< Back

Contact us

Our scuba travel experts are available 24/7 to assist you in planning and booking a fantastic scuba diving vacation

Two neighboring resort destinations, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo boast current-free bays filled with colorful fish, an ideal environment for novice divers.

Highlights

Los Morros de Potosi

Coral formations, caves, cliffs, walls and tunnels represent a labyrinth in which fascinating fish weave and hide. Ideal for all levels of diver.

Solitary Rock

Home to whitetip reef sharks, eagle rays, turtles, schools of tuna and more, the circular path around this outlying rock is a great advanced, deep dive.

Diving in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo

Quick facts

Diving in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is perfect for beginners. The coral beds, coves and cliffs have almost no current at any time of the year. Visibility is generally good and the water is warm. This is one of the best places on the Central Pacific coast of Mexico to try scuba diving for the first time or gain an initial certification.

Of course, there are deeper dives for advanced divers along with swim-throughs and caves to explore.

Shore diving is limited. Therefore, most diving in the area takes place from small speedboats or wooden pangas with an easy backward roll.

Keep in mind a 16% tax is levied on all dive operations in Mexico.

When to go

The best time to dive for sea life and underwater conditions is from November to May when conditions are calm. June to October boasts the warmest water.

November to May

November to May is considered the best time to dive in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, because the sea conditions in the Pacific are calmest during these months. The weather is good too; generally it’s sunny with an occasional rain shower.

Divers also have the chance of spotting the rare whale shark or manta ray during these months.

At this time, however, visibility is negatively impacted is by the very plankton blooms that attract the pelagic species. These are most common around the full moon.

If you love diving with a tone of marine life in calm underwater conditions, book your holiday between November and May.

Please note, November to May is considered high season for general tourism, causing an increase in the price of flights and accommodation.

June to October

June to October is the offseason for general tourism in the area. However, at this time, the water warms significantly, reaching 80°F (27°C) in August and September. For many divers, especially beginners who will find deep and open ocean sites difficult to reach, the summer months are an ideal time to dive.

In addition, visibility is at its peak from June to October. It’s also low season for tourism throughout Mexico, meaning you should find excellent deals on accommodation, airfare and excursions. However, you will have to battle the hot and humid summer weather while topside.

Rain and temperature

Click to expand

Water temperature

Click to expand

Where to dive

Almost all of the sites in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo are great for beginners. Advanced divers can try Solitary Rock and the deep side of Morros de Potosi.

    Snorkeling in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo

    There’s also great snorkeling in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo for those traveling with non-divers. A few of the best locations for topside spotting are Playa Manzanillo, Playa Las Gatas and Ixtapa Island. Of particular interest is a snorkeling site called “The King of Kings.” Here you’ll find a 12-foot underwater statue of Christ. On a clear day, the statue makes a great freediving portrait.
    There are more than 35 dive sites surrounding Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo. Of these, the vast majority are suitable for beginners. A few favorites include Ixtapa Lagoon and Islas Blancas, easy and relaxing dives for those new to scuba diving. Great for underwater photography, El Sacramento is teeming with fish. The pyramid rock formations are also of interest on this entry-level dive. If you like macro life, check out Caleta del Chon near the lighthouse. You’ll find lots of seahorses and other critters here. Torrecillas and Los Morros de Potosi are ideal intermediate dive sites but offer more challenging caves and tunnels for advanced divers. Finally, Solitary Rock may be the best site around but is reserved for advanced divers. You’ll encounter the most pelagic fish on this deep dive.

    What to see

    The variety of fish life at Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is fairly diverse for the Central Pacific coast of Mexico. On any given dive, you may encounter crabs, octopus, seahorses, moray eels, stingrays, electric rays, lobsters, starfish, puffer fish, trumpetfish, angelfish, drumfish, grouper, jack, goatfish, grunts, flounder, parrotfish, guitarfish and triggerfish.

    Lucky divers might spot sea turtles, eagle rays, manta rays, whale sharks and white-tipped reef sharks. Whales are sometimes seen from the boat or heard while under the water.

    Unfortunately, the rapid development of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo has diminished biodiversity in the area. Following environmental concerns, construction on several new developments has been halted with the hope of forging a new path forward which ensures the survival of the underwater ecosystem while accommodating the growing tourist trade.

    Calendar

    For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.

    Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

    Location

    Created in the 1970’s, the Pacific Coast city of Ixtapa is a government-planned tourist destination comprised of 5-star hotels, shopping malls, golf-courses, bars and restaurants. Originally a coconut plantation, Ixtapa is home to almost all of the area's top resorts and represents the flashier side of luxury travel.

    To the south, the once sleepy fishing village of Zihuatanejo is now another hot spot on the tourist radar and can be found a mere 4-mile (6.5-kilometer) journey away from Ixtapa. Compared to Ixtapa, Zihuantanejo is comprised of more family-owned hotels and has a backpacker-friendly vibe. Together the two cities make the third most visited region of Mexico.

    Other attractions

    As a tailored tourist destination, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo has everything anyone would ever require to relax. Enjoy a day chilling out at the Playa el Palmar in Ixtapa or travel further afield to any of the numerous sandy beaches. Ixtapa Island is a popular day trip destination. Many of the tours to this scenic destination include snorkeling and kayaking. For a more cultural experience, arrange a guided tour around the Xihuacan Museum and Archeological Site just south of the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo region.

    Getting there

    The most convenient way to travel into these cities is to fly. Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo International airport is only a 15-minute journey from either city and is served by many North American airlines travelling from Canada and the United States. Traveling in via road is also possible, but the nearest city is at least a 4-hour journey away.

    UTC-06:00

    Time zone

    MXN

    Currency

    +52

    Calling code

    127 V

    Electric volt

    A, 

    B

    Plug type

    ZIH

    Main airport
    x

    Save that favourite

    With a PADI Travel account, you can favourite dive operators to come back to later on any device or computer

    Log in or sign up