Acapulco Travel Guide: Safe to Visit? [2024]

· [Updated in October 2023] In this post, we’ll answer the question “Is Acapulco Safe to Visit?” as well as explain how to get there, the top things to do, the best restaurants, and more. ·

Date
Jun, 17, 2023
swimsuit model in white and blue bikini on beach with clear blue water

If you’ve been considering a beach getaway in Mexico, the odds are that Acapulco has come up as an option. Known for its long, semi-circular bay on the Pacific Ocean and its popularity with celebrities in the 50s and 60s like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, Acapulco is a resort city that absolutely deserves a visit.

As a couple living in Mexico, we traveled to many of the popular beach destinations, and we’d definitely put Acapulco among the top beach destinations in Mexico, along with other popular tourist destinations like Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Cabo San Lucas, and Puerto Vallarta.

As great of a city as it is, many people find themselves wondering about safety in Acapulco. While the area has earned a bad reputation over recent years, things seem to have improved a lot. We’ll get into more detail on that later. Whether you’ve already decided to pay the city a visit or you’re still making up your mind, this post is for you.

Whether you’ve already decided to pay Acapulco a visit or you’re still making up your mind, this post is for you.

This post contains affiliate links through which we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own.

Is Acapulco Safe to Visit?

Safety in Acapulco is an interesting topic because depending on who you ask, you get two entirely different viewpoints. There are those who are really worried about visiting the city asking questions like “are there drug cartels in Acapulco?” and then there are the skeptics who don’t believe it can possibly be that bad, asking things like “is it really that dangerous?”

The Fears About Acapulco Are Valid

I don’t want to dismiss anyone’s fears. Fears are valid, especially when planning a trip to Acapulco. First and foremost, I’ll be clear in saying that this city is definitely not one of the safest places in Mexico. The city has gotten some negative news coverage over the past decade as crime rates skyrocketed and it became one of the most dangerous places in Mexico.

Stories of kidnappings, sexual assaults, murders, and robberies emerged left and right, and many of those stories are indisputably true. Still, there are some mitigating factors that tend to go unmentioned.

So is it really that dangerous? Nah. Not as long as you follow the steps we’re about to give you!

The Violence Is not Usually Against Tourists

Firstly, the violence was hardly ever targeted at tourists. Mexico’s economy is extremely dependent on tourism, and even criminal organizations know that tourists in tourist zones are to be left alone – especially foreign tourists. The violence in most of Mexico’s dangerous cities takes place outside of the city and is specifically targeted toward rival gang members engaging in criminal activity.

Mexico is not nearly as dangerous as the press and the U.S. State Department travel advisory page make it out to be, and we didn’t have a single reason to be scared the entire time we lived there. While some parts of Mexico report a high crime rate driven by gang violence and other drug-related violence, the bigger threat almost anywhere in Mexico is petty crime, just like in the United States.

Is Acapulco Really Dangerous?

Nah. Not as long as you follow the steps we’re about to give you and use your common sense! Acapulco is by no means an especially safe place, but it is not nearly the hotbed of crime that it used to be.

Most violent crimes occur in remote areas, and any involvement of international tourists usually just has to do with them, unfortunately, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Acapulco Safety Tips

Just like any popular tourist area, you still should take these general precautionary steps to make sure that your vacation goes smoothly:

Try to stay in a hotel or resort that offers an in-room safe and leave whatever you don’t need for the day in your room.

Even though violent crime toward tourists is very low, carrying wads of cash and wearing nice jewelry isn’t the best choice anywhere in Mexico.

Don’t flash shiny expensive items in anyone’s face

Most places in the Zona Dorada accept credit card payments, including Visa and Mastercard. You won’t need large amounts of cash in this area.

If you’re going for a day trip to any of the places we list below, it might be a good idea to bring some more cash, as these areas operate more so on a cash-only basis. If you bring only what you need and you don’t flash shiny expensive items in anyone’s face, you’re probably going to be fine.

