Chepe Nicoli / Shutterstock
Legend has it that a Tarascan king (from an indigenous, pre-Hispanic community) built the breakwater on Playa las Gatas to create a sheltered area for his daughter's exclusive use. Named for the gatas (cat-whiskered nurse sharks) that once lingered here, this beach is bordered by a long row of hewn rocks that create a breakwater. Snorkelers scope out the rocky coves, and surfers spring to life with the arrival of small but fun summer swells. The beach is lined with simple seafood eateries that provide lounge chairs for sunning, as well as kayak and snorkeling-gear rentals, and guiding services. (You really can't go wrong with any of the concessionaires, but La Red del Pescador, at the far end of the beach, has the best setup with the hippest music; ask for Cruz if you need a kayak guide.) Overlooking the beach is El Faro (the lighthouse); the view from the top is marvelous, but the safe path up can be hard to find—ask any of the waiters to point it out. You can reach Playa las
Gatas in about 20 minutes by climbing over the rocks that separate it from Playa la Ropa. But it's much more common and convenient to take one of the skiffs that run from the municipal pier every 10 or 15 minutes between 8 am and 6 pm. Buy your round-trip ticket (about MX$40) on the pier, and keep the stub for your return trip. Amenities: food and drink; water sports. Best for: swimming; snorkeling.
Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, Mexico