Acapulco & Puerto Vallarta
Pacific Coast Beaches, Mexico
Golden Acapulco, a kind of Cancun-by-the-Pacific but more old-fashioned beach resort. Photo by Sally
Mexico Beaches Guide | Mexico Map | Maya Riviera Beaches
The central Mexico Pacific Coast has
several hundred miles of coastline (in other words a lot more than on the Mayan Riviera coast) with golden sandy beaches and excellent
Pacific Mexico beach choices are endless, from international resorts
like Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco if you want monster, densely packed, all-inclusive resorts, to smaller beach resorts
with ethnic colour such as Chamela (one of the prettiest, 101 miles (165 km) south of Puerto Vallarta), Barra de Navidad and Zihuatanejo.
All these places offer a vast range of things to do, superb seafood and lively night life at low cost, though muddy seas, occasional pollution, dangerous rips and jellyfish may temper the pleasure.
Caleta beach in Acapulco. Photo by Miguel Bernardo
Acapulco sports one of those celebrity names that tourists to Mexico feel the need to experience at least once, though sadly the reality is the city has gone downhill since it was the Hollywood playground of choice in the 1950's. Acapulco still has magnificent hotels, some fine sights and beaches, awesome cliff-divers (40m/120ft) and a frenzied nighlife.
The negative aspects of Acapulco include drug violence perpetrated by local cartels, corrupt and grasping police, frequent and persistent hawkers on beaches, commonplace thievery, some armed robbery and garbage in the bay!
Activities available in Acapulco apart from partying and sunbathing include boat cruises, scuba diving (onto wrecks and sea mountains) and snorkeling, sailing and windsurfing, paragliding, and fishing, particularly sailfishing. For the kids there's a huge aquapark with slides, dolphin shows and so on,while adults can enjoy a few ancient monuments, museums, a botanical garden, several world-class golf courses and horseback riding.
Acapulco climate: average high temperatures in the tourist season from November to May hover around 88F (31C) with lows of 73F (23C), and almost no rain. Sea temperature is about 79F (26C).
However! If you go for a cheap off-season vacation from June- September you can expect highs uncomfortably over 90F (32C) and seriously heavy rain 50% of the time, with plenty of cloud and rough seas for the other 50%!
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico's premier LGBT beach destination.
Puerto Vallarta is a long-standing Pacific beach resort with its cobbled streets, handful of fine colonial style buildings, extensive beaches, a fine newly extended boardwalk, plentiful marine life, the Sierra Madre Mountains as a backdrop and a vibrant culture - which has become increasingly touristy and gay-friendly over the last few years. Some publications consider Puerto Vallarta to be the number one LGBT destination in Latin America, especially as flights from USA West Coast and Canada are so convenient. The focus of the gay action is, appropriately, Zona Romantica.
The city is home to four beaches, while to the north and south - easily accessible by bus - are a dozen more stretches of varied sand that are more or less developed and deserve some exploration.
Vallarta's two most popular
beaches are Playa Olas Altas (High Waves Beach), which is ironically the best swimming beach and does not generally have big waves but does have a good selection of beachside restaurants.
The other is the delightfully named Playa Los Muertos (Dead Man's Beach), the city's biggest beach and LGBT magnet, particularly down the south end, no pun intended.
It's best to avoid beaches near river mouths
as the waters there are frequently muddy and very occasionally either polluted by sewage or visited by crocodiles. Jellyfish are also a hazard from time to time.
Bahia de Puerto Vallarta. Photo by Marrovi
Things to do range from scuba diving, deep sea fishing, dolphin and sea lion encounters and whale watching (mid-December to end of March) to sailing and kite-surfing in Banderas Bay and the usual noisome jet skiing and parasailing. But don't waste your time looking for good surf here!
On land activities include horse-riding, hiking
into the sub-tropical forest of the Sierra Madre mountains, ziplining across canyons or tree tops, rappelling down waterfalls, crossing jungle bridges and splashing through streams and natural river pools.
Puerto Vallarta climate: slightly cooler than baking Acapulco, with average highs in the tourist season from November - May are 84F-86F (29C-30C) and lows about 63F (17C), with almost no rain at this time.
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