Last updated: 09:30 AM ET, Fri August 26 2016

The Tradition Of Cliff Diving In Acapulco

Destination & Tourism | Acapulco | Bobbi Dempsey | August 26, 2016

The Tradition Of Cliff Diving In Acapulco

PHOTO: The cliff divers of Acapulco. (Courtesy Triangle of the Sun)

There are many exciting things to see and do in Acapulco. One of the most invigorating or terrifying (depending on your tolerance for risk-taking and comfort level with heights) is cliff diving.

The most courageous visitors might be tempted to try making this dive for themselves, but that would be a very risky idea. These dives are even more challenging than they look, as making a successful dive requires not only skill but excellent timing, deep familiarity with the water and the surrounding area, and expertise as to how wind and other conditions affect your plunge.

The dive must be timed just right, so divers can clear the cliffside and enter the water below with a rising tide, when the water is high enough to keep the diver from hitting the jagged rocks below.

Instead of risking your own life-threatening dive, you can watch as a group of experienced and skilled professionals perform heart-stopping dives throughout the day.

Watching the cliff divers plunge into the waters of the Pacific is not only a popular activity here, it has become a sort of tradition. A small local museum has a collection of pictures of U.S. dignitaries, celebrities and professional athletes visiting the area and watching the divers. Many visitors today now view it as a must-see happening while they are here.

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The main hub for cliff diving is a place called La Quebrada. This is where the divers soar off a cliff that’s more than 100 feet high. Onlookers can watch from a safe vantage point on the ground. This area is centrally located, as it is a short walk from downtown.

For most of the performers, you could say diving is in their blood, as they hail from families that have been performing these dives for many years. This is a skill passed down through the generations, with young members carefully studying the lessons from their elders and heeding their warnings and advice. There are currently more than 50 professional divers who do this as their main full-time job. They reportedly get a decent wage and fringe benefits, but it’s a profession that obviously comes with considerable risk, as injuries are common.

These iconic divers—or, more accurately, their predecessors—have been making their death-defying leaps for decades. The tradition is said to date back to the 1930s. Legend has it, the whole thing started back then as a dare between two fishermen, neighbors who wanted to impress each other with their bravery and diving abilities.

Dives take place several times throughout the day, mainly in the afternoon. Occasionally, one or two of the most fearless divers will make a dive after sundown, often holding a traditional torch. It’s incredibly dangerous for the divers, but for the lucky onlookers who get to witness this feat, it is a spectacular sight.

Of course, there are also plenty of other great things to see and do while you are in Acapulco. Among the most popular: watching the stunning sunsets from along the beach, taking in the high-energy nightlife and touring some of the amazing local sights and scenery.

Learn more about planning a trip to Acapulco.  

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