When you come to Acapulco you can appreciate how easy it is to find quality folk art as well as enjoyable gifts and souvenirs. This article tells you where in Acapulco you can go for souvenir and folk art shopping. A related article provides general information and tips and a third one discusses Mexican silver.
Cruise Ship Passengers. If you arrive by cruise ship, your time will be more limited, and you will probably want to stay in the part of town where the ship has docked. (If you have all day, however, do not be afraid to grab a taxi and explore the whole bay!) The few stores in the terminal itself are good choices. They are reliable, and though their prices are not the lowest in town, they are safe and convenient. The clerks speak English and French as well as Spanish, and the selection is always very good. If you walk to Fort San Diego nearby, that gift shop also has books, art prints and some genuine crafts. Around the central square, the Zócalo, just a few blocks away, you can find many other shops, too, though they tend more towards souvenirs than folk art and crafts. About a 10 minute walk beyond the Zócalo you will find the Mercado de Artesanias Parazal (also called “Tepito”), where you will find an overwhelming collection of booths and tables of all sorts, selling just about everything imaginable. You will be in Acapulco’s oldest shopping neighborhood, and you will pass lots of other stores on your way to and from. On the way back you can look for a couple more folk art shops in the two blocks immediately east of the Zócalo, on the Costera Alemán.
Acapulco Vacationers. If you will be in town for a while, you should plan to hit a few different places, mainly up and down the Costera Alemán. Technically, an open-air, souvenir market is a “Mercado de Artesanias,” but locals call it a “tianguis. ” Some have more art than junk, others more junk than art, and all of them have lots of things to eat as well. In addition to the Mercado de Artesanías Parazal, mentioned above, there are smaller versions on Caletilla Beach (down at the western end of the Costera), across from Tamarindos Beach (called Noa Noa, near Hornos), across from Parque Papagayo, and across from the Crowne Plaza hotel in the “Golden Zone.” At the Diana traffic circle, the Mercado de Artesanías Diana covers a large area, and offers an especially rich selection of folk art, including blouses and skirts. Scattered along the Costera from one end to the other are small areas in which street vendors have spread out their merchandise. They are not as permanent (or semi-permanent) as the tiaguisbut they also have good selection and value. The indigenous vendors are usually the women, almost always dressed in colorful, shirt waist dresses with puffy sleeves and accordion-creased skirts, covered with a pinafore apron in a contrasting color and pattern. For most, Spanish is their second language, and a good proportion of them may speak it at least as well as you do. Gestures work fine.
For gifts and decorative items in a higher-quality range, several stores have become very popular with the tourists. In Costa Azul, around on the east side of the bay, you will find the “Casa de Cultura” (about a half-block past the CiCi Water Park on the same side of the street). Here the city government operates a cultural center that also supports sales by local artists of their own works. Ceramics, pottery, jewelry, painted items, all sorts of artisan handiwork is on sale here, and the prices are usually very reasonable. Sometimes the craftsmen will set up a demonstration for passers-by to show how they create their art. Artesanías Finas de Acapulco (locally known as Afa-Aca) is a large store with a large inventory of works from all over Mexico. You can even buy a complete mariachi outfit if you want. Furniture, paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and hand-embroidered clothes and tablecloths are on sale here. Many consider this to be the top store of its kind in Acapulco and perhaps in all of Mexico. It is found on the corner of Horatio Nelson and the Costera in Costa Azul or downtown near the corner of the Costera with Juan Escudero (two blocks east of the Zócalo). In the Plaza Bahía center you will find Alebrijes & Caracoleswhich has an inventory of fun items for the kids as well as decorative items for home and garden.
For the adventurous, there are a few “serious” marketplaces in town, where the chefs go in the early morning to buy for their restaurants, and where the locals go to buy everything for their home. The prices are better than in the supermarkets and fancier stores, but the conditions are a good bit more primitive. The Central Market (at Cine Rio) and the Mercado Del Campesino (in Progreso) are the two prime examples. Some folk art and souvenirs can be found there, but your main motive for going would be just to have a look at how the non-touristic sector of the city really works.