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The Golden Zone

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La Zona Dorada, alternatively called “Golden Acapulco” and the “Golden Zone,” is Acapulco's main tourist area; covered with high-rise hotels, bars, discos, restaurants, and tourist shops.

The Golden Zone starts more or less at the eastern corner of Parque Papagayo. The Avalon Excalibur Hotel is right there. It ends at the Naval Base, where the Grand Hotel Acapulco (formerly the Hyatt Regency) stands. Heading west on the Costera from the Avalon (with the bay to your left), you will go towards the Traditional Zone of Old Town. There you will find el Zólcalo, la Quebrada, Caleta Beach, and several open-air markets. At the other end, heading farther east from the Grand Hotel Acapulco (with the bay to your right), you will rise up onto the Scenic Highway (“Carretera Escénica”) and head towards Punta Diamante and Puerto Marqués, from whence Acapulco continues to expand down the southeastern coast. The ride on the Escénica is breathtaking, both for its beauty and for its hair-raising curves.

Golden Zone Acapulco

The Golden Zone is not an old part of town. Before the 1950’s, the rocky terrain made it difficult to go by land from the area of Parque Papagayo any farther east on the bay. Then, with considerable assistance and encouragement from the federal government, Acapulco reclaimed whole sections of the eastern bay and opened the coastal road. The result was an enormous economic boom. Post-war prosperity in the U.S. and Mexico, combined with advances in transportation and communication, permitted the “democratization of tourism,” that is, the opening up of resorts like Acapulco to middle-class tourists from all over the world, who suddenly had the time and money to be able to come. These influences made the Golden Zone what it is today: a monument to leisure that represents all that is at once glorious and regrettable about the impact of tourism on the local culture.

Whether you're in the middle of it, or off shore in a boat, or peering down at it from an airplane, or just looking at photos online, you will be struck by the panorama of Acapulco's Golden Zone. This scene is one of our hemisphere’s most impressive, ranking with the skyline of New York, the bay in San Francisco and the view from Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro.