many tourists like to spend at least one day exploring zihua’s neighbor, ixtapa, a planned resort with high-rise hotels lining the main beach of playa del mar. activities include swimming with dolphins, golf at the robert trent jones, jr.-designed palma real course, lagoon kayaking, and snorkeling trips to isla ixtapa, an offshore island with plenty of deserted beaches. ixtapa has several well-known restaurants, including becco fino on the marina, with an italian/seafood menu (try the mahi mahi in champagne sauce), as well as nightclubs, something you won’t find in zihua. start your night at señor frogs, which boasts numerous levels and a large outdoor deck, then around midnight, follow the boisterous crowd to christine’s, a throwback disco with laser-light shows and smoke machines. if you’re keen on staying in ixtapa, a good choice is the 416-room las brisas (011-52-755-553-1121, www.brisas.com.mx
; doubles from $150) on playa vista hermosa, with six restaurants and four pools, some of which have swim-up bars.