The 12 best things to do in Acapulco, Mexico

Top 10 things to do in Acapulco

Located on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Acapulco was Mexico’s first major tourist destination, and it’s easy to see why. Its location on the picturesque Bahia de Acapulco its extensive tourist infrastructure, updated in recent years, and the city’s lively nightlife, not to mention its superb beaches, all add up to its undeniable appeal. If you’re making a quick stop as part of a cruise on the Mexican Riviera or staying a while for an unforgettable vacation, check out this list of activities in Acapulco.

Check out the Cliff divers at La Quebrada

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Whether you want to go during the day or see the deadly dives at night when the spectacle is lit by torches, Acapulco’s famous divers should be a must-see in any port town. Descending more than 100 feet into the churning ocean, divers should time their dives to coincide with the matching waves. La Quebrada offers stunning views of the open ocean and beautiful sunsets. Rock divers perform five times a day.

02 of 09

Enjoy the beaches of Acapulco

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Acapulco has year-round beach weather and plenty of activities offered along with its beaches. Whether you want to find a place to bask in the rays (don’t forget your sunscreen) or want to experience thrills like bungee jumping or parasailing, you can find a beach for yourself in Acapulco. Playa Condesa, located in the center of Acapulco Bay, close to many popular Acapulco nightclubs, is the trendiest beach and a good place for water sports. Playa Caleta and Caletilla have gentle waves and are preferred by families with young children. Or you can join the famous locals and go to the beautiful beach in Puerto Marques. Acapulco’s beaches can have a strong rollback, so be careful when swimming.

Explore La Costera

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Av Costera Miguel Alemán 125, Fracc Magallanes, Magallanes, 39670 Acapulco de Juárez, Gro., Mexico Get directions

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Acapulco’s main hobby is the Costera Miguel Alemán (usually referred to simply as “La Costera”). This road runs along the coastline around the bay, where most of Acapulco’s stores, restaurants and nightclubs are located, as well as major shopping centers such as La Gran Plaza and Plaza Bahía. La Costera is the pulsating rhythm of the city where everything happens; it’s worth spending some time exploring.

04 of 09

Walk around Socalo

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Unlike planned tourist resorts like Cancun, Acapulco is a true Mexican city. Nowhere is this more evident than in Old Acapulco, the heart of which is the Zocalo Acapulco. Officially “Plaza Juan Alvarez,” this is the main public square. It is a shady plaza where locals and tourists gather, especially in the evenings and on weekends. Acapulco Cathedral is here and there are many places to eat and shop. Within walking distance you will find the traditional Acapulco Mercado El Parazal, Malecon, Quebrada and Marina.

Take a glass-bottomed boat ride to Isla La Roqueta

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Glass-bottom boat tours are offered from Playa Caleta, allowing you to have fun on this island ecological reserve. The glass-bottom boat allows you to observe sea life as well as the sunken statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe on your way to Isla La Roqueta. Once there, enjoy the beautiful beach – swimming, snorkeling and seafood tasting – but it’s also worth the hike up the hill to the lighthouse for stunning views.

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06 of 09

Visit Fort San Diego

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This star-shaped fort was built in the early 17th century to protect galleons carrying goods from Asia from pirates. The fort was rebuilt in 1778 after an earthquake caused some damage. The fort now houses the Acapulco Historical Museum with 12 exhibition rooms where you can learn about the area’s earliest inhabitants, Acapulco’s role in trade with Asia, and the history of the building and its role in Mexico’s War of Independence.

Fuerte San Diego is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is free on Sundays.

07 of 09

Hike around the Palma Sola archaeological site

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Located on a mountainside six kilometers northeast of Old Acapulco in El Veladero National Park, the Palma Sola archaeological site offers two-thousand-year-old petroglyphs and rock paintings made by the Yops, the earliest known inhabitants of Acapulco.Besides its historical and archaeological interest, this site offers stunning views of Acapulco and the bay, and is a great way to avoid the city and see some of the natural areas surrounding the urban area.

