Is Acapulco Safe to Visit in 2024? Your Insider’s Guide

If you are planning a trip to the Guerrero resort town of Acapulco, you are likely to be concerned about safety. Mexico, on the whole, is a destination that people are often concerned about traveling to and Acapulco doesn’t have the best reputation. 

But is Acapulco safe to travel to? Honestly if you take precautions and only stick to certain areas then yes, you can have a safe trip to Acapulco.

The city does attract a relatively large amount of Mexican domestic tourists and while it is no longer the Hollywood A-list jetsetter destination of choice, there are still an amount of foreign travelers who choose to come here regularly or live here part or full time as expats. 

However still, Acapulco is far from the safest part of Mexico. I have been living in Mexico for the last two and a half years and have passed through Acapulco several times. 

You are in good hands here and in this post, we will take a look at everything you ought to know before you go. From there, you can make an informed decision as to whether or not Acapulco is the best place for your beach getaway. 

Is Acapulco Safe to Visit in 2024?

Acapulco is not the safest place in Mexico but that doesn’t mean that you should absolutely write off going or that you cannot be safe here. I just feel that it is important to give you a realistic view of things. 

Violent things do happen in Acapulco and crime rates are high, but before you let yourself become terrified by the rates of violent crime, do note that most of these incidents are clashes between criminal groups and they do not affect tourists. 

Tourism is a super important contributor to the Mexican economy (it constitutes 7.1% of the countrys GDP and is growing year on year). Nobody wants anything bad to happen to tourists or for the tourists to stop coming and for that reason, you will notice a heavy police presence in the city. 

Still, there are plenty of other gorgeous beaches and resort towns in Mexico where the things that happen in Acapulco simply don’t happen. (For instance, Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco, the remote beaches of the Yucatan state, Mahahual, Los Cabos, etc). 

If you are hoping for a relaxing beach break in the tropics, it is definitely worth taking a look at other parts of Mexico where you will feel more comfortable to explore freely, unless you absolutely have your heart set on Acapulco. 

Once upon a time, Acapulco was the vacation destination of choice for Hollywood’s A list. The likes of John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, and Ronald and Nancy Reagan all loved spending their free time in Acapulco. 

Acapulco was Mexico’s own Cote d’Azur if you will. But as organized crime waves rocked Mexico, the glitterati stopped visiting Acapulco, and the city is no longer the desirable, chic tropical getaway destination it once was.

The best areas to stay in Acapulco 

It is important to put some thought into where you are going to stay in Acapulco as not all neighborhoods are created equal. The best areas in Acapulco are:

  • Zona Dorada (The Golden zone)

  • Acapulco Diamante

  • Revolcadero Beach

  • Puerto Marques Bay 

The Zona Dorada is one of the most popular tourist areas in the city and you will find something for every taste and budget here. Its also great from a convenience perspective since it place you right in the heart of the action, close to the beach, and a number of excellent bars and restaurants in the city. 

Acapulco Diamante is one of the more high-end areas to base yourself and the area is filled with upscale hotels, resorts, and condominiums, as well as fine dining restaurants operated by globally renowned chefs. Revolcadero beach and the nearby Puerto Marques Bay are both great for swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing by the Pacific. 

Of course, it pays to check past reviews before booking a hotel. Many properties in these areas offer 24/7 security which can offer you peace of mind if you are worried about traveling here for the first time. 

Which areas to avoid in Acapulco 

One thing to note about Mexican cities (including Acapulco) is that you cannot just blindly wander around walking all over the city. One moment, you could be in a perfectly nice area and then just 10-15 minutes down the road, you may find yourself in a sketchy part of town where your presence is not appreciated. 

Avoid the below districts in Acapulco:

  • Tres Palos

  • Jardin Mangos

  • El Coloso

  •  El Rena

  • Las Cruces

  • La Sabana

  • Centro

La Progreso is also not that safe. A lot of expats live out in this part of the town but some of the most dangerous roads in the city are found here so you need to exercise caution if you don’t know where you are going. 

