Travel Advisory: We do not recommend travel to the state of Guerrero due to the U.S. Department of State’s “Do Not Travel” warning. The acute level of crime and violence in this area prohibits AAA inspections.
Acapulco has been around since the turn of the 16th century, when it was established as an authorized trading port between the Americas and Asia and galleons laden with exotic goods began sailing back and forth across the Pacific. But it wasn't until 1927 that a road was cut through the rugged Sierra Madre Mountains, connecting Mexico City to this unremarkable fishing village located on a sheltered bay. And when international air service was established in 1964, Acapulco was catapulted head-first into the resort age.
In the 1960s and '70s this was Mexico's most notorious party destination, the darling of the international and Hollywood jet sets. Movie stars like John Wayne, Johnny Weissmuller, Elizabeth Taylor and Rita Hayworth lounged at luxurious hotels. Elvis Presley and Ursula Andress had “Fun in Acapulco,” a 1963 movie starring the King as a lifeguard and hotel singer who serenaded audiences with the ditty “Bossa Nova Baby.” The shore along Acapulco Bay was transformed into a 9-mile swath of glitter and indulgence patronized by la gente bonita (the beautiful people).
Take a random poll today and you'll likely find that Cancún is Mexico's beach of choice for many tourists. But Acapulco retains its popularity, especially among Mexican vacationers. The weather is always balmy, and the water is warm enough for swimming year-round. November is one of the nicest months to visit, as high-season prices haven't yet kicked in. Formality can be left at home with your coat; standard attire consists of shorts, T-shirts and the occasional scandalous bathing suit.
Acapulco isn't known for dignified historical monuments. It's a big city and an important commercial center, but the economy depends most heavily on the tourist trade. In addition to letting life's cares melt away at the beach, water recreation and watching the clavadistas (cliff divers) hurl themselves from the top of La Quebrada are some of the city's favorite things to do.
As is the case at some of Mexico's other resort destinations, there are two Acapulcos. The flashy, pretty Acapulco along the immediate bayfront caters to tourists, while the Acapulco that spreads over the hills above the beaches—poverty ridden, with dusty, potholed streets and little police protection—is where many of the taxi drivers, chambermaids, waiters and other workers who depend on the tourist industry live. It also is where almost all of the city's highly publicized incidents of drug-related violence have taken place.
If you have money to burn, you'll have a fabulous time. The big resort hotels shepherd guests to private villas bedecked with fresh flowers, and their amenities include some of Mexico's most impressive swimming pool complexes. Alfresco tables at an intimate little restaurant, tucked on a hillside with a swooning view of Acapulco Bay, make dining out a romantic special event. And the city's fabled nightlife lives up to its reputation.
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
13 meters (43 feet)
Dial 911 and ask to be connected to an English-speaking operator.
English-speaking “tourist police” outfitted in white and light blue uniforms patrol streets in tourist areas and can provide assistance to visitors. Phone (744) 485-0490.
(provides assistance in locating vehicles or missing persons, or to those in need of public services): (744) 481-1100. The office is at Boulevard Costera Miguel Alemán #3221.
Hospital Privado Magallanes, Calle Wilfrido Massieu Perez #2, (744) 485-6544; IMSS (Mexican Social Security Hospital), downtown at Av. Cuauhtémoc #95, (744) 469-0270; Red Cross (Cruz Roja), Calle Andrea Dorian #1 (off Boulevard Costera Miguel Alemán), (744) 481-3385. Many hotels have an in-house doctor or a contact physician on 24-hour call.
Local Phone Calls
Public phones take prepaid Ladatel/Telmex phone cards, which can be purchased at any convenience store. The smallest card value is 30 pesos; local calls cost only a couple of pesos, depending on the time the call is made. Insert the card chip side up and then dial your call; an LED display shows the remaining value of the card after the call is finished.
Sanborns, a Mexican restaurant chain, has English-language books and periodicals. There are locations at Boulevard Costera Miguel Alemán #3111 (several blocks south of the El Rollo Acapulco water park), Boulevard Costera Miguel Alemán #1260 (in the vicinity of Playa Calinda) and at Boulevard Costera Miguel Alemán #209 in old downtown Acapulco.
Boulevard Miguel Alemán #4455 Acapulco, GR . Phone:(744)484-4416
Most banks along the Costera, both in the downtown area and the hotel zone, are open Mon.-Fri. 9-5 (some also Sat. 10-2). Casas de cambio (currency exchange houses) line the Costera in the vicinity of the big hotels; these are open daily and often until 8 p.m. ATMs are plentiful and accept international credit cards; withdrawals are in pesos.
In recent years Acapulco has experienced high-profile incidents of drug cartel-related violence, some of which have occurred in or near tourist areas. If you leave your hotel, stick to areas frequented by visitors (the beaches and tourist-oriented businesses along Boulevard Costera Miguel Alemán). The old downtown area is also safe during daylight hours. Tourists often are targeted for petty theft; stay alert if you happen to be in a crowded public place, like a market. Never carry large sums of money or personal valuables and always keep your hotel room key card with you, preferably in a hidden pocket or other safe place.