Is Acapulco, Mexico Safe For Tourists? Travel Safety Advice

Acapulco is one of Mexico’s oldest beach resorts and used to be one of their most popular too, attracting tourists from all over the world. However, in recent years, Acapulco de Juárez has become increasingly more dangerous for tourists, seeing the number of visitors dwindle year by year.

The question “is Acapulco safe for tourists?” is not an easy one to answer. Historically, Acapulco has always been relatively safe for tourists. This being said, Mexico’s overall crime rates have rocketed over the past few years, and this has seen crime rates rocket in Acapulco too, potentially rendering it unsafe for tourists in Mexico, especially foreign tourists. The official advice of the US government is to avoid Acapulco, and the entire state of Guerrero altogether as a result of their rising crime rates and it no longer being so safe for tourists.

With this in mind, we have put together comprehensive travel safety guidelines if you are considering taking a trip to Acapulco. While it is important to understand whether other Mexican towns, such as Nogales, are safe, Acapulco is has a reputation for tourism and so it is very important to take these guidelines into consideration. We are not intending to fearmonger with these guidelines, but provide you with all the details we think are necessary for you to make an informed decision about your travel plans to Acapulco, Mexico and how to stay safe there.

Is Acapulco safe in 2023?

Acapulco, Mexico
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Determining whether Acapulco, Mexico is safe in 2023 depends on various factors: crime rates, the likelihood of natural disasters, and the prevalence of COVID-19 in the area. Luckily, Acapulco is largely safe when it comes to natural disasters. The only thing that could be a cause for concern there is safety in the sea, with waves sometimes reaching great heights. However, Acapulco is no riskier than elsewhere for accidents in the ocean if you exercise the necessary caution.

When it comes to the coronavirus, the Acapulco COVID rates are fluctuating, but you can see that generally speaking cases are still on the rise. This being the case, it would be unwise to travel here while the pandemic is still raging on. Above all, it is important that you follow the travel advice of your country in regards to the coronavirus before you make any firm plans to travel to Acapulco.

Sadly, Acapulco’s crime rates have been on the rise since around 2014, making it a less and less desirable holiday destination for foreign tourists in recent years. Although reports on the safety of Acapulco vary, as of 2019 it was deemed one of the world’s most dangerous cities, with five of these cities being in Mexico. This is largely due to the overall rise in crime in Mexico more generally, making Acapulco a lot less safe for tourists as it used to be. Hence, the majority of tourists you will find in Acapulco will be domestic tourists rather than foreigners. This is not to say that the city is a complete no-go zone, however, as the more touristic parts of the city are often a lot safer than its suburbs. For tourists, if you stick to the commercial parts of Acapulco, you will need to be less concerned with gang crime, but still vigilant of pickpockets and scams, which are far more commonplace among visitors.

Is Acapulco safe for solo travelers?

Solo traveller
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Wherever in the world you decide to go traveling, being a solo traveler always comes with a greater degree of risk than traveling in a group. Naturally, this is also the case in Acapulco. If you decide to visit Acapulco as a solo traveler, it is imperative that you remain vigilant at all times and make yourself aware of the potential threats that Acapulco poses to you as an individual. This means an awareness of the gang and drug crime associated with Acapulco these days, as well as tourist-targeted scams.

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It is essential that you are constantly aware of the threat of pickpockets as a solo traveler, as it will be much harder for you to defend yourself if you are on your own. You may also appear to be an easy target for financial scams if it is obvious that you are alone. For these reasons, avoid going out after dark unless you are in a group – and even then it is important that you remain vigilant. It is also a good idea to stick to areas of the city that you are familiar with, or know to be safe. Do not stray too far off the beaten track unless you are absolutely sure of what you are going to find there, or going as part of a trustworthy, organized excursion, such as one organized by where you are staying in Acapulco.

Is Acapulco safe to live?

Acapulco, Mexico
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As a resident in Acapulco, all the same risks of the area apply as they do with tourists. However, there are some differences between the level and awareness of the crime you will face. Obviously, if you live in Acapulco you will become more accustomed to the habits of crime and safety in the area. You will also potentially become more familiar with the criminals that operate in your area, such as who the scammers and pickpockets are and how they tend to do business.

