Acapulco

Acapulco is a lively resort town with sandy beaches, stunning mountain views, and an exciting nightlife. The city has been a famous getaway since the 1950s, when Hollywood stars discovered this gem. The city is a popular spring break destination, and visitors will find an endless amount of stylish bars and nightclubs, many of which stay open until dawn.

Located along Mexico's Pacific coast, Acapulco sits on the Bay of Santa Lucia, which is commonly referred to as Acapulco Bay. Lovers of water sports will find an abundance of activities to enjoy, with parasailing, jet ski rentals, fishing charters, and snorkeling expeditions readily available.

Acapulco History

Acapulco has a long and rich history. The first settlers in the area were Nahua Indians, who preceded the Aztecs. These people inhabited the land for around 2,000 years before the Spanish arrived in the 1520s and began the era of European colonization. Due to its ideal location along the Pacific coast, the city developed into a busy port, shipping goods to South America and Asia.

In 1921, the Prince of Wales and future King Edward VIII visited the city on a fishing excursion. When a paved road linking Acapulco to Mexico City was completed in 1931, wealthy Mexicans began vacationing there. Hollywood stars discovered the area in the 1950s and 60s. Famous visitors include John F. Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Judy Garland.

Following a boom in the the 1970s, the area declined in the 80s, but revitalization efforts in late 1990s lead to new hotels and attractions being built. In the early 2000s, college students began flocking to the area during their spring and summer breaks, drawn by the beautiful beaches and affordable accommodations.

Acapulco

© Prayitno - View of Acapulco

Travel Options

Getting There

The easiest way to get to Acapulco from the United States is to fly to the Juan N. Alvarez International Airport (ACA), which is located 20 miles east of the city. Direct, non-stop flights are available from a number of major American cities, including Chicago and Atlanta.

You can also fly to Mexico City's airport and take a connecting flight to ACA. Flights to Mexico City take off from every major American airport. If you're interested in traveling by road from Mexico City, a number of buses run between the two areas. This mode of transportation is inexpensive, comfortable, safe, and fast. The average bus ride will take around four hours.

Acapulco Airport

© Mitrush - Acapulco Airport

Getting Around

Taxis are a great way to get around Acapulco itself. You'll find them everywhere, and most are unmetered, so you'll need to negotiate the fare with the driver before getting in. The rates are usually inexpensive, with a trip in the area costing no more than 50 pesos, which is less than $3.

The area's buses offer a unique Acapulco travel experience. They're all privately owned and often painted in bright colors. Because there aren't any official bus stops, you have to flag them down yourself when you see one coming. Drivers are usually eager to stop, so catching a ride is easy.

If you're interested in exploring all the area has to offer, rental cars are available, with several affordably priced companies operating out of the airport. However, the city's busy traffic can make it hard to navigate.

Bus to Acapulco

© Dolphin_Adictus - Bus to Acapulco

Where to Stay

Whether you're looking for modern amenities or basic accommodations, Acapulco hotels have something to offer, with thousands of rooms throughout the city. Prices vary widely, with budget hotels available from $50-75 a night. If you want to stay in an all-inclusive, five-star hotel, you can expect to pay around $100-200 a night. Prices will be higher during the peak visiting times in December, January, April, and July.

Many international visitors choose to book a room in the Golden Zone, along the central area of the bay. There are a number of beachfront, luxury hotels in this area, and they're conveniently located close to bars and restaurants. Cheaper hotels can be found on the outskirts of the Golden Zone. Although they may not be right on the water, these accommodations generally offer clean rooms and free internet access, and they're often just a short walk from the beach.

 

Hotels in Acapulco

© Judy Paris - Hotels in Acapulco

 

Attractions

Whether you're looking to relax on the sand or experience some of the local culture, there are plenty of fantastic Acapulco attractions for you to enjoy.

