Acapulco Travel Guide

Mexico  
Credit

Courtesy of LisaStrachan/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Best Things To Do in Acapulco

The main attraction here is the beach, which stretches out across the moon-shaped shorelines that border Acapulco Bay. But when you're taking time away from the coast, catch a glimpse of local history at the Fort of San Diego in the Traditional Zone. This town also has an active nightlife scene, with an abundance of nightclubs and bars in the city center and more elegant establishments in the Diamante area.

How we rank Things to Do

Updated April 22, 2013

  • #1
    Things to do in Acapulco
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    #1 in Acapulco
    Beaches, Sports, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Sports, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Adjacent to Playa Condesa is the popular -- and less-crowded -- Playa Icacos, one of the largest beaches in the area and home to the "CICI" Recreation Area, which offers watersports including sailing, motor boating, parasailing and water skiing. Here you'll find a fewer number of beach goers and vendors than Condesa, but the watersports attractions remain relatively similar.

    You can access Playa Icacos through the La Palapa Hotel. It also sits near the American restaurants Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood.

  • #2
    Barra Vieja Beach
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    #2 in Acapulco
    Beaches, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    This is a beach that travel guides ignore but vacationers love. The only problem is Barra Vieja, in San Marcos, is about an hour's drive of Acapulco. Still, most say the trip south is worth the hassle of renting a car. One TripAdvisor traveler recounts horseback riding, massages on the beach and excellent ceviche: "I hesitate telling anyone about it," they add. "I hope it stays secluded."

    Just one word of caution before you go: You'll have to rent a car, and it can be expensive. Plus, the U.S. Department of State warns tourists against traveling Mexico's roads at night or alone. We emphasize that Barra Vieja is best as a daytrip with buddies. 

  • #3
    Fort of San Diego
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    #3 in Acapulco
    Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you feel your brain giving way to the Acapulco sun, refresh your historical knowledge at the city's famous Fort of San Diego (El Fuerte de San Diego). Considered one of the most important Spanish strongholds during colonial rule, the Fort of San Diego is a star-shaped edifice that doubles as a museum and gift shop. It showcases exhibits on the history of Acapulco, as well as clothing, articles and trade good from Pacific trade routes. Outside the fort, you can grab excellent views of Acapulco Bay and the surrounding city.

    While some say the view is well worth the price of admission, others recommend that you skip the entry altogether. One reviewer on TripAdvisor says: "I definitely don't think it was worth the admission price. If you're into photography, then it's a good opportunity for some pictures, and a good view of the bay."

  • #4
    Chapel of Peace
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    #4 in Acapulco
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Overlooking Acapulco Bay from the southern end, La Capilla de la Paz (The Chapel of Peace) offers visitors beautiful seaside views and a peaceful atmosphere. According to one TripAdvisor user, "This is one of the best views in Acapulco—just gorgeous. This is a must see." Many visitors are drawn to the highest point in Acapulco by the massive white cross, which is visible from almost anywhere in the city. Although the chapel itself is pretty minimalistic, the surrounding gardens provide respite from the hustle and bustle of the city below.

    Many recent visitors agree that the best time to make the trip up to The Chapel of Peace is in the evening, when you can witness the sun setting over the bay. For a stunning photo, nab a spot near Las Manos de la Hermandad (The Hands of Brotherhood); this sculpture of clasped hands provides the perfect frame for the sunset.

  • #5
    Playa Condesa
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    #5 in Acapulco
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Playa Condesa is one of the most central and popular beaches in Acapulco, with a reputation for crowded sands and great access to watersports. To avoid the crowds, try getting to the beach before 11 a.m. You can also rent a lounge chair and umbrellas from nearby merchants. According to one traveler on TripAdvisor, "the prices for a lounge chair & umbrella tend to vary & your negotiating skills come into play," but usually the price is very affordable.

    Like other parts of Mexico, Playa Condesa attracts beach vendors, but a polite refusal will usually keep them moving. The water can also get dirty, but this beach remains popular for its excellent proximity to local restaurants and shopping outlets.