The Palma Sola archaeological site is open daily.

08 of 09

Watch the sunset at Los Flamingos Hotel

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Av Adolfo Lopez Mateos s/p, Las Playas, 39390 Acapulco de Juarez, Gro., Mexico Get directions

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The Los Flamingos Hotel was built in the 1930s and purchased in the 1950s by members of the “Hollywood Gang” (John Wayne, Johnny Weissmuller, Errol Flynn and Cary Grant, among others). A collection of photographs from the 1950s in the hotel lobby provides a nostalgic glimpse of the hotel’s former owners. The Los Flamingos Hotel sits atop a 450-foot cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It has one of the best views of Acapulco Bay and Isla la Roqueta. It’s a great place to enjoy an evening drink and watch the sunset.

Continue to 9 out of 9 below. 09 of 09.

A sample of Acapulco’s nightlife

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Acapulco’s nightlife is notorious. There are huge nightclubs like the Palladium and Mandara on the hillside of Las Brisas, and many clubs along La Costera such as Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock Cafe, and Baby O. The nightlife in Acapulco starts late and in some cases continues until dawn.

Acapulco

When I first saw a picture of Acapulco and read that Frank Sinatra himself had been here, I knew right away that I would go to this glamorous city and explore it up and down. The reality, however, turned out to be very far from my imagined image. Acapulco, like any major Mexican city, was very noisy, with chains of electrical wires constantly hanging over it, and only the bay of the same name exceeded my expectations. It was as if it sheltered the city from all the evils, like the great Pacific Ocean and its power, and at the same time gave the big city an almost provincial feel, as the districts were “scattered” along this bay.

Relief Acapulco seems stunning in photos, but when in reality one is faced with the fact that your “hotel 500 meters from the sea” turns into “a hotel 35 minutes from the sea on winding streets and steep slopes,” one begins to dislike the special charm of this city. Especially if it’s all happening in 38-degree heat and you forgot to bring water to the beach.

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So, Acapulco, full of shabby buildings, construction debris, small and uncomfortable grocery stores, exceptionally undeveloped suburbs for the poor, and electrical wires strung over every street, still has its coastal charm. Nevertheless, for Mexico the infrastructure is amazingly developed and Acapulco as a whole seems to be a remarkably modern city which has miraculously emerged on the edge of the world.

How to get there

By plane

Acapulco has an international airport, with popular flights available from the United States and Mexico City and Cancun. The cost from New York is from 400 USD, from Los Angeles from 300 USD, the cheapest from Houston from 250 USD. For travel from Europe, there are connections in London and Warsaw. Flying from Mexico City to Acapulco by plane is quite cheap and very fast, 45 minutes and 2,000-3,000 MXN per person. The cheapest option from Moscow with two connections – via the U.S. (New York or Los Angeles) and Mexico City – costs about 500-600 USD for one person one way. The flights are operated by Aeroflot and Aeromexico. The flight takes about 30 hours. However, for the USA you must have a visa even for transit. From Moscow (Sheremetyevo) there are also flights with two connections in Europe (optionally in London, Frankfurt, Paris or Amsterdam) and Mexico City. Travel time is about 21 hours, with connections. The cost per person is much higher – about 1,300 to 1,500 USD per person one way. If you take a round trip ticket it’s cheaper. You can find the tickets at the travel agencies or, for example, here. From the airport to the center is best by cab. Cabs from the airport cost about 40-50 USD, depending on the brand and size of the car. There are also group cabs which you can take with someone for approx. 15 USD per person. Or you can take a minibus into town for about 5 USD per person. The minibuses are parked right at the exit of the airport in the ring, they are private and do not have special coloring or flight numbers.

Train

Acapulco has train tracks, but they don’t serve private passengers. A high-speed train between Acapulco and Mexico City is promised by 2020.

