Acapulco, you can opt for a lively party vibe by staying in the city, with its
creative food scene, bustling waterfront promenade, and lively nightlife. Or
you can escape to nearby villages where a beach chair, bucket of cold beers,
and a good book is about as much as you’ll need to enjoy a relaxing afternoon
in the sun.
Avenida Costera Miguel Alemán hugs the Bahia de Acapulco from the Carretera Escénica (Scenic Highway) in the east to Playa Caleta (Caleta Beach) in the southwest distance of about 8 km (5 mi). Most of the major beaches, shopping malls, and hotels are along or off this avenue, and locals refer to its most exclusive stretch from El Presidente hotel to Las Brisas simply as "the Costera." Since many addresses are listed as only "Costera Miguel Alemán", you'll need good directions from a major landmark to find specific shops and hotels.
Most people come to Acapulco for the sun, but dining comes in a close second. Fresh seafood is on every menu, supplied daily by local fishermen. You can also get top-quality beef brought in from the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua.
As for location, you can have an utterly romantic meal high in the hills, with unparalleled views of the bay, or you can dine in a casual beachside restaurant. Night owls coming out of the clubs can even find a plate of flavourful tacos moments before sunrise.
You can dine with the locals in Old Acapulco, or plan a half-day outing to rustic Barra Vieja, where you take a boat through the mangroves to one of many dining huts for fish grilled over hot coals. You can also head to Pie de la Cuesta, a laid-back area west of downtown. Here you can have lunch at a seaside eatery, go horseback riding, and then linger on the beach for a spectacular sunset.
Snowbirds from the United States and Canada show up all winter, but the busiest times are Christmas week, Easter week, and during July and August, when Mexican nationals are on vacation. Most hotels are booked solid during these times, so try to make reservations at least three months in advance.
Acapulco's clubs are open nearly 365 days a year from about 10:30 pm until they empty out. The minute the sun slips over the horizon, the Costera comes alive. People mill around, window-shopping, choosing restaurants, generally biding their time until the disco hour. Many casual beach restaurants on the strip have live music.
The resorts often have splashy entertainment, sometimes with big-name artists. At the least, such hotels have live music during happy hour, restaurant theme parties, dancing at a beach bar—or all three. For a more informal evening, head for the zócalo, where there's usually a band on weekend evenings.
The numerous quantities of clubs in and around, sometimes include drinks in their entry fee, and women usually pay less than men . In general, a higher cover calls for dressier attire, that is, no shorts. The more casual open-air bars are mostly free to enter, and shorts and T-shirts are common.
The so-called Cathedral of Salsa is a combination dance hall and disco, where the bands play salsas, merengues, and other Latin rhythms for young and old. Weekends see shows—mostly impersonations of Mexican entertainers.
This massive club can accommodate 5,000 people in its love seats and booths, and it attracts a younger (late teens, early twenties) crowd. When the club first opens at 11, the music is slow and romantic; afterward there's dance music and light shows until dawn. The music ranges from pop to tropical.
Small, and exclusive, Baby'O caters to the local elite. The club has long had the reputation of being Acapulco's classiest, and the well-dressed clientele lounges and dances in a jungle-inspired interior. It can be hard to get in, and even harder to get a table, but this is the place to go to see and be seen. It's closed Sunday and Monday in low season (May through November).
As the name suggests, this relaxed nightspot is right on the sands. It's so informal that most people turn up in shorts. The waiters are young and friendly—some people find them overly so, and in fact, this is a legendary pickup spot. Every Wednesday is ladies' night, when all the women receive flowers. Foam parties reign on Friday.
A waterfall cascades down from the dance floor, which is considered by many to be Acapulco's best. It's also surrounded by 50-foot-high windows, so dancers have a wraparound view of the city. The club is so popular that it may take a while to get in.
Baby Lobster Bar
Frequented primarily by tourists, this lively open-air bar is on the beach and not far from other bars. You will get two drinks when you order, and the mood is conducive to meeting other people. Table top dancing is not discouraged, especially late at night.
The restaurant downstairs has beach access, a swimming pool, and lively dance contests at night. The open-air bar upstairs affords a spectacular bay view and it's a great place to watch bungee jumpers as they plunge from the 165-foot platform right next door.
Guerrero State is known for hand-painted ceramics, objects made from palo de rosa wood, bark paintings depicting scenes of village life and local flora and fauna, and embroidered textiles. Although many of Acapulco's stores carry jewellery and other articles made of silver, aficionados tend to make the three-hour drive to the colonial town of Taxco—one of the world's silver capitals. Stands in downtown's sprawling municipal market are piled high with handicrafts, as well as fruit, flowers, spices, herbs, cheeses, seafood, poultry, and other meats. Practice your bargaining skills here or at one of the street-side handicrafts sellers, as prices are usually flexible.
Most shops are open Monday–Saturday 10–7. The main strip is along Avenida Costera Miguel Alemán from the Costa Club to El Presidente Hotel. Here you can find Guess, Peer, Aca Joe, Amarras, Polo Ralph Lauren, and other sportswear shops, as well as emporiums like Aurrerá, Gigante, Price Club, Sam's, Wal-Mart, Comercial Mexicana, and the upscale Liverpool department store, Fabricas de Francia. Old Acapulco has a wide variety of tailors and lots of souvenir shops.
El Mercado de Artesanías El Parazal
It's a 15-minute walk from Sanborns downtown to this market. Look for fake ceremonial masks, the ever-present onyx chessboards, hand-embroidered dresses, imitation silver, hammocks, and skin cream made from turtles (don't buy it, because turtle harvesting is illegal in both Mexico and the United States, and you won't get it through U.S. Customs). From Sanborns downtown, head away from Avenida Costera to Vásquez de León and turn right one block later. The market is open daily 9–9.
The Hungarian artist Pal Kepenyes, who lives in Mexico, gets good press for his jewellery and sculpture (much of it racy and provocative), on display in his workshop.
Diamond jewellery of impeccable design by Charles Garnier and Nouvelle Bague is sold at Minette. There's also jewellery set with Caledonia stones from Africa as well as Emilia Castillo's exquisite line of brightly coloured porcelain ware inlaid with silver fish, stars, and birds.
La Diana Mercado de Artesanías
One large flea market with a convenient location is a block from the Emporio hotel, close to the Diana monument in Costera.
Don't miss the market where restaurateurs load up on produce early in the morning, and later in the day locals shop for piñata, serapes, leather goods, baskets, hammocks, amulets to attract lovers or ward off enemies, and velvet paintings of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Arte Para Siempre
This shop in the Acapulco Cultural Centre sparkles with handicrafts from the seven regions of Guerrero. Look for hand-loomed shawls, painted gourds, hammocks, baskets, Olinalá boxes, and silver jewellery.
A countrywide institution, Sanborns is a good place to find English-language newspapers, magazines, and books; basic cosmetics and toiletries; and high-quality souvenirs. There are several branches; All are open 7 am to 1:30 am in high season and 7:30 am–11 pm the rest of the year.
This shop has exquisite flatware, jewellery, and objets d'art.