Copy of Wedding Celebration
ACAPULCO TRAVEL GUIDE
In the 16th century, Acapulco was Mexico’s most important Pacific-coast port. Ships arrived from the Philippines, bearing silk, spices, porcelain and ivory, which were traded for Mexican gold and silver. British and Dutch pirates were so prevalent that the Spaniards had to build a fort to protect the place in 1615. (The San Diego Fort is still there, if you care to pay a visit.)
In 1920, the Prince of Wales visited Acapulco and recommended it to other crown princes of Europe. But it wasn’t until 1927, when a road from Mexico City was constructed, that it became an important tourist destination. By the 1940s, it had been discovered by Hollywood: Rita Hayworth celebrated her 28th birthday there with her husband Orson Welles, aboard Errol Flynn’s yacht. (Welles and Hayworth would return a couple of years later to film The Lady from Shanghai.)
Acapulco would reach its heyday as a tourist destination in the 1950s and 1960s. John and Jackie Kennedy honeymooned along its beaches, Liz Taylor got hitched to Michael Todd there, and Frank Sinatra, Brigitte Bardot, Ava Garder, and Jean Paul Belmondo all visited. (Locations for the Elvis Presley movie Fun in Acapulco were shot in 1963, but the King’s scenes were shot on a back lot in Hollywood.) Too, many Afro-Mexicans reside on Mexico's Pacific Coast, in an area known as the Costa Chica region. This stretch of coastline starts just south of Acapulco and extends for approximately 200 miles. You'll find that Acapulco has been greatly enriched by the African diaspora.
Massive tourism and the preponderance of high-rise hotels took away some of Acapulco’s luster in the 1980s. Today, it’s a sprawling city of 625,000 residents. In recent years, it has unfortunately been plagued by crime. It’s perfectly safe during the day (unless you’re determined to look for trouble) but we recommend that at night you go where you’re going by taxi and return to your hotel the same way.
GETTING TO THE HOTEL
There is no Uber in Acapulco. To arrive at the Boca Chica Hotel from the airport in Acapulco, you have to take a taxi across the entire semicircular sweep of the bay. It’s a picturesque ride, but be prepared it will last close to an hour. The safest and least expensive way to get to the hotel is with official airport taxis, which cost 550 pesos (about $28 at the current exchange rate). Taxi drivers will accept dollars but they will charge you more. You cannot use dollars for most goods and services in Acapulco, so we recommend that you withdraw pesos from an ATM at any Mexican airport, either where you’re making your connections or in Acapulco.
This is the warmest time of the year in Mexico, before the rainy season. During the day in Acapulco, high temperatures will peak at about 90 degrees, and after dark it won’t get much cooler than 80. Please pack accordingly.
THINGS TO DO
Since the 1930s, the brave (some would say reckless) have been diving about 130 feet from cliffs above the bay into the La Quebrada breakers. The divers perform several shows nightly and the best views are from the bar and restaurant of the old Hotel El Mirador. We are planning to go there on Friday the 29th, the night before our party, for drinks and perhaps dinner. Our friend Barbara Kastelein, who wrote a book about the divers, will be there, and if we’re lucky some divers will emerge from the waters to take their pictures with you. *PLEASE* let us know if you want to join us, as we’re looking into arranging transportation for everyone, something impossible to accomplish at the last minute.
The Hotel Boca Chica, where many of us are staying, is nearby the old downtown of Acapulco. It’s a short hop in a cab to the zócalo (the central plaza), where you can see the cathedral, shops that sell religious iconography (such as seashell renderings of the crucifixion), and have a drink or a meal at the many nearby restaurants.
The Hotel Los Flamingos, also a short cab ride from the Boca Chica, was established in the 1930s as a sort of a clubhouse for a rotating set of Hollywood he-men, such as Johnny Weismuller, Fred McMurray, Gary Cooper and John Wayne (who was actually the owner in the 1960s). There are photographs and memorabilia from those days, and the hotel bar is a spectacular place to watch the sunset over Acapulco Bay.
Another short cab ride away is the house of Dolores Olmedo, one of Mexico’s wealthiest women, who was Diego Rivera’s patron. While recovering from cancer in 1956, Rivera stayed in Olmedo’s house, and designed and executed a mosaic mural that still adorns the facade.
For nightlife, we recommend you hang out with us at the Boca Chica, or else go to the Flamingos or El Mirador. But for the more daring there are legendary discotheques such as the Palladium and Baby O, as well as hundreds of bars and restaurants along the Costera, the main drag that abuts the coastline. (Some of these places serve 3-for-1 margaritas in fishbowls to spring breakers of all ages, until they vomit, go for a bungee jump or ride a plastic boat shaped like a banana. Or do all of that at once.)
Lest we forget: There are beaches in Acapulco. The Boca Chica is next to two of them, Caletilla and Caleta, which are hugely popular among Mexican families, grandmas and infants included, and have seafood restaurants where you can eat a meal with your toes in the sand. (One of the most beloved is La Cabaña de Caleta.) From Caletilla, you can take a glass-bottomed boat across the bay to La Roqueta Island, which has its own restaurants and bars, and if you prefer to go further off the beaten path, you can take a cab 45 minutes or so Puerto Marques to the south, or Pie de la Cuesta and the Coyuca Lagoon to the west. These are both great places to spend a day soaking up the sun, and having ceviche and other freshly caught seafood preparations.