Acapulco, Guerrero

acapulco, acapulco beach, spring break, spring break destinationThe vibrant Mexican Pacific port city of Acapulco is home to one of the most spectacular bays in the world, making it a favorite stopover for 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.

Areas of Interest: 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 with an art gallery, handicraft exhibit and small archaeological museum.

Beaches: 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. 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.

The Markets: 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.

The Divers: 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.

NightLife: 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.

Other Activities: Although Acapulco is known for its nightlife, it is also increasingly being recognized for its world-class golf and spa offerings. 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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