company, but what made my evening was an unexpected visitor. The window, next to where I sat, was at ground level and as we ate, up walked this adorable raccoon. I waved to it and said, “Hi baby, come here and see me.” It came over and we were nose-to-nose, with the window between us. Before I could fumble for my camera, it decided I had no food to offer and ambled off. This blurry shot was the best I could do before it disappeared.
313 Racoon, Costa Azul
Next weekend, I’ll share our day in Zihuatanejo. Jump to that post HERE or start from first post HERE.



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