Acapulco used to be the ultimate go-to destination in Mexico in the 50’s. Artists like Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra and even John F. Kennedy would frequently visit “The Pearl of The Pacific” because of its perfect beaches and vibrant nightlife. However, Acapulco’s glory sadly faded away in the 20th century due to overcrowding, pollution and drug trafficking.
In the recent years, the beautiful beaches have slowly revived as a popular weekend spot for Mexicans and a hideout for Europeans, giving it a more international environment than the very Americanized Cancun. It’s a place for dancing to live music along the Zocalo, eating one of Mexico’s best ceviche and enjoy its Diamante’s classy nightclubs.
Here are some of the places you shouldn’t miss when you go to sunny and glamourous Acapulco, Mexico:
Historical Museum in Acapulco
Acapulco was once an important port for trading routes to the Philippines, the San Diego Fort is a star-shaped building with a museum with displays of these times. The museum includes information on the galleons, their cargo and piracy, as well as clothing, articles and trade goods from Pacific trade routes. It also has exhibits on the history of Acapulco as indigenous and further history, such as the independence wars when the fort was taken from the Spaniards after a 6 month siege under the command of the warrior/priest Morelos.
The fort was considered one of the most important Spanish strongholds during colonial times. And has excellent views of Acapulco Bay and the surrounding city on the outside of the fort. It is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Admission is $30 pesos (about $2.30 USD) per person, and the entry is free on Sundays. You can get to the fort from Old Acapulco at the corner of streets Hornitos and Morelos.
On this island you can simply enjoy the beach and do some snorkeling, and rent snorkeling gear, kayaks and more. But the most recommended activity is to take a 45 minute boat ride on board glass-bottomed boats. On this ride you will see celebrity homes, sea life and the Sea Virgen (Virgen de los Mares), which is a submerged bronze statue.
Cliff divers of La Quebrada
Since 1934, there have been fearless divers jumping from heights of 25m to 35m into the very rocky narrow ocean cove below. Now, it has become a 20 minute show of six divers who must wait for the incoming waves to provide enough water for them to leap into and avoid hitting the bottom. The shows are 5 times a day: 12:45 pm every day, and on late afternoons in the dark of summer evenings when the divers are feeling even more adventurous at 7:30 pm, 8:30 pm, 9:30 pm, and 10:30 pm. The cliff divers are a must-see and are usually well worth the price of admission which is usually around $40 pesos, or $3 USD.
Chapel of Peace
Overlooking the Bay on the southern end is the Chapel of Peace (La Capilla de la Paz) with its giant white cross than can be seen miles across the bay. It is a minimalistic chapel with translucent onyx windows; and it is surrounded by wonderful gardens. This is a great place to escape and have some quiet time for reflection, especially when you see the breathtaking views at down to see the sun set over the bay. There is a sculpture called Las Manos de la Hermandad (The Hands of Brotherhood which are clasped hands that provide a perfect frame for the sunset. The access is through a gated compound and you may have to leave your ID at the gate.
The Chapel of Peace is located in Las Brisas. You can get there by following La Costera south along the bay. The church itself is open to visitors every day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 4 to 6 p.m., but you can explore the grounds throughout the whole day. The Admission is free.
Playa Revolcadero is a beautiful beach that extends straight just before the airport and a little beyond the Puerto Marquez turnoff. It is a great place for surfing because waves are large and powerful. But if you are looking for a place to swim, this is not the place for you; even strong swimmers have a rough time keeping afloat. Horse riding is another popular activity at this beach and you can enjoy the views of the recent explosion of luxury tourism and residential development.
If you really want to swim and be near the best beaches, you can go to Playa Caleta and Playa Caletilla, near the Traditional Zone and the popular, but crowded Playa Condesa.