The Top Things to Do in Acapulco, Mexico

Seeing the famous cliff divers at La Quebrada is one thing you can't miss in Acapulco
Seeing the famous cliff divers at La Quebrada is one thing you can't miss in Acapulco | © Nathan and Elaine Vaessen / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Lauren Cocking
26 July 2021

Nicknamed the Pearl of the Pacific during its days as a playground for America’s A-listers – including Elvis and Elizabeth Taylor – Acapulco still has plenty to brag out. With cliff-backed beaches and coves, the tropical Acapulco Botanical Gardens, the 17th-century San Diego Spanish fort and some of the best nightlife in Mexico, this resort on the Pacific coast is popular for good reason.

Watch the cliff divers of La Quebrada

Natural Feature
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Watching cliff divers in Acapulco, Mexico
© Frank Nowikowski / Alamy
La Quebrada is on the map for a sport that’s not for the fainthearted: leaping from the cliffs – the highest of which is 40ft (12m) – twisting and turning acrobatically in the air, before diving into the water below. It is true entertainment, nerve-wracking and incredibly impressive all in one. Given its dangers, tourists aren’t allowed to join in, so park yourself up at La Mirador and enjoy the spectacle from a distance.

Brush up on history at San Diego Fort

Museum, Historical Landmark
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Historic Spanish fort and Museum in Acapulco, Mexico. Fort San Diego in the old part of Acapulco.
© Cathyrose Melloan / Alamy
A remnant of the Spanish Empire’s strategic use of Acapulco, San Diego Fort was the most important fortress along the Pacific coast when it was built in the 1600s. Now a museum with 15 exhibition rooms, explanations of the region’s history – from pirates to the war of independence – are given in both English and Spanish. Aside from the history that will help you get under the city’s skin, there is also a beautiful view over Acapulco bay from the tower’s roof.

Take a trip to Taxco

Cathedral
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Church of Santa Prisca, Taxco de Alarcon,  Guerrero, Mexico. Built between 1751 and 1758
© Anton Ivanov / Alamy
Take an overnight trip from Acapulco to Taxco, a colonial town in Guerrero that’s around a four-hour drive. It’s known for its silver mines, but even if you’re not in the market for jewelry or silverware, there’s plenty to see as you mooch around the Spanish buildings and cobbled streets. The baroque Santa Prisca Cathedral is a highlight, as are the restaurants’ rooftop terraces – such as La Parroquia, where you can order veggie and vegan options.

Relax at Majahua Beach

Natural Feature
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Acapulco is blessed with some fabulous beaches, but you might find most of them jam-packed with people during peak season. Dodge the crowds by laying down your beach towel at the quieter Majahua Beach, just past Playa Marqúes in the Diamante area. It might be a small stretch of sand, but the water is incredibly tranquil and it’s backed by a handful of thatched-roof cafes, giving it a laid-back, family-friendly vibe.

Stroll around Acapulco Botanical Gardens

Cathedral, University
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Jardines Botanicos, Botanical Gardens. Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico
© Adam Wiseman / Alamy
This 6ha (14.8-acre) oasis makes a serene respite from the city, with its enchanting granite boulders, shade-dappled paths and pools laden with aquatic plants. The gardens feature a mixture of native and introduced species, many with medicinal properties – you can arrange a guided tour if you want to know more. Keep an eye out for the local fauna, too, such as snakes, scorpions and iguanas. Its free to visit every Sunday – and costs a nominal amount at other times.

Look inside Acapulco Cathedral

Building, Cathedral, Church
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ACAPULCO, MEXICO - OCT 30, 2016: Interior of the Archdiocese of Acapulco, a Roman Catholic Archdicese, Guerrero, Mexico. It was established on the 18
© Anton Ivanov / Alamy
Vibrant blue and gold contrast with the white walls of Acapulco’s eye-catching Catholic cathedral. Inside is just as striking, with mosaics decorating the domes and geometric-patterned stained-glass windows. It may not be as grand as those in Mexico City, but it’s just as memorable thanks to its distinctive art deco and Moorish design. Solo female travelers may be especially keen – its proper name is the Lady of Solitude Cathedral, named after the city’s patron saint.

See Diego Rivera's serpent mural

Architectural Landmark
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Diego Rivera designed tiled mosaic mural (Ehecatl-Calle) of a feathered serpen in front of the Dolores Olmedo home in old section of Acapulco, Mexico.
© Cathyrose Melloan / Alamy
You have to know what you’re looking for to find this bold mural, on the side of the wall of La Casa de los Vientos in Old Acapulco. But this is no ordinary artwork: it was created by Mexico’s most famous creative mind, Diego Rivera, twice-married to Frida Kahlo. Completed in 1956, a year before his death, this mosaic of stone and seashell depicts the Mesoamerican mythical serpent, Quetzalcoatl.

Snorkel at La Roqueta Island

Natural Feature
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Lapped by warm, crystalline waters, it’s no surprise that snorkeling is one of the stand-out activities in Acapulco. One of the best spots for gazing down at tropical fish is the protected area around La Roqueta Island, where several tours provide transport, guides, and equipment for your day of snorkeling. If you’d rather stay dry while enjoying the marine life, glass-bottomed boats frequently make 45-minute trips to the island.

Release Sea Turtles into the wild

Architectural Landmark
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Eco-tourism is taking off in Central America – and a rewarding way to give back to nature in Acapulco is by taking part in a turtle conservation project. Get in touch with the non-profit organization Amigos Del Mar Acapulco to find out about scheduled releases – where you let tiny hatchings into the wild – or arrange a visit to the sanctuary. They’ll teach you about their conservation efforts, and the importance of keeping the turtle population afloat.

Dance the night away at Palladium

Nightclub, Pub Grub, $$$
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Acapulco is a place where people come to party. Palladium in Carretera Escénica holds legendary status – dancing at this cliff-side club overlooking the bay through its floor-to-ceiling windows is one of those ‘only in Acapulco’ experiences. International DJs keep the energy high by playing hip-hop, house, trance and techno. It charges a hefty entrance fee, but then you can drink for free all night long.
These recommendations were updated on July 26, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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