Hurricanes and natural disasters in Acapulco

The hurricane season in Acapulco runs between June and October each year, with August and September being the months when a hurricane is the most likely. Most coastal parts of Mexico (both in the Pacific and along the Carribean coast) share the same hurricane season.

While usually this just brings heavy storms and rains, September 2023 brought Hurricane Otis to Acapulco – the largest hurricane that Guerrero has ever seen, killing dozens of people and causing billions of dollars worth of damage. Although the damage and aftermath have now largely been cleared up, other parts of Mexico, including Puerto Vallarta, saw strong hurricanes in 2023. 

With global warming becoming an increasing issue, it is difficult to predict the risk of hurricanes in the area going forward so you may prefer to travel outside of August/September. If you do decide to travel to Acapulco during this time, keep an eye on the news and weather forecasts. 

Government travel advice for Acapulco 

I always recommend that people check their country’s government travel advice before traveling anywhere for the first time and that includes Mexico. Your government’s travel advisory will likely be updated in real-time in line with any changing entry requirements or recent safety and security developments. 

The US Department of State has a pretty decent travel safety page that offers a state-by-state look at the safety and security situation in Mexico. It provides each of Mexico’s 32 states with a safety rating so that you can assess how safe it is (or not) to travel there. 

While the US Department of State’s travel advisory is more in-depth than its UK and Canadian counterparts, the reality is still more nuanced than that. The truth is that safety in Mexico can vary substantially from state to state, city to city, and even within the barrios of a city. 

Guerrero is a state on the “do not travel” list, although Acapulco is considered an okay place for tourists (including Americans) to visit. Similarly, Sinaloa is on the “do not travel” list when Mazatlan is a popular tourist and expat hub, and the page recommends that people “reconsider travel” to Jalisco, home to Puerto Vallarta, one of the safest and most popular beach towns in the country.

Review the travel advice, take note on any advice or recent developments, but to an extent, take it with a pinch of salt. People on the ground here in Mexico or in expat groups like “Expats in Acapulco”, “Expats in Mexico” can often give you a better insight into reality.

Crime in Acapulco 

Unfortunately, Acapulco sees some of the highest crime and homicide rates in both Mexico and the world. Statistica, along with numerous other sources, cited it as being the world’s second most dangerous city with a murder rate of  110.5 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2022, down to 54.13 in 2023.

These are not random acts of violence and these events happen between cartel members not random tourists or civilians. Most people who are killed or “disappear” in Mexico were involved with the cartel. 

Do not go looking for trouble in Mexico and trouble will not go looking for you. I have never experienced anything violent or met any criminals (that I know of) in my 2.5 years here. 

Still, I cannot deny that there is a lot of cartel-related violence in the area and while tourists are never the targets, there have been a number of instances where shootings between criminal organizations have taken place in public places, dead bodies have washed up on beaches, and gangs have blocked roads and burned cars. 

The chances of being in the wrong place at the wrong time are pretty small, but its still a possibility, albeit a small one. 

Tourists may be the victim of opportunist crimes such as bag snatching or pickpocketing. But you can protect yourself by investing in a theft-proof backpack and never letting your valuables out of your sight.

Other crimes, both violent and petty, are not unheard of either. A lot of muggings and break-ins take place in Acapulco.

Could you be the victim of a crime in Acapulco?

It is a controversial thing to say, as obviously no life/person is more important than another. But if you spend any amount of time in Mexico, you will note that crimes and scams are generally more likely to happen to other Mexicans than they are to western tourists. 

Why? More than 20 million international travelers visit Mexico every year, despite the fact that the matter of safety in Mexico is a concern for many. 

If tourists were getting attacked and kidnapped left right and center, it would be an international scandal, fewer tourists would return, and local businesses would be harmed. It is for this reason that tourist areas see such a high police presence.

Is it safe to take day trips to other parts of Guerrero? 

