Guide to Acapulco

Acapulco Bay Viewed from the south end of the city

About Acapulco

This celebrity resort is known as the Pearl of the Pacific, and is one of the most visited vacation spots in Mexico. It is famous worldwide, and although the jet set of the 1970s and 1980s and the contemporary resorts are now further down the coast in new Diamante area of town, Acapulco still retains its original character, charm, and atmosphere that has made it a world-famous resort destination for decades.

Acapulco fell out of favor with tourists in the late 80s and early 90s, but is now experiencing something of a renaissance. After the 1997 hurricane that struck Acapulco, the government invested over a billion dollars to rebuild infrastructure, clean up the bay, and improve local services. This new investment has made Acapulco a more accessible and more pleasant coastal resort to enjoy.

The view from the bay is spectacular. In the evening, the sunsets from Pie de la Cuesta (see Key Attractions, below) is one of the best you’ll see on Mexico’s Pacific coast. At night, when the lights come on, Acapulco becomes a party-goer’s paradise.

Acapulco is a big resort – you won’t see it all in just one visit – and it’s quite spread out. There are various options available for getting around Acapulco effectively, and you’ll find these listed below in the Getting There and Around section.

For all its contrasts and change in fashions and fortunes over the years, Acapulco still has two things going for it that few other coast resorts can lay claim to: first, everyone has heard of Acapulco—its fame is almost universal and, secondly, it still has one of the most stunning bay views offered by any coastal resort.

Acapulco is full of energy, vibrancy, and color that never stops, day or night. If it’s the beach party of your life that you’re looking to experience, then Acapulco has the capability to deliver the goods to you in style.

Conversely, people arriving to enjoy Acapulco’s attractive climate, its great beaches, famed attractions and surroundings and who want a place to get away from the nightlife (either afterwards or permanently) would do better to accommodate themselves in the newer, more cultured, Acapulco Diamante area situated to the southeast of the city, which also has the advantage of being close to the city’s airport.

If you’re looking for a wild week or weekend, then stay at one of the resorts in the in center along the coast to be closer to the night life. If you’re looking for more culture, style and relaxation then stay instead in the Acapulco Diamante area and its first-class resorts.

Key Attractions

Main Activities

Besides sunbathing, swimming, resting and partying, Acapulco can be host to a wealth of activities, including:

  • Diving and Snorkeling
  • Jet Skiing
  • Power-boating
  • Fishing
  • River Rafting on Rio Papagayo
  • Golf

More Information: See our guide to Nature and Adventure in Mexico for full details and local contacts.

Cliff Divers at La Quebrada

This spectacle is one of Acapulco’s most famous attractions. Some believe that a visit to Acapulco might be incomplete if you missed the world-famous cliff dives at La Quebrada (“The Break”).

At La Quebrada, divers plunge off cliffs some 130 feet high into a cove that is only safe to dive in when the wave comes in. Wrong timing would result in a fatal fall.

Dives are scheduled at 1 pm, and in hours of darkness at 7 pm, 8:30 pm, 9:30 pm, 10:30 pm. At night the divers carry torches to light their descent which is quite a spectacle in its own right.

Dives may be viewed from balconies near the cove for a small entrance fee. Alternatively, there is a hotel nearby, called El Mirador, which has a Restaurant-Bar called La Perla. You can watch the divers while eating your meal or if you buy a drink at the bar.

Some people take a boat trip to La Quebrada, drop anchor, and watch the divers from there; most of the boats are privately owned although if you wanted to see the divers from this perspective you could hire a boat and crew.

Pie de la Cuesta

Pie de la Cuesta is about six miles northwest of Acapulco’s center and consists of a strip of land with the Pacific ocean on one side and a freshwater lake (Laguna de Coyuca) on the other.

This location is quiet and serene in comparison to the center of Acapulco. If you want to swim, swim in the lake—the sea here is dangerous, and people have been killed in the surf. Other popular activities on the lagoon include boating and water skiing. You can hire the equipment locally.

Pie de la Cuesta has a lot of seafood restaurants on the beach side, and there’s a good reason for that: The sunset here is spectacular!

