In recent years, the worst of Mexico's drug-related gang violence has tended to take place in the northern border areas and not in the resorts. One notable exception is Acapulco, where there have been major disturbances in the past decade. Although the violence is mostly centered on poorer neighborhoods above the bay, several incidents have occurred in or near tourist areas. Travel advisories suggest you remain in the coastal tourist zone; the area from La Quebrada peninsula and roughly following the Avenida Costera Miguel Alemán out to the airport is generally regarded as safe. Do not venture more than two blocks inland from this main drag. This safe area does take in downtown Acapulco and the zócalo, its central square, but these neighborhoods give off a decidedly down-at-the-heels vibe these days so it might be best to avoid the center city.

Given the importance of tourism to the city, business leaders have pressed civic leaders about keeping local security high. Roughly 3,500 federal police and soldiers have been deployed to the area as part of the government's initiatives to fight drug-cartel violence across Mexico. Depending on your perspective, their presence might be unnerving or reassuring.

In addition, the city employs an all-female, bilingual tourist-police force, the Brigada de Asistencia Turística. Critics have denounced the qualifications to join the force as sexist—being attractive and young (aka in your twenties) are apparently requirements, as is wearing an approved shade of lipstick—but the women patrol the beaches and the Costera and are trained in problem solving. They’ll help you if you need it or will summon aid for more serious problems. Look for them in their blue shirts and khaki shorts.

Before deciding on a trip to Acapulco, check for State Department updates on security and be sure to check both international and local news. Getting information from several sources will help you to better assess the climate and gauge whether the time is right for your Acapulco trip.

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