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Surfside Secret's Out

Chilling out on a snug beach near the Pacific coast resort magnets but in a quiet enclave custom-built for beach-bum sensibilities


We found fresh flower petals strewn around the bathroom sink each day, and big, thick towels made showering a pleasure. There are no mosquitoes in the winter, and there was no charge for the dead bat we found on the floor one morning, an apparent victim of the overhead fan that keeps the non-air-conditioned room cool.

Locals say Troncones is doable in summer, but I wouldn't advise it for anyone not used to tropical temperatures and the July-to-November storm season.

The accommodations in Troncones--all right on the water--come in a wide range of prices, from as little as $30 a night off-season, usually May to November, to a handful of superb thatch-roofed bungalows for high-season peak prices of $250 per night December to April.

While the food available at most of the beachfront enramadas--palm-frond-shaded cafes--is adequate, you can find enough good-quality seafood restaurants to eat heartily for a week. And you don't have to leave the comfort of your hammock. A woman named Carmen from the Costa Brava restaurant delivered ready-to-eat plates of fresh fish, French fries and salad to our villa. On days when we planned to cook, she obligingly bought us fresh red snapper and chickens on her daily shopping trips to Zihua.

Although it feels isolated, because of its proximity to the international airport at Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Troncones is doable even for a long weekend from Los Angeles. From the airport, either rent a car--all the major U.S. companies are there, charging roughly $50 to $100 per day--or take a taxi for the half-hour journey.

A rental car would make it convenient to drive into Ixtapa or Zihuatanejo for a meal or golf if you get tired of the peace of Troncones. If you don't want a car, mountain bikes are available for rent in the village. And be careful driving at night: Donkeys, cattle and goats often roam the roads.

We kept meaning to check out Zihuatanejo. But day after day went by, and we never did get up the energy to make the journey--what with moving from the hammock to the swimming pool to the beach and back. Friends who did go regretted it.

The one excursion we made--twice--was to the neighboring village of Los Llanos, drawn by the wonderful beachfront cooking at Restaurante Jacqueline: terrific grilled lobster for less than $10, breaded or grilled shrimp for $7, whole red snapper for $5.

The drink of choice for lolling in a hammock is an ice-cold Pacifico beer or a gin and tonic (stock up at the airport duty-free shop).

Troncones now has electricity around the clock, but it's still an early-to-bed kind of place.

Still, there is one activity certain to stir some people out of their hammocks. The surfing at Troncones, from February through November, is world class.

At the north end of the beach, the ocean surf cuts into the tranquil bay. Mike Linn, a manager of Las Chozas bungalows there, said surfers would want to know that "there's a left-hand point break with a hollow drop--it never closes out. It is one big giant shoulder moving across the bay. You're looking at easy 100-meter rides."

I stopped in at Las Chozas and a few other places to chat with the owners and check out the digs, but I can't vouch for them. One caution: Some rental houses sit on treeless lots, with no shade and minimal privacy.

One of the prettiest inns is Hacienda Eden, built and owned by Jim Garrity and Eva Robbins. Its restaurant is terrific too.

Next door is Posada de los Raqueros, with two restful and well-appointed bungalows that come with kitchenettes, a plus for families. The main house has two more sea-facing rooms for rent. Other options include Glen Novey's friendly and comfortable six-room Casa Delfin Sonriente (Smiling Dolphin House), midway along the main beach, with a welcome (if small) pool.

Novey, from Santa Cruz, has spearheaded community action programs with the Troncones locals. He built his house for his family, then transformed it into a B&B to help defray costs, including $5,000 a year for trucked-in water.

McMillin, the father of modern Troncones, says development will be slow but steady in coming years as people build quality private homes. 'Most everyone down here is not trying to make a fortune, but just pay for their vacation home in paradise. We rent bedrooms here, not hotel rooms," he said. "Those who visit us are going to get some quality hammock time."



Beached in Troncones

Getting there: Alaska Airlines flies nonstop from L.A. to Zihuatanejo; Aeromexico and Mexicana have connecting flights. Round-trip fares start at $280.

Troncones is a half-hour drive north of Zihuatanejo. Airport taxi is about $45.

Note: No one accepts credit cards in Troncones. Change dollars for pesos at the ATM in the airport.

Where to stay: The community's useful Web site,, describes most local lodgings.

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