As any realtor knows, location is everything. Being the closest resort to both the eastern United States and Europe, Cancún attracts huge numbers of international travelers. Mexico City is a logical destination for many via nonstop international or national flights. And when defeños (people from Mexico’s capital) tire of the crowds, traffic and smog, they head for the closest beach resort: Acapulco.
Mexico’s original party beach is now a city of 1.5 million people. Despite the drug traffickers, the growth and the pollution that sometimes plagues the bay, it is still popular with national and a few daring international travelers looking for sun, water sports, honeymoon spooning, and all-night disco and salsa dancing clubs.
Acapulco parties hard all night long. But it’s also a family-friendly destination with plenty for the kids to do. CiCi water park has a wave pool, dolphin show, and giant plastic slides dumping into several large swimming pools. Less expensive Mundo Mágico Marina, at Caleta Beach, has an aquarium and sea lion show, and rents inner tubes and JetSkis. Inexpensive glass-bottom boat tours access La Roqueta Island, just offshore.
This diminutive island is a fine place to spend the day. Hike the well-marked trail to the top of the island---don’t be put off by the young military men standing guard at the barracks there. After admiring the working lighthouse, head down to the island’s windward side and then back to the main beach, where you can rent a shade palapa and Adirondack chairs for unlimited beach time. The water is perfect for swimming or floating. Vendors stroll the sand selling tropical fruits, cans of coke, or smoked fish. If you don’t like what you see, hit one of the palapa restaurants overlooking the sand.
Back to Back Beaches
Acapulco’s Bahía de Santa Lucía, second largest bay in Latin America (after that of Río de Janeiro), has plenty more beaches to explore. Among the calmest for swimming are diminutive Playas La Caleta and La Caletilla, directly across from Isla La Roqueta. The water here is so calm that enterprising men wade around chest deep in the water, pushing miniature boats laden with souvenirs to sell to surprised swimmers. La Cabaña restaurant has tables right on the sand at Playa Caleta; perched above a rocky cove on contiguous Caletilla Beach, Boca Chica’s restaurant sells sushi and lots of other dishes.
Follow the curve of the bay to Hornos Beach (two good seafood restaurants, Sirocco and El Amigo Miguel are here), and then wide Playa Hornitos, across from Papagayo Park. Continuing east, similar beaches with coarse golden sand line the hotel zone. There are JetSkis for rent and banana boat and parasailing rides here, and plenty of shade umbrellas and roving vendors.
Beyond the eastern edge of the bay, Playa Revolcadero is home to Acapulco’s newest and most luxurious hotels. The beach is easiest to access through the lobby of the Hotel Princesa, although side roads off the highway also lead to miles of grainy gold sand and surfable waves. As this is open ocean, locals recommended it for strong swimmers only.
For the quintessential Acapulco experience, head for La Quebrada and watch some of Acapulco’s living icons dive 35 meters (115 feet) into a narrow, rock-framed channel. Their dives must be timed carefully, taking into consideration the tide and ocean surge. Whether you go for a nighttime dive with flaming torches or a daytime show that’s easier to capture with a camera, this is an essential part of the Acapulco experience.
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