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Sports and outdoor activities

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You’ll find facilities for golf, tennis, sailing, surfing, scuba diving and deep-sea fishing – even horseback riding and hunting – provided at all the big resorts.

Sport fishing is enormously popular in Baja California and the big Pacific coast resorts, while freshwater bass fishing is growing in popularity too, especially behind the large dams in the north of the country. Diving and snorkelling are big on the Caribbean coast, with world-famous dive sites at Cozumel and on the reefs further south. The Pacific coast has become something of a centre for surfing, with few facilities as yet (though you can rent surfboards in major tourist centres such as Acapulco and Mazatlán) but plenty of Californian surfers who follow the weather south over the winter. The most popular places are in Baja California and on the Oaxaca coast, but the biggest waves are to be found around Lázaro Cárdenas in Michoacán. A more minority-interest activity for which Mexico has become a major centre is caving. With a third of the country built on limestone, there are caverns in most states that can be explored by experienced potholers or spelunkers.

The Ministry of Tourism publishes a leaflet on participatory sports in Mexico, and can also advise on licences and seasons.

Spectator sports

Mexico’s chief spectator sport is soccer (fútbol). Mexican teams have not been notably successful on the international stage, but going to a game can still be a thrilling experience. The capital and Guadalajara are the best places to see a match and the biggest game in the domestic league, “El Clásico”, between Chivas from Guadalajara and América from Mexico City, fills the city’s 150,000-seater Aztec stadium to capacity. Baseball (béisbol) is also popular, as is American football (especially on TV). Jai alai (also known as frontón, or pelota vasca) is Basque handball, common in big cities and played at a very high speed with a small hard ball and curved scoop attached to the hand; it’s a big gambling game.

Mexican rodeos (charreadas), mainly seen in the north of the country, are as spectacular for their style and costume as they are for the events, while bullfights remain an obsession: every city has a bullring – Mexico City’s Plaza México is the world’s largest – and the country’s toreros are said to be the world’s most reckless, much in demand in Spain. Another popular blood sport, usually at village level, is cock fighting, still legal in Mexico and mainly attended for the opportunity to bet on the outcome.

Masked wrestling (lucha libre) is very popular in Mexico, too, with the participants, Batman-like, out of the game for good should their mask be removed and their secret identity revealed. Nor does the resemblance to comic-book superheroes end in the ring: certain masked wrestlers have become popular social campaigners out of the ring, always ready to turn up just in the nick of time to rescue the beleagured poor from eviction by various landlords or persecution by corrupt politicians.

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