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Acapulco is a beach town along the Pacific Ocean on Mexico’s west coast. Known for having some of the best beaches in Mexico, this is a gorgeous place to visit.
Besides the beaches, there are so many things to do in Acapulco from trying the amazing food, incredible snorkeling in crystal clear waters, great golf courses, and vibrant nightlife. Acapulco has become a popular holiday destination for all types of travelers.
I first visited Acapulco as a child on a resort holiday with my family. But I made sure to return while backpacking through Mexico. It’s safe to say I love Acapulco and really enjoy this more off-the-beaten-path resort area of Mexico (when compared to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and even Puerto Vallarta!).
If you are looking for some of the best things to do in Mexico, come and spend a few days in Acapulco. I’m confident you’ll find a few things on this list to add to your itinerary.
From checking out some of the most famous attractions to getting off the beaten path, here are the 22 best things to do in Acapulco!
The Best Things to do in Acapulco
1. Relax at the beach
You’re visiting a beach town, so the beach has got to be somewhere on your list, right?
There are so many incredible beaches, often referred to as some of the best in Mexico. Not just that, the beaches in Acapulco have even been referenced as some of the best beaches in the entire world!
If that doesn’t convince you to head to the water and enjoy a day on the sand, I don’t know what will.
Some of the most popular beaches in Acapulco are:
This one is known for its stunning blue waters, soft sand, and access to great resorts and other types of accommodations. If you are looking for a place to stay, and a go-to beach, this might just be the one you’re searching for. The quiet waves and street vendors provide both a tranquil and welcoming visit to the beach.
Located on the southwestern peninsula that borders Acapulco Bay, this beach is a bit of a drive if you are staying in town. At 25 minutes by car, you may want to consider staying near this beach in the Las Playas resort area.
In the center of Acapulco Bay, you’ll find a beach that is much larger with the same sunshine and sand you’re craving. Nonetheless, Condesa Beach maintains a welcoming atmosphere, beautiful views, and a variety of activities to partake in.
It’s centrally located in Acapulco, so it’s easy to get to. You’ll also find fresh seafood at restaurants bordering this beach, and the bars here are phenomenal for a drink with a view!
Known for being a ‘gay-friendly’ beach, this area is safe and welcoming for LGBTQ+ people who want a comfortable vacation.
Playa Puerto Marqués
Further south, this beach is located on Puerto Marqués Bay. A bit far from town, it’s a 30-minute drive to get here. This is the furthest so far, but if you don’t have a car, it’s a pretty easy taxi ride from downtown Acapulco. You can also stay in the Diamond Zone to be closer.
This beach is known for having a lot of vendors, but it’s a great place to catch a sunset before heading back to town.
Just south of Condesa Beach, Playa Icacos is another large beach located in the center of Acapulco Bay.
You’ll find lots of water sports options, areas zoned off for swimming, different hotel zones roped off, and more. The sand is fine, the dining is great (with restaurants right on the beach), and there is plenty of entertainment for all.
On the outskirts of Las Playas on Acapulco Bay is the final beach I have for you. It’s located in the heart of Acapulco, right near the Zócalo and on the Malecon.
There are lots of local seafood places here that are less expensive than those near other beaches. The food is amazing and comes with the benefit of a tranquil environment to eat it in.
2. Watch the famous divers at La Quebrada
Aside from the incredible beaches, Acapulco also hosts another famous feature that is incredible to see – just don’t attempt it yourself! The divers at La Quebrada jump off of a 135-foot (41 meters) cliff into the ocean below. It’s spellbinding to watch.
The tradition started in the 1930s with two local fishermen who had their own competition. Now, it’s a local tradition with some divers starting as young as age five and many generations of families taking part.
To watch the incredible show, there are a couple of different options. The divers perform daily usually around 1 pm and again in the evening around 7:30 pm – although there are typically quite a few shows throughout the day. The best spot to watch is from the observation deck right next to the El Mirador Acapulco hotel. You’ll pay $3 USD to see the show which lasts about 30 minutes and often the divers come up after the show to meet with spectators.
Another way to enjoy the diving show and be guaranteed a great view is by booking a dine-and-dive tour. It includes a 3-course dinner at the historic El Mirador hotel. You’ll have uninterrupted views of the talented divers at night and get to see two shows while you enjoy a delicious meal overlooking the ocean. It’s under $90 USD and includes your meal, drinks, and transportation.
