Acapulco is one of Mexico’s oldest and most well-known beach resorts, which came into prominence in the 1950s as a getaway for Hollywood stars and millionaires, it was Mexico’s original party town, with its soaring cliffs, wide bays, sandy beaches and green hills. It was even dubbed the “Pearl of the Pacific” during its heyday as a playground for the rich and famous which included the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor and Judy Garland. Also John F Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline honeymooned here.
The city still remains gorgeous but, sadly, those days of luxury and international stardom are long gone and the city is now noticeably overdeveloped as you can notice a lot of abandoned once-great villas and hotels. Worse, the city’s reputation has been tarnished by years of violent battles in Mexico’s ongoing drug wars. As a matter of fact when I first read about the city I was very scared because, in 2016, Acapulco was the third most dangerous city in the world, having registered something like 600 murders before june! Drug cartels’ wars ruined the tourism and with it, most of the city. Despite the frightening homicide statistics, the violence is largely confined to internecine gang struggles for supremacy and the city remains comparatively safe to visit as long as you keep in the touristic areas.
Acapulco is still famous and still attracts many tourists but international tourism has plummeted as now most of the tourists are from Mexico itself. Personally this city got me from the start: on the curvy taxi ride from the airport to the hotel I was watching the bay from the car’s window and I was amazed like a little boy seeing the sea for the first time. The view was an idyllic succession of green hills and deep blue ocean water, sandy beaches and cliffs. By the time we arrived at the hotel Acapulco had already stolen my heart. Even if the weather is very hot and humid, the pacific ocean is something so beautiful that I can’t describe it and the people were so kind that I felt bad when I said “no” to taxi drivers or other people trying to get my attention.
Oh and did I say that the food is amazing? Maybe I was lucky but in ACA I ate the best food out of all Mexico! Also contributing to my awesome experience is the fact that we stayed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for two nights (20th and 21st november, for ~100€, so it was 25€ per person per night). Considering that the hotel is very luxurious, that we had a view on the pacific ocean and a pool bar I’d say it’s the best hotel I’ve ever been into! While there don’t skip on the “Hora Feliz”: a 2×1 on drinks from 6pm to 7pm, I got to taste some traditional ones and they were awesome.
The resort area is divided into two: the north end of the bay is the “traditional” area, where the famous in the mid-20th century vacationed, and the south end is dominated by newer luxury high-rise hotels and discos. The Avenida Costera Miguel Aleman is where all the hotels, bars and restaurants are. This road is constantly patrolled by heavily armed military forces and I never felt any danger.
On our first full day in Acapulco we walked up the Avenida Costera from our hotel to the Zocalo. El Zócalo is Acapulco’s old town square or central plaza. While once an important part of Acapulco’s city life, today the Zócalo would best be described as a sleepy little park with some pleasant stone benches, fountains, a large stone gazebo, and Acapulco’s large Catholic Cathedral. The Zócalo also has some cafes and restaurants, a few shops, two low-budget hotels and an ice cream shop. Just behind the Cathedral you can find Acapulco’s oldest neighborhoods where the wealthy traders made their homes. The place is rather small so if you’re short on time, you can visit and enjoy the Zócalo in just a few minutes.
Of course there is no shortage of things that you can do Acapulco but I think one can’t leave town without first watching the world famous cliff divers. On the way to there you can admire the scenic lookout drive. The scene is just breathtaking with green cliffs and the ocean so deep blue that it makes you want to dive right in.
The cliff divers at La Quebrada are a big part of Acapulco’s heritage. These amazing boys do back-flips from 60 meters above from cliff tops down into the ocean below like it’s nothing! I can only imagine the amount of courage and skill and involved. The result is an amazing show; we went to one just after dinner and with the dark it is even better as the divers climb the rock and dive with torches in their hands.
On our last day in Acapulco we started gathering info on how to get to the next stop in our trip. The plan was to travel from Acapulco to Oaxaca by night bus and I knew it was possible because before leaving italy I checked the ADO buses website for confirmation. When we went to the bus station to buy the tickets though, we found out that on Tuesdays there are no direct buses to Oaxaca so we decided to take one bus to Mexico City and from there another to Oaxaca.
As we left the city I felt kind of sad because I really liked the place but I was also curious for the adventures to come. Travelling by bus at sunset gave us the opportunity to see some parts of the city that we were advised not to go to by foot: amazing places but a lot of poverty also.