By bus

It is possible to get by bus from Mexico City, Estrella (Estrella de Oro and Estrella Blanca), departures all day, the last one in the evening at 11:30 pm, arrival at 4-5 am (400 or 500 MXN per person). Estrella’s official website is here. The bus from Mexico City can arrive at three different terminals (check at boarding), two of which are in the very center, from which it is easy to take a bus to other parts of the city, the third at Boulevard de las Naciones in the Diamante area (eastern part of the city, near the airport). If you need to get to your hotel downtown, you can take a city bus from the first two terminals or take a cab. The Diamante area is useful only if you go to the airport or if you have a hotel reservation.

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By Car

Getting to Acapulco by rented car is easy enough – the tracks around the area are quite modern. However, it would be inconvenient to rent a car, for example, in Mexico City, if you are not going back. The route from Acapulco to the northern cities is called the Pacific Coastal Highway (MX 200).

Take the ferry to .

You can also get to Acapulco by cruise ship, anchored near the historic site of Fort San Diego (El Fuerte de San Diego). Upon arrival, buses are already waiting here to take you to the center. Most of the cruise ships come from the United States. The most popular cruises are from Miami and Los Angeles and usually take approx. 14 nights. The cost starts at 2500 USD per person. There are no flights to these cities.

When is the season? When is the best time to visit

Acapulco in summer.

The rainy season with showers and even hurricanes strong enough not to want to go out all week is Acapulco traditional “summer” from April to November.

Nevertheless, Acapulco hotel prices are lower in the summer, and both American and European tourists still come here to vacation. The water temperature is 30°C, about 32°C during the day and 26°C at night.

Acapulco in autumn

Autumn, from November to December, is the best time of year here – the leafy season even in the tropics is felt in a special way and is quite attractive for tourists. The water temperature is 30°C, about 31°C during the day and 24°C at night. To orient yourself on prices for tours to Acapulco, click here.

Acapulco in spring

In spring, Acapulco can catch good weather in early April. Nevertheless, tourists come here all year round. In principle, the sea is always warm here, but in the rainy season makes no sense to come for less than 1-2 months, otherwise you risk missing all the good sunny days. The water temperature is 28 ° C, about 32 ° C during the day, at night about 25 ° C.

Acapulco in winter.

Winter is the best post-fall option for visiting Acapulco. In December and February it is warm but not hot, there is no rain and strong winds, and the sea is calm. The water temperature is 28 ° C, about 30 ° C during the day and 22 ° C at night.

Acapulco – weather by month

Neighborhoods. Where to live

The street Costera Miguel Aleman connects all the most interesting places for tourists in Acapulco and is basically an elongated shopping avenue and the concentration of all the major hotels. If someone had told me before I came here that I wouldn’t like Acapulco, I wouldn’t have believed it. True, it has stunning beaches with sprawling palm trees, all the opportunities to do my favorite windsurfing, and terraced suburban neighborhoods with villas that are quite affordable for the average average professional.

A map of Acapulco’s neighborhoods

But besides that, there is a high population density, which is sometimes overwhelming, especially in the Zona Tradicional (Mercado), a large number of poor and poorly dressed people in the streets and even slums, the sight of which is at least mildly alarming. For myself personally, I found only two areas suitable for living on a normal European level, and it was too little for a vacation to go smoothly into the Permanent Residence, as originally planned. Acapulco Bay is a very picturesque place. Districts of the city are located in several valleys that are surrounded by hills of forest, which in reality feels like a real oasis in the middle of the wild world. Along the coastline are high-rise buildings, far on the hills – the sleeping areas with cottages and small houses, just behind it we see medium-rise houses and many hotels, as well as infrastructure, completely tourist-oriented. If you take an apartment or room in a high-rise hotel, in the distance you can see the chain of mountains Sierra Madre, which is so called since the founding of the city in 1521 by its first mayor, the same Hernán Cortés – the Spaniard who conquered the New World.

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Map of the Mini-Districts in Acapulco

So, I ended up in the decent Icacos neighborhood, which is even free to walk through, even though it’s not entirely tourist-oriented. There are very nice palm trees planted along the streets, which is rare for neighborhoods in the city, and the location near the waterfront gives you a view of a couple of skyscrapers.