Don’t do too much after dark

Do most of your exploring during the day and make sure anything you do after sunset is fairly close to your hotel or resort. The best way to avoid crime in Acapulco is to stay in popular tourist areas after dark and only venture further out during daylight hours.

In the event that something does happen, 911 is the emergency number in Mexico just like in the United States. There are also police everywhere, and you can yell “policía” if you really need a police officer to assist you.

So all in all, is Acapulco safe for American tourists to visit in 2024? Absolutely. It is a beautiful beach destination that is safe for Non-American and American travelers to visit, so long as they exercise caution.

- DID YOU KNOW? -

911 is the emergency number in Mexico. Call it if you need help, just like you would in the USA.

Best Things to Do in Acapulco

This post outlines the best things to do in Acapulco other than the beach. I understand that if you’re heading to Acapulco, you probably want to visit some of the best beaches that Mexico’s Pacific coast has to offer…don’t worry! For this reason, I advise you check out my Acapulco Beach Guide, where I go in-depth on the best beaches in the area.

Naturally, you can’t spend all of your time at the beach. If you’re interested in learning about the best things to do in Acapulco other than the beach, this next section is for you.



1. Watch the La Quebrada Cliff Divers

Located on the western end of the city about a quarter of a mile from the Zocalo, you’ll find the famous site of La Quebrada. Recognized as the tallest organized cliff dive in the world, a team of divers has been jumping from the 80-foot ledge for almost 90 years. The divers put on shows every day at 13:00, 19:30, 20:30, 21:30, and 22:30.

woman with outstretched arms looking over cliff

We went to the afternoon show and absolutely loved it, but the night shows are said to be even better because the divers dive with torches! The thing that makes these dives so famous is the extremely shallow water that the men dive into. They need to time their dives perfectly because even when a wave comes in and the water is at its highest, it is only 12 feet deep.

If you want a real VIP experience you can grab a table at La Perla restaurant which overlooks the cliffs.

Tickets are cheap and can be bought right at the entrance, but if you want a real VIP experience you can grab a table at La Perla restaurant which overlooks the cliffs. The food and service are great, and you will get a spectacular view of the bay and the cliffs.


2. Go Hiking on Isla de la Roqueta

Another one of the best things to do in Acapulco is to visit Isla de la Roqueta. Located just south of Playa Caleta you’ll find Isla de la Roqueta, or La Roqueta for short. Ferries depart Playa Caleta all day long and only take around 8 minutes to arrive at the island.

This island is known for its beautiful woods, a zoo with local wildlife, a lighthouse with fantastic views, and waters that are significantly clearer than most of the other beaches along the bay. The island’s dock is right next to its biggest and most populated beach and you’ll find plenty of food options there.

tranquil beach with clean sand and blue waters
PLAYA DE LOS ENAMORADOS

If you’re feeling more adventurous, there are numerous hidden and secluded beaches that require a minor hike through the woods. We hiked for around 40 minutes and wound up at Playa de Los Enamorados which was absolutely beautiful and you can find it here on Google Maps! We’d advise you to pack a picnic lunch and hike around the island until you find a pretty lookout point.

If you choose to visit the island, you will buy a round-trip ticket from the docks in Playa Caleta which is valid for any returning ferry throughout the day.

Playa de los Enamorados can be found HERE on Google Maps!


3. Go Snorkeling to La Virgen de Los Mares

Located between Isla La Roqueta and Playa Caleta and submerged about 10 feet under the bay you’ll find the statue of La Virgen de los Mares, or the Virgin of the Seas. This statue curiously arrived in the 1950s and many locals make a yearly trek to visit her on December 12, which is the Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of Mexico and the Americas.

You can take a glass-bottom boat from the dock in Playa La Caleta or you can hire one of the locals to take you snorkeling to the site, which we recommend.

Submerged statue of the Virgin Mary in Acapulco

Honestly, snorkeling to see her is very cool, and as far as we’re concerned is definitely one of the best things to do in the area. It’s also something that isn’t very touristy.

