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Palapa (AKA Tiki hut or chickee) is a word of Tagalog origin, which originally meant, "petiole of the palm tree", that has been used for generations to refer to an open structure made with poles and covered with a roof made from overlapped rows of palm leaves. The structures are often simple and small but may be rather large and I've even seen many beach bars and restaurants and one very nice family dwelling constructed in the palapa style. The house was built by an expat couple and had several rooms formed by dividers also made from the petioles of coconut palms, which were plentiful on the beaches and land nearby.

I was fortunate enough, as a ten year old, to live in a rather open style house (masonry not palapa) which sat overlooking the beach in Zihuatanejo. When one walked down the curved concrete stairway, right in front of the house, one soon came to the beach known as "Playa de la Ropa" (Beach of Clothing). There was a tiny palapa right at the bottom of the stairs and one could see several others nearby.

One of my favorite memories is of a day hike with a local guide who took us to another beach which we had heard of nearby. This was before the resort city had progressed beyond a dream in someone's imagination. When we arrived the beach was deserted of buildings, or other humans, except for one campesino taking a siesta beneath, you guessed it, a tiny palapa.

How to Thatch a Tiki Hut, chickee, or palapa (YouTube video)