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 -- revamped in recent years, and the city's vibrant nightlife, not to mention its excellent beaches all add to its undeniable appeal. Whether you're making a short stop as part of a Mexican Riviera cruise, or staying for a while, for an unforgettable vacation, consult this list of things to do in Acapulco.
01 of 09
See the Cliff Divers at La Quebrada
Whether you choose to go during the day or see the death-defying dives at night when the spectacle is lit by torches, Acapulco's famous cliff divers are a must-see on any visit to this port city. Launching themselves from a height of over 100 feet into the churning ocean, the divers must time their dives to coincide with the incoming waves. La Quebrada offers a fabulous view of the open ocean and beautiful sunsets. The cliff divers perform five times a day.
02 of 09
Enjoy Acapulco's Beaches
Acapulco has year-round beach weather and plenty of fun activities offered along with its beaches. Whether you'd like to find a spot to soak in some rays (don't forget the sunscreen) or want to experience thrills like bungee jumping or parasailing, you can find a beach for you in Acapulco. Playa Condesa, located in the center of Acapulco Bay near many of Acapulco's popular nightclubs, is the trendiest beach and a good location to enjoy water sports. Playa Caleta and Caletilla have gentle waves and are preferred by families with small children. Or you can join locals in the know and head out to the lovely beach at Puerto Marques. Acapulco's beaches can have a strong undertow, so be cautious when swimming.
03 of 09
Explore La Costera
Acapulco's main drag is the Costera Miguel Alemán (usually referred to simply as "La Costera"). This road follows the coastline around the bay and is where most of Acapulco's shops, restaurants and nightclubs are located, as well as large shopping malls such as La Gran Plaza and Plaza Bahía. La Costera is the pulsing beat of the city, where all the action is; it's worth taking some time to explore it.
04 of 09
Stroll Around the Zocalo
Unlike planned tourist resorts like Cancun, Acapulco is a real Mexican town. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Old Acapulco, the heart of which is Acapulco's Zocalo. Officially the "Plaza Juan Alvarez," this is the main public square. It is a tree-shaded plaza where locals and tourists congregate, particularly in the evenings and on weekends. Acapulco's cathedral is here, as well as plenty of places to eat and shop. Within walking distance, you will find Acapulco's traditional Mercado El Parazal, the Malecón, La Quebrada, and the Marina.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Take a Glass-Bottom Boat Ride to Isla La Roqueta
Glass-bottom boat tours are offered from Playa Caleta, allowing you to enjoy a fun day on this island ecological reserve. The glass-bottom boat allows you to observe the sea life as well as a submerged statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe on your way to Isla La Roqueta. Once there, enjoy the beautiful beach -- swimming, snorkeling, and sampling some seafood -- but it's also worth taking a hike up the hill to the lighthouse to enjoy the fabulous view.
06 of 09
Visit the San Diego Fort
This star-shaped fort was constructed at the beginning of the 17th century to defend galleons carrying merchandise from Asia, from pirates. The fort was reconstructed in 1778 after an earthquake caused some damage. At present, the fort houses the Historic Museum of Acapulco, with 12 exhibition halls where you can learn about the earliest inhabitants of the area, Acapulco's role in trade with Asia, as well as the building's history and its role in Mexico's War of Independence.
The Fuerte San Diego is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is free on Sundays.
07 of 09
Hike Around Palma Sola Archaeological Site
Located on a mountainside six kilometers northeast of Old Acapulco within El Veladero national park, Palma Sola archaeological site features two-thousand-year-old petroglyphs and rock carvings made by the Yopes, Acapulco's earliest known inhabitants. Besides its historical and archaeological interest, this site offers stunning views of Acapulco and the bay, as well as being a great way to escape the city and see some of the natural area surrounding the urban zone.
Palma Sola Archaeological site is open daily.
08 of 09
Watch the Sunset at Hotel Los Flamingos
The Hotel Los Flamingos was built in the 1930s and purchased in the 1950s by members of the "Hollywood Gang" (John Wayne, Johnny Weissmuller, Erroll Flynn and Cary Grant, among others). A 1950s photo collection in the hotel lobby allows a nostalgic look at the hotel's former owners. Built atop a 450-foot cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Los Flamingos Hotel boasts one of the best views of Acapulco Bay and Isla La Roqueta, and it's an excellent spot to have an evening drink and enjoy the sunset.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Sample Acapulco's Nightlife
Acapulco's nightlife is notorious. There are huge nightclubs like Palladium and Mandara on the Las Brisas hillside, and lots of happening clubs along La Costera like Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock Cafe and Baby O. Nightlife in Acapulco starts late and in some cases continues until dawn.