If you have a limited time in Acapulco, combine seeing the divers with other top sights on this Acapulco city tour. You’ll enjoy a romantic dinner with wine and watch the cliff diving show. You’ll also take in some of the popular spots in the city with a professional guide. It’s a small group tour of under 15 people, so it won’t feel too crowded either. Spots on this tour are $40 USD and don’t include payment for your meal at the restaurant.
3. Visit the Fort of San Diego
The Fort of San Diego was built in the early 1600s by the Spanish to protect Acapulco. Its unique design is especially cool as this fort was built in a star shape.
Now, the fort is a museum where you can explore 12 permanent exhibits outlining the history of the area. You can access the museum on your own for just 70 pesos ($3.50 USD) Tuesday through Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm.
If you are looking for a guided tour that can show you the fort and other landmarks in the area, this full-day Acapulco historical tour is for you. It’s 6 hours long and goes super well with the last section because it includes a stop to see the divers at La Quebrada. This really is the perfect way to connect with Acapulco and learn about its whole host of history. Tickets are $60 USD.
4. Go mezcal tasting
If you aren’t familiar with mezcal, it is most often described as a ‘smokey tequila.’ This is fitting, as the distilled alcohol is a product of oven-cooked agave, the same ingredient that is the base of tequila.
Since mezcal is this drink’s country of origin, you should try some!
This is a great mezcal tasting tour that gives you a chance to try mezcal and see how it goes from the agave fields to end up in your glass. You’ll not only get to taste mezcal but also get breakfast, lunch, a professional guide, and a behind-the-scenes look into mezcal production at a mezcal factory.
You’ll drive through the scenic countryside near Acapulco as you follow the field-to-bottle process of this popular alcohol. Even if you aren’t a huge drinker, I think that the educational aspect of the tour was fascinating enough on its own. The price for this tour is $174 USD per person.
Related Read: Try out some authentic mezcal and experience the fantastic nightlife with a visit to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico!
5. Wander Costera Street
The main street in Acapulco is the place to be! On Avenida Costera Miguel Alemán, you can find the local party scene or simply walk around shops and cafes. Located in the Golden Zone (also known as the Dordado District) this main avenue borders the waters of Acapulco Bay.
Find everything from shopping centers and grocery stores to movie theatres, casinos, hotels, and every type of bar and nightclub you can imagine. Regardless of age or interests, everyone seems to adore this area for its versatility and all the options it has. I know I do!
Check out Mariscos George y Memo for amazing, fresh seafood at fantastic prices. Make sure to try their special ‘La Bomba’ which includes shrimp, surimi, fish, seaweed, and veggies. It’s a hidden gem along Costera Street!
Bocana Beach Papagayo is another must, with its amazing food, drinks, lounge areas, and proximity to the beach. You could easily spend a whole day here if you grab a meal before or after relaxing in the sun.
6. Go on a historical day tour of Acapulco
As I mentioned before, the history of Acapulco is fascinating and well worth learning about while you’re here.
While you can wander the city on your own, I find you learn so much more with a guide! This guided historical tour of Acapulco will take you to the San Diego Fort, the most significant historical location in the entire city. It will also bring you to other locations like Plaza Alvarez in the downtown area, Los Flamingos hotel, and the ‘House of Winds.’
You’ll learn more on the tour, but these locations all have quite interesting stories behind them. For example, the Los Flamingos hotel was home to the ‘Hollywood Gang’ and where “Tarzan” Johnny Weissmuller spent his final 20 years.
I could go on and on about why all these locations should be on your list, or you could just take the tour!
7. Eat delicious tacos
You can’t go to Mexico and not eat tacos. I don’t make the rules here!
There are so many amazing dishes in Acapulco, but tacos are a staple and an option for even picky eaters.
Taquitos Acapulco is your place if you are searching for the best tacos around. Not only is the location great, but you’ll see a lot of locals here, which says a lot when you visit somewhere that has lots of tourists. The local stamp of approval is a great sign!
Want to up your taco-tasting game? There’s a taco tour for that. Spend about 4 hours trying not only tacos but also other traditional dishes at local restaurants and food stalls. You’ll feel more connected to this part of Mexico through their food and will get to eat where the locals do. It’s under $100 USD, and you’ll easily have all the tacos you can eat!
8. Parque Papagayo
This ecological center is the most extensive green area in all of Acapulco, and a great place to be if you’ve just had too many beach days. Hard to imagine, right?
Regardless, Parque Papagayo is very popular with Mexican families, thanks to the shaded children’s park that it offers. This area also has a nearby zoo, playground, skatepark, lakes, hosts events, and is a nice setting to relax for a few hours in between activities.
