Acapulco is a beautiful coastal city on the Pacific coast of Mexico and at the base of the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range. High-rise hotels line the beaches, and past the hotels are mansions on cliffs overlooking the bay (one of these mansions was featured in the movie Blow). It was also infamous for spring break parties between 2002 and 2008. Unfortunately, Acapulco faded as a tourist destination after 2008 because of some local inner turmoil, although it has cleaned up its bad element and is once again a tourist and spring break destination.
I traveled to Acapulco twice on spring break while in college, and then got a job as an on-site liaison for STS Travel for 6 weeks. In this job, I stayed in hotels, visited restaurants where we had dinner packages to make sure students were happy with their meals, went to pool parties to oversee the party and make sure everyone was having fun, and joined the students at the nightclubs to make sure they got quick, free entry and happy customers. I loved every minute I spent in Acapulco.
Where To Stay
High-rise hotels line the beaches of Acapulco, most of which are completely rented out during March for spring break. The most popular spring break hotels are Playa Suites, La Palapa, Copacabana, and Romano Palace. If you’re looking to party, these are your go-to’s. If you’re looking for something quieter, check other hotels.
Playa Suites: All-inclusive hotel right on the beach with a huge pool party. The rooms have a dirty feel to them and the elevators break more often than they work (most of the time with people in them). It’s on the far north side of Acapulco Bay so it’s far from the most popular clubs (Palladium, Mandara), but close to the local mall.
Calinda Beach: A nicer, family hotel. It’s a convenient central location, right on the beach, with a quiet pool and a fitness center.
La Palapa: I haven’t stayed here but I visited many pool parties here and seen rooms where other staff members stayed. The rooms are on par with Playa Suites, with a dirty feel to them. The hotel is right on the beach, all-inclusive, and the hotel has a big pool party.
Another option is to rent a villa – a huge mansion that hosts about 20 people. Some come with a driver, butler, and chef. Villas are a more private option to staying in Acapulco, located on the outskirts of Acapulco Bay on cliffs overlooking the bay.
Where To Eat
Acapulco has a lot of great restaurants right on the bay with great sunsets over the water. Paradise Restaurant is outside on the beach with great food. Paradise also offers bungee jumping into their pool. Sometimes, Paradise sets up blow up stadiums for bounce soccer games or other types of games.
Sr. Taco is the best late-night taco joint in Acapulco. You can always find the late night party animals who aren’t ready for bed yet hanging out at Sr. Taco. You might even make a dog friend or two looking for a handout!
The nightclub Baby’O has a little known restaurant area beneath the club. They serve food as long as the club is open (at least until 4:00 am). There’s nothing like a Baby’O omelette to end the night and start the morning!
The most popular nightclub, Palladium, has a sushi bar at the entrance. I’m skeptical about sushi at a nightclub, but everyone seems to think it’s amazing. And you know it’s fresh because the town is right on the water!
There are typical chain restaurants like Rainforest Cafe, Senor Frog’s, and Hard Rock Cafe. There are also quick convenience stores like Oxxo and Extra. There’s plenty of fast food like McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Star Bucks, Vips, and burger joints.
Finally, there are some nicer restaurants. I can’t comment on most of them because they’re not frequented by spring breakers, but Barbarroja offers great meals on a pirate ship! It’s an open air bar/restaurant and the staff dresses in pirate attire. Worth a visit for pirate-lovers like me!
Where To Party
Palladium is the biggest, most popular nightclub in Acapulco. It’s on the southern side of the Acapulco Bay on top of one of the cliffs overlooking the bay and hotel zone. The bay side window is completely glass for a beautiful night time view.
Throughout the night, performers do acrobatics, fire shows, and other entertainment leading up to the last show: around 4:00 am, the devil appears. Not the devil as you would expect, red with horns and a pitchfork; but a man painted all in silver with a skull and feather headpiece. He is the “Acapulco Devil.” The Devil has a 10-15 minute dance routine to a song called Dance With The Devil (and other songs that fit that electronic genre). It’s worth waiting for him to watch his show! After the Devil leaves, fireworks shower down the outside glass wall illuminating the club and bay for an absolutely amazing end to the night.