Everybody gets on the boat to see her, but it was actually challenging for us to find information on how to snorkel with her. So, if you want a unique experience, definitely choose snorkeling!

The statue is definitely worth a visit, and it pairs well with a trip to La Roqueta because the ferries to La Roqueta leave from the same place as the snorkeling tours and glass bottom boats. 

Pair this trip with a ferry to La Roquetta as the island is on the same route that the ferries take


4. Wander Around the Zocalo and Old Acapulco

brown concrete structure in acapulco zocalo

Depending on where you’re staying, this may be a very quick trip for you or a very long trip for you, as Acapulco Bay is huge. Regardless, getting around the city is very easy with buses, as we explain in the section on getting around. The zocalo, like in all Mexican cities, is a traditional city square where people gather and socialize. There are plenty of food and drink options here.

The rest of Old Acapulco is within a several-block walk of the zocalo and is also very beautiful. This whole area definitely deserves an afternoon to explore, and you can even hike from here up to La Quebrada! You can knock out two of the best things to do in Acapulco on the same afternoon.


5. Relax at Puerto Marques & Playa Diamante

While we have a whole separate post dedicated to the best beaches in Acapulco, we felt like Puerto Marques and Playa Diamante deserved a mention in this post, too. Puerto Marques is an area about 30 minutes south of the main strip, and it is just north of a strip of very luxurious condos and resorts in the area called Playa Diamante.

Puerto Marques is a very local area where you will encounter more friendly locals, but also more hagglers. The beach is really nice, though!

Playa Diamante Is the Nicest Beach in Acapulco

Playa Diamante is the nicest beach area we found in all of Acapulco, and that is probably why all the condos are there. The sand is super fine and soft cream color, the water is very clear, and there is an extremely gradual drop-off when you enter the water. You can walk 30 feet in and still be at waist height!

We packed a picnic lunch and a bottle of wine and had a fantastic time spending the day here. All of our best photos are from this marvelous beach. A picnic on Playa Diamante is very romantic, and absolutely one of the best things to do in Acapulco!


Best Places to Eat in Acapulco

During our week in Acapulco, we had plenty of great food. We were staying at the Fiesta Americana which is right along the Costera in the Zona Dorada (Avenida Costera Miguel Aleman), and this strip is absolutely stuffed with dining options.

Whether you like authentic Mexican food, some American or European cuisine, or more niche options like vegan and farm-to-table food, Acapulco has it all! With that being said, there was one place that stood out to us as really special. While we are not vegan, this vegan restaurant really made a mark on our trip and is worth visiting.

Verde Vegan is one of the greatest casual restaurants we have ever eaten at, and by far the best vegan restaurant we have ever visited. The owner, Gustavo, is an absolutely awesome guy with a personal devotion to conscious eating. His wife is a dietician with a health food store right next door.

The food here is all to die for, but we absolutely loved both flavors of the Brolitas (Broccoli + Alitas, the Spanish word for wings), the French toast, and the Acai Bowl. If you’re in the mood for a smoothie, you can’t go wrong with any of them – we tried them all!

Everything here is great, and the prices are very reasonable. We actually loved this place so much that we visited 4 times throughout the week!


2. Barbarroja

Barbarroja is a great little spot located in the Zona Dorada. The menu is pretty diverse, blending American, European, and Mexican cuisine. The prices are affordable and the view of the bay over Playa Condesa is great!

They also run several specials, which you can find on their Facebook page. At night this place turns into a low-key hangout for the 35+ crowd. Be sure to bring cash, as they do not accept credit cards.


3. 100% Natural

100% Natural is a chain that you can find in many cities across Mexico, and they have several locations in Acapulco. They specialize in organic food and clean eating, and their menu is long and delicious. Whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or juice, 100% Natural has you covered!

We find places like this to be extra appealing while we are traveling, because we frequently have trouble finding clean food that truly fuels us. Traveling can be demanding, and finding a place to stock up on good, energizing foods can be a challenge. This is part of what makes 100% a great spot to check out while in Acapulco!


