Is Zihuatanejo Safe for Tourists in 2024?

If you’re traveling to this Pacific Mexico destination, the thought has probably crossed your mind, Is Zihuatanejo safe?

The short answer: Yes, Zihuatanejo is safe for tourists. However, there are a few things to watch out for. One of the newest dangers is an increase in a mosquito borne illness that is spreading throughout Mexico, including in the city where I live.

And during the two weeks I spent in the area, another Zihuatanejo safety issue arose when several people reported being robbed while walking to Playa La Ropa.

While I believe it’s a temporary crime wave (more on that later), it’s a reminder to stay vigilant no matter where you are in the world.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the safety of the area, including Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, and things you need to be aware of.

Serene bay view in Zihuatanejo, showcasing calm waters with anchored boats and a secure, palm-fringed shoreline, reflecting the peaceful atmosphere and Zihuatanejo safety.

Safety of Zihuatanejo Guerrero

If you simply read the travel advisory for Guerrero, you would definitely question the safety of Zihuatanejo. Although from my experience living and traveling throughout Mexico since 2016, those travel advisories are always overblown.

I don’t want to downplay the dangers of the state because I know there are some dangerous places in Guerrero.

However, the places to visit in Zihuatanejo and nearby are generally safe. Just as in other destinations, you should be aware of your surroundings, mind your alcohol intake, and avoid flashing valuable items.

Vibrant downtown Zihuatanejo street decorated with papel picado. Pedestrians enjoying the safety of Zihuatanejo along a walking street.

Crime in Zihuatanejo Guerrero

While crime has increased in Zihuatanejo Guerrero recently, my opinion is that it’s not something that will affect most travelers.

There’s a common graphic that is often posted when people ask about the safety of traveling in Mexico. It goes something like this.

Are you going to participate in illicit activities in Mexico? > No? > Then you’re safe.

Are you going to get involved with the cartel? > No? > Then you’ll be safe in Mexico. You get the point.

However, there was an uptick of crime in Zihuatanejo that had me on alert during my visit. Halfway into my two week stay, I was suddenly hearing reports of people being robbed while walking the main road in La Ropa.

This Zihuatanejo street art along the road to La Ropa depicts an ocean scene that includes several octopus and fish.

The humidity was too much for me to walk from where I was staying in La Madera (I took the combi instead). But nonetheless, I was on alert.

The theory given by several residents was that these perpetrators were from Acapulco which had been devastated by Hurricane Otis the month before. And without enough assistance from the government, conditions left its residents feeling desperate. Others questioned if it was as widespread as some were making it out to be.

Regardless, I think this was a temporary Zihuatanejo crime wave. But I do think it’s a good lesson to always be on alert and realize that things like this can happen anywhere.

A man rides his bicycle along the Paseo del Pescador, one of Zihuatanejo's safest areas. Behind him, palm trees are silhouetted by the sun rising over the ocean.

Is Zihuatanejo Safe for Tourists (2024)?

Yes, Zihuatanejo is safe for tourists to visit in 2024. While the area does have some petty crime, I felt very safe in Zihuatanejo during my two week visit.

Zihuatanejo Safety Tips

  • Carry only what you need if you’re spending the day at one of the beaches in Zihuatanejo. Items left at a beach restaurant are generally safer but it’s best to keep an eye on your belongings and not leave them out of sight. If you prefer, you can keep your cell phone and cash in a waterproof pouch while swimming in the ocean.
  • Always taxi home at night. This is good safety advice even if you’re only going a few blocks. My general rule is to take a taxi after 9 or 10 pm in Mexico.
  • Be aware of how you use your cell phone in public, especially in downtown Zihuatanejo, which can get crowded. I never felt unsafe but I was aware not to keep my cell phone in my back pocket or use it while walking aimlessly in the street. If you can, step into the doorway of a business or restaurant to check your phone.
  • Use bug spray. Cases of dengue fever are currently increasing throughout much of Mexico. I recommend keeping bug spray in your bag to prevent getting sick. More on this below.
  • Don’t drink the tap water. You may already know you shouldn’t drink tap water in Mexico. But did you know you also shouldn’t brush your teeth with it? And if you want to be really safe, you should also be cognizant of the tap water while taking a shower
  • Is street food safe? Ice drinks? Salads? Generally, yes. Street food vendors and Zihuatanejo restaurants use bottled water in the kitchen and bags of ice for drinks. I have rarely gotten sick from food and drinks in Mexico. And when I did, I thought the food looked questionable. So, the best advice is to follow your instincts. 
A serene scene shows a sunlit street in downtown Zihuatanejo, flanked by orange-hued buildings with terracotta roofs over the sidewalks under a clear blue sky.

