This active fishing port is beloved by the international surfing community: Most days, Playa Zicatela's Pipeline boasts some bodacious waves, and that's where you'll find the boarders. Swimmers and beginner-level surfers should head to Playa Carrizalillo, a U-shaped cove ringed by lush greenery where the waves are gentle enough for a dip.
Zicatela is loaded with bars, cafes, and restaurants of every stripe, from low-key watering holes to classy seafood spots. Beach-goers looking to party won't be disappointed, either. Bands and DJs keep things lively well into the late night.
Where to eat: For breakfast, the place to be is El Mana (Calle del Morro), which pours strong coffee and plates fresh-baked bread and fluffy crepes. For lunch or dinner, splurge at Espadin (Avenida Carrizalillo), owned by chef Patricio Sandoval of Chicago's Mercadito. Dig into the delicate seafood dishes and feast your eyes on the beautiful view of Playa Carrizalillo below.
Must-do: If you're visiting between the months of August and December, you're practically obligated to check out Laguna de Manialtepec, a lagoon that's lit up at night by bioluminescent plankton. Take a guided boat tour, or simply bathe, literally, in the electric-blue glow of the tiny ocean critters.