One thing that is important to note, however, is that the tourist areas of the city are usually less prone to crime. That is to say, the crime that takes place in these touristic parts of the city are usually on a smaller scale, such as pickpocketing, theft and mugging. In the residential areas, these activities still take place, but there is also a level of more intense criminal activity related to gangs, murder, drugs and trafficking. Indeed, it is the rising prevalence of gang culture in Acapulco that has killed the popularity of the resort among foreign travelers. It is important to reiterate, however, that these statistics only give one very negative side of the story. It is true that Acapulco has become one of the world’s most murderous cities and this should not be taken lightly, but it is also home to many and a holiday destination for many more.

Is public transport safe in Acapulco?

Is Acapulco, Mexico Safe For Tourists
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On the whole, using public transport in Acapulco should be relatively worry-free. Having said this, there are all the usual risks of public transport in Acapulco that you would find elsewhere in Mexico, and indeed the rest of the world. Furthermore, there are also some specific criminal quirks relating to the public transport in Acapulco so, as always, it is important that you have your wits about you and are certain that the transport and routes that you are taking are not only safe, but official.

Like in many other cities in the world, Acapulco is home to unlicensed taxis that can often be found prowling the streets of this once popular beach resort in order to extort money from tourists. As is always the case with unlicensed taxis, it is important that you remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings. If a taxi looks suspicious, exercise caution and only travel with transport companies that have been officially recommended to you by trustworthy and knowledgeable people in the area, such as police officers or hotel staff. Be sure that the price of a journey is agreed upon beforehand so that you do not end up getting scammed, mugged or robbed. It has been reported that unlicensed taxis have led to tourists getting assaulted too.

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There is also a tendency towards bus thievery in Acapulco as well. Obviously, this is a frightening and unpredictable occurrence and so it is important that you continue to remain vigilant and cautious when traveling on the public transport of Acapulco. Make sure that you only travel with official and reputable companies, and that you are completely aware of the route that you are planning to take to your destination. It may also be a good idea to let a trusted person or loved one know your location as a security net for your safety and wellbeing.

Is the tap water safe to drink in Acapulco?

Tap water faucet
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Just as the tap water is a factor when considering if Cabo San Lucas is safe, so is it a consideration for visiting any city in Mexico, Acapulco included. The advice remains the same. It ultimately depends on the type of water you are accustomed to consuming. If you have a higher grade of water available back home, then you may want to avoid drinking the tap water in Acapulco, Mexico.

You may see locals consuming the tap water in Acapulco, but this is really not recommended for foreign visitors or people from outside of Mexico. However, having ice made from the local tap water in your beverages shouldn’t cause you too much harm, if any, while you’re visiting Acapulco. This is because, while the water isn’t of as high a grade in Mexico as elsewhere in the world, it also isn’t one of the worst. So, while it is recommended against drinking it, it is not guaranteed to make you unwell. To err on the side of caution, bottled water is your safest option. Bottled beverages should be readily available and accessible pretty much everywhere in Acapulco.

Acapulco Travel Insurance

Always make sure to get travel insurance! Even if you’re only going for a short holiday, you should always take out travel insurance. Take our word, travel insurance can save you thousands of pounds – so make sure to get it before you leave.

We highly recommend using Safety Wing, but there are many insurance companies to choose from so make sure to shop around to find the best deal.

Top 7 Safety Tips

Acapulco, Mexico
Credit: Alberto Bazan via Unsplash
  • Don’t go out at night by yourself. This is good practice in most places, but especially in Acapulco with its rising crime rates.
  • Avoid the tap water. It is safer all round to err on the side of caution and drink bottled water.
  • Stick to the more touristy areas of Acapulco. You will not only find better security, guidance, and facilities in these areas, but you will be less exposed to some of Acapulco’s more serious crime.
  • Familiarise yourself with the roads and routes you will take. In order to make yourself as secure as possible in Acapulco, it will be beneficial to know exactly where you are so you don’t get taken advantage of.
  • Be vigilant of strangers approaching you. As a tourist, many pickpockets and con artists can easily spot you as an outsider, so it is important to stay alert of your surroundings and belongings.
  • Only use reputable travel companies. If you have been recommended a company by your hotel or a trustworthy guide, it is better to use this. Never get in unlicensed vehicles.
  • Don’t flaunt cash or any valuables. Make sure you try to assimilate so you don’t stand out too much as a vulnerable outsider.

James Ardimento has spent the last 12 years journeying around the globe ! With its precious experiences and tips he gained around Asia, South America, Europe and the US he is a precious asset for this blog and for its readers