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 Acapulco a visit or you’re still making up your mind, this post is for you.
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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 Acapulco 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 Acapulco 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.
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?
So is Acapulco really that 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:
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 2023? Absolutely. Acapulco 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 Acapulco.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Acapulco. 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.
4. Wander Around the Zocalo and Old Acapulco
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 Acapulco. 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.
1. Verde Vegan
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
How to Get Around Acapulco
TAXI | BUS | COLECTIVO |
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.
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.
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.
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!