On the south-western coast of Mexico, Acapulco was once a major resort town for the rich and famous in the 50’s and 60’s for superstars such as Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra. Years later its image went downhill, affected by pollution and corruption, and its popularity faded. In the recent decade, it has regained itself as once again being a popular destination, known especially for its great restaurants, golden beaches, fabulous hotels and year round excellent weather.
A major port since the Aztec days for both commerce and trading, it was once a haven for pirates and the Fort of San Diego was built to defend the city from attacks. Today it has become a very large city, with its population near the two million mark, but yet it feels much smaller since the majority of its attractions are condensed, mostly near the bay and along the beaches.
There is no shortage of things see and experience while in this warm port. Whether walking or taking a taxi to further places of interest such as the cliff divers, there is plenty to do. You can find many types of Mexican souvenirs including hand painted ceramics, incredible street art and silver jewellery; check it is authentic by making sure any silver item is stamped with .925.
Old Acapulco, The Costera and Acapulco Diamante are the three districts of this city and each one offers its own distinct personality.
Old Acapulco is nearest to the ship and has a laid back feeling to it and small cafes and quaint restaurants are tucked in throughout.
The main centre of Acapulco, The Costera, runs along the stretch of beach and is alive with energy. There is a large shopping centre, hotels and plenty of restaurants where many become exceptionally loud and active once the sun sets. During the day it is a great place to come to a beach to relax, get a drink or try some Spanish cuisine in a thatch-roofed café or a fancier restaurant.
The farthest district from the ship is the Diamante area, filled with luxury resorts and mansions on the hillside. The beaches in this area on the Pacific, outside of the Bay, are exquisite.
- Getting around
As soon as you exit the terminal building, there are many taxis to choose from as well as waiting tour buses. Almost all taxi’s here are Volkswagen Beetles and have no set rate so you will need to barter before entering the car; it is common to be charged per person, especially when departing from the pier area. Many taxi’s at the pier are considered “authorized” and therefore can cost more than if you hail a taxi yourself just past the cruise terminal boundary. Once in town, there is never a shortage of taxi’s to get you back to the pier.
Walking is a great way to explore and take in the scenery and you can easily walk in either direction to a beach or if you stay to the west you can walk into the main centre along the bay. It is flat terrain along the waterfront lined with shops, restaurants and craft stalls.
- Beyond Acapulco
The one-hour drive to the Tehuacalco archaeological site allows you to enjoy the beautiful Mexican countryside on the way. Believed to once be a ceremonial centre, the site dates back to 750A.D and has 15 structures including a pyramidal base that stands about 65 feet high, petroglyphs and engravings. There is uneven ground and quite a bit of walking but this site is well worth the visit.
Isla La Roqueta is only a short boat ride from Caleta Beach and has a unique zoo with an array of animals including lions, giraffes, leopards and zebras. The island also has great beaches with good snorkelling and a great place for hiking and offers great panoramic views of Acapulco Bay.
- Local activities
La Quebrada Cliff Divers
The La Quebrada cliff divers are well known throughout the world and have been fascinating onlookers for decades. Every day at 1pm and again each evening, men climb and then swan dive from these jagged cliffs into the narrow inlet of water below. They must time their jumps perfectly to the incoming waves to land in the deepest water possible. It is breathtaking to watch this dangerous sport.
Fort San Diego
The Fort of San Diego, originally completed in 1617, is located on the hill directly opposite the cruise pier. Once repelling the continuous attacks from the pirates that frequented the seas, the large pentagonal fort has a moat and underground enclosures and today it is a museum filled with unique artefacts.
Chapel of Peace
The Capilla de la Paz, or Chapel of Peace, sits high on the mountainside and offers spectacular views of the Bay, including your cruise ship in the distance. Located far from the ship, it is best to take an arranged tour, which allows you to see the city as you pass through it and the high-end neighbourhoods before arriving at the chapel.
- Local cuisine and drinks
Although you can find many styles of cuisine, the Mexican food here is great with fajitas or quesadillas accompanied by amazing Pico de Gallo and fresh guacamole. Seafood is common in this port and they offer incredible ceviche’s, a raw fish dish, as well as tasty desserts made with local fruits such as coconut, mango or candied banana.
- Where you are docked
Cruise ships dock in Old Acapulco, near the 1600’s Fort of San Diego that sits on the hillside above the piers. Next to a major container terminal, the pier can hold two large cruise vessels and has an excellent location with the main centre of Acapulco located a few blocks to the west and great beaches available in either direction within walking distance.
The ship sails in and out of the massive natural Acapulco Bay, lined with golden beaches, sky rises along the waterfront and the entire Mexican city looking onto the bay.
The cruise terminal has toilets, Internet access and a few small shops.
- Regional weather
Acapulco experiences a typically hot an humid weather climate. Almost always sunny, the summer months run from November to April, and the rainy season (winter months) run from May to October, although the rainy season is often only slightly cooler than the summer season.