If you want to stay in this area (close to Acapulco proper, but far enough away to get some peace and tranquility) there are several places to stay nearby.

Parque Papagayo

This is a large amusement and activities park, which also leads to two beaches: Playa Hornos and Playa Hornitos. Its features include a lake with paddle boats for rent, a roller-skating rink, a fair with mechanical rides, an animal enclosure and aviary and a pathway (circular circuit) which is over one km in length — good if you like a morning run. There is no admission charge to enter the park and it’s open from 6 am to 8 pm daily. The mechanical rides open later between 4 pm and 11 pm.

Local Cruises

If you want to see Acapulco Bay from the sea, during the day, at sunset, or at night, you can take a cruise on one of the many boats offering tours of the bay from the Malecón, which is near the center of town.

Swimming with Dolphins

If you’d like to experience the sensation of swimming with a dolphin, you can in Acapulco. There are two places to do this: the CICI (International Center) Water Park or Condesa Beach. See Also: Swimming with the Dolphins in Mexico

Sports Fishing Experiences

Acapulco is one of Mexico’s top destinations for sports fishing.
See Also: Sports Fishing in Mexico.

Golf in Acapulco

Acapulco is becoming more and more popular with golfers; they arrive here for good weather and great golf courses.

Mexican Tennis Open

Acapulco also plays host every year to the Mexican Tennis Open, which attracts a number of world class players. The tournament is usually held in February.

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Getting There & Around

By Air – From Mexico, you can fly to Acapulco from Mexico City or Guadalajara. You can also connect to Acapulco from various cities in the USA. The airport is 20 minutes south-east of Acapulco’s central area. Ground transportation options, including taxis, car rentals and shuttles, are available from the airport. Local colectivos will also take you into town for an affordable price. For detailed information about flights and flying, see the Mexperience guide to Air Travel in Mexico.

By Bus – Buses run all day from Mexico City’s Central de Autobuses del Sur to Acapulco’s main bus station. The journey distance is about 180 miles and will take about five hours. There are two bus terminals in Acapulco; Estrella de Oro (the company which runs the very comfortable “Diamante” (Diamond) service to and from Mexico City) has a separate terminal a few blocks from the main station. You can book your tickets online in advance with Estrella de Oro. For detailed information about bus transportation read the Mexperience guide to Bus Travel in Mexico.

By Car – The drive to Acapulco on the toll road from Mexico City is fast and efficient, taking about four hours. The Toll Road is Highway 95 – the same one the first-class bus takes; a very scenic route that includes driving across the suspension bridge over the Río Balsas, the largest of four suspension bridges on the highway. There is a free road you can take as an alternative to the toll highway, but this will inevitably be slower, and we recommend you take the toll road for efficiency and safety. See additional information about Driving in Mexico and Mexico’s Toll Roads on Mexperience.

Car Rental – To explore Mexico’s provincial towns and cities — including its beach locations and the scenery and attractions nearby them — consider renting a car for your visit. Having your own car will give you more flexibility than using public transport options and, in some cases, offer you access to places which are otherwise difficult to visit without the use of a car. Read our guide to Car Rental in Mexico to learn what you need to know about car rental in Mexico and connect to the Mexperience Travel Center to reserve your Rental Car.

Local Buses – These are frequent and plentiful, but do tend to be a bit rickety. They are a very economical means of getting around locally and will take you anywhere you want to go in the Acapulco bay area.

Taxis – Taxis in most of Mexico’s beachside towns and cities are not metered, so agree your price before you get in. Taxi travel is very affordable in Mexico, in comparison to the USA, Canada and Europe, and so provides a viable means of public transportation in Mexico. Your hotel can arrange taxis for you; some post their rates on a board in the lobby; taxi hotel rates are usually higher than cabs you hail off the street. If you speak Spanish, you will have a distinct advantage and be able to negotiate a price with the driver. For detailed information, read the Mexperience guide to Taxi Travel in Mexico.