Usually I recommend getting “off the beaten path” in Mexico and taking the time to explore lesser known pueblos, ruins and natural wonders. However, Guerrero is on the “do not travel” list and outside of Acapulco and Zihuatanejo, the state really is not safe so you really need to be careful about where you go. 

This is one of the main narco-trafficking states in Mexico and crime rates are high across the board. The villages in the northern part of the state are controlled by cartels and cities like Chilpancingo see high rates of crime. 

If you are renting a car and planning to drive to/from Zihuatanejo or Ixtapa, the route is pretty safe during the day. Stick to the toll roads and don’t be alarmed by police checkpoints – they are pretty standard here in Mexico and are there for everyones safety. 

I have personally never been stopped but if you are, they will just ask to check the inside of your car and to see your ID. 

How to get around safely in Acapulco 

While you can walk around the Zona Dorado and Acapulco Diamantes, the city isn’t really that walkable if you are trying to get from one part of town to another. Local buses and colectivos (minivans) are an affordable way to get around, although the bus network can be a little confusing to navigate and some of the vehicles are a little rickety and dated. 

Try to avoid both intercity and long-distance bus journeys at night, when crimes and muggings can be more common. 

Taking taxis in Acapulco

In many parts of Mexico, Uber and other local ridesharing apps like Didi and Indrive are most people’s preferred way to get around safely. (Largely because there is more accountability via the app vs getting into a random street car).

Unfortunately, these do not work in Acapulco and the local taxi firms have monopoly. 

Taxi drivers are often a law unto themselves the world over and that includes Acapulco. Many taxis here are not metered, meaning that you have to negotiate and agree on a price before you get in the car. 

Still, people are very likely to just make up whatever they think they can get away with charging you because they will assume that you are an unsuspecting tourist with no idea of the correct going rates. For this reason, its a good idea to organise taxis via your hotel who will have trusted drivers that they can call.

Once you find a driver that you like and trust, take their number so that you can call them when you need a ride.

Is Acapulco safe at night?

Acapulco is not safe at night in the sense that it is okay to be going on walks along empty beaches or wandering randomly into unknown neighborhoods. If you are going from your hotel on the main strip to the bars or restaurants on the main strip, you should be fine. 

Make sure that the place that you are going to is a short distance from your hotel and only walk along well-lit, busy streets rather than side streets and passageways. Acapulco is known for its vibrant nightlife and there are always tons of people around the main strip in the evenings.

If you want to go to a bar or club that is a little further away, plan your return journey back to the hotel. You should never get into a random street taxi in Mexico, so you can ask the receptionist or concierge at your hotel to organize pick up for you at a certain time. 

Can I drink the water in Acapulco?

No. You cannot drink the water in Acapulco or in Mexico as a whole. Although it is purified at the source, it is often contaminated en route to the tap.

The bacteria, germs, parasites, and other matter found in Mexican tap water can make you very sick. Even Mexicans don’t drink it.

Fortunately, most hotels will usually provide complimentary water for their guests. Then, you can buy more at any Oxxo/convenience store/supermarket, etc.

You don’t have to worry about having ice in your drinks or drinking Mexican drinks like agua frescas because these are all made with bottled water and businesses have ice delivered.

Street food safety in Acapulco 

Street food is a huge part of Mexican culture and missing out on it while you are in Acapulco would be a real shame. A lot of people seem to assume that traveling to Mexico goes hand in hand with getting sick but not everyone that visits the country is destined to feel unwell. 

In Acapulco, fresh harina and maize tortillas are prepared by hand daily and used to make mouthwatering tacos that you can enjoy for just $0.50 cents. You can find street vendors serving elotes, tamales, tacos, and burritos in Acapulcos mercados and on virtually every street corner. 

Mexicans usually buy their street food and eat it there and then next to the cart. Some carts set up little tables and chairs beside them so that you can enjoy the fare.

To give yourself the best chance of avoiding getting sick, look out for street food carts that are busy. If there is a line of locals waiting to eat there, it probably has a good reputation. 

