Explore Acapulco and the Pacific beaches
Caleta, Caletilla and La Roqueta
Playas Caleta and Caletilla (any “Caleta” bus from Costera) have a quite different atmosphere from those in the main part of the bay. Very small – the two are divided only by a rocky outcrop and breakwater – they tend to be crowded, but the water is almost always calm and the beach is reasonably clean. You can sit at shaded tables on the sand, surrounded by Mexican matrons whose kids are paddling in the shallows, and be brought drinks from the cafés behind. There are showers here, too, and, on the rock, the Mágico Mundo Marino, a waterpark with a predictable aquarium and sea lion show, decent water slides and a choice of the pool or the bay to swim in.
From outside the waterpark, small boats ply the channel to the islet of La Roqueta, where there are more and yet cleaner beaches (you can rent a picnic table for M$50) and beer-drinking burros, one of the town’s less compelling attractions. Catch one of the frequent glass-bottomed boats to the island (daily 8am–5pm) and keep your ticket for the return journey; it’ll cost M$40 for a direct launch or M$60 for one that detours past the submerged bronze statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
From all three beaches you can rent snorkelling gear for around M$70 (though you’ll see the most fish and coral off Roqueta), kayaks and small boats (motor, sail and pedal) by the hour.
Along Costera and on to Revolcadero
The main beaches, despite their various names – Tamarindo, Hornos, Hornitos, El Morro, Condesa and Icacos – are in effect a single sweep of sand. It’s best to go some considerable distance round to Playa Condesa or Playa Icacos, in front of hotels (which make good points of reference) such as the monolithic Grand Hotel, where the beach is far less crowded and considerably cleaner. It’s easy enough to slip in to use the hotel showers, swimming pools and bars – there’s no way they’re going to spot an imposter in these thousand-bed monsters. The beaches around here are also the place to come if you want to indulge in such frolics as being towed around the bay on the end of a parachute, water-skiing or sailing. Outfits offering all of these are dotted at regular intervals along the beach; charges are standard, though the quality of the equipment and the length of the trips varies.
Beyond the end of the bay, across the hills to the south, are two other popular beaches: Puerto Marqués and Playa Revolcadero. On the way you’ll pass some of the fanciest hotels and villas in Acapulco, as well as some mesmerizing views of the city. Puerto Marqués (buses marked “Puerto Marqués”) is the first of the beaches, a sheltered, deeply indented cove with restaurants and beach chairs right down to the water’s edge, overlooked by two more deluxe hotels. You can continue by road to Revolcadero (though only an occasional bus comes this far) or get there by boat down a narrow inland channel. The beach, a long exposed stretch of sand, is beautiful but frequently lashed by heavy surf that makes swimming impossible. This whole area is being developed as another major resort zone known as Acapulco Diamante, with deluxe hotels lining the coast all the way to the airport and the former village of Barra Vieja.
Pie de la Cuesta
Pie de la Cuesta, around 15km north of Acapulco, is far more serene than the city and a good place to watch the sun sink into the Pacific or to ride horseback along the shore, though most of the horses here are a little worse for wear – their owners on the beach will try to charge rates in US$s, but you should be able negotiate hourly rates of M$150–200, especially mid-week. The sand extends for miles up the coast, but at the Acapulco end, where the bus drops you, there are several rickety bars and some tranquil places to stay.
Behind the beach, and only separated from the ocean by the hundred-metre-wide sandbar on which Pie de la Cuesta is built, lies the Laguna de Coyuca, a vast freshwater lake said to be three times the size of Acapulco Bay, which only connects with the sea after heavy rains. Fringed with palms, and rich in bird and animal life, the lagoon is big enough to accommodate both the ubiquitous noisy jet skiers and the more sedate boat trips that visit the three lagoon islands. Various outfits along the hotel strip offer tours – prices hover around M$85 per person – but it’s worth checking what’s on offer and how long the cruise is, as times tend to differ. Most boats stop on one island for lunch (not included in the price) and swimming. The bus from Acapulco (“Pie de la Cuesta”) runs every ten minutes or so from Costera south of the zócalo (M$5.50). The last bus back leaves around 8pm.