Like ham and eggs or apple pie and cheese some things go better together. For this reason two Mexican hideways Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo are like kissing cousins, situated on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Known as the Mexican Riviera they are superb locations for escaping the winter. I had always had a desire to visit Ixtapa and to my delight found that the picturesque village of Zihtuatanejo was a mere 10 minutes away. Being of Scotch heritage, I hit the jackpot by finding two holiday locations for the price of one. And I have a well-kept secret on how to stay well in Mexico, and other locations.
I resided in Ixtapa, a modern resort and it shares with Zihuatanejo one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. At times when there's a strong surf and undertow, attention must be paid to warning flags. Both locations have first class restaurants, and outstanding golf courses designed by Robert Trent-Jones. And during winter months you can not only relax on the beach, but also go whale watching during the annual migration.
Hotels in Ixtapa are centrally located along the two mile stretch of beach making them convenient to everything. Also an impeccably tree-lined boulevard separates the hotels from a well-designed commercial area.
But I fell in love with the picturesque fishing village of Zihuatanejo. It's a charming little town situated on one of the most beautiful bays that I've ever seen. So although my hotel was in Ixtapa I spent most of my time enjoying Zihuatanejo's beauty and tranquility.
From the center of the town it only takes a few minutes to walk to the town pier where the fishing and tour boats are moored. In the morning fishermen still bring in their daily catch to the town dock where the fish are weighed. The produce market is a hive of activity during the day and in the evening local boys still play soccer on the beach. It's also fun to take a stroll along Pasco del Pescador (Fisherman's Walk) on the waterfront, then explore the quaint cobble-lined streets of this old town.
Both Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo provide ample entertainment. But again I spent most evenings in the quaint atmosphere of old Zihuatanejo where there are many seafood restaurants. Each Sunday evening the central plaza becomes a festival of colour with local bands and dancers.
Hotels in Zihuatanejo are older and smaller than in Ixtapa. La Casa Que Canta is an exclusive hilltop hideway and Villa del Sol a chic beachfront hotel. They are as close as you'll ever get to paradise.
You can spend an enjoyable day by taking a boat from the town pier across the bay to Playa las Gatas. This beach is nestled at the foot of the mountains protected by an underwater reef and it's easy to rent snorkelling and scuba diving gear. But once you've explored the reef's marine life it's time to savour a care-free dinner at one of the many open-air seafood restaurants on the beach that specialize in succulent grilled lobster.
So if you're tired of winter's cold and have a little Scotch blood in you, here's an opportunity to escape to two beautiful Mexican retreats for the price of one.
As a medical journalist I can't resist telling you how to keep well while travelling in Mexico and elsewhere. I stayed free of Monetezuma's Revenge and the Hong Kong Trots in trips to Mexico and Egypt by taking Dukoral. It's an oral vaccination that protects against traveller's diarrhea and enables you to spend more time on the beach than in the bathroom. Ask your doctor about it a few weeks before you go.