12 Top-Rated Things to Do in Acapulco
Welcome to Mexico's original vacation destination. Before Cancun and Los Cabos were even blips on the radar, there was Acapulco. Sitting on one of the largest bays in Mexico, this mountain-wreathed coastal city has always been known for its sparkling turquoise water, golden sand, and luxury hotels that climb from the sea up the jade-colored peaks. Acapulco was once the preferred jet-set stop for the Hollywood glitterati, who would come to see and be seen in the lavish hotels, decadent restaurants, and sun-drenched beaches. The top things to do in Acapulco were always about glamour, fun, and wealth.
The story of the Pearl of the Pacific took a bit of a turn for some decades, as violent corruption made Acapulco the hotbed of it all. Things have drastically improved over the years, and Acapulco still manages to retain relics of its former glory. In fact, as tourism developers continue to pour millions of dollars into the destination, Acapulco is fast on the rise to return.
Today it is still the preferred vacation getaway for residents of Mexico City, who come to explore the many bays, inlets, and towering cliffs of this city on the Pacific. With so much history and natural beauty, you can imagine the list of activities are endless. So to get you started on your trip down Mexico's memory lane, read our list of the top things to do in Acapulco.
Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.
1. Watch the La Quebrada Cliff Divers
One of the most important traditions has, over the years, become its most famous tourist attraction and one of the top things to do in Acapulco. Known as La Quebrada Cliff Divers, this spectacle will leave even the most jaded skeptic in the group speechless.
Watch as several bronzed and buff men scramble up a rocky cliff face in nothing more than Speedo bathing suits. From the top of the 130-foot cliff, the divers take their marks and plunge gracefully into the narrow chasm of churning water below. Just before panic sets in, their heads emerge from the whitecaps and they take to scrambling up the cliff to do it all over again.
The divers have been doing this as a means to entertain tourists back in 1934, and today it's one of the coolest things you'll see in Acapulco.
Address: La Quebrada 25, Centro, 39300 Acapulco de Juárez, Gro., Mexico
2. Relax on the Beaches
For decades, Acapulco was the jet-set destination in all of Mexico. The upper echelon from all over the world, including European A-listers and Hollywood celebs, would descend on the shores of Acapulco to indulge in decadent vacations complete with yacht trips, fine dining, and, of course, golden beaches.
While the reputation of Acapulco may not be what it once was, the glory of the beaches remains exactly the same. A visit to Acapulco is incomplete without spending time on some of its most delightful stretches of sand.
Those in the know will make their first stop Pie de la Cuesta, which has miles of golden sand. It runs parallel to the Coyoca Lagoon. The beach is peppered with restaurants and hotels at its entrance, but the activity tends to thin out as you get farther away. This is the place to visit when the sun starts to set.
For more traditional Acapulco beaches, tourists tend to head to Playas Caleta and Caletilla. Separated by the aquarium, these two beaches (which are actually one beach) is where the majority of the activity can be found. From swimming to beach massages, dining, and live music, Playas Caleta and Caletilla are always humming with energy. You'll also want to visit Playa Condesa, which is known as the Golden Zone Central. This is one of the most popular beaches in all of Acapulco, especially for tourists. Playa Icacos is yet another popular beach, backed by hotels and lined with restaurants.
Other beaches to explore are Playa Puerto Marques and Playa Majahua, as well as Playa Las Hamacas, Playa Hornos, and Playa Tamarindos.
3. Visit Fort of San Diego
It can be easy to get lost in the sun and sand of Acapulco, so if your brain needs a bit of stimulation head on over to the Fort of San Diego. This impressive structure was of great significance during Spanish Colonial rule. Overlooking the bay, the Fort of San Diego is a five-pointed, star-shaped historical structure that used to protect Acapulco from naval threats.
Today the fort acts as a museum and gift shop, with 12 exhibits that walk visitors through the history of Acapulco. From the top of the fort, you'll have some of the best views of Acapulco Bay. Not far from the fort is a new museum, the Casa de Mascaras, or the House of Masks. This intimate museum features the masks from the many different indigenous tribes all across Mexico. It's a quick stop that is worth the drop in to learn all about the many, many tribes of Mexico.
Address: Hornitos s/n, Centro, 39300 Acapulco de Juárez, Gro., Mexico
4. Try the XTASEA Zip Line
Even if you're an experienced zipliner, you've seen nothing until you've zipped down Xtasea. This extreme adventure park is the world's longest zipline, and it is nothing if not supremely impressive. The zipline route starts at the top of a mountain overlooking Puerto Marques in the new Acapulco Diamante district, and crosses over the entirety of the bay to the other side.
The course has four ziplines that can run simultaneously at a speed of 86 miles per hour at a distance of more than a mile and a height of 328 feet. To say it's adrenaline pumping would be an understatement. Still, adventure seekers flock to test out this superlative track, as it is one of the top things to do in Acapulco. At the end of the line is a lively open-air restaurant that has gorgeous views of the bay – you'll be able to celebrate your achievement when you reach the other side.
In 2019, Xtasea added a new Xmonkey rope park, which offers different hanging bridges and steel cables, all with views over the Bay of Puerto Marques.
Address: Paseo de los Manglares 1007, Granjas del Marqués, 39890 Acapulco de Juárez, Gro., Mexico
5. Our Lady of Solitude Cathedral
In the heart of Acapulco, right off Plaza Alvarez Square, sits this historic, beautiful cathedral and main Catholic Church of the city. The cathedral is marked by its bulb-shaped blue dome with Eurasian-looking towers. The inside is just as intriguing, with blue and white walls and yellow tiles on the floor. The church was constructed in 1930 and was built using parts of an unfinished movie theater.
