Acapulco for Kids - Family Fun
Though Acapulco is often seen as a town for romantic couples or college partiers, it is truly a wonderful place for a family vacation. In fact, by far most of Acapulco’s visitors come with their families.
The first and obvious draw is, of course, the beautiful beach – from Pie de la Cuesta on the north west side of the coast, through the Bay of Santa Lucia and over the ridge to Puerto Marques, Revolcadero, and down to Barra Vieja on the extreme southeastern portion. The waves inside the bay, along the Traditional Zone and the Acapulco’s Golden Zone, are really very gentle and most appropriate for small children. The beaches of Puerto Marques are also protected from swells and wind, and will not overwhelm little ones. The beaches along the Pacific Ocean are best reserved for adults and adolescents who are able to swim well.
Do not forget that at the beaches you can rent watercraft – jet skis and windsurfers. The best windsurfing is in the bay of Puerto Marques and the Tres Palos lagoon, but it can be accomplished in Acapulco’s larger bay, too. Waterskiing, snorkeling, diving, and even parasailing are all options open to parents with older children. Most concierge desks can readily set you up with guided tours and equipment rentals, and many are available just by walking out onto the beach. This is especially true of the jet skis, which are rented on almost every beach along the waterfront.
Many hotels offer “Kids’ Programs” of one sort or another, which give the parents a few hours out of each day to enjoy their own adult company. And the kids really enjoy the activities organized especially for them. Usually the age range is from about 6 to 12 years of age. Details vary by hotel, but all kids programs put a lot of emphasis on outdoor activity, usually with games around the splash pool or in a controlled environment like the fitness center. Then there will be stories and crafts and quieter activities. One program gives kids a detailed tour of the hotel, including all the parts that the guests do not see, like the kitchens and the supply areas. The hotel staff explain to the children how everything is managed so that the hotel will give everyone a comfortable stay. The kids’ program of the Crowne Plaza has received very high marks from previous guests. The Avalon, Fiesta Americana, Las Brisas, and the Fairmont hotels also offer them as well. The idea has taken hold, and several other Acapulco hotels may also provide programs for children, too. Though not a luxury accommodation, the Sands Hotel takes full advantage of its on-premises fun park to offer a special day program for kids. Some of these programs are fee-based, and some are free. The concierge desk will have all the details for any given hotel.
The best activities for children really involve making an outing as a family. Acapulco has many, many destinations for a day trip with the kids. The first stops should be at the parks set up just for children to enjoy. Three of them should be at the top of your list. They are: Aca-Zoo. The Aca-Zoo is on Roqueta Island. This is the large green island right in the mouth of the entrance to Acapulco’s bay. It is a nature preserve. To get there, take a glass-bottom boat ride from Caletilla beach. Once on the island follow the signs up the hill. Several tropical jungle animals are kept in this small zoo, including snakes, wild donkeys, monkeys, and also elephants and giraffes. Be sure to notice the tropical jungle vegetation, too, much of which is identified for you.
CiCi Water Park
Come in your bathing suit and bring a change of dry clothes. The CiCi water park is famous in Acapulco mainly because kids can swim with dolphins there. In addition, this amusement center has tall slides, water sleds, and a roller coaster adapted for water play. CiCi also has a lazy river, a wave pool, and conventional pools for swimming and diving. Seal and dolphin shows are scheduled throughout the day. This is a great place to come for the better part of a whole day. Going to CiCi is easy but bus or cab. Just go down the Costera towards Costa Azul (away from the Traditional Zone, towards the Naval Base). About two blocks past the Acapulco’s International Center (Convention Center) you will find CiCi on the bay side of the avenue. The walls are decorated with waves and are painted blue. There is a fee for admission, per person, good for the whole day.
Originally an estate, this large area of green in the middle of Acapulco has recently been given a facelift and now offers all manner of fun activities for kids and grownups, too. There is swimming pool and a skate board/roller skating rink and park, a number of animals on display, some jumping fun on large inflated climbing structures, ducks to feed, a ride on the park’s tour train, and even a model galleon in one of the ponds. Cotton candy, hot dogs and all the other carnival eating options are there, too. Parque Papagayo is also a great place for jogging or strolling along its several kilometers of pathways. Admission is free, but some of the rides have a fee. To get there, go down the Costera Alemán to the large, central flag pole around mid-bay. The entrance is right across the Costera from there.
