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The International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Mexico

La Quebrada: Acapulco's Most Iconic Attraction
Habeeb Salloum

I must have asked a half dozen people in Acapulco, Mexico’s number one resort, what the most important attraction was in their city. Everyone without hesitation answered "the Cliff Divers at La Quebrada. You must see them". This evening we had taken their advice and come to see the most important daily event in this vacation city, which draws some five million annual visitors.

I must have asked a half dozen people in Acapulco, Mexico’s number one resort, what the most important attraction was in their city. Everyone without hesitation answered "the Cliff Divers at La Quebrada. You must see them". This evening we had taken their advice and come to see the most important daily event in this vacation city, which draws some five million annual visitors. I felt that day that the sirens of Greek mythology were calling to draw me into their lair.

Entering La Perla Restaurant inside the El Mirador Hotel, we walked down flight after flight of stairs in the many-tiered terraced tourist-oriented restaurant. We must have climbed down some 100 steps - I didn’t count - before we reached the last row of tables - the nearest to the Cliff Divers. My 85-year-old body felt tired, not after climbing down the stairs, but just thinking of having to climb back up. I don’t think the owners of the hotel or restaurant had ever heard of elevators.

We sipped on our drinks and were in deep conversation waiting for the show to begin. Darkness was creeping in when one of our group shouted, "Look! He’s going to jump!" Before I turned my head a cliff diver had hurled himself off the cliff and I did not see a thing. I now kept my eyes glued to the cliff waiting anxiously for the next jump. A few minutes apart, after praying at the cliff-side shrine to the virgin Guadalupe, four other divers made the jump. Like millions of other tourists we had seen one of Acapulco’s most sought after events.

A must-see for travellers, Acapulco's most iconic attraction, the Cliff Divers at La Quebrada, vies with Acapulco’s beaches as a symbol of this famous seaside city. The divers hurling themselves off the steep high cliffs jutting out over the Pacific Ocean are what has made this spot in Acapulco renowned worldwide.

Cliff diving at La Quebrada’s perilous and jagged cliffs began in 1934, when daring young boys for a few pesos would wow tourists by diving over 100 feet off the steep cliffs into thrashing waves below. Subsequently, these divers formed a group of diving enthusiasts who eventually became skilled divers that were capable of using the motion of the waves as leverage. As time passed La Quebrada divers became an international sensation and cliff diving became an important part of Acapulco culture. The divers took part in competitions and demonstrations worldwide. However, daily diving at La Quebrada has remained the base of their drawing power.

View from la Perla

Every day at 1:00 p.m. the show begins after the divers swim across the narrow channel to the far cliff, and then scale the rocks with bare hands and feet to get to the platform from where they pray at a shrine before hurling themselves off the majestic cliffs. They make their first of the five daily cliff dives at 1:00 p.m. from the dizzying heights off La Quebrada into the narrow inlet, 3.7 m (12 ft)- wide by 6.5 m (21 ft) deep, 130 feet below, the height of a 10-story building, timing their dive to coincide with the incoming huge waves that enter and crash over the rocks. The waves cushion the divers’ impact when they hit the water and protect them from landing in the shallows.

Some of the long-time professional divers, at times, leap from heights of 45 m (148 ft). The timing of all the dives no matter from any height is crucial and must be perfectly executed. If the divers do not carry out their timing without flaw all will be lost. But this has never happened.

To the applause and gasps of the crowd the divers walk out of the water usually smiling. Strangely, even though these dives are dangerous, there has never been a fatality. However, injuries such as broken bones and burst eardrums are quite common. La Quebrada Cliff Divers are always practicing to keep in shape in order to be able to take those death-defying leaps off the Cliffs. This could be the reason why no diver has been killed in the three quarter century of jumping into these dangerous waters.

When the show is finished the divers walk to the top of the stairs and accept tips. Given the incredible feats they perform and the cheap admission price, most people give them a few pesos. With their incredible athletic feat they have become a local tradition - the spirit of Acapulco. One of the most unique spectacles tourists can see, the divers have become a fitting symbol of Acapulco and its vacation attributes. People from around the world come in never-ending numbers to view these young men dive over jagged cliffs into the thunderous waves below in a spectacular show of bravery.

We had chosen La Perla Restaurant, where the history of the divers and their feats as well as the famous who have come to see them are memorialized on its walls, to watch the show in comfort. However, there are other spots where visitors can view the divers equally as good or better at even a much lower cost.

