La Costa Incognita: Pacific Mexico


Aug 30, 2001
Outside Magazine

A half-hour up Mexico 200 from Ixtapa, six kilometers past the village of Buena Vista, a few restaurant signs nailed to a tree point down a dirt track toward a wide, white-sand beach, four kilometers away. This is the only marker for Troncones, a pueblito so insignificant it doesn't even warrant bus service from Ixtapa. Surfers know the beach, though, lured by the insane long left break off Troncones Point. When it's pumping ten feet, there's plenty of traffic down the road.
The rest of the time it's locals only—Zihuatanejo expats and day-trippers from Ixtapa who come up for three reasons: no tourists, great waves, and excellent food. The last is found at Burro Borracho, at the southern end of the beach. Mike Bensal, who runs the restaurant, is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy and serves up beachside concoctions like Thai pork taco rolls with peanut sauce and cheese-stuffed shrimp wrapped in bacon. Bensal has kayaks, bodyboards, and surfboards available but doesn't bother renting them—he just lets people use them for free.

Up the beach at La Casa de la Tortuga, Karolyn McCall and Dewey McMillin rent horses ($20 per hour) for rides on the beach, tours of the village and the hills, or jumping. And unlike most of the animals you'll find on the coast, these are full-size horses. The Casa (doubles, $50-$100, breakfast included; phone 755-7-0732, fax 755-3-2417) is wrapped around interior gardens with a beachside patio and six guest rooms (three with private bath). If you have a big group, rent the whole house for $450 per night. Other choices are the three bungalows with a common outdoor kitchen at Casa-Ki (doubles, $60; U.S. phone 415-668-0263, fax 415-868-0201).
Up in the hills near the village of Majala, there's a large cave with two-story stalactites. It's an hourlong slog through jungle scrub to get up there, but once you're inside it's expansive and daunting and takes about two hours to explore. Afterward you'll be eager to get back to the beach, maybe for a few hours of snorkeling in the waist-deep tidepools by Troncones Point, a 40-minute walk north of the cave. Don't try to find the cave on your own; a kid from the village will guide you for a few dollars.

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