How to Get to Acapulco

There are two good ways to get to Acapulco for your vacation. One option is to fly into Acapulco International Airport (ACA) and catch a taxi or public transportation to your resort, and the other option is to fly into Mexico City and take a bus to Acapulco. If you fly into Acapulco, all you need to do is figure out transportation into the city from the airport. This option is definitely easier but it will cost you more, as the Acapulco airport is very small.

Flying to Acapulco

Your other option is to fly into Mexico City and then take a bus southwest to Acapulco. The intercity busses in Mexico are incredible, and the journey will definitely be comfortable if you choose to get to Acapulco this way. They have some TV screens, lounging seats, bathrooms, and air conditioning. We typically use ADO in other parts of the country, but on this route the main options are Diamante and Estrella de Oro (who is actually operated by ADO). The bus will take around 5 hours.

Transiting to Acapulco after Flying into Mexico City

Your other option is to fly into Mexico City International Airport (MEX) and then take a bus southwest to Acapulco. The intercity buses in Mexico are incredible, and the journey will definitely be comfortable if you choose to get to Acapulco this way. They have some TV screens, lounging seats, bathrooms, and air conditioning. We typically use ADO in other parts of the country, but on this route, the main options are Diamante and Estrella de Oro (which is actually operated by ADO). The bus will take around 5 hours.

Transiting from the Acapulco Bus Station or Airport to your Hotel

If you arrive in Acapulco via plane, you should either take a certified taxi or a city bus into town. Acapulco isn’t served by any ridesharing apps, so you really don’t have an option other than taxis and public transport. If you arrive in Acapulco via bus from another city, there will be plenty of buses to different parts of the city leaving from the main bus station. It definitely helps to speak Spanish, but you may be able to find some help in English, too!

Avoid Renting a Car in Acapulco

You could also opt to rent a car, but we personally think that it is both cheaper and simpler to just take the bus. Mexican roads can be tricky, and the police have a reputation for being hawks looking for foreign drivers to pull over for a “multa” or fine (basically just a bribe).

If you do decide to rent a car and drive, stick to toll roads as much as possible, and check out our posts on tips for driving in Mexico and dealing with corrupt Mexican police.


How to Get Around Acapulco

TAXI | BUS | COLECTIVO | UBER

TAXI

While most of Mexico uses Uber, there are some parts of the country that haven’t adopted it yet. Acapulco is one of those few places. We aren’t the fondest of traditional taxis, and in Mexico, the general consensus is that you should never trust traditional taxi drivers and never get in unlicensed taxis.

However, if you do ever need one, just know that there usually isn’t a meter, and you should agree on a price before getting in. If you are staying in a hotel, the hotel staff will happily call a taxi for you.

BUS

You will probably be able to get to most places that you want to see without a taxi, because there is a great bus network that runs through the city and all of the options are very cheap. While the buses aren’t luxurious by any means, they are generally safe and hardly put a dent in your wallet. Some of them are really fun and blast reggaetón music while putting forth a grungy party vibe. These ones are definitely worth experiencing at least once!

The buses operate on one-way flat fares, and they were around 5 pesos each way while we were there, which is about 25 cents. If you’re not a fan of loud music, you can opt for the more tranquil and upscale Acabus, which pretty much follows the same routes as the party bus.

The prices are between 1.5x and 2x higher than the party buses, at about 7-10 pesos per trip. The Acabus runs the whole way up the main strip and beyond.

COLECTIVO

The final type of public transportation that we highly recommend is the colectivo. These are smaller vans that drive around on main roads and take you all around the city. They are cheap and fit fewer people than the buses, but they may take you to more niche places, like La Quebrada.

They are also typically used for airport transportation. For a trip to the airport, it’s about 100-120 pesos per person, which is about 5-6 USD. Just look at the windshield to see which places each colectivo stops!


