Adventures in Mazatlán: Acapulco Edition!
I’ve caught up on my sleep and have slowed back down, temporarily. More travel coming up but for now I’m home in Mazatlán enjoying the Summer heat. It doesn’t quite feel as hot/humid as last year. Could I be acclimating? I do have my air conditioners on, but they’re set to 87 f.
Acapulco was amazing. The city was vibrant and full of tourists, but very few from outside México. I did not encounter any problems with security/safety. In fact, I felt very safe during the entire trip. And while there wasn’t any wandering outside the hotel zone at night (other than the one early evening watching the clavadistas), I did travel to a couple of places I don’t think many international tourists go.
The bus ride from Mazatlán to Acapulco was a killer. First, the bus was three hours late. I’m fairly certain that it actually wasn’t three hours late, but that they canceled the first bus because there weren’t enough passengers. I think this because a few of us wound up having tickets for the same seats, and the driver had to do some quick re-arranging! At this point I was just glad to be on the bus, and wanted to sleep (it was after 11 pm when we pulled out of the station). The bus ride is almost 24 hours, and doesn’t have many stops. I have more stops on the bus to Puerto Vallarta, and that’s only 7 hours! And that may get you wondering – Hmmm. 7 hours to Puerto Vallarta, and 24 to Acapulco? Is Acapulco really that much further? Well, if you’re going down the coast it’s not. But this bus for some reason goes through Guadalajara, Querétaro, México City, and Cuernavaca (very pretty! I think I’ll add it to my places to visit) before heading over to Acapulco!
I finally arrived in Acapulco and checked into my hotel, the Playa Suites. I have a timeshare in South Lake Tahoe that I don’t use, so I bank the week with a trading company, RCI. My one week every two years in Tahoe gets me two weeks at most places in México. With the fees, it’s about what I pay for my week in my timeshare in Puerto Vallarta, so I come out a happy camper. Reviews for the Playa Suites in Acapulco were not good, but it was a great location, and not all inclusive, so I decided I’d give it a try. I’m glad I did as it’s on the playa tlacopanocha and the main drag (Av. Costera Miguel Alemán), the room wasn’t dirty, housekeeping did a great job, the front desk people were helpful, and the dining room buffets were tasty – and not horribly overpriced! The greeter in the restaurant even started remembering my room number! While the place was a little older, it was a solid three/three and a half stars. And it was right next door to the funky shaped HS Hotsson hotel (used to be the Crowne Plaza) so I always knew where I was! I’ll definitely be going back there!
I’d describe Acapulco as Puerto Vallarta all grown up. Mountains to your right, beaches to your left, great local food, both mercados and new shopping malls, AND the cliff divers! Pretty much everything anyone would want in a Méxican beach town. The city and the beaches really are beautiful, and the people are friendly and welcoming.
While I was there, I went to two off-the-beaten-path locations….
The first was the Isla de la Roqueta. Specifically the restaurant Palao. Think big tiki hut on a remote jungle island! The boat ride over was in a glass bottom boat and included a stop for one of the crew to climb up some rocks and do a nice dive into the ocean (please tip the dripping boy after his dive!). I passed on the options for lunch, a show, and a jungle tour – but the show was held right where I was sitting, so I got to see it anyway! Ordered an appetizer and a beer off the menu and I was all set!
The second place was the adventure of a thousand buses. Ok, there were just two buses and one boat – but it took quite a while! And it was my lesson into the finer details of the Méxican bus system! In addition to the city buses (urbanos) there are re-purposed vans called collectivos. To get to my second trip, Barra de Coyuca, you take an urbano to the end of the line, then you grab a collectivo to someone with a boat who will take you the rest of the way! Barra de Coyuca has to have the longest stretch of beautiful beach that I’ve ever seen. And it was virtually empty. There are a couple dozen palapas/beach restaurants – and they were ghost towns other than the families working them. Summer is definitely the time of year to go if you don’t want crowds!
I’m going to wrap this up so you can get to looking at the pictures to see for yourself what Acapulco has to offer! Just a quick note on the clavadistas at La Quebrada – there’s a nice restaurant at the hotel Mirador where you can sit and have apps/beverages/dinner while you watch the divers do their thing. They charge a cover if you aren’t staying there, but they charge at the lookout point as well. The only drawback is that while you can see everything quite clearly, an inexpensive travel camera doesn’t quite do it justice.