Without doubt cliff diving can be a dangerous pursuit and is often banned for good reason. Nevertheless, there are plenty of places where nature has built the perfect springboards just begging to be tried.
These five spots are made for jumping:
- Wolfgangsee, Austria
- Lanai, Hawaii
- Santorini, Greece
- Dubrovnik, Croatia
- Acapulco, Mexico
Both beginners and professionals get their thrills at Wolfgangsee in Austria. The lake is surrounded by a perfect mix of relatively low cliffs that are manageable for almost any diver up to some extremely high rocks from which only springers with a lot of experience should dare to fly. The height varies between three and 27 metres, so you can definitely challenge your fears.
Insider tip: In summer the water at Wolfgangsee is extremely cold but the region makes up for it with the picturesque mountain panorama that could come directly from a postcard.
Cliff jumping as we know it was reportedly invented on the southwestern coast of the Hawaiian island of Lanai. In the 1770s Kahekili, the “Birdman” and king of Maui is said to have perfected the art of Lele Kawa here - to jump feet first into the water and to produce as little splash as possible. However, at that time the whole thing was not a recreational sport, but rather a brutal test. To prove their unconditional loyalty, Kahekili purportedly sent his warriors over the cliff. Today, it still attracts many divers to Kahekili’s Leap.
Santorini is the most beautiful of the Greek islands and offers an equally beautiful spot for cliff jumping. Even if the rocks in Amoudi Bay look pretty daunting, amateurs can still jump here. The crystal clear Mediterranean sea is so deep that the location is considered relatively safe.
Some preparation is needed to find the bay which is quite well hidden. From the village of Oia you climb down a steep staircase. Once in Amoudi Bay, you walk to the left on a path along the cliffs - and you’ll know you’ve arrived when you come across the many people sunbathing on the stones by the cliff edge.
Sandy beaches around Dubrovnik are a rarity as this ancient city is surrounded by cliffs perfectly formed for jumping. You’ll find all heights here from easy peasy to trunks-wettingly frightening.
Before you launch yourself into the Adriatic Sea, you can stop by one of the bars which are embedded in the cliffs and offer a great view of the islands. It also means you’re guaranteed a watching audience when you make your jump.
The Mexican coastal city has a long tradition of cliff jumping. La Quebrada is a rock formation which has served as a stage for daring professional ‘clavadistas’ - divers - since the 1930s. With a height of over 29 metres these cliffs are not for beginners. The senior dippers have closely monitored the wind, waves and water depth and often spend years practising before they plunge into the Pacific. Anything else would be dangerous. The La Quebrada Cliff Divers are among the biggest tourist attractions in Acapulco, and those want to see them must now even pay an entry fee.