Acapulco Tourist Attractions
By air from Mexico City (hourly flights) and other Mexican or U.S. airports; by bus from Mexico City (journey time approximately 5 hours); by car on the Autopista del Sol (MEX 95) from Mexico City (journey time 3.5 hours, about 380km/236mi. Travelling by bus the return journey should be booked immediately on arrival in Acapulco.Acapulco is situated on Mexico's Pacific coast, at the foot of the Sierra Madre del Sur a good 400km/250mi south of Mexico City. The sun-blessed seaside resort, famous the world over, lies on the shores of the Bahía de Acapulco, a large crescent-shaped bay. Blue seas, white beaches, green hills and steep rocky cliffs combine to make it a scenic paradise set around a fine natural harbour. Despite having become overrun by tourists in recent years Acapulco is still worth visiting, several pleasant spots near by offering escape from the worst of the crowds.HistorySome settlement of the Acapulco region (Náhuatl: "place where the grasses were disturbed") almost certainly occurred in the early period, though no mention is made of a town here until after the Aztec conquest at the end of the 15th c. (There is a suggestion however that Peruvian seafarers visited this part of the coast even earlier.) Arriving in 1521 the Spanish conquistador Gil Gonzales Ávila was presumably the first European to discover the bay. Later Acapulco served as a supply base for expeditions heading north up the Pacific coast or down towards South America. By the end of the 16th c. it had become a home port for ships trading with the Philippines, China and India, as well as with South America. From the latter came silver and gold, and from the former mainly silk, porcelain and spices. In its turn the viceroyalty of New Spain shipped out silver, textiles and cocoa, goods brought in from abroad being transported overland via a road the Spanish built to Mexico City and thence to the gulf port of Veracruz for onward passage to Europe. In the 17th and 18th centuries the sea lanes out of Acapulco, as elsewhere, were prey to pirates. Then at the end of the 18th c. the fortunes of the port declined as new trade routes were opened from the Philippines through the Indian Ocean and around the Cape of Good Hope to Spain. When Mexico gained its independence Acapulco's status was further reduced, a process halted only when the highway to Mexico City was constructed in 1927. However, the city's real resurgence began after the Second World War when American tourists first "discovered" Acapulco. In recent years the numbers of visitors have reduced as a result of overcrowding and sea pollution.SightsScenic beauty and luxury hotels apart, Acapulco has little of particular interest to offer.The Moorish-Byzantine-style cathedral gracing Acapulco's main square (Zócalo) dates from the 1930s. In the east of the city there is a culture and congress centre (Centro Cultural y de Convenciones) with conference halls, theatres, displays of folk crafts (items for sale also) and a small archaeological museum. Tourist activity is concentrated along the Avenida Costera Miguel Alemán where most of the big hotels, restaurants, night-clubs and shops are located.
Fort San Diego
Fort San Diego (Fuerte San Diego), originally erected between 1615 and 1617, was rebuilt in 1776 following an earthquake. Its main function was to defend the port against piracy. The fort is now the city's historical museum (Museo Histórico de Acapulco) with collections of documents and other items relating to the Conquest, the history of the fort itself, and Acapulco's trade with Asia. There is also a section devoted to the history of piracy in the Pacific.
Cliff Divers of Quebrada
Early afternoon and in the evening the famous "clavidistas", the divers of Quebrada, can be seen performing their feats of daring. Having offered their prayers to a statue of the Madonna, they leap from 40 m (130 ft) up on the Quebrada cliffs into the waves surging back and forth over the rocks below. After dark floodlights illuminate the divers, some of whom carry torches as they hurl themselves into the depths. The nearby "El Mirador" hotel boasts a notable restaurant, "La Perla", opened in 1949 by the Swiss musician Teddy Stauffer who first publicised the delights of Acapulco in Europe.On most evenings also the voladores - Totonac Indians from Papantla, close to the archaeological site at El Tajín - provide yet another extraordinary spectacle with their danza del volador, a ritual flying act with its origins in an ancient fertility myth.
Map of Acapulco Attractions