Gringos Guide To Driving Mexico, Central America & Costa Rica
Puerto Vallarta - Ixtapa & Zihuatanejo

Puerto Vallarta – Ixtapa & Zihuatanejo

DRIVING TIME: 12 hours
MILES: 405
HWY: CA 200

Puerto Vallarta to Ixtapa

This portion of the trip is the most beautiful, the most dangerous, and entails the longest and most demanding driving of the entire trip. Dangerous because you are traveling through the mountains of Michoacan, and the roads wind, twist and turn for the majority of the trip. You can expect your average speed to be between 40 and 50 miles per hour for the entire journey. There are animals, potholes, and speed bumps galore. Nevertheless, you will see some of the most awe-inspiring coastlines of the entire voyage. The beaches are radiant, powerful, and peaceful. The surfing along this stretch is magnificent.

This trip took me 12 hours, stopping to use the bathroom and only fill my gas tank. I drove the last three hours of the trip in the dark. There are dangerous curves and extremely deep potholes that sneak up on you at night. If you have to drive at night, proceed with great caution.

Zihuatanejo is a relaxing coastal town with pleasant people, smiling faces, and good food. Find a hotel with night security and good visibility. Enjoy the town and the beautiful bay; you deserve a break after the long drive from PV. Ixtapa is an expensive resort town located about 2k north of Zihuatanejo, and it’s worth the hike or taxi ride to check out the beaches and nightlife.

About 1k outside of Ixtapa, you will encounter a separation between Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo. If you are a high roller, take the road to the right into Ixtapa. Budget travelers should continue south along the main route, another 5k into Zihuatanejo. When you enter the town, you will need to exit the main throughway that runs through Zihuatanejo. Turn right and follow one of the several side roads down the hill, which will take you to the beach.

If you encounter a small traffic circle, veer right at the second exit, which takes you directly to the coast. There is an assortment of hotels situated near the ocean at economical prices.

Learned Lessons

This is an extremely long trip, but Zihuatanejo is an exquisitely beautiful town, and it is a great place to hang for a few days. If you plan to make the long trip, get an early start and fill your gas tank at every possible location. The city of Tecoman has several forks in the road; take the road to Playa Azul—not Pascuales. If you find yourself in Pascuales, you have made a wrong turn in Tecoman, go back to Tecoman and find your way to Playa Azul. Surfers will want to stay in Pascuales.

Special Directions

The road is confusing after the first toll road. Stay on the road to Colima and exit the toll road at Tecoman. Always use the CA 200 sign as a reference and guide. Follow the cities and signs with the CA 200 reference, and you won’t get lost. In Tecoman, take the road to Playa Azul, not Pascuales.

Next Section of Drive

 Ixtapa & Zihuatanejo – Acapulco

Ixtapa & Zihuatanejo – Acapulco