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Down in Acapulco

Acapulco, Mexico

If there’s one destination that cruises down the Pacific coast of Mexico have in common, it’s Acapulco. The exotic coastal city features on so many itineraries largely because of its spectacular setting on Acapulco Bay and its reputation as a vibrant – some would say wild – social center.

But there’s so much more to Acapulco than sitting in beach bars sipping Margheritas. For example, it’s one of the very best places in the world to have a go at deep-sea fishing. Firms like Fish-R-Us have sprung up in the city over the last decade offering the best in high-tech sport fishing to visitors. Most fishing firms offer trips on yachts that are fully-featured with everything the novice and expert rod-handler alike could want, including excellent dining facilities and modern bathrooms. Sport fishing trips are no longer about cramming as many guests as possible into a small and unsanitary motor boat. These days things are done in style, and usually with instructors on hand to offer experienced advice to first-timers. Fishing trips can be rather lengthy, so be sure to check that the timings don’t clash with your ship’s scheduled departure. If you don’t have time for a full length fishing trip, firms like Fish-R-Us also offer short ‘lunch’ cruises and trips around the Bay tailored for families and those more interested in looking at the ocean than casting lines into its depths.

Back on shore there’s a surprising amount to do for families and those who don’t wish to simply laze around. If history is your thing you should visit the Fort of San Diego. It was built around four hundred years ago by the original Spanish conquerors of Mexico. It’s purpose was to secure the central pacific coast of Mexico against sea raids by pirates and land raids by hostile natives. The symmetrical five-pointed star shape of the compound – which makes it oddly not unlike the Pentagon in appearance – is typical of the military architecture of its day. In the twenty-first century, however, the only invasion that the occupants of Acapulco have to cope with is the yearly influx of tourists from around the world, so the old fort in the center of the city has been given over to housing a regional museum. It contains exhibits from the days of the Spanish conquest right through to the Mexican war of independence and the modern day. Native Indian artefacts and art works are also on display in the fort’s fifteen exhibition halls, making it well worth a visit for those interested in all aspects of Mexico’s past.

If you feel like making history – albeit the personal sort – rather than simply learning about it, you could sign up for a one-day scuba diving course. The Acapulco Scuba Center offers just such a course, teaching beginners the basics and completing one shallow water dive in just five hours between 9am and 2pm. So if your time ashore runs from 8am to 6pm you will also have time to fit in one other short activity. All novice dives take place with a high ratio of expert instructors to students, and the emphasis is on safety and enjoyment. For more experienced divers there are a range of day-long trips available offering an opportunity to explore interesting sea-bottom rock formations and shipwrecks and learn something about the exotic marine life of the region.

For those who prefer more relaxed – not to say sedentary – pursuits, Acupulco offers a wide range of restaurants and cafés in which to spend some quality relaxation time. If you have the chance to spend an evening in Acapulco and you have a little money to burn, don’t pass up the chance to eat at the Madeiras Restaurant. The Madeiras is a very high-class establishment, although in line with Acapulco’s relaxed atmosphere is isn’t so stiflingly formal as many restaurants of similar quality you might come across in New York or Paris. Although you’re expected to be reasonably well turned-out, and not wearing shorts, formal dress is not expected. The staff are friendly, and the views over Acapulco Bay very nearly as stunning as the food that the restaurant serves. The Madeiras hold a Distinguished Restaurants of the North Americas Award of Excellence. The food certainly lives up to that recommendation. The menu is described as “international contemporary” – though there is more than a little of the Mexican about it, especially as most of the excellent ingredients are sourced locally.

Acapulco is all about living well and having a good time. Although a cruiser’s visit to the city will be necessarily short, try if you can to soak up a little of the laid back yet frenetic ambience of this most rich of Mexican cities.

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