Avoid anywhere where it looks like food has been sitting out or there are flies around. (These things aren’t appealing anyway!) 

Food safety in Acapulco 

Acapulco has an excellent dining scene that is sure to satisfy even the fussiest eaters. You can find a mixture of local and international eateries here, as well as everything from humble taquerias that have been in operation for decades, to ultra-chic high-end sushi bars. 

It is a good idea to check past reviews on Google to see what other tourists thought of the food quality, dining experience, etc. One spot to add to your radar is El Amigo Miguel (Av Costera Miguel Alemán s/n, Hornos). 

This is one of the oldest continually operating seafood restaurants in town and it has been delighting locals and tourists alike for years. Dishes are prepared with seafood that is caught fresh earlier that same day. 

If you want to enjoy their specialty, order the “drunken shrimp” or the lobster. Nearby, Los Rancheros (C. M.F. Maury 17, Fracc Costa Azul, Costa Azulis) another Acapulco institution that specializes in homely Mexican fare. 

If you are looking for something a little more glamorous, add Thai-Mexican fusion restaurant Zibu Acapulco (Escénica S/N, Fracc. Gloma) to your radar, or Japanese restaurant Shu Acapulco (Blvd. de las Naciones 1813, Col Diamante). 

Is Acapulco safe for solo female travelers?

This entire website has been written by a solo female traveler in Mexico. (Me!)

I have traveled to 57 countries and 13 Mexican states alone and I am a big advocate for never letting your gender or physical appearance deter you from anything you want to do. Personally, I would not hesitate to travel to Acapulco alone but I would say that to do so, you need to be assertive and well-versed in traveling to places where you need to be more aware of your surroundings.

Since Acapulco thrives on tourism (even if it is mostly domestic), you won’t get weird looks or remarks for being here solo. However, you may feel uncomfortable with looks and attention from men, particularly on the beach. 

Do not walk alone at night and be careful about wandering into sketchy areas as unfortunately, assaults are not unheard of. For your peace of mind, it is worth paying extra for a more high-end hotel.

Keep your friends and family updated on your trip plans but don’t share your real-time updates or location on social media. If you haven’t spent a ton of time in Mexico, Merida, the Riviera Maya, Mexico City, or Santiago de Queretaro are among my top recommendations for solo female travelers here.

Is Acapulco safe to live in?

Safety is a very personal thing. Some people may feel perfectly comfortable in Acapulco whereas others feel anxious about the things that they read and hear about.

You could argue that the longer you stay in a place, the more likely you are to become a victim of a crime. (It’s just a maths game, right? Sticking around longer increases your probability of being caught up in something). 

At the same time, you could argue that when you live in Acapulco for an extended period, you become accustomed to the safety concerns here. You know where to go and where not to go. 

You adjust your schedule so that you do not walk in certain areas after a certain time of night, and you know where and how scammers operate. Plenty of international expats live in Acapulco and many enjoy their experience.

If you living in Acapulco is something that you are considering, it is a good idea to visit for an extended period first. Try renting a short-term apartment for a month or two to see how you would feel about basing yourself in Acapulco. 

Connect with other expats via Acapulco and Mexico expat Facebook groups and get some insight from people who have lived in the city for a few years. 

I personally would not feel all that comfortable living in Acapulco, purely because of the increased probability of experiencing/witnessing something the longer you stick around. 

I live in the Yucatan capital of Merida, which is the safest city in Mexico and where you never hear of any crime or violence. Lake Chapala, Puerto Vallarta, and the Riviera Maya are other expat hubs that you may want to consider.

Useful safety tips for visiting Acapulco 

I have summarised some useful pointers for staying safe in Acapulco below. Some of this stuff might seem like common sense advice that will serve you well anywhere but I thought it was important to reiterate it here.

  • Purchase a Mexican SIM card to stay connected if Mexico is not included in your cell phone plan. (Many American and Canadian plans do include Mexico so double check first).

