Acapulco Travel Guide

Mexico  
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Acapulco Area Map

Neighborhoods

Acapulco sits along a moon-shaped bay on the southwest coast of Mexico, in the state of Guerrero. The most popular tourist spots lie along Avenida Costera Miguel Alemán (known simply as "the Costera") which extends for several miles south along Acapulco Bay from the Scenic Highway to Playa Caleta.

The Traditional Zone on the city's western side contains small businesses and displays its own distinct, charming personality. Start your visit in the Zócalo, the city's main square. From there, the neighborhood's main attractions—including La Quebrada, where you'll find the famous cliff divers—are easily reached. Also nearby is El Fuerte de San Diego, a 17th-century Spanish fortress that hosts numerous tours and festive celebrations. Here you'll also find the Acapulco's History Museum, with exhibits from its pre-Hispanic era to its independence from Spanish colonization.

Locals especially love the Malecón, the oceanside stretch of boardwalk between Calle Escudero (Escudero Street) and El Fuerte de San Diego. You can get a taste of local Acapulco at the Mercado Municipal near the Malecón, where you can buy everything from fresh food to local crafts. Along the Zócalo (a public plaza between J. Carranza and J. Azueta streets) you'll find street vendors selling various wares and locals socializing after their afternoon siesta.

This northwest section of Acapulco isn't really geared towards tourism, as it lacks the historic sites and atmosphere found in the Traditional Zone. However, if you want to get a feel for authentic Acapulco—the sights and sounds of everyday life—you're sure to find it here. But be careful: Drug-related violence has been known to occur here, so if you're interested in visiting, consider going with someone who knows the area well.

It was in this neighborhood that Acapulco's reputation as the getaway spot developed during the 1950s and '60s. Framing the Bahia de Acapulco—the city's bay—are dozens of hotels that once housed Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy. But as the sun set on Acapulco's golden years, these beachside hot spots lost some of their luster. Many of the rooms here are now characterized by outdated décor and an aging legacy. Still, a visit to the Golden Zone is worth your while, especially if you're looking to catch some rays along the beach.

Accessible by bus from the Zócalo.

Acapulco Diamante, on the city's southern fringes, holds many of the city's newest resorts and restaurants with a look and feel that the New York Times describes as "more like a South Beach hot spot than an old Mexican resort having a midlife crisis." This part of town is witnessing the highest surge of investments, with many hoteliers looking to renew Acapulco's legacy. Some of the properties here still exude that '60s-era vibe, but this is the place to be once the sun sets, as many local bars still thrive on the city's nightlife legacy.

Accessible by bus from the Zócalo.

Approximately six miles northwest of the Traditional Zone lies the small resort town of Pie de la Cuesta. This tiny town overlooks the Pacific Ocean, but you should note that the surf here can be pretty powerful. Rather than diving in, grab a cool drink and enjoy the views (sunsets here are amazing). If you are looking to swim, head to Laguna de Coyuca, a freshwater lake located north of the Pacific shoreline. Here, you can swim a few leisurely laps or partake in activities like kayaking and windsurfing. You'll also find a handful of hotels in Pie de la Cuesta, so you can extend your day trip if you're digging the vibe.

Acapulco has been the scene of several high-profile shootings related to the ongoing battle between drug cartels and the Mexican government. According to the U.S. State Department, the violence is not directed toward Americans, but travelers should still remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings. Generally, the tourist zones are safe and continually patrolled by tourist police. If you're at all unsure about your safety, choose a different destination. The destinations along Riviera Maya in the east, including Cancún, Cozumel, and Tulum, currently remain safer alternatives to Mexico's west coast.

One of the largest safety concerns in Acapulco is turbulent water. Avoid the rough surf at Playa Revolcadero and stick to the beaches in front of the hotels along the Costera, most of which are supervised by lifeguards. When going out at night, be sure to stay in the tourist zones and avoid dark side streets. Generally, taxicabs are safer than rental cars, writers say.

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