Besides the terraces of El Mirador Hotel, there are the public observation decks that for many are the best place to really get a feel for the impressive divers' feat. Two sets of stairs: one with a high but close-to-the-cliff observation deck; and the other with a midway vantage point. Both stairs lead to the bottom-most observation deck – directly across from the cliff from where the divers jump. Without question, it is the best spot to watch the show. It is also where the divers hang out as they're preparing to cross over to do their dives.

Another perfect way to experience the magic the show is from boats sitting offshore at the foot of the cliff. Travellers can hire a private boat or join in some of the tours that one can take in which one of the stops is to see the Cliff Divers. The view from the boats is even more spectacular than that from shore.

For me that evening the dreaded time came when I had to climb up La Perla steps. My body was creaking and groaning by the time that I reached the top. "Was it worth it?" one of my colleagues asked. "Of course but I wish they had more pushy people selling elevators or escalators. I sure could have used one this evening!"

Facts About Acapulco and La Quebrada:

1. The entrance fee for watching the Cliff Diver on the Observation Deck is $3. and includes a drink - beer, soda, or water. One should get there early to get a front row seat.
2. The show times are 1:00 pm, 07:30 pm, 08:30 pm, 09:30 pm and 10:30 pm - the last one the divers jump baring the flaming torches in the dark.
3. One can watch the show from La Perla Restaurant, paying $16. per person, including 2 domestic drinks, or around $37. for dinner. The restaurant serves American type meals and is not noted for its gourmet attributes.
4. Getting around Acapulco is easy by taxi, bus - cost about 40 cents - horse-drawn carriage or rented autos. Small cars, fully insured with unlimited mileage, rent for about $65. per day. It is easy to drive in Acapulco - drivers seem to obey the law.
5. Acapulco, called by some the ‘playground of the world’, offers besides breathtaking scenery, pristine beaches, deluxe accommodations, all types of sport activities, including four manicured 18-hole golf courses and one 9-hole course.
6. Acapulco offers a world of culinary delights. Besides the peoples’ restaurants near the Zócalo offering fine dinners for around $10., there are some 160 classy eating places like the Zibu serving the best in Mexican and international dishes.
7. Note: All prices quoted are in US dollars – about 15 pesos to a US dollar.
8. When you leave Mexico there is a ‘Departure Tax’ of $18.00.
Some of the Sites in Acapulco Worth a Visit:
Dolores Olmedo's Home, the famous painter Diego Rivera covered the entire outside wall with an Aztec mural of mosaic tiles and stones; Fort San Diego, newly renovated and housing Acapulco's historic museum; House of Masks, a magic world of fantasy; Puerto Marquez Beach with its tranquil bay and unforgettable scenery; Caleta & Caletilla Beaches, two of the most tranquil and beautiful beaches in the heart of Acapulco; Coyuca Lagoon, one of the most important natural attractions in Acapulco; and Isla Roqueta, from Caleta Beach a glass-bottomed boat crossing to Isla Roqueta allows one to admire the undersea life.
Where to Stay in Acapulco:
Acapulco has hotels to satisfy all tastes. In the old city, there are abodes that offer rooms at less than ($10.) per night. At the upper level, the city has some of the top luxury hotels like Las Brisas, a luxurious hotel for the affluent; the Fairmont Acapulco Princess Hotel, towering upward like a grand Aztec pyramid; and for those who love history, Los Flamingos Hotel is the place to stay. Situated high on a cliff, it is cooled by the sea breeze and offers a view of spectacular sunsets.
For Further Information, Contact:
In Canada contact the Mexican Tourism Board - 2 Bloor St. West, Suite 1502, Toronto, Ontario M4W 3E2. Tel: (416) 925 0704. Fax: (416) 925 6061. E-mail: Also Toll free number: 1-800-44 MEXICO. Web:; in the U.S.A. 375 Park Avenue, Floor 19, Suite 1905, New York, NY 10152, USA. Tel: (212) 308 2110. Fax: (212) 308 9060. E-mail: newyork@visitmexico.comAlso, see website: for information and reservations: Tel: from the USA / Canada: 1 888 514 2137; from México: Tel: 01 800 434.

© Habeeb Salloum June 2009
Toronto, Ontario
E-mail: habeeb.salloum at

Golden Village: Richmond BC
Habeeb Salloum
Visit Richmond, a Vancouver suburbia city, and explore its Golden Village, a bit of Asia in Canada, housing the products of all these lands



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