Once the prime Central American destination for jet-setters and the in-crowd, Acapulco now attracts a broader base of regular travelers from all over the world. With first rate service and abundant natural beauty, you can still lose yourself in this Pacific resort. Discover Acapulco and get ready for a memorable vacation to the Land of the Golden Sun...
If you asked visitors to Acapulco why they traveled there, you're likely to discover quickly that beaches, nightlife and cliff divers rank the highest reasons among the majority.
But wait! How can Acapulco be featured on a Web site about 'Mexico-less-traveled'? Isn't it, after all, one of the most popular resorts in the country?
Well, yes, it is. But if you're traveling up or down the Mexican Pacific coast surfing Las Olas or Zihuatanejo, or hiking around Mazatlan or Huatulco, then chances are good you're going to encounter that big road block on the coast - Acapulco. And chances are good, if you're a traveler down that road-less-traveled, you're going to avoid the cosmopolitan city of two million. After all, there are the Hollywood types, the glitz and glamour, the bright lights and loud music.
But times are changing in Mexico's golden city. Sure, there are plenty of bright lights and loud music. You can still party until the sun comes up and find social getherings where only the rich and famous hang.
But Acapulco has matured. From coastal party central to a city full of art and family attractions, Acapulco has once again recaptured some of the appeal its natural setting provides. As the condos and resorts encroached on the beaches and the Costera's shops and restaurants bulged with overexposure, a movement began within the community to clean up the local reputation, a somewhat insurmountable task. Some cities are destined to live by their reputations, like Rio and New Orleans, Las Vegas and Cannes. Acapulco will probably always be that naughty and ritzy Latin getaway that it always has been.
The effort to polish the reputation, however, has not been without some success. Apart from the beaches and the normal beach related activities, there are many attractions to keep you busy. CiCi, located on Av. Costera M. Alemán, at Playa Icocas, is a water park featuring water slides, water toboggans, dolphin encounters, seal shows a wave pool and Sky Coaster, a ride that will leave all ages screaming. Mundo Marino is an aquarium and fun center, located in between the little beaches known as Playa Caleta and Playa Caletilla that features indoor and outdoor marine exhibits, water slides, water sports, restaurants and shops. Parque Papagayo, is a huge park located on The Costera, across from Playa Hornos. The park is filled with carnival rides, go-carts, roller skating rinks, skateboard courses and many other attractions.
Perhaps the most popular attraction in Acapulco is, of course, their trademark sport, diving high from the cliffs of the city into the Pacific ocean below. The world famous La Quebrada cliff divers are physical artists who delight spectators most every day. Exhibitions are presented on a daily at 1:00, 7:00, 8:00, 9:00 and 10:00 PM. The last show at night is enhanced with the addition of torches, that are held by the divers, adding drama to the show.
If you're an adventure traveler and enjoy water sports, you've come to the right place. You'll find every imaginable water activity on the Bay and Pacific, including world class offshore fishing if you're in the mood to get out on the water.
You could also easily divide Acapulco into two cities occupying the same space: the Acapulco by day and the Acapulco by night.
If you're not into the party scene, don't despair. There are a number of quality attractions and activities to occupy your time away from the beach.
Plaza Álvarez or Zócalo: It is the main plaza in the City and one of the few spaces that show architectonic features of the old Acapulco. It is a quiet place with refreshing fountains of water, varied vegetation and benches luring you to take a break.
Cathedral of Our lady of Solitude: Its simple architectonic features show Spanish and Moor influences, with outstanding domes similar to the Byzantine towers of the mesquites. Its interior is decorated with glazed tiles while the floor is covered with golden mosaics. It was built in 1930 and it worked as a film set before becoming a temple.
Fort of San Diego: It was built by the Spaniards to protect themselves from the pirates that razed the coasts of Acapulco with the purpose of attacking the Galleons of Manila and Nao, which returned from the east loaded with valuable goods.
The Fort was refurbished in 1776. It is made of stones with a pentagonal shape, and protecting moats surrounding its numerous precincts. It is situated on N° 1 Hornitos Street, Colonia Centro and is currently the seat of the Historic Museum of Acapulco.
Historic Museum of Acapulco: Its 10 rooms house permanent and temporary exhibitions that reflect Acapulco's history, since the first human vestiges found (3000 BC) until our days, passing by the Spanish conquer, the commercial relation with the east, the attacks of pirates and corsairs, and the Mexican revolution. Besides, it hosts music performances and plays.
Dolores Olmedo Art Gallery: It is the house of a renowned patron and art collector and a cultural corner in Acapulco. Amongst her priceless artworks there is an outstanding mural by Diego Rivera, who made use of his stay in 1956 to paint the god Quetzalcóatl, whom he represented as a feathered serpent. The Gallery is on 4455 Miguel Alemán Coastal Avenue.
Ecumenical Chapel of Peace: Mr and Mrs Trouyet decided to create a space of harmony and spirituality on the highest zone of Acapulco, which would welcome believers of all religions without any distinction whatsoever. That is how this Chapel was born and its 42-metre high cross can be watched from any place in the City.
Located in the exclusive zone of Las Brisas, the Chapel has a vantage point that offers an impressive panorama of Acapulco's Bay.
Acapulco International Convention Centre: It is the cultural core of the City. It has theatres such as the Netzhualcoyotl and the Juan Ruiz de Alarcón, where colorful folkloric presentations with music and dances of the region take place. It has an extension of 43 acres and its architectonic design shows modern and pre-Hispanic features.
Noa Noa Crafts Market: Located in the zone of Hornos, it gathers beautiful and singular works full of creativity and good taste. The objects made with mineral and precious stones stand out. The prices are also very interesting.
Papagayo Roller Park: Also known as Ignacio Manuel Altamirano, it has a 21-hectare extension "sown" with children playgrounds, slides, a scenic train, pedal boats, an ice skating court, and even an ancient Spanish galleon. It is very close to downtown Acapulco, between Insurgentes and Avilés Avenues.
Of course, there's more to do after dark besides counting the discos where you lost your wallet. There are a number of great restaurants, though most are on the pricey side. But there are local favorites as well and worth the effort to ask around about.
There's nothing wrong with a little after dark nightcap either and there are a number of small water front bars from which to choose, or the elegance of one of many upscale watering holes located all across the sprawling cliffside city.
If you are into dancing and romancing, bring lots of money. There's a party on every corner, some are very formal affairs and require invitation, others do not.
Because of its size and success as a tourist attraction, take caution when moving about, especially after dark. Stay to the well trafficked and lighted areas, and in larger groups if possible. While crime is probably no worse than any other large tourist city, there are predators out to victimize you.
Sure, given a choice, the backcountry attractions of Mexico by far have the most appeal to the off-the-beaten-path traveler. And this is a good thing. But sometimes the soul gets thirsty for the kind of satisfaction that only a cheeseburger or a movie can bring, and those of us that enjoy the backcountry are allured into the city by the tempting lights.
Go ahead, there's still a little gold in Acapulco. Take in a nice hotel room and a hot shower; sip on a pina colada by the bay, moving to the thick Latin rhythms of the night. Life is good man, and tomorrow can be the start to that next grand adventure down the highway to the jungles of Chiapas or the lofty heights of the Sierra Madres.