Beaches

Acapulco is famous for having some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, and many are located in the bay area close to hotels, bars, and restaurants. Here are five of the best beaches:

  • Playa Condesa: Located in the heart of the bay area, Playa Condesa is a one of the most popular spots for tourists to visit. The nearby bars and restaurants contribute to the vibrant, party atmosphere. The waters are great for swimming, and you'll find jet ski rentals nearby.
  • Playas Caleta & Caletilla: These two interconnected beaches are popular with both locals and international visitors. This spot was a hot destination when Acapulco first became popular with European and American travelers. Although the beaches themselves are small, they offers calm waters, making it a great place for families with kids.
  • Playa Icacos: This beach is situated along the bay close to a number of large hotels and condominiums, but it has a calmer atmosphere than you'll find at Playa Condesa. Playa Icacos is a great place to relax and take in the sunset.
  • Pie de la Cuesta: Pie de la Cuseta is well known for having amazing sunsets, but it's also an amazing place to visit during the day. It offers quiet, sandy shores that stretch for a number of miles. The water, however, can get rough at times, making it a dangerous place to swim.
  • Playa Puerto Marqués: This beach is a situated in a small bay that's surrounded by lush, green mountains. Despite the breathtaking natural beauty, Puerto Marqués doesn't get overcrowded, and many of the people who do visit are locals. The calm waters add to this spot's tranquil atmosphere.
Beach in Acapulco

© Elena Pérez Melgarejo - Beach in Acapulco

Sights and Activities

If you're looking to get away from the beach for a little while, the city has plenty of other attractions on offer. Here are five of the most popular:

  • La Quebrada Cliff Divers: At La Quebrada, you can view one of Acapulco's most famous traditions which has been going on since 1934. Every afternoon, a group of highly skilled divers jump from the 148-foot cliffs that jut out above the Pacific. Admission to the viewing platform only costs around $3.
  • Fort of San Diego: Originally built in the 17th century, this star-shaped fort once served as a vital stronghold for Spanish colonial rule. Over the years, it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. For a small admission fee, you can go inside and view museum exhibits on different periods of the region's past. The fort is also a great place to catch views of the bay and the city.
  • Chapel of Peace: Situated atop a hill on the southern side of the bay, the Chapel of Peace is one of the most iconic sights of Acapulco. The chapel's 130-foot high white cross can be glimpsed from almost anywhere in the city. There, you'll be able to take in a gorgeous view of the ocean or just enjoy some peace and quiet in the surrounding gardens. Admission is free. Come in the late afternoon to check out a stunning sunset.
  • The Zócalo: The Zócalo is the city's traditional central plaza, and is a popular meeting place for locals. You'll find a number of cafes, restaurants, bars, and shops in the immediate area. During the day, the Zócalo has a quiet, relaxed vibe, and it's a great place for people-watching. On Friday and Saturday night, the area fills with vendors, local musicians, and street performers.
  • CiCi Water Park: Located near the beach, this family-friendly attraction has swimming pools and fun water slides. The park also offers daily dolphin shows, and visitors can pay to swim and interact with the dolphins for an hour.
Acapulco Zocalo

© Prayitno - Acapulco Zocalo

Off the Beaten Path

Although Acapulco has many well-known sights, there are still hidden gems to discover. Acapulco TripAdvisor offers a number of suggestions for where you can find hidden wonders. Here are four places worth a visit:

  • Parque Nacional El Veladero: This ecological preserve showcases the area's natural beauty. Plan to spend several hours hiking through the park and be sure to bring your own water and snacks.
  • Roqueta Island: A thirty-minute boat ride from the bay will take you to this small island paradise. Snorkeling in the waters is an excellent way to catch a glimpse of the tropical flora and fauna. There are a few small shops and restaurants on the island.
  • Acapulco Botanical Gardens: These peaceful gardens are a ten-minute drive from the city but feel like they're a world away. For a small entry free, you'll be able to learn about the local plant life in a beautiful, well-maintained setting.
  • Laguna de Tres Palos: This calm lagoon is a great way to explore Acapulco's natural setting. Take a tour on a water taxi and check out some the nearby restaurants, which serve up local cuisine.
Roqueta Island Beach

© Limor Hader - Roqueta Island Beach

Facts about Acapulco

Here are five important Acapulco facts to know:

  • Acapulco sits around 235 miles south of Mexico City.
  • It is located in the Tropic of Cancer.
  • According to a 2010 census, it has a population of 673,479, making it the largest city in the state of Guererro.
  • The weather is sunny 360 days a year. The rainy season runs from June through October.
  • The Sierra Madre del Sur mountains provide the city with a stunning backdrop.