One of my favorite things to do in the park is the hike up to Mirador Cerro del Mogote. The views from here are fantastic, especially at sunset. The hike is steep but only short, and I rate it as easy.
The park is free to enter and is open daily from 6:30 am to 8 pm. However, hours may change depending on the time of year and daylight hours, so just keep that in mind.
9. Visit the Tehuacalco ruins
Located in the Sierra Madre Mountains to the northeast of Acapulco, Tehuacalco was once a ceremonial center for the Yope civilization. The site just recently opened to the public as an archaeological site and is a cool way to learn more about the history of this region of Mexico.
It’s about an hour-long drive from town, and I strongly recommend choosing a tour since this site is so new. This Tehuacalco tour is about 5 hours long and has you visiting the site for 2 of those hours. Afterward, you will end up at Costera Street (Avenida Costera) for lunch and drinks before parting ways.
Pickup and all fees are included for $116 USD, and you will get a knowledgeable guide who will help to make your experience as rich as can be!
10. Campamento Tortuguero Playa Hermosa
Campamento Tortuguero has been working for over 30 years to help with the development and conservation of Mexican turtles, and you can be a part of that. This turtle conservation is located a short 30-minute drive from town, but so worth any extra time it may take to get there!
Between releasing turtles back into the ocean to camping on the beach, nocturnal tours, educational talks, and more, you don’t want to miss this.
You could be 5 years old, 80, or anywhere in between, and there will be some way for you to experience this incredible conservation project up close. This is one of the coolest things to do in Acapulco.
11. Check out Diego Rivera’s mural
Widely believed to be the greatest Mexican painter of the 20th century, Diego Rivera’s amazing work lives on in Mexico. He was born in Mexico in 1886 and throughout his life, left a lasting impact on the art world. He’s credited with reintroducing fresco painting (mural paintings completed on fresh plaster) into modern art.
In Acapulco, you can visit the House of the Winds Cultural Center, which used to be home to Diego Rivera’s studio. There are two of his murals on the ceilings, a mural on the terrace, and two located on the outside of the building. If you want to go inside, make sure to visit on a weekday from 10 am to 6 pm.
If you simply want to see the famous Diego Rivera Mural, you can stop by anytime. The paintings on the outside of the building are beautifully bright against the backdrop of the dark building.
All you have to do is walk up some hills and you’re there! You also shouldn’t expect huge crowds, which is nice and will allow you to enjoy your time viewing the mural.
12. Go scuba diving
Scuba diving is one of my favorite activities in Mexico! If you’ve been itching to get your scuba certification, Acapulco is an awesome place to do it.
The great thing about this area is that the water is so clear and there are many beautiful sea creatures to discover. Scuba diving is always a cool experience, but it’s almost magical when you have clear water that allows you to see really far into the distance and you’re surrounded by amazing sea life.
If you are new to scuba diving, there is a beginner tour for a one-tank boat dive, meaning that you’ll be recreationally diving at less than 100 feet (30 meters). The tours will last for 4 hours, give or take, and you’ll get to learn the basics in a safe and beautiful location off the coast. You’ll have an experienced instructor and spend 30-45 minutes under the water. It’s $90 USD and there are upgrades available if you want a second dive.
As a certified diver, you still may want to book a tour to avoid going on your own or doing tons of extra planning. Your advanced tour will be a two-tank boat dive and will also last for 4 hours, but skips the beginner training that you don’t need thanks to your certification. You’ll scuba dive while looking for eagle rays, puffer fish, seahorses, and even humpback whales if you book from December-February. The tour is $75 USD and includes transportation.
Rental equipment is included on both tours, which take place in the crystal-clear waters near Roqueta Island, to the west of Acapulco.
13. Wander Acapulco Botanical Garden
Speaking of amazing outdoor activities, Acapulco has a Botanical Garden, which has been compared to a ‘foresty hiking area.’ It’s rugged enough to really feel like you are in nature, but with amenities like coffee and tamales that you can enjoy while sitting in the garden.
Open 9 am to 6 pm daily, you can go any time of day that suits you. This could be a great stop to break up visiting the beach or shopping days, or even just to see a cool new side of the area. Admission is 70 pesos ($3.50 USD), which goes toward maintaining the garden.
The stunning scenery and shade make for some nice spots to rest, read, talk, have a picnic, or even catch up on any work (I hope you don’t have to work on vacation, though!) This is definitely one of the most relaxing things to do in Acapulco!
