Acapulco offers visitors something beyond the beautiful beaches, luxury hotels and fabulous views one expects from a beach destination. It also offers a heady dose of nostalgia. This was Mexico's premier destination long before the words Cancun and Los Cabos reached public consciousness. It was the destination of choice of Hollywood celebrities, politicians, jet setters, and anyone who wanted a chance to mingle with them.
Some things haven't changed. The city is still centered around the stunning Santa Lucia Bay, which is ringed with high-rise hotels. La Costera, the scenic main road, winds its way around the bay, flanked by night clubs, restaurants and shops. Visitors watch the cliff divers of La Quebrada who have been performing their death-defying feat since the 1930s. Iconic hotels like Los Flamingos and Boca Chica hosted the rich and famous in the 1950s, and now offer guests an unparalleled retro-chic experience. The Fairmont Acapulco Princess, Mexico's first integrated resort, hosted billionaire business magnate and aviator Howard Hugues in his final years, maintains a glamorous appeal as well as a luxury accommodations and high level of service. Acapulco's stellar nightlife continues to be one of its major draws.
Acapulco has suffered some setbacks since its heyday. The rise of new resort areas in the 1980s meant that it lost some of its international clientele, though it never fell out of favor with some visitors: Mexico City dwellers, spring breakers, and a group of fiercely loyal visitors return year after year because they feel that Acapulco offers a vacation experience that is unequaled anywhere else. In the past few years travelers have been concerned about drug violence. The state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located, has had issues with violence and though tourists have not been targeted, the headlines have been a deterrent to visitors.
Acapulco's government, in conjunction with some private investors, most notably Carlos Slim, have been making strong efforts to restore the destination to its former glory. "Traditional Acapulco," the older section of town, is undergoing a major face lift, and measures are being taken to improve the city's traffic flow.
Besides its older hotels, Acapulco also has a clutch of new hotels such as the Banyan Tree Cabo Marques (Book it) which has ultra-luxurious private villas overlooking a most beautiful bay.
Pop stars Flo Rida and Jennifer Lopez have filmed music videos here using the area's spectacular scenery as a backdrop to their music. See Whistle by Flo Rida, and Follow the Leader by Wisin & Yandel with Jennifer Lopez.
On a trip to Acapulco in November 2012, sponsored by the Acapulco Destination Marketing office, I took part in a host of activities, some common ones, and others unexpected. I enjoyed fabulous meals and stunning views at Zibu, which offers Mexican/Thai fusion cuisine and El Gran Recuerdo (previously El Olvido) which has a privileged location in the Golden Zone. Like many people, I have a personal history with Acapulco that makes me root for its recovery and happy to see that it still holds its appeal. My verdict, after enjoying a day of stand-up paddle boarding, snorkeling, a boat ride around the bay, watching the cliff divers, and enjoying delicious meals: "Acapulco's still got it."
Acapulco holds some surprises for visitors who choose to explore beyond the surface of what this destination has to offer. Click through to learn about some activities you probably wouldn't expect to do in Acapulco.