  • Dont carry around wads of cash. International credit/debit cards are widely accepted with the exception of smaller markets and mom and pop stores. 4,000 – 5,000 MXN pesos is plenty to last you a couple of days.

  • Dont wear expensive accessories/jewlelry or flash the designer goods. It will make you a target for petty theft

  • Make sure that you have your eyes on your personal belongings at all times and never leave them unattended.

  • In crowded markets, walk with your bag in front of you rather than slung over one shoulder and consider investing in a theft-proof backpack or moneybelt if you spend a lot of time in Latin America

  • Never walk alone at night and always take an Uber back to your hotel if youve had a couple of drinks

  • Make sure that you buy a comprehensive travel insurance policy. A good policy includes at least $250,000 worth of medical coverage and added extras like theft/loss of luggage, sports, repatriation and cancellations

  • Consider buying an alarmed doorstop for your hotel/Airbnb

  • Learn a little Spanish if you can

  • Check your surroundings at ATMs and don’t use ATMs at night 

Try and learn a little Spanish before your trip 

English is not widely spoken in Mexico on the whole and while some hotels, tour companies, and tourist-facing businesses in Acapulco do speak a small amount, the area mostly attracts domestic Mexican tourists.

Learning a handful of handy phrases will go a long way, make your life easier and is always appreciated.

Useful phrases for your first trip to Acapulco

  • Yo tengo una reserva – I have a reservation

  • Mi nombre es – My name is

  • Lo siento, no entiendo – I’m sorry, I don’t understand

  • Disculpe – Excuse me

  • Yo quiero – I want (useful for ordering food)

  • La cuenta por favor – The bill please

  • Quanto es – How much is it?

  • Buenos dias – Good morning!

  • Buenos tardes – Good afternoon!

  • Buenos noches – Good night

  • Hasta luego – See you later

  • Una mesa para uno/dos/tres – A table for one/two/three…

  • Dónde está – Where is…

  • Gracias! – Thank you

  • Tienes wifi? – Do you have wifi?

  • Necesito ayuda – I need help

  • Habla Inglés?

  • Lo siento no puedo hablar español – Im sorry I cannot speak Spanish

You may also find that Duolingo is a fun and easy way to learn some basic Spanish in a short amount of time (nobody expects you to become fluent ahead of your vacation). Meanwhile, Google Translate makes it easy to communicate if you find yourself unable to speak to someone. 

(You can simply talk or type what you are trying to say and it automatically translates it to Spanish). The translations are actually pretty good. 

Is Acapulco safe for families? 

Families can have safe trips to Acapulco, but that largely means heading to the Golden Zone or the more upscale Acapulco Diamante and staying in resorts. Many resorts will offer amenities for families and kids like kids pools, play pens, interactive clubs and classes, etc. 

Plenty of locals and expats have children here and they are a common sight. Just use your common sense if you head into downtown Acapulco.

Is Acapulco safe for tourists? Final thoughts

Acapulco is not the safest place in Mexico and it isn’t necessarily the place I would recommend for a first time visit. There are so many gorgeous places in this country that you can travel to without having to constantly worry about whether you are in a safe neighborhood or not, or even have a slight stress about violence breaking out. 

Still, over 6 million tourists travel to Acapulco each year and most of their trips are trouble-free and memorable for all the right reasons. I really hope that this post has helped you plan your trip and I hope it doesn’t come across as overly negative, I just think it’s important to give an honest opinion.

Do you have any more questions about traveling to Guerrero or Mexico in general? Please dont hesitate to reach out to me via the comments below or by connecting with me via email/social media. 

I will do my best to get back to you as soon as I can. Safe travels! 

Buen Viaje! Melissa xo 

Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer based in Merida, Mexico and the Editor-in-Chief of Mexico Travel Secrets. She has over seven years worth of experience in working in travel media and has travelled to 57 countries, mostly solo. Throughout her career, Melissa has produced written content for several high-profile publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, the Huffington Post, Rough Guides, and Matador Network.

Similar Posts