  • #6
    Acapulco Diamante
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    #6 in Acapulco
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Acapulco is emerging from its outdated reputation toward a hip, classy and altogether modern Mexican city. This rapid transformation might not hold true in all of Acapulco, but one recently renovated area is really making its mark: Acapulco Diamante. Located on the south end of the city, across the bay from Old Acapulco and what the New York Times calls "tourist frenzy," Acapulco Diamante's hotels and restaurants are perfect for the luxury or romance traveler seeking a quite, refined beach getaway far from Acapulco's hustle and bustle. And though this stylish area might be too expensive to stay in, you should at least visit for a little while, if only to catch the sunset or take a few pictures atop the nearby Capilla de la Paz.

    Getting to Acapulco Diamante is easy. Just take a cab or bus along La Costera to the south side of the bay. Be sure to reserve hotel rooms and restaurant tables well in advance since the area is becoming increasingly popular among travelers and locals alike.

  • #7
    La Quebrada Cliff Divers
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    #7 in Acapulco
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Acapulco's most storied and aged tradition vaults daily from La Quebrada's daunting clifftops in Old Acapulco. The cliff divers are a must-see and are usually well worth the price of admission (usually around $40 pesos, or $3 USD). The show involves several professional divers leaping from 148-foot cliffs high above the Acapulco landscape. The divers have drawn attention ever since they began diving as a team in 1934.

    The shows get started about 1 p.m. each day and divers must time their jumps with the tide so as to land when the water is deepest. Diving also takes place in the late afternoon and, when divers are feeling especially adventurous, in the dark of a summer evening.

  • #8
    Pie de la Cuesta
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    #8 in Acapulco
    Beaches, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you need to get away from Acapulco, just travel six miles northwest to Pie de la Cuesta, a small beach resort town that contains a calm lagoon excellent for water-skiing. You'll also find many local resorts and restaurants, perfect for couples seeking secluded romance or a break from the frantic shores of Acapulco. Should you choose to stay the night, Pie de la Cuesta offers a variety of hotel options.

    You can also take a boat tour around the lagoon for a small fee. Another popular attraction is the Barra de Coyuca spa, which is contained in a simple thatched hut. The spa offers affordable facials or full-body mud treatments. While Pie de la Cuesta offers travelers respite from an often crowded (and frankly, dated) Acapulco, the area isn't ideal for those seeking excellent restaurants and nightlife options. For that, try the closer Acapulco Diamante.

  • #9
    Playa Revolcadero
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    #9 in Acapulco
    Beaches, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Playa Revolcadero is a true beauty of a beach located just south of Acapulco, but nearly all those familiar with it tell you to look but not touch. As pretty as Playa Revolcadero may be, its waves are too rough for even strong swimmers. This is also something to consider if you were planning a stay at the well-liked Fairmont Pierre Marques hotel (it sits on Revolcadero's sands). If you really love to swim and want to be near the best beaches for that, head to Playa Caleta and Playa Caletilla, near the Traditional Zone. The popular (but crowded) Playa Condesa is also a great choice.

  • #10
    Playa Caleta and Playa Caletilla
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    #10 in Acapulco
    Beaches, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Twin beaches that sparkle brightly near the Traditional Zone, Playa Caleta and Caletilla beckon to tourists for their exhaustive roster of restaurants. Caleta and Caletilla are separated by tiny Roqueta Island, which also acts as a wave buffer against the Pacific Ocean, so come ready to enjoy the calm surf.

    Still, Yahoo! Travel users have split opinions on whether you should just avoid these two beaches altogether. While one satisfied vacationer says it "is very nice when you have kids that want to swim a little," another reviewer suggests you "Watch out for the purse snatchers and pickpockets." You should also consider Playa Icacos if you want the convenience of restaurants by the beach; plus, Icacos has an on-duty lifeguard.

  • #11
    The Zocalo
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    #11 in Acapulco
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Simply put, el Zócalo is a must-see for travelers interested in exploring local Mexican culture and nightlife. The city's main square houses the city's government buildings and several popular and affordable local restaurants. The area also offers excellent opportunities to people-watch, especially during the evening.

    The square is open (and usually bustling) year-round, but Friday and Saturday nights remain the area's prime time. At those times you'll find the Zócalo flooded with local musicians, street performers, and clowns. If you want to tour the city's unique architecture, be sure to check out the Nuestra Señora de la Soledad (Our Lady of Solitude) Cathedral, located right in the heart of the square.

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