Mandara is like Palladium’s little sister. It’s a smaller version of Palladium but with a similar layout, on a cliff with a glass wall overlooking the Acapulco Bay. It’s two stories with the dance floor on the bottom floor and bars and couches on the top floor. The entertainers also perform at Mandara leading up to the Devil’s performance at Mandara (before or after Palladium). After the Devil leaves Mandara, fireworks also shower down the glass wall for a grand finale.
Baby’O is a smaller version of a club in Cancun named Dady’O. When you walk in, it looks like a cave. The walls, floors, everything is made of rock! It’s a little known secret that Baby’O also has a restaurant that serves food as long as the club is open, which I mentioned above. Baby’O omelets!
El Alebrije is a huge disco with stadium seating (so it looks like a stadium inside). Where the field would be is a huge bar, and it’s impossible to navigate this area. You can grab a table on any of the upper levels, but ladies be careful – I’ve never seen so many girls in heels fall down the stairs and break bones! El Alebrije gives out fun straw hats, which are a great souvenir from Acapulco.
Fun fact: I was standing outside El Alebrije when an earthquake hit. It was a pretty big earthquake, but being from New Jersey I didn’t know what an earthquake felt like. I thought a big disco ball had fallen inside the club. No one inside the club noticed (the music was probably too loud and they thought it was bass), it didn’t last more than a minute, nothing happened, and all continued as usual.
Love Acapulco is on the cliff right next to Palladium. It’s an open air lounge, perfect for pregaming for Palladium or Mandara. The views from the top outside deck are incredible.
Senor Frog’s is a chain throughout Central American and the Caribbean and is the same fun, crazy atmosphere you’d expect. It’s on a cliff on the south end of Acapulco Bay, near Palladium and Mandara.
Ibiza is a club on the beach in the hotel zone. Named after one of the world’s most famous party islands, this club doesn’t let you down. Half of the club is inside, downstairs in a basement-type room with water running throughout (I stepped in rivers in Ibiza a few times). The other half is outside with cabanas in the sand. When I worked here, we had a white party with a glass of champagne upon entry for all those wearing white. This was also the first time I tried Mexican absinthe (although I was too scared to actually try it, so I had it mixed with something else and then only did half the shot).
What Else To Do In Acapulco
Of course there is more to do in Acapulco than eat tacos, drink cervezas, and dance with the devil. There are sightseeing cruises (some of them are also booze cruises) around the bay in English and Spanish where you can see the villas and mansions along the cliffs, and the guides point out the mansions that famous people own or have lived in. You can get the best views of the Acapulco coastline on these 2-3 hour cruises.
Additionally, Acapulco is famous for cliff diving. The cliff divers are professionals: don’t try this at home if you’re not trained for cliff diving. Those cliffs are 115 feet (35 meters) high and the water is only 6-16 feet deep!
Finally, there are yachts for rent to cruise around Acapulco Bay our to go into one of the other alcoves around Acapulco. These yachts usually come with jet skis or other fun water toys and allow access to private beaches only accessible by boat. This is a great way to get tan, enjoy a drink, and relax without the crowds or spring breakers!
How To Get Around
Acapulco is mainly a strip of hotels, restaurants, bars, and clubs. It’s mostly walkable, but the enclosed bay alcove makes the strip very humid. If walking isn’t an option, there are taxis and buses. Taxis are negotiable and tipping is optional (but very appreciated), and the bus is very cheap. When I worked in Acapulco, I walked from Calinda Beach to La Palapa for the pool parties on a daily basis – it’s a nice walk!
Have you been to Acapulco? What is your favorite part of the city? Tell me about your trip to Mexico in the comments below!
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