Planning A Beach Vacation In Acapulco: Resorts, Cost, Clothing And Weather

Travel guide to planning a vacation in Acapulco, Mexico, including top tourist attractions, best beaches, resorts, weather, and costs.

Acapulco, Mexico, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Most people go for the warm climate and sunny beaches, and it's been nicknamed the Queen of the Mexican Riviera.

Getting There

Since Acapulco is located in the southern regions of Mexico, the quickest and easiest way to travel is by airplane. From New York, the trip by plane is only 6 hours, or a mere 3 hours from Los Angeles. The major international airport in Acapulco is Aeropuerto International Juan N. Alvarez, which is only 20 minutes outside of the city. All large airlines travel to Acapulco, including Delta, Continental and American. From the airport, you'll need to take a special airport taxi to get to the city. Airfares vary depending on when you plan on traveling and your location, but plane tickets can be had for as low as $350 (round trip) leaving from Los Angeles.

If you prefer a more scenic trip, it will take approximately 16 hours to drive to Acapulco from San Antonio, Texas. Not a fast way to get there, but you will see a great deal of Mexico in the process. Taking your car will involve more paperwork though. You'll need to acquire a temporary import permit when you cross the border into Mexico, and there is a fee for this. Driving can be hazardous in the rural areas of Mexico, so you shouldn't choose this form of travel lightly.

Don't forget that you'll be leaving the United States and entering Mexico, so be prepared to deal with customs. Americans entering Mexico need proof of citizenship along with photo ID. A certified copy of a birth certificate may suffice, but authorities strongly suggest carrying a United States passport. For destinations beyond the border zone (such as Acapulco) all tourists must have a tourist card (also called an FM-T). The fee for the tourist card is often included in the cost of your airfare.

Returning to the USA from Mexico, you are allowed $400 worth of souvenirs duty-free. There is a 10% duty on the next $1000 worth of merchandise.

Where to Stay

Where you choose to stay while a tourist in Acapulco depends on what you want to do while you are there and how much money you want to spend. Acapulco is a modern, cosmopolitan city that offers lodging for all budgets from high-class hotels to small, simple inns. There are resort hotels located right on each of the major beaches. If you want a place to stay with easy access to Acapulco nightlife rather than the beaches, choose a hotel along Costera Avenue. This is the hip part of the city, with dance clubs, restaurants and bars.

Overall, the price for a hotel room will be less than a comparable room in the U.S.

Things to Do

It goes without saying that the main travel attractions in Acapulco are the 20 miles of beaches. Though there may be a seemingly huge number of beaches on your local map, some beaches are not suitable for swimming due to either pollution or very strong water currents that make them unsafe. Take any warnings or advisories seriously.

You might not find the secluded beaches you'd hoped for. Many Acapulco beaches are popular with both locals and tourists alike, and are usually extremely busy. Playa Hornos and Playa Caletilla are two beaches that will likely be quite crowded, particularly during tourist season. You'd be lucky to find enough free space to spread out your towel. If more peaceful sunbathing is your style, be ready to take a little drive out of the city. Barra Vieja is 17 miles east of Acapulco and a perfect example of a less-crowded beach. A longer drive (perhaps half an hour) west of the city will bring you to Pie de la Cuesta. This is one of those beaches with the dangerous undertow, so you can't go swimming. But there are boat rides, horseback riding and plenty of space for simple sunbathing.

If you want to experience the exotic and free-spirited atmosphere of Mexico, you might think about finding a nude or topless beach. Unfortunately, nude sunbathing is actually illegal in Mexico, though that law is seldom enforced.

Once you've had your fill of the beaches in Acapulco, there are many other attractions to keep you busy and entertained. The old Acapulco area boasts a large water amusement park and aquarium zoo called Magic Marine World (Mágico Mundo Marino). For the more intellectually minded, the 2000-year old archaeological site just north of old Acapulco will be a real treat.

The best months to travel to Acapulco are between October and May, since they are the driest. The rainy months of June to September can have hours of rain every day, although you might get a better rate at the hotel during the wet season. The climate is very stable and the temperatures will range between 70-90F all year long. Perfect for the American tourist looking to escape from winter. Make sure to pack your warm weather clothes.

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