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Transportation

Transfers from the Bus Station or Airport

Acapulco does not let street taxis pick up passengers at the airport. Rather, outside you will find several other means of transport. The vans and mini-vans can hold from 5 to 10 people, plus luggage. The fee is set at $300 pesos per trip for the vehicle (not $300 per person). You can buy a ticket inside the airport or just walk outside and get in. Any airport personnel will guide you to a transport. These airport shuttles are safe, and odd or unpleasant incidents are unheard of. So this part of your journey should be totally stress free. Be sure to tip the driver if you have a lot of luggage.

Transfers from the Hotel to the Airport or Bus Station

You can have your hotel call you a cab or simply get a taxi in the street. The trip to the airport in a blue and white taxi (Volkswagen Beetle) should run about $150 to $200 pesos. The larger taxis charge more, up to about $300. It is best to pre-arrange a larger transport (taxi, van or limo) with the hotel staff or a transport company.

City Buses

Types of Buses. City buses in Acapulco are called “camiones.” There are three types:

Main Routes of City Buses

Most visitors to Acapulco will have occasion to ride only one of two main bus routes in town. By far the predominant one is up and down the Costera Alemán, from Caleta on the west end of the bay, to the Naval Base at the other end. These buses come by so frequently, and there are so many on the route, that it is tempting to imagine that all the buses follow this pattern. That can lead to unpleasant surprises when suddenly the bus stops or takes an unexpected turn. The secret, of course, is to study the white shoe polish on the windshield of the bus. The subtle absence of an expected destination on the windshield may mean that this bus is not going where you think. Some buses, but by no means all of them, display their "route number" somewhere on the front.

Once you acquire the habit of checking out the bus windshields for surprise variations in the route, everything should go smoothly. Technically, the driver is only supposed to pick up and drop off at designated bus stops, but any driver will stop anywhere to pick up a paying passenger who waves. If you need to get off somewhere other than at a regular stop, just ask the driver to let you off, and he will, especially if no traffic police are watching. On the rear doors of many of the buses there is a button or switch, which, if it is working, will buzz the driver that you want to get off through the back door at the first good chance. If the buzzer is broken or missing, just shout out “¡BAJA!” (which means descending or getting off the bus). (The "j" in "baja" is pronounced in the back of the throat, half way between “baka” and “baha.")

In theory, people get on in the front and pay the driver, then exit through the rear door. A couple of drivers try to enforce this rule, but almost everyone ignores it. Exiting out the front gives you a chance to point out where you want to stop, and thank the driver.

The buses run from 6am until midnight. They come often. In theory, they have schedules. In practice they come by when they can, and that's that.

Taxis

It seems as if half the vehicles on the streets of Acapulco are taxis. This should not be surprising. Most people who live in Acapulco can not afford to have an automobile. Unlike those who live in a city like Los Angeles, California, where a car is a necessity, the people of Acapulco get from one place or another by the bus, or by an intricate system of taxis.

Blue and White Taxis

It bears repeating that the number one rule of riding in a blue and white taxi is: Ask what the fare will be before getting into the car. A fair price to pay is $30 pesos for a short trip. If the ride is ten minutes or so it will be closer to $50 pesos. Increase these rates by 25% or so if the cab is full-size rather than a VW, or if the traffic is bad, or if it is raining, or if there’s a demonstration somewhere, blocking traffic. In many cities, the first question from the driver will be, “how do you want to go?” No one ever asks this question in Acapulco. There is usually only one way to get anywhere, at most two. With flat fee fares, the driver has an incentive to take the shortest possible route, though many inexplicably take the longest route winding through back roads instead of taking the main drag, La Costera. Don't let this unnerve you, it's just the way they do things here. If you find a driver you like, ask for his card or phone number. This may come in useful later if you need a cab.

Colectivos

In addition to the blue and white taxis, described above in the context of airport transfers, Acapulco also has yellow and white taxis called “colectivos.” These cars – often boxy Nissans or similar brands -- operate on the main arterial routes of town and constantly drive around honking their horns. Like the buses, they write their destinations on the windshield. Colectivos are a compromise between buses and private cabs. They will accept up to five passengers, cramming everyone together like clowns in a circus car, and speed up and down the main drags in Acapulco. The fare is $12 pesos. You can get on where you are, and get out wherever you like. Some people call the colectivos “peseros,” as they used to charge just one peso for a ride. If you want to pay double, you can sit in the front without the risk of having someone on the console between you and the driver. Having four passengers in back is not unheard of. A good place to pick up a colectivo for any point in the city is Las Ancalas which is on the busy corner of Cuauhtémoc and the street to the south of Papagayo Park, but you can find them everywhere.

On the Costera, the colectivos run the route of the Caleta-Base bus by and large, except that most of the eastbound colectivos extend their reach at the Base to go over the hill and down to the Puerto Marques turnoff, and then up to Coloso. They will have "Coloso" written on the windshield. Coming back, they still might say “Coloso” or they might have written “Costera.” Often a ride in a colectivo is almost like a private cab, if it’s not at an hour when lots of people are on the move. For $12 pesos it is potentially the quickest, most efficient way to get up and down Acapulco’s main thoroughfare.

Car Rentals

Car Rentals are handled in Acapulco just as in all other parts of the world. The checking out and checking in process may be somewhat prolonged over the automatic systems in metropolitan airports, but it is not any different. Be very careful to identify every little bump or scrape on the exterior of the car; otherwise, you may be charged for them when you bring it back. Plan to get to the airport (if that’s where the car is returned) well in advance of the check-in time, to allow for un-programmed delays.

