It is an extreme sport involving highly trained athletes plunging from a very high, rocky cliff into the sea. Cliff divers are pro athletes who have acquired the acrobatic skills that allow them to engage in this demanding activity without injuring themselves seriously. Cliff diving is perhaps the minimum complicated extreme sport. There is no equipment to purchase, no unique clothes to wear, and no supplier of services to recruit. It is only the body, sailing through the air from dizzying heights and falling into the water below.
Cliff Diving means:
Officially, cliff diving is a dive into the water while performing perfect stunts. Of course, the cliff must be of a pretty decent height. It is more than just jumping off a high cliff: you need to do some stunts while you are in the air. Cliff divers necessarily endure intensive climbs to get to the top of the cliff and then undergo one of the ultimate thrills: yet one wrong step, and you will enter the water.
History of Cliff Diving
Cliff diving is an adventurous sport which both professionals and amateurs have enjoyed for centuries. Hawaiian warriors had to leap off the cliffs at Kaunolu in the 1700s to show their bravery to King Kahekili, the King of Maui.
To the warriors, it was a way of showing their king that they were courageous, trustworthy, and bold. Landing as straight as possible in the water without making a massive splash was regarded as a commendable feat.
Later, under King Kamehameha, cliff diving changed into a sport in which competitors assessed for style to make a splash as they went into the water. Over the years that followed, the game spread to other parts of the world, with divers spending so much time perfecting their skills to match the special conditions of the location where divers performed the competition. Yet, some had to learn how to cope with higher and shallower cliffs, while others encountered choppier seas, rugged shorelines, strong winds, and other factors.
The sport’s popularity went up significantly throughout the 20th century. Televised activities introduced cliff diving in viewers’ homes for the very first time. Hence it exposed the sport to an international audience. It gave rise to tournaments all over the world. Thus fascinated and engaged audience routinely tuned in to catch the action.
Cliff Diving Today
Today Cliff diving is still regarded as a hazardous sport and relatively niche, which can end in severe injury or death if not correctly performed. Modern cliff divers keep pushing the boundaries in terms of fitness, planning, and the heights they are jumping from.
Moreover, nowadays, it is a popular sport practiced at exotic locations around the globe. With high-profile tournaments organized by the Red Bull series and World High Diving Federation each year, the popularity of cliff diving is only expecting to increase among professionals and amateurs.
Red Bull cliff diving
When considring the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, it was established in 2009 and was sponsored by Red Bull. It is an annual event of cliff diving tournaments. Here the winner of the Series is decided by a small number of competitors.
Red Bull Cliff Diving 2019 World Series began its season with ten men and six women competing in seven international competitions. These competitions took place in seven international stops. And the grand finale took place on 14 September in Bilbao, Spain. In the men’s category, Gary Hunt from France won first place, whereas in the women’s category Rhiannan Iffland from Australia won first place.
Dangers in Cliff Diving
Although cliff diving is a universal sport, please remember that cliff diving is not for everyone. Like several other outdoor adventure activities such as scuba diving, kite surfing, parasailing, etc., cliff diving has risk factors and can lead to physical harm.
Cliff diving is not for people who have a history of health issues, are taking medicine, and have recently undergone surgery. Further, it is also not recommended for those who are afraid of heights, are in poor physical shape, or are unfamiliar with full contact sports. Besides, pregnant women and small children are not allowed to cliff dive.
The water is not going to cushion your drop. It is one of the most popular myths people face when they desire to jump. In truth, divers fall exceeding 60-70 mph when they reach the water, where accidents become a real possibility. The most common injuries include cuts, bruises, pressure fractures, head injuries, and even spinal injuries. Because of these dangers, athletes first practice with much lower altitudes, trying to perfect their skills long before climbing higher. With time, they learn the skills needed to land safely in the sea and get the courage to drive them to increase heights on the cliff.
Best places for Cliff Diving
Usually, cliff diving is performing in areas with calm waters. It is mainly because calm waters are generally more in-depth and have no rocks at the surface that interrupt the water. A cliff diver needs to carry out a thorough inspection of the area they are attempting to land to ensure no possibility of hitting an obstacle. It typically means instant death.
Cliff diving in Mexico
Mexico is a beautiful country with beaches to historical sites, buzzing cities, and vibrant towns. If you are a traveler seeking Adventures Sports, Mexico is an ideal place. Hence there are three best spots for cliff diving in Mexico.
La Quebrada, Acapulco
LA Quebrada in Acapulco is a significant place in Mexico, which is also recognized worldwide for cliff diving. The cliff measures approximately 115 feet (35 meters) in height. The divers of La Quebrada risk their lives to carry on the tradition, generation after generation. La Quebrada cliff divers are a world-famous group of professional divers performing daily shows to the public jumping off the giant cliff overlooking the Pacific Sea. The group has been performing regularly since the 1930s since they were spotted and developed into international stars. Cliff Diving in La Quebrada holds the Guinness World Record for being one of the “Highest frequently performed head first dives” in the world.
