Cliff Divers – an Acapulco Tradition

Acapulco, Mexico.

La Quebrada stands 115 feet (35 m) tall and it looms just as large in a tradition that reaches back into the 1930s. When we looked at the list of excursions available at our cruise ship stop in Acapulco, virtually all of them started with “Acapulco Cliff Divers and…” We chose to visit the fort that is located right across the highway from the cruise ship dock, but first, we got on a bus and headed to the cliffs at the edge of the ocean. Of course, we arrived early, just in time to shop for souvenirs at the nearby stores and “gift shops”. Once our allotted shopping time expired, we met our tour guide who walked us toward the viewpoint where the divers would appear. We got no real direction as to what to watch or where to look. We didn’t exactly know what to expect. For those who might happen upon this post while researching their own trip to Acapulco, this photo story will help orient you as to where to look and what to expect before and during the five or so shows daily.

The shore is rocky and it is obvious at first glance that the divers will launch from the edge of the cliff near the large banner and shrines at a point where the cliff provides a ledge at the aforementioned 115 feet from the water. That distance varies depending upon the tides and shows are scheduled at high tide periods where the channel into which they dive is only about 13 feet (4 m) deep at the most.

As we arrived at the viewpoint steps, there were plenty of other tour buses there already disgorging their passengers, all making their way down the many ramps and steps to the viewing areas. The walk to the viewing area isn’t so bad going down, but it can be a challenge to walk back up the many steps that get you close enough to overlook the viewpoint cliff into the water. There were so many people ahead of us walking down and already in that area, we opted to stay at one of the higher viewpoint areas knowing that we would not see the divers actually hit the water from our vantage point. I feared that by the time we got down to that level, due to the crowds, I would have trouble getting good photos looking down anyway. From our upper vantage point, we could see the divers quite clearly and with the help of my telephoto lens, I was able to “get up close and personal.”

What we didn’t know is that the divers start by entering the water at the base, swim over to the edge of the cliff and then climb the rock face up to the ledge at the dive point. We watched as the divers made their climbs with the majority stopping at the platform as you can see in the photo below. A few of the divers stopped short of the platform to launch their dives from nearby ledges that were beside or slightly below the main diving platform.

I was to learn later that at least one of the higher viewpoints does allow a viewer to see the divers hit the water. If that’s part of what you want out of the experience and you don’t want to challenge yourself to come up from that lower viewpoint, ask your tour guide where you can get a view of the water without having to travel all the way down those many steps and ramps.

When all the divers arrived at their designated points, the dives began. Some in pairs, some singular. I captured many images of the divers, but chose to focus on several images captured on a single dive. That sequence is featured in the gallery of images below. You will want to take advantage of clicking on the first image so you can enlarge the photo and then scroll through the gallery.

The program is certainly entertaining and its easy to understand why it’s featured on virtually all of the Acapulco excursion itineraries. When the show was over, the divers came over to the area where the visitors walked to get back to their tour buses. Ready to sign autographs, sell photos, and accept tips, the divers were friendly and accommodating for photos as well. Clearly the cliff diving program is a highlight of a stop in Acapulco.

John Steiner

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