AquaPlanet is a family activity consisting of an educational center for kids in the 5-13 age range, found in “La Isla” in Acapulco Diamante. The idea is to teach how important water conservation is in saving the planet from the assaults of modern human lifestyles. The entry for the day is $150 pesos, and the place is opens at 10. They close at 8 on Mondays through Thursdays and at 1 am on the weekends. Ten attractions are offered including a rock climbing wall, bumper boats, a kids' pool, and a miniature golf course.
Mágico Mundo Marino
Mágico Mundo Marino is another great place to go with the children. It is an aquarium along the lines of Sea World, but obviously much smaller. It also has water sports and slides as well as a place to eat and buy souvenirs and gifts. See the tropical birds, the marine museum, and take in the view of Isla Roqueta, Caleta and Caletilla. The Mágico Mundo Marino is open from 10 to 6 every day, and is found right at the point where Caleta Beach and Caletilla come together.
Don’t overlook the shopping malls. The Gran Plaza, on the Costera right by the east side of Parque Papagayo has “Recorcholis,” a large kids’ fun center with lots of video games and entertainment. Older kids can be left to their own devices while the parents go shopping. Formerly called “Amazing World,” this spot has ball-filled pools, climbing frames and tunnels and trampolines. A special section is for kids 2 and under. The grown-ups are welcome to join in with their kids.
In the Galerías Diana shopping area on the Costera kids will also find a large video game arcade. It’s near the movie theaters, so you may be able to make a long visit, including the popcorn!
Here you can swim with dolphins in their own environment. There are water platforms where the kids can interact with them if they want to. The activity is safe and unlike any other. The handlers explain a great deal about dolphins and can show you how they communicate. Delfines Paradise is on the Costera Alemán at Condesa Beach.
In the Plaza Bahía shopping center on the Costera in between Galerías Diana and Gran Plaza, and on the other side of the avenue (on the bay side), you will find a fully-equipped, modern bowling alley. This is a really good choice for older kids who may have some pent-up energy to expend.
Acapulco’s role in Spain’s expansive empire and nautical exploration can come to life for children when hey visit historic Fort San Diego. Originally built in 1616, Fort San Diego was designed to protect the small Spanish garrison from attacks by English pirates and hostile indigenous peoples. The galleons coming from China and the Philippines were all headed to Acapulco, finally arriving after months at sea. Their rich cargoes would be packed overland to Veracruz, where ships would depart back to Spain. Two hundred years later, the fort played a role in Mexico's struggle for independence. There are guided and self-guided tours at the Fort. Worth visiting also is the smaller Fortin Álvarez, where the powder magazine was. The soldiers did not want the explosives in the same place as they and the colonial families were living, so this small outpost was established nearby. Another fun side trip at the Fort is the House of Masks, a display of the colorful masks created by indigenous cultures local to Acapulco, together with explanations of the dances and traditions surrounding them.
Other Sites and Sights
Acapulco has an underwater chapel where you can see a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Take a glass bottom boat ride to Isla Roqueta from Caletilla beach.
On the ridge of Las Brisas, way above the bay, on the skyline, you will be able to see a large cross. This is a modern and beautiful “Chapel of Peace,” a non-denominational refuge for prayer and meditation. After 10 in the morning the Chapel is open to visitors. It’s best to go by taxi or private car. El Zócalo is the central town square, where the cathedral is located. In the early evenings it is common for clowns to perform in the gazebo area. Sometimes there are impromptu concerts by local bands. There is always something brewing in the Zócalo.
Hikes on the hillside
For the hearty, there is a national park right above Acapulco, with vast expanses of terrain, good for day trips. Overnight camping is not recommended. Check out the details in the page on the Veladero National Park.
Go to the Laguna de Tres Palos and see a truly natural tropical forest. You can rent boats and kayaks at the lake.
Browse the Open Air Markets
Go to the Central Market or to the Mercado de Artensanías Dalia or Diana, where the kids will enjoy browsing through all the toys, clothing and bric-a-brac on sale.