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Welcome to Acapulco, Mexico

Location: Guerrero State, Pacific coast, southwest Mexico
Distance from Mexico City: 200 miles south
Population: 640,000
Closest major airport: Juan Alvarez International Airport (ACA)
Time zone: Central Standard Time

The vibrant Mexican Pacific port city of Acapulco is home to one of the most spectacular bays in the world, making it a favorite stop over the decades for celebrities of the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Placido Domingo and Julio Iglesias. But Aca, as the locals call it, offers much more than just stretches of beach: Mexicans and foreigners agree that it is the perfect place for people of all tastes and budgets to swim, shop, dine, party or just soak up the sun.

A drive along the Costera Miguel Aleman Avenue offers a spectacular view of the bay and its grandest attractions. These include San Diego Fort, originally built to protect Acapulco from pirates; Cici, a water theme park for children; Papagayo Park, which offers a roller rink, Aviary, a racetrack for kids and model of a Spanish Galleon; and the Cultural Center (Casa de la Cultura), with an art gallery, handicraft exhibit and small archaeological museum.

Although Acapulco attracts throngs of tourists year-round, many of its beaches remain relatively secluded. These include Pie de la Cuesta and the Coyuca lagoon, whose hidden coves and tiny islands teeming with wildlife can be toured by small motorboat (lancha). Another beautiful, less-crowded beach is the pristine Puerto Marques, sheltered within a small bay east of Playa Icacos; it boasts the most tranquil waters in the area, breathtaking sunsets and charming little restaurants.

After basking in the sun, a good place to visit is the bustling central square (zocalo), whose crafts market (mercado de artesanias) and town market (mercado municipal) open daily, offering everything from fresh vegetables and fruits to love potions.

And no trip to Acapulco is complete without seeing the world-famous divers at La Quebrada. Trained divers plunge 130 feet into a narrow cove of just 11 feet of water, which is safe only when a wave has come in. You can see the dives while sipping a drink at the Plaza Las Glorias Hotel or enjoying a prix-fix dinner at El Mirador Hotel. Dives are scheduled at 12:30 p.m., and nightly at 7:30, 8:30, 9:30 and 10:30 p.m. At night, the last divers (at the 10:30 p.m. show) carry torches.

When dinnertime approaches, the rich and famous both within and outside Mexico head to Madeiras Restaurant, an Acapulco institution. Another popular restaurant is Tabachin, located in the exclusive The Fairmont Pierre Marques Hotel, which offers exquisite French-Asian cuisine in a contemporary setting.

When night falls, revelers head to Baby O, Palladium and Enigma (electronic music and house); Yucca, Salon Q and Ninas (salsa and tropical music); and Zucca (60s, 70s, 80s and 90s music). And for those preferring a sunset cruise along the bay to a disco, Bonanza’s offers afternoon and evening cruises leaving from the downtown area near the zocalo; many hotels and shops sell the tickets. The cruises leave at 4:00 p.m., returning at 8:00 p.m.; and at 10:00 p.m., returning at 1:00 a.m.

Although Acapulco is known for its nightlife, it is also increasingly being recognized for its world-class golf and spa offerings. The Tianguis Golf & Spa trade show took place October 19 to 22 2003 at the prestigious Fairmont Acapulco Princess Hotel to promote Mexico as the world's greatest golf and spa destination. The Acapulco Convention Center, one of Mexico’s most important venues for meetings and conventions, is home to Mexico’s famous annual tourism trade show, the Tourism Tianguis.

Last but not least, Acapulco offers a tremendous array of lodging options, from inns (posadas) to luxury hotels. The exclusive Las Brisas resort offers 263 guest houses with private or semi-private pools as well as breathtaking views of Acapulco Bay and/or the Pacific Ocean. The historic Villa Vera, meanwhile, is an oasis of exotically-designed white houses, suites and villas decorated in contemporary Mexican-Mediterranean style.

A two-hour drive northeast of Acapulco leads visitors to the beautiful colonial mining town of Taxco, which offers the best selection of silver at excellent prices.


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