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This region's exotic tropical beaches and rich jungle scenery lured the first modern travelers to Mexico. Although the southern Pacific geography may be uniform, the resorts along this coast couldn't be more varied, ranging from high-energy seaside cities to pristine, primitive coves.

Spanish conquistadors came to this coast for its numerous sheltered coves and protected bays, from which they set sail to the Far East. Centuries later, Mexico's first tourists came for the same natural features, but with a different type of escape in mind.

Over the years, the area developed a diverse selection of resorts. Each is distinct, and there's one for almost any type of traveler. The region encompasses the country's oldest resort, Acapulco; its newest, the Bahías de Huatulco; and a side-by-side pair of opposites -- modern, luxurious Ixtapa and the down-to-earth fishing village of Zihuatanejo. Between Acapulco and Huatulco lies Puerto Escondido, a laid-back beach town rising in tiers above a picturesque bay with world-class waves.

This section covers coastal towns in two Mexican states, Guerrero and Oaxaca. Stunning coastline and tropical mountains grace the entire region, but outside the urban centers, few roads are paved. These states remain among Mexico's poorest, despite decades of incoming tourist dollars (and many other currencies). As with some other parts of Mexico, tourism in Guerrero has suffered somewhat from reports of drug-related crime, although this problem has generally not affected the key tourist areas.