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Things to Do in Acapulco

Acapulco was once Mexico’s premier beach resort, and American presidents and Hollywood film stars populated its golden sands. Its popularity dwindled as Cancun and Playa del Carmen catapulted to fame, but today, the Pearl of the Pacific is on the cusp of a renaissance. Beaches lapped by turquoise waves are still a top draw, but you’ll find intriguing cultural attractions, too, from the Fort of San Diego (El Fuerte de San Diego) and the Mural Diego Rivera to the Zocalo, the central plaza that’s the beating heart of Acapulco. If you can tear yourself away from the coast to explore via a guided tour, it’s worth it: This is your chance to experience Acapulco’s wildlife and natural habitats. Take a day trip to the Coyuca Lagoon (featured in movies such as Rambo and Tarzan), watch baby turtles scurry back to the ocean at Vallarino Turtle Camp, snorkel with tropical marine life at La Roqueta Island, or take a tour of the Municipal Market followed by a Mexican cooking class. Acapulco really comes life after dark, with a wealth of evening activities that accentuate the bold local culture. Take in a gourmet meal as you watch the fearless La Quebrada Cliff Divers plunging into the Pacific, or feast on tacos and sip cold beer while viewing a lucha libre (Mexican wrestling) match.
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La Quebrada Cliff Divers
49 Tours and Activities

Acapulco's iconic attraction, made famous in Elvis flicks, Ray Austen stunts, and every cheerfully scrawled holiday postcard sent home ever since, are La Quebrada Cliff Divers. Beginning in the 1920s, these brave young men and women began leaping for the crowds some 45 craggy meters (150 terrifying feet) into a wave-crashed inlet just 4 meters (13 feet) deep. And that's if they time it just right.

The ritual begins with a prayer at the shrine to La Virgen de Guadalupe, carved into the cliff-top platform. Then, the divers carefully calculate when their target will have enough water to soften their fall. Finally, they leap. First in the afternoon, and as the sun sets, again. The final dive of the night plunges past torches into a sea of fire (lit with flaming gasoline), no easy feat.

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Diego Rivera Mural (Exekatlkalli)
26 Tours and Activities

The Diego Rivera Muralis a spectacular mosaic sculpture on the exterior of Exekatlkalli (La Casa de los Vientos), where the Mexican artist Diego Rivera once lived with his lover Dolores Olmedo. He spent the last years of his life with her here, and in 1956 created this mural featuring Quetzalcoatl, the Mesoamerican mythical serpent.

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Fort of San Diego (Fuerte de San Diego)
11 Tours and Activities

An excellent example of classic Spanish defensive architecture, the Fort of San Diego (Fuerte de San Diego) was built in 1616 to fight off increasing attacks by British pirates on the trade port of Acapulco. Today the star-shaped fortress houses the Acapulco Historical Museum (Museo Histórico de Acapulco), with good displays on city history.

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La Roqueta Island (Isla de La Roqueta)
7 Tours and Activities

Located off the coast of Acapulco and reachable by boat, La Roqueta Island (Isla de La Roqueta) is an ideal spot for travelers looking to relax. Visitors lounge on the golden sand beaches, snorkel and kayak at secluded coves, and hike a network of trails that lead to stunning scenic overlooks. The island also offers a handful of restaurants and a small zoo.

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Coyuca Lagoon (Laguna de Coyuca)
8 Tours and Activities

North of Acapulco, freshwater Coyuca Lagoon, or Laguna de Coyuca in Spanish, spreads across some 28 square miles (72 square kilometers) and is particularly important for migrating birds. Several small islands along the coast act as sanctuaries for colonies of pelicans, herons, storks, and other species. The lagoon is also a popular destination for water sports.

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9 Tours and Activities

The heart of any Spanish Colonial city is the central plaza, or Zócalo, and the ancient Mexican port town of Acapulco—despite its modern facelifts—is no exception. The constant swirl of activity, live music on weekends, and vendors selling every sort of souvenir are all here, mixing and mingling with tourists and locals relaxing in the shade during the day.

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El Rollo Acapulco
2 Tours and Activities

Waterslides and wave pools are just steps from a white-sand beach at El Rollo Acapulco, a water park that features a dolphin show as well as plenty of wild and wet fun. Grab a tube and fly down a 40-foot (12-meter) tower, zip down a 290-foot (88-meter) wavy slide, or relax as the kids enjoy Isla Infantil (Children’s Island).

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Acapulco Cruise Port (Terminal Maritima)

A one-time favorite of Hollywood actors, Acapulco still retains some of its old-world glamor and the Acapulco Cruise Port (Terminal Maritima) is a popular point of access for international visitors. Thanks to its privileged location just steps from downtown, it’s easy for travelers to make the most of even a short stop in this port city.

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