A Daring Tradition

 Acapulco’s cliff divers are a true wonder

By: Irene Middleman Thomas

This is the first Image
Cliff divers of La Quebrada leap to
the sea in a dramatic display.
La Quebrada (literally, the ‘ravine’ in Spanish,) is probably the world’s most enduring image of Acapulco. The death-defying clavadistas, leaping twice daily into the pounding surf of the blue Pacific, are legendary, startling and beautifully acrobatic.

Since 1934, young and not-so-young men (and a few women) have jumped off the majestic, towering 145-foot-high cliffs jutting over the Pacific into a narrow, deep inlet, where huge waves pour in and crash over the rocks of the shallows. They must meticulously time their jumps (thereby with clavado, or pinpoint precision) to coincide with the wind and incoming waves that cushion the impact and protect them from landing in the jagged rocks. In a free fall of about 50 mph, the risk of injury is high. The dives differ in levels of difficulty, in some cases a spectacular show is formed in a duo dive. In many cases, the tradition of cliff diving has been handed down from grandfather to father to son.

Since the 1930s, when Acapulco was a virtually unknown tourism destination, local inhabitants would come to the Canal de Clavados to show off and compete against each other by hurling themselves off the ominous rocky cliff. Gradually, onlookers came to watch and soon, the tourists followed. In the 1940s, a group of cliff divers was organized and they formed a schedule for their daily events, while in the 1960s, they actually formed a labor union which still exists to this day.

Acapulco is so tied with cliff diving that the sport’s World Championship is held there each November.

“Cliff diving is a longstanding tradition at La Quebrada,” said

Jesus Radilla, director of the Acapulco Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The divers’ dedication and skill is what makes the dive show unique to Acapulco and a must-see for visitors to the destination.”

The dives usually take place in the afternoons and evenings and it is always recommended to arrive a little early, therefore clients are advised to check for dive times. Spectators have the option of paying an entrance fee to get onto the observation platform or have dinner and watch the show from the Hotel Mirador, which has a spectacular view from which they can see the divers climb up the rock, pray to the Virgin of Guadalupe in a small shrine and perform their dives. For dramatic viewing, during the evening dives the divers jump with torches.

La Quebrada is a few minutes away by car from downtown

Acapulco, and many of the hotels provide transportation. The site is also a pleasant 15-minute stroll from the downtown plaza.



Acapulco is one of Mexico’s largest seaside resort communities, attracting over 5 million visitors annually.

Las Brisas
Las Brisas recently completed a renovation in July 2007, investing close to $20 million. Las Brisas is an elegant village of 251 pink and white casitas on 40 acres overlooking Acapulco Bay. Guests can rent one of Las Brisas’ signature pink-and-white-striped Jeeps or wander to Las Brisas’ private beach club La Concha. All-inclusive available.
Commission: 10 percent

Hotel Mirador Acapulco
Hotel Mirador Acapulco has completed a renovation of the Don Carlos Restaurant, including updates to the furniture, menu and bar. Also under way is a guestroom and suite renovation slated for completion in August. The best place from which to view the cliff divers, El Mirador (the lookout) offers villa-style rooms cut into the mountainside, providing views of the Pacific on one side and Santa Lucia Bay on the other. The hotel’s La Perla restaurant is the place to go to watch the show.Commission: Available

Fairmont Acapulco Princess and the Fairmont Pierre Marques
Both Fairmont properties were recently acquired by Goodman Hospitality Investments, a leading private real estate investment company, and will be undergoing enhancements on-site and to the surrounding facilities, with a total investment of $50 million, including guestroom upgrades.
Commission: 10 percent


Acapulco Convention and Visitors Bureau