The difference between driving at home and in Acapulco becomes evident as soon as you sit behind the wheel. Life on Acapulco's streets is just not the same as in urban centers of the U.S. or Canada. In Acapulco, little deference is given to the concept of “right of way.” It is not something that is “given"; rather, it is something that is "taken." "Yield" is not in the vocabulary. Drive as if the car had elbows. It is a good idea to give all buses an extra amount of space.

If parking on the street, always lock the car. Stay out of the yellow striped crosswalks. Yellow-painted curbs are OK.

Many vacationing couples who come back year after year will say that they rented a car the first year, but not after that as its so easy to get around town by cab or bus. Some visitors rent the pink and white jeeps at Las Brisas and look pretty conspicuous driving around town, probably not recommended.

Parking

Many hotels have valet parking. There’s often an extra charge for it. A tip, however, should always be paid. Restaurants and some dance clubs also have valet parking, often without any other option. This is especially the case with restaurants and clubs on the Escénica, where the room for cars is often very limited. Some drivers have trouble entrusting the valet parking personnel and facilities with their car. You should not leave any valuables in the car.

Most locals try to find places on the street for their vehicles, as it is usually more convenient and always cheaper than covered parking in a garage. This is a safe practice in most neighborhoods up and down the Costera, though it would make sense not to park overnight on the Costera itself. Acapulco does not have many parking meters but if you're unfamiliar with the parking zones and hours, you may find a ticket on your window license plate missing. To get your license plate back, you'll need to make a trip to the Transito.

Many stores and shopping centers offer parking for their patrons. Usually it is underneath the stores themselves. This is the case, for example, with all three Soriana stores, Wal-Mart, La Gran Plaza, and Galerías Diana, just to name a few. Seldom is this parking free, though it can be considered fairly cheap. With a stamped receipt at Soriana, for example, an hour's parking is just $3 pesos. As a result, most shoppers go to their main location and park, taking advantage of the chance to visit multiple stores before returning to the vehicle.

Only a couple of unaffiliated public parking lots or garages can be found along the Costera Alemán. They operate much like parking lots in U.S. cities, except they are not nearly as highly automated. Usually there is a paid attendant who also provides visual security. The Condesa Area of the Costera, from the Diana traffic circle to the Calinda Beach Hotel, is a particularly difficult stretch for finding a place to park. A tall, mult-story parking facility can be found at the Diana circle itself. (The Furia Café disco is on the top floor of it). This may be the best solution for those planning to make a night of it.

Barra Vieja

Barra Vieja is a small village on the far side of Acapulco, down the coast beyond the airport. The road goes along the coast line, and when you start getting close to Barra Vieja the signs start appearing for the beach restaurants. The ride takes less than an hour from the bay side of Acapulco. In Barra Vieja you can set up in a beach club/restaurant/bar and enjoy both the surf and a swimming pool. Eat out on the beach under palapas, or up near pool side. Many different places along the beach compete for your preference, and you may want to look at two or three before making a decision. It is so relaxing to hang out at Barra Vieja that you may find yourself returning several times over. It was Beto’s restaurant in Barra Vieja that was credited with inventing Huachinango a la Talla – butterflied, marinated and grilled red snapper with a red sauce of guajillo chiles. This dish has become a seafood standby at many a good Acapulco seafood restaurant.

Pie de la Cuesta

This little village is just about 40 minutes away from Acapulco up the Costa Grande towards Zihuatanejo. Its name means "foot of the slope," as it is at the bottom of the steep ridge that rises from the ocean behind Acapulco, helping to create, in part the natural harbor. This beach location is idyllic, and has one of the hemisphere's best locations for watching the setting sun sink into the Pacific Ocean. Las Tres Marías is a local seafood restaurant for post-sunset celebrations and delicious shrimp and shell fish. This part of Mexico’s Pacific coast is uncluttered and relatively unaffected by the fast pace of development that one witnesses in Acapulco. Pie de la Cuesta makes a very agreeable day trip for a couple or a whole family.

Taxco

Some visitors may decide they would like to make Acapulco a sort of base from which they can make day trips to other places around the state of Guerrero. The best example would be to take time out to visit Taxco. Taxco is a colonial city in the mountains, not far from Mexico City. Its main church, Santa Prisca, is one of the best examples of Mexican baroque architecture there is. Built into the side of a mountain, Taxco is home to Mexico's most accomplished silversmiths. The ride takes about 4 hours. It can be done in one day, but is best accomplished with an overnight in Taxco itself. A two-night stay would be even better, as it would be possible to visit the caverns of Cacahuamilpa, a vast underground network of grottos that have been developed with lighting and infrastructure for the delight of tourists. Take a cab or a Cine Rio bus to the Estrella de Oro bus terminal. Buses depart for Taxco several times every day. Seats are reserved, and it usually makes sense to buy a round trip ticket.

Zihuatanejo

Another bus excursion might be up the Costa Grande towards Zihuatanejo. The ride along the coast is beautiful, and spending time in Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa will surely be enjoyable. Some veterans say the area reminds them of how Acapulco was before all the modern development took place. There are plenty of wonderful seafood restaurants, inviting beaches and water sports of all kinds. It's probably wise to budget a couple of days in order to do justice to the locale. The bus departs from the Estrella Blanca bus terminal on Avenida Cuahutémoc with several departures each day.

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