14. Watch a Lucha Libre show
Ever wanted to see Mexican Lucha Libre wrestling in person? Now is your chance!
You can always buy tickets on your own, but why not combine the admission price, food, drinks, transportation, and a guide all into one? This Mexican wrestling tour gives you dinner at a local taqueria and then a show, in the company of locals and other tourists alike.
You’ll have drinks included all throughout dinner for the $62 USD cost, but any extra snacks or drinks at the show are up to you. Keep that in mind when planning for this one.
Overall, the experience is a great, entertaining way to see a Mexican favorite.
Related Read: Going to a Lucha Libre show is also one of the best things to do in Guadalajara, Mexico!
15. Play a round of golf
As I mentioned way at the beginning of this piece, the golf scene in Acapulco is also great.
Head over to the Acapulco Golf Club and play a round any time between 7 am and 8 pm. This course is open every day of the week so that you can golf whenever you desire. Whether that looks like escaping your family or friends for a while or bringing everyone along is up to you.
This course is the oldest club in the area and has been around since 1949. Green fees are pretty reasonable at 1,000 pesos ($50 USD) for 18 holes or 750 pesos ($36 USD) for 9 holes. You’ll also have access to a golf cart included with that.
The hilly layout of the course adds a nice layer of difficulty, and the views are an added bonus, too.
16. Go on a cruise
To me, getting to experience at least one water or boat-related activity per trip is high on the list. Cruises and boat tours always seem to make it into my plans, thanks to their unique way to take in the beautiful views.
You’ll be in an area with spectacular beaches and water, so take advantage and book a cruise!
Cruises don’t have to be days long. In fact, this yacht cruise is 2.5 hours long and will take you out for either a sunset or a moonlight cruise. You’ll be aboard a luxury catamaran as you glide across the water.
Going around the bay, you’ll be accompanied by live tropical music and an open bar. What a way to see Acapulco Bay, honestly! Departure times are 6 pm and 9:30 pm, depending on which cruise you choose. It’s a great deal too at $53 USD per person.
You could go crazy and go on both cruises, but that’s up to you!
17. Enjoy the fantastic view and dinner at Península Restaurantes
What is better than dinner? Or a view? Dinner with a view, of course!
The Península Restaurantes offers the most incredible views of Puerto Marqués Bay from a beautiful dining pavilion. The food is almost the second thought here, which says a lot because this 4.4-star restaurant is also known for its delicious meals.
Many places may have great food and prices but less stellar views, or vice-versa. This one really does have it all and is somewhere I will definitely be going back to on my next visit.
18. Cooking class
You probably already know this if you’ve checked out this blog before, but I am a big fan of taking cooking classes in new places. What better way is there to connect with locals, the culture, and the cuisine simultaneously?
You can join a half-day cooking class that allows you to go on a market visit, learn how to cook the food, and gives you some insight into the local food culture.
Block off about 5 hours for this one, because you will be involved in every step, from picking out the ingredients all the way to enjoying your meal and some drinks.
Your professional guide will lead you through the process of exploring the market, the professional chef will teach you to cook, and the rest of the experience will be led by your own enthusiasm. It’s a great class, and I know you’ll be glad you learned how to make some of the delicious food you will come to love.
Related Read: If you’re a food lover, make the trip to Oaxaca, Mexico where you can’t miss out on trying mole and local hot chocolate!
19. Go snorkeling at La Roqueta Island
You know the saying…when in Rome, aka near beautiful clear water, you’ve got to go snorkeling!
La Roqueta Island is near the Traditional Zone on the west side of Acapulco and is the home base for boats headed out to nearby coral reefs.
The clear water here isn’t just pretty to look at, once you go below the surface, you have the opportunity to see so much marine life and the color of the reefs stands out clearly.
You’ll want to do this with a tour like this half-day snorkeling adventure, as opposed to chartering a boat, because tours know the best places to go. Fruit, sandwiches, and water are provided, along with the necessary snorkeling equipment, and pickup and drop-off. The tour even has an underwater camera to capture the experience for you. Just bring a USD or CD to load the pictures onto.
Alternatively, join this kayaking tour that explores around La Roqueta Island and goes along the coastline of Old Acapulco before stopping to enjoy lunch on the beach.
Related Read: If experiencing Mexico through a snorkel mask sounds incredible, take it to the next level with a visit to an underwater museum. Visiting this amazing place is only one of the amazing things to do in Isla Mujeres.