The Best Month to Visit Acapulco

Like anywhere, some times are better than others to visit Acapulco. This beautiful city experiences great weather for a large part of the year. Still, there are some seasons that are better to avoid, if possible.

The dry season in Acapulco runs from November through May, and it is optimal to visit Acapulco during this time. The closer you can visit to the summer, the warmer it will be.

We last visited in October. The weather was very warm and we had plenty of fun on the city’s beautiful beaches.

Avoid Visiting During the Rainy Season

The rainy season in Acapulco runs from June to October, and this is the worst time to visit the city. The weather patterns vary depending on which month of the rainy season you visit.

However, you will likely experience rain almost every day during this time. This hurricane season is not fun, and you are better off waiting to visit at a later date, if possible.

All in all, the best time to visit Acapulco is in the fall, winter, or spring. This season runs from November to May.

Other Tips for Visiting Acapulco

We like to think optimistically. But we also think that giving authentic opinions and feedback can help you to have a better trip, regardless of what Mexican city we’re talking about. So, we have a couple of recommended Do’s and a couple of recommended Don’ts. 

DON’T go to La Caleta beach and expect a nice beach to hang out for the day

La Caleta is a popular place as it is the source of ferries to La Roqueta and La Virgen de los Mares. However, that is all you should really see it as. The sand is very pebbly and there isn’t much else to do.

DON’T go too far from your hotel or resort at night.

Stay in well-lit areas that are walkable. There is plenty of awesome nightlife along the Costera.

We recommend that you stay on the Costera if you’re looking for nightlife so that you can walk back afterward. I wouldn’t advise getting in a taxi after drinking.

DON’T trust every smiling face.

There are plenty of con artists and hagglers in Acapulco just like in any resort town, and they will offer day trips, bargains and plenty of other things. Say no to them and do not give in to their pressure. Check with the front desk of your hotel or resort for verified trips, go to a reliable source like a tour agency in the city, or check an online platform like TripAdvisor or Airbnb.

DON’T drink the tap water.

The tap water might be safe for Mexican people, but it isn’t safe for U.S. travelers to drink. This is because their immune systems are used to some of the natural microbes that exist in the water.

Stick to bottled water and avoid ice when possible.

DO check out all the different tourist areas of the city.

The area along the Costera by Playa Condesa is very fun and popular. However, I recommend going south to areas like Puerto Marques and Playa Diamante.

The nicest beach in Acapulco is there, and it is worth the 20- or 30-minute taxi ride to get there! The whole area between PlayaMar Diamante and the Tres Vidas Golf Club is great.

DO eat Mexican food!

Mexican food is absolutely fantastic and is also very cheap. Acapulco is a great place to try cuisine from many different areas of Mexico. After all, food is one of the most important parts of Mexican culture.

We recommend trying as many different types of tacos as you can during your stay. They are infinitely better than what most places in the U.S. make, and they are extremely budget-friendly.

DO check all travel restrictions before you go.

While Mexican authorities will not stop you from visiting Acapulco, some other entities might. U.S. Government employees, for example, are subject to some travel restrictions while in Mexico. These sometimes include entire Mexican states, and the state of Guerrero (where Acapulco is) has been restricted in the past.

Frequently Asked Questions about Acapulco

Why Is Acapulco so Famous?

Acapulco is famous because it used to be the preferred holiday destination of American celebrities. In the middle of the 1900s, American celebrities flocked to Acapulco to enjoy its stunning coastline, delicious food, and exciting culture.

Which Is Nicer Acapulco or Puerto Vallarta?

This all comes down to personal preference. Puerto Vallarta is a great resort city and it is known for its surfing. Acapulco is much older and feels more authentic. Both cities offer great experiences, hotels, and food to guests.

I would recommend Acapulco if you want to truly experience Mexico. I’d recommend Puerto Vallarta if you want to stay on a nice resort. Still, both are authentic places and offer great hotels. You can’t go wrong!

Is Acapulco Still a Nice Place to Visit?

