International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Mexico
La Quebrada: Acapulco's Most Iconic Attraction
must have asked a half dozen people in Acapulco, Mexicos 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, Mexicos 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 didnt
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 dont
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! Hes 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 Acapulcos
most sought after events.
A must-see for travellers,
Acapulco's most iconic attraction, the Cliff Divers at La Quebrada,
vies with Acapulcos 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
diving at La Quebradas 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
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!"
IF YOU GO
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
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also Toll free number: 1-800-44
MEXICO. Web: www.visitmexico.com;
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: email@example.comAlso,
see website: www.acapulco.com for information and reservations: Tel:
from the USA / Canada: 1 888 514 2137; from México: Tel: 01 800
© Habeeb Salloum
E-mail: habeeb.salloum at sympatico.ca
Village: Richmond BC
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