Acapulco neighborhoods:
  • I find the Icacos neighborhood (there are three Icacos at once, for example, Upper Icacos is only 20 meters from the central one) to be the most acceptable for European living – it is quite far from the dirty and poor Mexican neighborhoods and is surrounded by hills and forests on two sides. Just around the corner here is a major casino (one of the favorite leisure activities of American retirees in Acapulco) and a Walmart. The latter makes the neighborhood exceptionally convenient.

  • The neighborhood next door to mine is called Costa Azul and is home to mini-hotels and small apartment buildings of 8-12 apartments, one of which I would definitely choose for an extended stay if I stayed here long term. There are “renta” signs on the houses all the time. The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is about 6,000-8,000 MXN per month (furnished). Without furniture can be found and for 3000 MXN, because the furniture itself Mexicans value highly and are very careful. The neighborhood is well landscaped, with good sidewalks, clean streets, flowerbeds and greenery and a small number of street eateries, which is also very good for the overall feel of it.

  • Brisas Del Marques. If you want to make your vacation as relaxing as possible, it is better to stay within the hotels and drive around the city only as part of tour groups. True, there is absolutely no infrastructure in such places – the areas on the hills are self-contained and there are no supermarkets or parks. However, it is easy to rent a villa, apartment or townhouse for a long period, but you can not live comfortably here without a car, as there is no bus service to the center. Nevertheless, the area is only 5 minutes by car from the seafront, full of small apartments and private houses and is very convenient for family life, surrounded by greenery.
  • The Diamante area was also considered for a vacation, but turned out to be inconvenient. It is too far from the stores, the historical center, the Fort and most of the beaches. At the same time, Diamante beach is much less atmospheric than the beaches in the center, it has no cove, as if it is flatter and the sand is not as light. And the area is also close to the airport, which can be very convenient. The Diamante area is mostly older hotels of varying storeys. The local residences here are located far from the sea, between two small hills. In my opinion, Diamante is suitable for a week’s vacation, but not for permanent living. True, the largest shopping center La Isla (Mexican chain) is located here.
  • One of the most colorful areas of the city is downtown (other names are Downtown, Mercado). Here are always open dozens of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, there are many good and cheap cafes. This area is located in the western part of the Bay of Acapulco and has a particularly uncomfortable terrain for hiking. Nevertheless, this is where you can find the most interesting places in the architectural, cultural and entertainment sense.
  • The Renacimiento neighborhood (San Jose) is to the north of the city and is a middle-class bedroom community sandwiched between two large mountain ranges. It is not recommended for tourists to show up here on their own. This is where the average Mexicans of Acapulco live, serving hotels, bars, restaurants, construction and service industries. The streets here are not clean, but unlike the bedroom communities of other Mexican cities, San Jose can still be called fairly decent. Renacimiento is divided into several separate neighborhoods and is mostly made up of duplexes, private homes and small apartment buildings with 2-3 floors. It has its own rich and poor neighborhoods, which are located, respectively, to the left and right of Route 95. There is only one mall in all of San Jose: Cinepolis.
  • The Las Playas neighborhood is located on a peninsula at the southern end of Acapulco Bay. Its entire area is geared primarily toward tourists, as well as wealthy Mexicans. There are some stunning little beaches that are sandwiched between cliffs, and it is here that the most popular beaches of Caleta and Caletilla are located. The Las Playas area may appeal to those who have always dreamed of living on an island with a view of the sea from a big mountain. The panoramic views from most of the hotels, villas and small apartment buildings here are really breathtaking.
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Map of Acapulco neighborhoods

For the safety of tourists I advise not to leave the areas close to the coastline. If you want to see how the locals live in Acapulco, take a walk to the north of the center (Mercado, on the map on the left), it’s the safest. For the long term will be comfortable enough to rent apartments in the area of Icacos or Costa Azul (on the map on the right), the area in the center of the bay has a reputation for being quite noisy place to live.

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