At La Quebrada Cliffs, the viewer’s sit in the restaurant above the cliff and witness the divers drop over a 148-foot cliff into the sparkling blue sea. These divers, who have also been part of the evening’s shows for years, consciously time their entries to fall in the ocean when the waves come in, and the water is deepest.
When considering Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, it is famous for many things like unique culture, rich food, beautiful beaches, and of course, excellent cliff diving. Cliff diving in the Cenotes mostly aims for adventurous people. The ideal places to dive into the aquamarine waters are Lol Ha, Ik-Kil, Zaci, Cristalino, and Jardin del Eden. It is a simple day trip from Playa del Carmen, Tulum, or Cancun’s popular beaches.
Cliff diving in Mazatlán has always been in practice since the 1900s. The cliff is situated in the Oceanside urban park of Parque Glorieta Rodolfo Sanchez Taboada.
The Mazatlán cliff is about 50 feet high, but seeing locals dive elegantly in the Pacific waters is a beautiful experience. Spectators come to Mazatlán to experience the experts performing cliff diving.
Cliff diving in Texas
Possum Kingdom Lake
It’s true: in Texas, everything is more prominent. It includes Hell’s Gates, a popular cliff-diving spot at Possum Kingdom Lake. It also served as one of the sites for the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. Here you will find the 92 feet cliff, which is not legal or approved for amateur jumpers, but professionals can dive into 26-foot-deep water from those elevated heights. To stay safe and still experience the thrill, rent a boat or a kayak so you can navigate some of the 15-to 20-foot jumps that locals take off regularly.
Cliff diving in Jamaica
Rick’s Cafe is a Caribbean restaurant situated in the city of Negril. The place is one of the most famous holiday spots in Jamaica. People travel here for an adventure and stay for elegance. When considering the location, it is located on the west side of Jamaica at 35 feet. Hence people will dive in the clear blue-green waters of the bay from 10 feet to 35 feet.
This might sound simple to jump off a 35-foot tall cliff, but it’s not. Only local people in Jamaica can make it look simple since they can nod to the Caribbean waters without hesitation. It is mainly locals who dive at Rick’s Cafe, and the tourists often do a cannonball out of the cliffs.
Cliff diving in Switzerland
Brontallo is a village in Switzerland that provides high altitudes for cliff jumping. With its stunning scenery, the village draws spectators from all over the world for hiking and sightseeing. In July, Brontallo hosts the World High Diving Federation Cliff Diving Tournament, and the divers come to exhibit their bravery.
More than enough heights, up to 85 feet, to be picked by the participants for their cliff diving. For a safe experience, it is advisable to find with locals on the manageable water levels to dive into the freezing water of Brontallo. The village is considered one of the most exciting cliff diving spots in the world for a reason.
Cliff diving in Portugal
The Algarve is a region situated on the Atlantic coast of southern Portugal. The area attracts cliff diving enthusiasts. The hard rock formations along the beaches of Lagos create a dramatic and ideal platform for cliff diving. You can determine the level of difficulty and the heights from which to dive.
There is no doubt that the view of the Algarve coast above Lagos will stimulate some excitement. But rock formations and unpredictable waters can end up making cliff diving very nervous. Diving off the cliff and swimming through all the caves is a unique experience. Check with the professionals before you dive into the waters of the Algarve because it is wiser to be safe than to be in danger.
Cliff diving in Ireland
Cliff jumping over the wild Atlantic is an unusual practice for most in the Aran Islands. But for experienced divers, it is a collection of opportunities that lets you dive down from the 92-foot cliff to the small shoreline lake. The Aran Islands are highlighted by jagged peaks and ancient forts in the center of the Bay of Galway.
Inis Mór is the largest of the three islands in the Bay of Galway, the Cliff Diving Championships site. The Inis Mór cliff, locally known as the Serpent’s Lair, is home to the Red Bull Cliff Diving Series. Keeping in mind people’s safety, only trained divers can dive from the Serpent’s Lair to the Atlantic’s clear water.
Cliff diving height
The common difference between platform diving and cliff diving is the height. Platform divers dive ten meters in the air, which is approximately 32 feet high. While Cliff divers dive from heights ranging from 18 to 27 meters in the air, which is around 57-86 feet tall. Thus the height difference is important, and it affects the dive in several ways:
- Speed: a diver from 10 meters hits the water at a speed of nearly 30 mph. At the same time, A 20-meter diver can enter the water at approximately 60 mph.
- Impact force: a cliff diver enters the water nine times as much force as a 10-meter platform diver.
- Entry: The cliff diver must land in the water feet first. The water pressure at such high heights is too intense for the diver’s body, legs, and neck to handle the head first. Entry with headfirst position (as the platform divers do) can be extremely hazardous while cliff diving and is not advised.
The highest dive so far…
The highest cliff dive ever documented occurred in 2015, when a Brazilian-born Swiss performer named Laso Schaller dived from 193 feet. His significant jump took place in Switzerland and was far higher than what many other divers were trying to do. On average, most divers dive from about the 85-foot level, which is still a terrifying height.
Interested in Cliff Diving?
Cliff Diving is an exciting event to watch. Expert cliff divers make their dives look thrilling, enjoyable, and straightforward. Yet, the fact is that cliff diving is a risky activity that only specialists can perform.
If you think of taking cliff diving as a sport, probably seek guidance from professional athletes who are already participating in the sport. They are likely to highlight the importance of being adequately educated, being in excellent physical shape, and diving from lower heights several times before they attempt to dive from the top of a giant cliff. Even with that, other factors, such as weather, waves, and terrain, must be taken into account both on the Cliffside and in the water below. In general, Crosswinds can play a key role in landing safely, although rock settings and other barriers are vital for divers.
Further mental preparation is crucial when it comes to cliff diving. Athletes envision their dives hundreds of times, and several had said they feel like they did a dip before they even stepped onto the boat. Physical health, however, also plays a key role in success.
Cliff diving safety
Cliff Diving puts a lot of stress on the body. Due to the high risk of injury, the World High Diving Federation (WHDF) recommends that no one dive from 20 meters (65.5 feet) or even above unless they are highly experienced and with rescue divers stationed in the water. Bruises, broken bones, dislocated joints, injured discs, compressed spine, paralysis, and death are some of the injuries encountered by cliff divers.
Competitive cliff divers dive from 59 to 85 feet in height, but professional show divers in Acapulco, the La Quebrada, occasionally dive from 148 feet above the water. Such divers live to tackle another day because they have been practicing for years, are familiar with the area, and change their dives according to the rising and falling wave and water conditions. But even occasionally, they are injured.
The WHDF considers that water depths of 43 to 49 feet are suitable for dives of 65 feet or less, but water conditions are also crucial in cliff diving safety. Hitting water badly from an altitude can cause significant damage. But hitting something else in the water like a rock, a branch, the bottom, even a fish, or the water body’s floor can be fatal. Choppy waters and high waves frequently cover the water’s surface and mess with entry timing, but Orlando Duque, the world champion cliff diver, says waves smash the water’s surface and softens the effect. Entering the water during the peak of a wave shortens the dive, and any stunts must be completed early in the dive so that you can get your body in the right position to enter the water.
Cliff Diving Tips
If you are filled with a desire to encounter the thrill of cliff diving, follow these guidelines to boost your chances of safe swimming:
- Start it low and slow: Before you go to the cliffs, practice a pencil dive from the high-dive platforms in the swimming pool. When trying, try to make your body lean and straight as a pencil. Jump your legs first, hold your arms close to your sides, and keep your legs together, pointing downwards. It minimizes the surface area that hits the water and reduces the impact force.
- Use the buddy system: Do not dive by yourself.
- Explore the water: Before diving, test the water’s depth around your landing area and locate any obstacles.
- Plan your exit: Before you dive into the sea, consider where you will get out and how you will get out.
- Dress for success: A wetsuit adds a cushioning layer between you and the water. Skip the water shoes to reduce the surface area of the first body part that impacts the water.
- Keep it simple: You will need to approach the water in a straight, vertical line. Every deviation from these toes-first, narrow-entry positions risks injury and guarantees increased pain. Midair spins and twists will take you too outstretched, so leave them to the professionals.
Physics of Cliff Diving
Once you leap off a cliff, you are going to fall free, and gravity is the only force operating on your body. However, gravity is a strong force. When you lose, it pushes you towards the earth or, in the case of cliff diving, into the sea, at a speed of 32 feet per second. Since time is a factor in this calculation, the longer you fall through space, the faster you are going. Freefall acceleration determines that every second of the descent is quicker than the second before it.
For instance, if you dive from 10 feet, you will fall 17 miles per hour when you hit the surface. If you increase your height to 50 feet, it will increase the impact speed to 38 mph. And, when you reach the water, the speed drops almost instantly. In just a second, you are going from your top speed to zero.
If you are digging up for an extreme sport, one where you do not need any unique expertise, one in which you do not need any equipment but just uncomplicated, then Cliff Diving is a sport for you. There is unnecessary to purchase expensive gear to practice cliff diving, neither do you have to purchase unique clothing as you would for scuba diving, and one of the best aspects is that you do not need to find a contractor or a supplier. However, Cliff Diving is among the most dangerous extreme sports in the world and should take it seriously. Each dive can present a threat of injury or, worse, death. So if you believe that cliff diving is for you, give it a little serious thought. Train hard on the platform, talk to your mentor.