Dating back to Aztec times, Acapulco just may surprise visitors. The city of funky bars, beach bums and a thundering nightlife is also historically sound. Once the playground for Hollywood’s rich and famous, Acapulco may have tattered its image a bit with terrible traffic, crime and poverty but the city is still undeniable in beauty and a favorite among vacation goers.
Jardín Botánico de Acapulco holds an impressive collection of flora and fauna. A footpath runs through the gardens, climbing from 204 meters to 411 meters above sea level. The shaded tropical forest allows for visitors to truly stop and smell the flowers, appreciating the lush greenery just beyond the cityscape.
More natural appeals abound in Acapulco. What US presidents and movie stars have been doing for years is still Acapulco’s most popular activity, beach lounging. Bahía Puerto Marqués remains the city’s most popular beach. The calm waters prove idea for sailing, swimming and water skiing. Travelers can find other beaches in the area as well including Playas Caleta and Playa Revolcadero. Playas Caleta rests simply as a small-protected beach. Blending into the Caletilla beach, families flock here to appreciate the calm and gentle waters. Playa Revolcadero on the other hand shakes things up with large waves that prove idea for surfing.
Made famous by Elvis in his appropriately titled Fun in Acapulco, La Quebrada Cliff Divers put on a show for tourists nightly. Audiences have been arriving here to see the famed cliff divers since 1934. Diving into a 25 to 35 meter narrow ocean cove, each diver throws up a few Hail Mary’s beforehand in a nearby shrine. Elvis did the same for the big screen. Perhaps with eyes shut for fear those prayers go unanswered, the cliff divers continue to amaze and amuse visitors to Acapulco.
Acapulco shares its rich history in more formal settings throughout its many museums and more hands-on experiences in archeological parks. Museo Histórico de Acapulco is housed in the beautifully restored pentagonal fort, Fuerte de San Diego. Constructed in 1616, the fort helped protect the Spanish naos doing trade between the Philippines and Mexico. After a damaging earthquake, the fort was restored and later became the Museo Histórico de Acapulco, holding exhibits detailing the city’s history. Set in a forest above town, travelers can delve into Acapulco’s history. Palma Sola Archaeological site hosts 18 petroglyphs dating back from 200 B.C. to 600 A.D.
Coming alive when Acapulco should be going to bed is the Zócalo, the city’s old town. Street performers and mariachis take to the streets to serenade or annoy, you decide, diners at sidewalk cafes. Many of the city’s main festivals are held in this area.
The “Pearl of the Pacific” can’t shake its title as Mexico’s first party town. If Acapulco was good enough for JFK’s honeymoon and the likes of Sinatra, visitors continue to see what makes the city glisten.