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Local Events Calendar

Easter Holiday (Semana Santa) – This is Acapulco’s busiest time of year. People who live in Mexico City empty out of it and one of their favorite destinations during Easter is Acapulco. All kinds of special events are laid on at this time of year – your hotel will have details. Note: Reserve early for this season.

Film Festivals – The Festival de Cine Frances (French Film Festival) and Festival de Cine Negro (Black Film Festival) are held here in late November and early June respectively.

Virgen de Guadalupe – On December 11th in Acapulco a festival begins to celebrate the Virgin, Mexico’s patron saint, with parties and street processions taking place on December 11th and 12th.

Expo-Acapulco – is an established commercial/industrial conference. Its prime function is to attract investment to Acapulco. The conference takes place late December thru early January. Connect to the Guide to Doing Business in Mexico for information about business culture in Mexico.

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Practical Information

Telephone: Connect to the Communications in Mexico page on Mexperience for detailed information about keeping in touch and the latest table of national dialing codes.

Exchanging Currency: You’ll find Banks with ATM machines throughout Acapulco; even some hotels have them now. During business hours they and Casas de Cambio will buy traveler’s checks and cash from you as well. For detailed information about exchanging and managing your money, read the Mexperience guide to Money in Mexico.

Travel Insurance: We recommend that you are adequately covered with travel medical insurance and/or travel assistance insurance when you are visiting Mexico. Read the Mexperience guide to Travel Insurance in Mexico for full details and links to specialist insurance suppliers.

Internet Access: Internet cafes can be easily found in towns and cities across Mexico and WiFi is increasingly commonplace–from cafes, shops, hotels, and some cities even offer free WiFi in some defined public spaces.

Safety: Acapulco’s tides can be dangerous – its undercurrents can be particularly strong, and they claim lives every year from people who ignore the warnings. If you see a Red or Black Flag on the beach – it is NOT safe to swim – stay out of the water. Yellow flags signify caution; White or Green flags indicate that swimming is safe.

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Restaurants

Baikal International: Mexican food. Carretera Escenica 16 y 22, Fracc. Playa Guitarron Sobre la Carretera Escenica. Tel: (744) 4466867

Bellavista International: International food. Hotel Las Brisas, Carretera Escenica Clemente Mejia. Tel: (744) 4696900.

Tabachin: French, International. The Fairmont Pierre Marques Hotel, Av. Playa Revolcadero. Tel: (744) 4352667.

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When Night Falls

Gran Noche Mexicana – The Great Mexican Night – Three days a week; Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays you can experience a party hosted in the Plaza by the Convention Center from 7 pm. You pay a fixed fee of around US$50 which includes dinner, open bar and a performance from the Ballet Folklorico.

Locally Hosted Parties – Many of the hotels host their own parties which include dinner, dancing, a show and all drinks for a fixed fee. Ask at your hotel to find out what is happening locally.

Nightclub Scene – If you want to go night clubbing , Acapulco is one of the top two venues in Mexico (the other one is Mazatlan) for night clubs. Lots of young people go to Acapulco specifically for the night-clubs. Some night clubs charge an all inclusive cover fee; some a smaller cover and drinks on top. Most people don’t go out before 11 p.m. Nightclubs keep going all morning and most people will start to leave between 5 am and 7 am the next day.

Beach Clubs – Most open-air beach night clubs (which are becoming more and more popular) offer their clubbers all the services of a nightclub but out in the open air near or on a beach.

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What to Buy in Acapulco

Acapulco is not the greatest place to buy Mexican arts and crafts as it is mainly a town designed for vacations, seaside relaxation and dancing and partying the night away. However, there are shops and markets in Acapulco where you can buy an assortment of Mexican mementos as well as practical goods for your trip.

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Local Climate

Acapulco’s climate is hot and very humid – perfect for the seaside. Average temperatures hover around 80F, with high humidity levels all year round. The town boasts sunshine nearly every day of the year. The rainy season here is between June and October, although downpours tend to be reasonably brief and occur in the late afternoon / early evening.

Weather & Climates in Mexico

Learn more about the weather and climates through the seasons and regions by connecting to the Mexperience guide about Weather and Climates in Mexico

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