troncones travel guide

troncones tourist guide sign

Money Matters

Troncones has no bank and only one less-than-reliable ATM. That’s part of its rustic charm, but a real bummer if you come unprepared—you’ll spend several hours going to town for money, not to mention the cha-ching of cab fares from here to there and back. We always stock up on cash from the major bank ATMs at the Comercial grocery store or at the airport—less time waiting in line, and easier to get to than banks. You can use dollars in Troncones, but you will get extortionate exchange rates (like around 70% of their actual value).

Check with your bank about foreign ATM fees before coming. Certain banks, like Bank of America and Santander, have no- or low-commission deals. USAA and Schwab, for instance, will refund some foreign ATM fees.

You can change actual money or use the ATM at the airport, but they generally offer worse exchange rates and/or charge higher fees. If it’s a major bank ATM, you should be ok.

ATM’s get you the best possible exchange rate. (We generally avoid off-brand ATM’s — ie: “QuikMoney” — they often charge much higher fees.) Major Mexican bank ATM’s, including Santander, HSBC, Banorte, and Banamex, will let you know how much the fees will be before you complete the transaction.

There are several ATM’s at the Comercial Mexicana grocery store in Zihuatanejo, as well as at the many banks in Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo—but the banks are harder to get to and often involve long, sweaty waits.

If you like waiting in endless lines, go to the bank. Bank Time Suck Warning: If you really feel you must experience a Mexican bank, do yourself a favor and do it in Ixtapa, where only half of all humanity will be trying to do the same thing, at the same time, before they all close at 3:00.

If you want the true Tropical Mexico Bureaucratic Experience, go to the Comision Federal de Electricidad (the electric company) around noon and get in line. Bring a fan. And a novel—ideally The War of Don Emanuel’s Nether Parts, our recent personal favorite on the Tropical Latin Experience.

Credit cards are only accepted in a handful of Troncones businesses, so bring ’em along for fun, but don’t count on using them too often. (They are nearly always accepted at the big grocery store in Zihuatanejo and Sam’s Club.) Traveler’s checks are pretty much useless, except at banks. See the above Bank Time Suck Warning and ask yourself: is it worth half a day?

Maria’s ATM is located, appropriately, in Maria’s store. On main street, a bit below the harware store, same side of the street. It charges $100 pesos a pop, and sometimes runs out of cash.

Food Facts

Groceries  Several Troncones stores stock the basics (ham, cheese, butter, a bit of produce, Bimbo bread, etc.) all with a generous beach tax added on. For real shopping, or anything mildly foreign to these parts (like decent pasta or good cheese) or health conscious (brown rice, organic anything) stop at the Comercial Mexicana (La Comer) on your way out of Zihuatanejo.

Better bought in Z: meat (chicken, beef and pork), wine, liquor, any exotic/organic produce, lettuce, nuts, whole wheat bread, crackers, granola, snacks, cold cuts, etc.

Better bought here: fish & shrimp (Don Ruben delivers—just put out the fish sign. He stops by around 10:30 am.)

Best grocery options around:

  • Comercial Mexicana supermarket in Zihuatanejo ( One stop shopping: includes ATMs from 4 major banks, a large pharmacy, an exorbitantly-priced GNC, and even a Radio Shack, for what it’s worth.)
  • Sam’s Club This is a mini Sam’s and does not carry fresh produce, but it’s the best place for large portions of good cheeses, nuts, etc. Decent wine selection, meats, and cases of beer. You will need your membership card to check out.

Produce  The veggie truck roams the beach road nearly every day with good local produce. (Put out the sign when you want them to stop at the house.) The Monday produce market in nearby Lagunillas (8 am –5 pm) is fun and quite a bit cheaper than the truck.

Fresh Seafood  Ruben, aka Mr. Fish, passes by in his red truck around 10:30 nearly every day, selling shrimp, fish (and lobster by special order).  Flag him down with the fish sign, or catch him parked “downtown” earlier in the morning, with more stock.

Bread & Tortillas  Cafe del Sol offers delicious fresh-baked artisanal bread twice a week during high season. Fresh bolillos (Mexican white rolls) are available at the main street tiendas early in the mornings.

Fresh, warm tortillas can be found at the Troncones Tortilleria (7 am – 4 pm).

Drinking Water and Ice  Purified water and ice are now the standard all over Mexico. Water and ice at restaurants are generally safe, as long as the ice is machine made. (It’s the big slabs of ice you have to worry about, and those are hardly ever used any more.)

If you’re into ice, buy a bag at the tienda before driving on to the Oasis.

Casa Oasis provides free purified water. (All you can drink!)

Troncones restaurants range from inexpensive local fare to gourmet—from posole, enchiladas and fried fish bathed in garlic to wood-fired pizza, fusion cuisine and even Argentinian-style steak. Great, inexpensive breakfasts can be had at Cafe Sol, as well as smoothies, espresso and gelato.


Mexican Beer is, of course, available at all the stores in town. The Indio and Corona trucks will even deliver cases (put out a case of empty bottles, and they usually stop). Of course, as with anything in Mexico, it’s good to have a back up plan. 

Mini Super Wendy. Troncones liquor store with the basics, and a decent wine selection, all at airport prices. 

Comercial Mexicana supermarket in Zihuatanejo wide selection of wines, liquors and beer.

La Europea in Ixtapa. Great Liquor and import store. Best selection and best prices. Getr your great Tequila here: Siete Leguas.

Communications in Troncones

Casa Oasis has wifi,* but don’t be dreaming about streaming no movies. Our piddly retro bandwidth is laughable by US standards. It’s ok for email, basic surfing, and the occasional YouTube kitten video, though. (Don’t complain. You should be out on the beach, anyway.) Several local restaurants, Like Cafe Sol and Costa Brava, also offer free wifi to their patrons.

There are a handful of pay phones in town (they work only with Telmex Ladatel phone cards), and Gaby’s store offers paid local and long distance phone service.

Troncones is tricky as far as cell phone coverage goes. They generally only work right on the beach. We get Telcel coverage on the front patio and at a couple of magical spots in the flat. We have a brand new cell phone tower in town, but who knows when they’ll turn that on, and/or if it will work. If this makes no sense to you, read this novel: The War of Don Emanuel’s Nether Parts.

*Mexico willing: We are all at the mercy of the whims and vagaries of the anti-upkeep national power company (salt air + wires = big fun) and the richest man in the world’s diabolically under-maintained telephone/internet monopoly. Still, we somehow nearly always have service. Viva Mexico!

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