20. Hike the coastline of La Roqueta Island
If you’ve already gone snorkeling a few times then your pull to visit La Roqueta Island might not be very strong, but what if I told you there was also a great hike here?
You can enjoy the easy and scenic route along the north part of Roqueta for vistas of the ocean, the city, and the surf. It is a 2-mile (3.2 kilometers) out-and-back trail that should take an average of an hour to finish. It is a known trail but on most days it wouldn’t be heavily trafficked.
You will need to take a boat from Acapulco to reach the nearby island, so make sure to figure out pick-up and drop-off times beforehand so you have a way back. But honestly, the easiest way to visitis by booking a tour with the Swiss Divers Association. Not only do they provide round-trip transfers, but one of their guides will help you navigate the trail which can be tricky (especially for non-experienced hikers) since some parts of it have been washed out by a storm.
21. Explore Coyuca Lagoon
There are beautiful natural areas in Acapulco that aren’t just on the ocean or bay. Acapulco’s nature and wildlife alike are beautiful, and visiting Laguna Coyuca is a wonderful way to get up close and personal with both.
If you want a day trip, try out this private tour of Coyuca Lagoon that takes you not only to the lagoon on a boat tour but also to other nearby spots. You’ll see a ‘witch doctor’ medicine market, enjoy a fresh seafood lunch, and get to release endangered baby turtles into the Pacific Ocean.
Overall, this tour is comprehensive and gives you access to a lot of local areas and customs of Acapulco. The tour picks up from hotels, Airbnbs, and even cruises, so you can expect to be picked up from wherever you choose to stay. It’s around $73 USD per person, which is a pretty good deal for a tour with this variety of things to do.
22. Day trip to Taxco
Taxco is another city in Mexico that is famous not only for its Spanish colonial architecture but also for its production of silver jewelry. The city is located just under a 4-hour drive from Acapulco, almost as far north as Mexico City. I think that it is so worth the visit if you have the time or any interest in making this one happen.
If that sounds like way too much of a pain, I get that. There is a 14-hour long tour from Acapulco that leaves at 6:30 am and gets back to town before 9 pm. You’ll have an English-speaking guide, the possibility of hotel pickup, lunch included, and plenty of time to thoroughly explore Taxco. You will be able to have a city tour, go to local shops, see cathedrals and other beautiful architecture, and enjoy a meal with your group.
Where to Stay in Acapulco, Mexico
Now that you have a list of things to do, you need a place to stay while you’re here! Luckily, Acapulco has lots of choices for accommodations. Whether you’re looking for a cheap room in a budget-friendly hotel or a luxurious suite on a hillside overlooking the ocean, we have you covered. Here are our top recommendations for three different price ranges.
Centrally located near Acapulco Bay, this hotel has a beach within a 15-minute walk. It’s also super close to Costera Street, so you can explore on your own to find some great food and shopping. The rooms have balconies and air conditioning and there’s a pool and fitness room available to guests. Rooms here are around $60 USD, even during the busy season.
Hotel Costa Azul – $$
This hotel is about an 8-minute walk from Icacos Beach at Acapulco Bay. There’s also a great pool with a cocktail bar, so you don’t even need to leave the hotel to soak up some rays. The rooms are a good size and have air conditioning and flat-screen TVs. There are lots of restaurants, street food, and bars nearby too. A room here is around $90 USD, but if you’re traveling in the slower season, you could pay as little as $40 USD a night – an unreal deal!
Banyan Tree Cabo Marques – $$$
For the ultimate luxury, book a private villa on a cliffside overlooking the ocean. This five-star hotel offers gorgeous villas that even have their own private pools! You can relax in your pool with an amazing view of the ocean. Every villa also has floor-to-ceiling windows and a private sundeck. There are three restaurants, two pools, and a spa on-site as well. Booking here is pricey at around $250-350 USD per night, but for a special occasion, this is an amazing place!
Renting a car in Mexico
Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car.
I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Mexico in 2019, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically.
I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend.
The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too.
Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit.
Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your renal will be much cheaper!
Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $42 USD per 4 weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!)
It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!
Thanks for reading!
There are so many things to do in and around Acapulco, but this is just a taste of what this city has to offer. It’s so much more than beaches … but still make sure you get in a few beach days while you’re here! I hope these ideas help get you started as you plan your getaway to Acapulco, Mexico. I know you’ll love it!
While you’re in the midst of planning your trip, take a peek at our other Mexico blogs for tips and inspiration. We’ve spent a lot of time in Mexico, so if you need a tour recommendation or just want help filling up your bucket list, leave us a comment or check out other blogs including: