As extreme sports go, cliff diving is one of the most adrenaline filled one. No equipment, no safety net, no platform from which to jump off, just you, a cliff and the water below. History has it that it was king Kahekili, the last independent king of Maui and chief of four islands, famous for leaping off Kaunolu, a 63-foot (19-meter) cliff without causing a splash, who initiated this sport as a way to test his warriors’ courage and loyalty back in 1770.
Cliff diving has become a very popular extreme sport especially among the young people, who regard it not only as a mighty good fun to have with friends, but also as a chance to test their character and courage. Indeed, this sport is best experienced when surrounded by friends who can encourage and cheer for you when you jump, but who can also save your life in case of a serious problem. So always take your friends with you, cliff diving is not meant to be a solitary sport.
Before thinking about taking the jump with your friends you should consider both risks and advantages. While the advantage is a life altering experience, the risks involved are very high, including death. The body is under enormous pressure, especially when hitting the water and there is always the risk of injuries: nasty bruises, dislocated shoulders, spinal injuries, head and neck injuries. So before you even consider jumping from a cliff you have to be 100% sure that you are ready. And never attempt a dive when you have consumed alcohol!
First rule when jumping off a cliff is don’t get hurt. Be sure to verify your surroundings, the cliff and especially the water. You should know that a very high cliff won’t give you an additional benefit to the thrill of diving, only the risks are higher. The water is of the utmost importance: check that its depth isn’t under 4 meters, check the wave action and make sure that there are no things in the water you can hit. Hitting anything in the water at that speed and pressure, a rock, a branch, even a fish can cause serious injuries if not fatal ones.
Forget about putting on a show when you jump, leave the somersaults, twists, turns and tucks to the highly trained professional divers. Jump feet first off the cliff, keeping your arms at their side with the legs together and pointing downward. Try to keep your body as tight and as vertical as possible in order to limit the point of contact when the diver enters the water and puts less stress on bones and other body parts. Head dives are extremely dangerous.
Apart from the thrill of jumping, travelling to exotic places for the best cliff locations is a major part of the fun. Australia with the Kimberley region, Hawaii – Big Island, the Southpoint Cliffs, Jamaica’s Negril, Switzerland – Brontallo, Italy (Polignano a Mare and Lake Verbano) and Croatia at Dubrovnik are at the top of the to-go list for cliff divers. Many WHDF Cliff Diving World Championships and Red Bull Cliff Diving competitions have taken place here. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go hunting for your perfect cliff somewhere else. And when you do find an amazing cliff make sure you share it with your friends and other fellow divers.
If you rather watch than jump, one of the best shows of cliff diving takes place every day in Acapulco, Mexico at La Quebrada. The La Quebrada Cliff Divers are a group of professional high divers who perform daily shows for the public, which involve diving 35 metres (125 ft) from the cliffs of La Quebrada into the sea below.
Whoever wants to try this sport has to be prepared for a life altering experience and he certainly has to have a strong heart. So are you ready to dive? What do you think about this sport, passion or madness?