Acapulco, Guerrero

Population: 1.5 million

Time Zone: Central Standard

Airport: Juan Alvarez International Airport (ACA)

Elevation: Sea Level

Acapulco is the true queen of Mexican tourism. Spurred by Hollywood icons making it their favorite destination, lured by the natural beauty of Acapulco Bay and the “anything goes” reputation that Mexico had gained at that time, it all began here. Long before Cancun was a blip on the radar screen, oil billionaire J. Paul Getty bought beachfront property just east of town (now the Pierre Marques Fairmont Resort), Elvis made a movie here, and John Wayne fished and drank tequila with the locals…Acapulco was the definitive party town in the 1950’s and 60’s.

By the mid-70’s things began to change as developers started lining the stunning bay with high-rise hotels that still operate today. Known for much more affordable accommodations than the more popular towns of Cancun, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta., Acapulco is still a very “Mexican” destination. It’s unique for a beach town with a interesting combination of big-city sophistication along with a history that dates back nearly 500 years to when the area was a major port for the trade route from the Philippines to Spain from 1565 to 1815.

Today Acapulco is the most popular beach retreat for inhabitants from Mexico City, some four hours due north by car. And, you will encounter many Europeans, who find the accessible location and pricing to be convenient incentives. In recent years, spring break college kids have been arriving in big numbers for the same reasons, with the Costera (the beachfront strip in town) hotels catering to their needs. In addition, a state-of-the-art well located Convention Center designed for large groups is a mainstay of revenue for the local economy. With an abundance of residences near the ocean, Acapulco has also become a popular expat haven, with condo and apartment prices very competitively priced. The many restaurants offer an outstanding array of cuisines in all price-ranges, with seafood the obvious favorite.

The more upscale hotels begin just east of the Costera in Punta Diamante, continuing to Bahia de Puerto Marques and on to Playa Revolcadero, outside the bay. A few properties represented along here include Las Brisas (the famous pink jeeps), Fairmont Resorts, Mayan Palace, the elegant Quinta Real, and Camino Real.

Note: Acapulco has recently been a bit of a battleground between the drug cartels, with some violence being reported. The local and federal governments have increased security and, in general, tourists aren’t affected. However, caution should always be taken.