Is Zihuatanejo Safe at Night?

In general, Zihuatanejo is safe at night. However, I recommend taking a taxi after 9 or 10 pm since some of the streets can be dark and empty of people.

When I stayed in La Madera, I noticed the streets were sometimes empty. I wasn’t in La Ropa at night but I imagine it’s similar. Sometimes the streets even felt empty during the day in La Madera.

Is Ixtapa Zihuatanejo Safe?

Colorful letters are stacked vertically spelling out Ixtapa. Behind is a palm tree and the main street in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo.

Ixtapa Zihuatanejo is considered very safe. Developed as a tourist destination by the Mexican government, Ixtapa has a reputation to uphold as a safe place to travel for tourists as their economy relies on it.

I felt very safe traveling as a solo female in Ixtapa. I walked around, visited the beaches, took the ferry to Isla Ixtapa, and used public transportation, all while taking the precautions as I described above.

Large street art on the side of a building in La Madera Zihuatanejo depicts a blue whale with monarch butterfly wings, fish, and bubbles.

Dengue in Zihuatanejo: New Risk for 2024

The risk of contracting dengue fever has been increasing throughout Mexico and other parts of the world.

I personally know at least a dozen people that have contracted dengue in Oaxaca City where I live. I was surprised to see the number of cases increase substantially considering it’s a generally dry climate without a lot of mosquitos.

So it wasn’t a surprise to me to see residents talking about dengue in Zihuatanejo. Its humid climate is a much more hospitable place for those blood suckers to thrive.

The best thing you can do is take precautions by using a high quality bug spray. And carry it around wherever you go. Because you never know where there will be mosquitos.

Natural Disasters in Zihuatanejo Guerrero

You may be wondering, is Zihuatanejo safe during a hurricane? Or an earthquake?

The answer is, it depends. Safety during a natural disaster mostly depends on the strength and location of the earthquake or hurricane.

While it’s unlikely an earthquake will occur in Zihuatanejo while you’re there, it’s always best to be prepared. If you’re concerned, familiarize yourself with these earthquake safety tips.

Did you know? The epicenter of the 1985 earthquake that caused serious damage and more than 5,000 deaths in Mexico City was located 6 miles off the coast, north of Zihuatanejo.

During my visit many tourists were concerned about damage from the aforementioned Hurricane Otis. While it severely damaged the coastal town of Acapulco Guerrero, Zihuatanejo was mostly unaffected.

This is due the fact that Zihuatanejo is 145 miles (234 km) north of Acapulco and that the storm moved inland after making landfall. Had the storm turned toward the coast further north, it could have been a very different situation for Zihuatanejo safety.

Typically you are given more notice with a hurricane, which may allow you to evacuate ahead of time. For that reason you should keep your eye on the weather if you are visiting during hurricane season (roughly June through November).

Final Thoughts on Zihuatanejo Safety

I felt safe in Zihuatanejo during my two week stay in the area. While I didn’t notice any reason to think Zihuatanejo crime had increased, I took extra precautions when out at night and swimming in the ocean.

I believe those are important tips to follow anywhere, whether you are concerned of safety in Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo, or other parts of the world.

Is it safe to travel to Zihuatanejo right now? (2024)

Zihuatanejo is generally considered safe to travel for tourists. Like any travel destination, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings and take general travel precautions. Walking around late at night isn’t recommended and it’s best to be cautious when out after dark.

Can you swim in the ocean in Zihuatanejo?

Yes, you can swim in the ocean in Zihuatanejo. The wide bay includes five beaches, most of which are protected bays that are safe for swimming. But conditions can change daily. It’s always best to watch the ocean and pay attention to any flag warnings before you get in.

Is Ixtapa safe for tourists 2024?

Yes, generally Ixtapa Zihuatanejo is very safe for tourists. The area was developed as a resort town by the Mexican government. It has modern infrastructure and a reputation to uphold.