It is free to visit the church, but if you don't feel like going in, the plaza out front is always humming with activity, from live music to vendors and people sitting and socializing. Take a stroll in the neighborhood to see some other interesting examples of architecture in this part of Acapulco.
Address: Independencia Numero 1 Centro, 39715 Acapulco de Juárez, Gro., Mexico
6. Diego Rivera's Mosaics
Lovers of Mexican art are deeply familiar with muralist Diego Rivera (husband to Mexican icon, Frida Kahlo). Much of his work can be found in the museums and buildings of importance in Mexico City. But did you know he also has pieces of art in Acapulco?
The house is called Casa de los Vientos, and it sits perched on a cliff overlooking La Quebrada and the sea. It belonged to Dolores Olmedo, who was one of Rivera's largest collectors, as well as a love interest of his. It was in this house that Rivera was able to create some of his most impressive mosaic work, which is strewn across buildings in Acapulco. The majority of them are found at Casa de los Vientos, while another one sits affixed to the exterior of famous Hotel Boca Chica.
Address: Inalámbrica, Las Playas, 39390 Acapulco de Juárez, Gro., Mexico
7. Day Trip to Taxco
Heading north from Acapulco toward Mexico City, travelers will stumble upon the stunning city of Taxco. It's about three hours from Acapulco and is worth the weekend trip to this magical mountain town. Visitors are greeted by beautiful white buildings that dot the valley, with towering mountains in every direction.
The colonial city is known for its silver, which was discovered in the 16th century and kept being discovered all the way through the 20th century. Taxco Silver is very much the real deal. Today, however, the city runs on tourism. And there is no shortage of that, especially since the geography of the city has prevented urban sprawl. Be sure to check out the Templo de Santa Prisca, which is a Baroque jewel that acts as the city's flamboyant centerpiece.
8. Take a Boat to La Roqueta
Just off the coast of Acapulco is the expansive island, Isla de la Roqueta. The grass-covered stony crag has a small beach, Playa Roqueta, and a handful of rustic restaurants, but is known mostly for the diving and snorkeling that happens offshore.
The only way to access the island is by boat, and many of the popular boat tours from Acapulco make a stop at the island. Divers and snorkelers love it for the wide variety of tropical fish, as well as the Capilla Submarina, an underwater statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
The island is veined with hiking trails, as well, which pass by a lighthouse and end up at the small, secluded Playa Marin.
9. The Zocalo
Any Mexican city or town worth its salt has a Zocalo, or a main plaza, which tends to be the central meeting place for locals. Acapulco is no different. Though today the Zocalo is a bit sleepier than it may have been in years past, it still retains vestiges of its former high-energy glory.
Wander through the Zocalo to see the fountains and gazebo. At one end of the square, you'll find the Our Lady of Solitude Cathedral. Ringing the Zocalo are several cafés and restaurants, as well as shops and a few hotels.
Not far from the Zocalo are several other attractions, including the marina, the Mercado El Parazal, the malecon, and La Quebrada.
10. Punta Diamante
A transformation has been taking place in Acapulco for several years. A tourism company has poured millions of dollars into the destination to upgrade its hotels, infrastructure, and add new facilities (like the XTASEA zipline). Part of that investment has included the development of Punta Diamante, a section on the south end of the city, which is quickly growing as Acapulco's newest hot spot.
Punta Diamante is a flurry with restaurants and hotels that swing more upscale, bringing well-heeled travelers out of the more heavily trafficked Old Acapulco. The beaches in Punta Diamante are much quieter and upscale, as well.
Even if Punta Diamante is out of the budget, it's still worth a visit to see the new face of Acapulco, test out one of the many new restaurants, and stay to see the sun dip into the Pacific.
11. Chapel of Peace
While you're in Punta Diamante, be sure to make a stop at La Capilla de la Paz, or the Chapel of Peace. Opened in the 1970s, the chapel was designed to commemorate two brothers who died in a plane crash. Today it still stands as a symbol of peace in Acapulco.
It is marked by the massive white cross out front, and since it is the highest point in Acapulco, it can be seen from pretty much anywhere in the city. The gardens on the grounds are impressive, and worth an exploration. The chapel itself is somewhat barebones, but the views are incredible. Tip: Make your way to the chapel around sunset, so you'll have the best seat in the house for the view.
Address: 2a. Cda. Vientos Cardinales S/N, La Brisa, 39867 Acapulco de Juárez, Gro., Mexico
12. Laguna de Tres Palos
The sun-and-city beat of Acapulco is intoxicating, but once in a while it's nice to get away and escape into the natural beauty of the state of Guerrero. Close to Acapulco is the Laguna de Tres Palos, a beautiful lake on the eastern side of Acapulco Bay.
Laguna de Tres Palos is teeming with wildlife within its 9.3 miles. The lagoon is made up of lush, foliage-shrouded channels that visitors navigate by boat. One of the highlights of the lagoon is the delicate lotus flower garden, which is a popular stop on tours.
Not far from Laguna de Tres Palos is the Coyuca Lagoon. This lagoon is near the Pie de la Cuesta beach, and is a nesting ground for migrating birds. Mexico's Pacific Coast is wild and untamed, and stepping out of the concrete of Acapulco allows visitors to see just how pristine this part of the country can be.