Acapulco is absolutely still a nice place to visit. If anything, it’s better than ever!

The city experienced some issues with cartel violence in recent years, but it seems to have fully recovered. The diminished crowds make for a much more relaxing, inviting experience.

When Did Acapulco Become Dangerous?

Acapulco has had periods of danger come and go over the decades. As a large bay and popular tourist destination, the city is very attractive to drug cartels. Currently, the risk is low.

If you are wondering “Is Acapulco safe in 2024?” you can take a deep breath. For now, the city is experiencing a safe period. I recommend visiting while you can!



That’s all we have for you about Acapulco! Hopefully, after reading this guide you’re no longer wondering about safety in Acapulco. If you have any questions be sure to drop a comment in the comment section or shoot us an email.

If you’re planning a trip to Acapulco, let us know! We’d love to chat ahead of time and answer any questions you have. Otherwise, have a wonderful day and stay present!

Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. I'm an avid traveler who has traveled to over 50 countries all around the world with my wife and kids. I've lived in Italy, Mexico, China, and the United States, and I dream of moving abroad again in the future. With this blog, I provide my audience with detailed destination guides to my favorite places and pro-tips to make travel as stress-free as possible.

10 Comments

  1. Reply

    Fahreen Ramjee

    March 10, 2023

    Lovely comprehensive article that sums up Acapulco well! Thank you. My daughter (who is currently a high school exchange student in Queretaro) wants us to do a family vacation in Acapulco in Aug this year. You just pointed out that it’s their rainy season. Do you recommend we think about another location? Or is it still worth a thought, in your opinion? Thank you in advance!

    • Reply

      Greg

      March 15, 2023

      Hi Fahreen! Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I still recommend visiting in August. While it will likely rain during parts of the day, the rain doesn’t tend to be consistent throughout the day. Rather, it is probably going to rain very hard for an hour or two per day and then be sunny the rest of the time. I hope that you have a great trip!

  2. Reply

    Philip Sane

    September 22, 2023

    Great travel guides and tips thanks for sharing!! I’m wondering about your thoughts of driving from Mexico City at night to Acapulco paid highway, from the airport directly to our hotel Las Brisas Acapulco. Would you consider it safe? We’re arriving around 7 pm and will be fully rested and morning our time (coming from Europe). Instead of wasting one night at an airport hotel when we can’t sleep anyways, we’re thinking of driving. Rented a Dodge Journey SUV (or similar) via Hertz and have two small children with us, hence need to be extra cautious. Also, if I may ask, continuing to Puerto Escondido, have you driven that route from Acapulco? Looks like a 6-7hrs drive according to googlemaps (driving daytime this route:-). Many thanks and looking forward to hearing back from you. /Philip

    • Reply

      Greg

      October 12, 2023

      Hey Philip – I responded to your email!

  3. Reply

    Larry

    March 7, 2024

    Since the hurricane in October 2023 I would not recommend A Acapulco The bay will be so badly polluted from runoff. Hotel accommodation will be limited. The local people are desperate for help but Choose playa del Carmen or PV for now

    • Reply

      Greg

      March 7, 2024

      Larry,

      I heard about the hurricane. I’m saddened to hear that the bay is still experiencing that runoff issue. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Reply

    Anna Lockwood

    May 2, 2024

    Hello! Thanks for this comprehensive guide on Acapulco. It’s really helpful to understand the safety aspects and best things to do, especially the details about La Quebrada Cliff Divers and the snorkeling tips near La Roqueta. I appreciate the practical safety tips and the emphasis on avoiding flashy behavior to ensure a safe trip. The guide certainly makes me more confident about planning a visit to Acapulco!

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Meet The Author - Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. I'm an avid traveler who has traveled to over 50 countries all around the world with my wife and kids. I've lived in Italy, Mexico, China, and the United States, and I dream of moving abroad again in the future. With this blog, I provide my audience with detailed destination guides to my favorite places and pro-tips to make travel as stress-free as possible.